Creatine + Beta-Alanine Cyclocross Experiment Update

Written by Christopher Kelly

Sept. 14, 2015

A surprising number of people have been asking me how the creatine and beta-alanine experiment has been going. After seeing a huge increase in my 60-second power, I decided to suspend the experiment until after the cross season is over. I'll continue taking both supplements until I'm finished racing, and then I'll leave a short wash-out period and retest.

I've continued to set personal records in training. On Saturday, I averaged 414 watts for four minutes to set the fastest time on a local fire road climb:

I've noticed a huge difference in my start in the elite men's race. In previous years, I would also be spat off the back never to be seen again. Now I can hang all the way to the first corner, even on the mountain bike. Last week, I was forced to stop pedalling at the start for fear of crashing into the rear wheel of the riding in front, something that has never happened before!

Has this improved my results overall? Not really. I'm still about 5% slower than the winner, and that's only good enough for mid-pack. 

I've heard from one cyclist who improved their 60-second power from 680 to 703 watts (10.33 watts/Kg). That's pretty cool.

I've also heard from a type 1 diabetic swimmer who tells me that creatine has "proved to be quite the workout enhancer" and "has had a tremendous lowering effect on blood glucose." Until that moment, I was completely ignorant of creatine's ability to improve glucose tolerance. Dr Tommy Wood is the true PubMed pro, and within hours of asking had it nailed with several good references [1-4].

In Tommy's words:

Creatine phosphate inhibits AMPK, which is the central energy regulator in cells. So if you increase cellular creatine, the ratio of Cr/CrP must increase in the short-term (indicating a relative lack of CrP), which activates AMPK and increases GLUT-4 translocation to the cell membrane.

Have you started using creatine or beta-alanine? Perhaps with baking soda? [5] Please let me know in the comments section below.

  1. Effect of Creatine Ingestion on Glucose Tolerance and Insulin Sensitivity in Men DOI 10.1249/01.MSS.0000043288.85309.2E
  2. Creatine-induced glucose uptake in type 2 diabetes: a role for AMPK-a? DOI 10.1007/s00726-012-1246-6
  3. Creatine in Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial DOI 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181fcee7d
  4. Creatine feeding increases GLUT4 expression in rat skeletal muscle DOI 10.1152/ajpendo.00238.2004
  5. Effects of combined creatine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on repeated sprint performance in trained men DOI 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318252f6b7
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