Creatine - Is it important for Vegan Athletes?
Next to protein powder, creatine one of the most widely used supplements among athletes today. Some vegan and natural athletes may be hesitant to add another supplement to their daily routine. The question is whether creatine is safe and whether it gives enough benefits to justify taking it every day.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, especially if you’re athlete, the answer is a resounding yes!
Creatine has been studied a lot over the past couple of decades, and the findings are clear, creatine reduces recovery time. The scientific link to performance along with how safe creatine is to take as a supplement led the International Society of Sports Nutrition to release a nine point position statement on the use of creatine by athletes. Included in that list is a summary of the findings that creatine is completely safe with no known side effects when used either as a short term or long term supplement. It also says that creatine can help prevent injury and aid in recovery, and that it offers a safe alternative to dangerous anabolic drugs that might otherwise tempt young athletes in the hopes of obtaining more gains and better performance.
Creatine has repeatedly been shown to increases performance and help create lean mass. It is especially helpful for those engaged in high intensity interval training. This can be high intensity, short duration cardio or different forms of resistance training. It should be noted that the benefits of creatine do seem to diminish for endurance athletes, so a distance runner or triathlete may not see results as drastic as a power lifter or body builder.
While all athletes can benefit from creatine supplementation, vegans and vegetarians receive even more benefits. Creatine is a natural substance found in the muscle of animals. For those who consume meat, dietary creatine can already be helping in their athletic performance. For vegans and vegetarians, there aren’t any real sources of dietary creatine. This means that we are already running with a low supply of this important nutrient. In fact, even non-athletic vegans and vegetarians would probably benefit from adding a creatine supplement to their diet in order to maintain healthy levels. It may seem odd to suggest taking a performance supplement if you’re not an athlete, but creatine has been found to have more benefits than just making you stronger and helping you reach peak performance.
Research has found that creatine can have incredible neurological benefits. In fact, the effect is so great that the International Society of Sports Nutrition came out with a statement in 2017 saying that any government or body that discourages or bans creatine supplementation is putting athletes at risk for neurological problems, especially in contact sports. They even went so far as to suggest that banning its use could open the governing body up to liability if their athletes sustained any head injuries.
Given all of the benefits from creatine that have been found and studied, and the fact that no dangerous side effects have been discovered, creatine should be a part of every athletes supplement regimen. This is especially true for vegan and vegetarian athletes, who usually already have a low level of creatine in their bodies and can benefit from the physical and neurological effects of this incredible supplement.
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Klivenyi, Peter, et al. “Neuroprotective Effects of Creatine in a Transgenic Animal Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 1 Mar. 1999, www.nature.com/articles/nm0399_347.
Kreider, Richard B., et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Safety and Efficacy of Creatine Supplementation in Exercise, Sport, and Medicine.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 13 June 2017, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. “Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 14 36. 13 Sep. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0192-9