Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight? Here's What Experts Say
- Creatine supplementation can help increase muscle mass, strength, and power.
- Typically, 3-5 grams of creatine should be taken either before or after exercise each day.
- Creatine is a hydrophilic molecule and has a preference for water, which is why it causes water retention.
You've probably heard of creatine, a well-known supplement that's used to improve performance, add muscle mass, and boost strength, if you're into fitness and bodybuilding. But have you ever questioned whether consuming creatine can cause weight gain? It's a common concern among people attempting to reach their fitness goals, and there isn't a straightforward yes or no answer. We'll look into the science of creatine and how it affects weight gain in this article. We'll hear from subject-matter specialists and arm you with information so that you can decide for yourself whether or not to include creatine in your fitness routine. Check out what the experts have to say about creatine and weight gain by reading on!
What is creatine and how does it work?
Animal products like meat and fish contain trace amounts of creatine, a naturally occurring substance. Additionally, the body makes it from amino acids like arginine, glycine, and methionine in the liver and kidneys. Phosphocreatine, which is stored as creatine in the muscles, can be used to generate energy during intense exercise.
Increased muscle phosphocreatine stores, which can enhance the body's capacity for high-intensity exercise, are the main goal of creatine supplementation. Increased muscle mass, strength, and power output may result from this. Additionally demonstrated are the neuroprotective and cognitive benefits of creatine.
Does creatine make you gain weight?
The possibility of weight gain from creatine supplementation is one of the most frequently voiced worries. The quick answer is that yes, creatine can make you gain weight, but it's not always because your body is storing more fat.
Due to water retention, you might experience a slight increase in body weight when you first start taking creatine. Creatine causes the muscles to retain more water, increasing their size and mass. This explains why many people who start taking creatine say they feel "bloated" at first. However, this initial weight gain is frequently transient and should go away after a few weeks of use.
It's crucial to remember that an increase in muscle mass, not body fat, accounts for the majority of the weight gain linked to creatine supplementation. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that taking creatine supplements along with resistance training can actually lower body fat percentage.
The science behind creatine and water retention
As was previously mentioned, water retention is one of the main ways that creatine can lead to weight gain. But why does creatine in the first place lead to water retention?
Because creatine is a hydrophilic molecule, it has a preference for water. When you take a creatine supplement, it enters your bloodstream quickly, travels to your muscles, and binds to water molecules there. The muscles' water content rises as a result, expanding in size and weight (1).
The dosage of creatine, the length of use, and the person's body composition are just a few of the variables that can affect how much water the muscles retain. However, the majority of studies have revealed that water retention, not an increase in body fat, is the main cause of the weight gain linked to creatine supplementation.
Will the weight go away?
You'll be relieved to learn that the initial weight gain brought on by creatine supplementation is typically brief if you're worried about it. Water retention should go away as your body gets used to the higher creatine levels, and your weight should return to normal.
In fact, one study discovered that the long-term weight gain associated with creatine supplementation was caused by an increase in lean body mass rather than the initial weight gain, which was primarily the result of water retention. This suggests that an increase in muscle mass, which is a desirable result for many people, is the primary cause of the weight gain connected to creatine supplementation.
Creatine and muscle mass
Increasing muscle mass is one of the main reasons people take creatine supplements. Particularly when combined with resistance training, creatine has been shown to be effective in boosting muscle size and strength.
Creatine supplements have been shown in numerous studies to significantly increase muscle mass and strength. For instance, a meta-analysis of 22 studies found that supplementing with creatine resulted in an average increase of 5.4% in strength and 2.2% in lean body mass (2).
Uncertainty surrounds the precise mechanism by which creatine boosts muscle mass. The availability of phosphocreatine in the muscles is thought to increase with creatine supplementation, which may improve the body's capacity for high-intensity exercise. Strength and muscle mass can consequently rise as a result of this.
The benefits of creatine supplementation
Supplementing with creatine may have additional advantages besides boosting muscle mass and power. These consist of:
- Improved performance during high-intensity exercise
- Increased power output
- Improved cognitive function
- Neuroprotective effects
- Decreased risk of injury
Additionally, a number of studies have suggested that taking supplements of creatine may be beneficial in treating a number of ailments, such as muscular dystrophy, Huntington's disease, and Parkinson's disease. To fully comprehend the therapeutic potential of creatine supplementation, more study is necessary.
Creatine dosage and timing
It's critical to understand the appropriate dosage and timing if you're thinking about taking creatine supplements. Typically, 3-5 grams of creatine should be taken either before or after exercise each day.
A "loading phase" that involves taking a higher dose of creatine (up to 20 grams per day) for the first 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance phase of 3-5 grams per day is advised by some experts. However, this approach can cause gastrointestinal distress and increased water retention, and it is not necessary for the majority of people.
Additionally, it's critical to understand that creatine supplements cannot replace a balanced diet and regular exercise. To get the best results from creatine supplementation, combine it with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Side effects of creatine supplementation
Despite the fact that taking supplements of creatine is generally regarded as safe, there are a few possible side effects to be aware of. These consist of:
- Gastrointestinal distress, such as bloating, nausea, and diarrhea
- Dehydration, particularly if you don't drink enough water while taking creatine
- Muscle cramping
- Kidney damage, although this is rare and typically only occurs with high doses of creatine
Before beginning any new supplement regimen, it's important to talk to your doctor, especially if you have a history of kidney issues or other medical conditions.
Who should avoid creatine supplementation?
Although the majority of people can safely take creatine supplements, there are some people who shouldn't. These consist of:
- Children and adolescents, as there is limited research on the safety of creatine supplementation in this age group
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women, as the effects of creatine on fetal development and milk production are not well understood
- Individuals with kidney problems or a history of kidney disease
- Individuals with a history of liver disease or other medical conditions that affect the liver
Before taking any creatine supplements, it's important to discuss this with your doctor if you fall into one of these categories.
1. What age should you start creatine?
For people over the age of 18, taking a creatine supplement is generally safe. Nevertheless, it's crucial to consult your doctor before beginning a new supplement regimen.
2. How many pounds does creatine add?
Everybody responds differently to creatine supplementation in terms of weight gain. However, it usually weighs 2 to 6 pounds.
3. Will creatine make you fat?
Supplementing with creatine is not linked to an increase in fat mass. Creatine supplementation causes weight gain because it causes the muscles to hold onto more water. This temporary weight gain will go away in a few weeks.
4. Can you dry scoop creatine?
It is not advised to scoop creatine dry because it could irritate the esophagus and throat. To ensure proper absorption, it is best to combine creatine with water or another beverage.
Conclusion: Does creatine make you gain weight?
So, does creatine cause weight gain? Yes, but primarily because of an increase in muscle mass rather than body fat. After a few weeks of use, the initial weight gain brought on by creatine supplementation should go away because of water retention.
Consider taking a creatine supplement if you want to build more muscle, perform better during intense exercise, or improve your cognitive abilities. Before beginning any new supplement regimen, you should consult your doctor, especially if you have a history of kidney issues or other medical conditions.
Keep in mind that taking creatine supplements won't replace a balanced diet and regular exercise. To get the best results, use it along with a healthy diet and consistent exercise. Creatine can be a safe and efficient supplement for people looking to reach their fitness goals when used correctly and in the recommended dosage.
- Powers, M. E., Arnold, B. L., Weltman, A. L., Perrin, D. H., Mistry, D., Kahler, D. M., Kraemer, W., & Volek, J. (2003). Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution. Journal of Athletic Training, 38(1), 44–50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155510/
- Wu, S.-H., Chen, K.-L., Hsu, C., Chen, H.-C., Chen, J.-Y., Yu, S.-Y., & Shiu, Y.-J. (2022). Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021. Nutrients, 14(6), 1255. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14061255 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8949037/
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