Creatine is one of the most widely-used sports supplements amongst athletes all over the world.
The reason for its massive popularity?
Quite simply: it does what it promises to do — and very well.
Creatine has been scientifically proven to significantly increase strength and stamina during training. But, what about the side effects? If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably interested in taking creatine to improve your performance, but have concerns about weight gain being one of the most commonly reported side effects.
Well, let’s look at the facts concerning creatine and weight gain. Read on to find out just how creatine works to build muscle — and not fat — and can even help you lose weight. Rest assured, if you’re looking to gain energy and strength during your workouts, creatine is the right supplement for you.
Background: What Exactly is Creatine?
Creatine is made up of organic amino acids — arginine, glycine, methionine — found naturally within the human body. Yes, you do have some creatine already in your own muscle cells. The quantity of creatine in your body will depend on a number of factors, including: your meat intake, how often you exercise, and the amount of muscle you have.
Fitness buffs everywhere are hooked on the impressive benefits creatine provides. Take creatine regularly and you can expect to experience:
- Increase in muscle strength
- Increase in muscle size
- Better athletic performance
- Reduced fatigue during workouts
- Less potential for injury
- Improved health and fitness
So, why not just boost your creatine levels with food? Well, it’s very difficult to increase the creatine levels in your body simply by eating more meat. You would have to eat a lot of it to reach the right amount required to actually get the results you want. For reference: beef has about 5 grams of creatine per pound, which is how much you would need to eat each day.
In comparison, the human body can hold up to 5 grams of creatine per kilogram of muscle. It’s thought that giving the body a concentrated, high volume of creatine via daily supplementation is the best way to experience maximum benefits. That’s why taking creatine is one of the most popular, easy, and effective ways of boosting your creatine levels.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine helps in the formation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a high-energy molecule stored in the muscle cells. ATP functions as the body’s main source of energy. Creatine works to stimulate energy production right there and then during exercise. It can therefore immediately give you the energy boost you need to go longer and harder during your workout. It’s the perfect supplement for anyone wanting to maximise their cardio workouts and muscle gains.
Will Creatine Make Me Bigger?
Yes! But, the good kind of bigger. As supplementing with creatine will increase your energy levels during exercise, you will end up improving on your fitness levels and athletic performance. This in turn will help you gain muscle and lose fat. And, of course, the more muscle you have on your body, the more fat you will end up burning — even after your workout ends. So, you may have heard creatine can make people fat or bulky, but this is nothing more than a myth.
Why Is There a Misconception About Creatine and Weight Gain?
Creatine won’t make you gain fat; that much is true. But, it’s important to note that creatine does have another common side effect that may be mistaken for fat gain: water retention.
Yes, taking creatine can potentially lead you to retain water, which may cause you to look bloated and a little puffy. On the bathroom scale, this may show up as a weight gain of up to 5lbs. However, this water weight isn’t permanent. It’s prone to occurring only during the times you take higher dosages of creatine and goes away again once you reduce your intake.
It’s safe to say the benefits of taking creatine — increased energy and improved strength — outweigh any temporary bloating that it may also cause.
So Why Do Some People on Creatine Not Look as Lean as They Should?
You may have also noticed creatine can give different results from person to person. Some people end up looking ripped on creatine, while others do look bigger but not necessarily in a more muscular way. Let’s clear up why this is. Taking creatine will help your muscle cells retain more water than usual. This is undoubtedly a good thing since our cells mostly consist of water anyway. This in turn highlights your muscle definition, which is great — as long as you have muscles to begin with!
When using creatine, it’s important to keep a low body fat percentage in order to get the lean results you want. When there is a higher level of body fat, creatine still works the same way by enlarging the muscles with water. But it’s precisely because of this existing fat that some people don’t look as lean or defined, and just bigger from the muscle swelling.
The solution? Get lean! Continued training — a long with a healthy diet — will help you quickly lose any extra fat and replace it with muscle. Of course, taking creatine regularly can help you lose fat and get lean. It won’t add any extra calories to your daily smoothie, either. This supplement will give you the energy needed to maximise your workouts, burn even more calories, and lose the fat. Ultimately, creatine will get you where you want to be a lot faster.
Which Is Better for Weight Loss: Protein or Creatine?
You may be wondering whether creatine or protein is the better choice for you when it comes to losing weight and building muscle. The truth is: protein and creatine are not mutually exclusive supplements. There’s no need to choose one or the other. Protein and creatine together can help get the results you want. In fact, many body-builders do choose to do combine protein powder and creatine powder to successfully gain more muscle mass.
As you know by now, creatine is great for increasing your energy levels during your workout. It gives you the extra boost in vitality you need to push through any tiredness and make greater improvements in your overall athletic performance.
On the other hand, protein is absolutely essential for building muscle. Lifting weights and continually pushing yourself to improve your strength breaks down your muscle tissue. Seeing results from all your hard work very much relies on allowing your muscles to adequately recover. Consuming the right amount of protein before and after your workout is vital for restoring your muscles and increasing your muscle mass.
Is Creatine Safe to Use?
Yes. Supplementing with creatine is recognised to be safe for human health.
However, as with all supplements, it’s important to take creatine in moderation. Be sure to follow the correct dosage instructions set out by the manufacturer on the label. Taking too much creatine isn’t a wise move. Overdosing on creatine can cause a number of health problems, most seriously, kidney and liver damage.
If you have a medical condition and are currently taking any medication, consult your doctor before supplementing your diet with creatine.
The Bottom Line:
Should you supplement with creatine? If your goal is more energy, improved performance, and bigger muscles — then, yes! There’s no need to worry about the possibility of creatine making you gain fat. Quite the opposite — it can help you lose weight and get stronger. Most people can benefit from taking creatine, so give it a go. You have nothing to lose and pure muscle to gain!