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Does Creatine Really Lead to Weight Gain?

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Science & Humans

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Maria Jacob

Last updated

Friday, July 14, 2023

Does Creatine Cause Weight Gain? Exploring the Facts

Are you considering taking creatine to improve your athletic performance, but worried it might make you gain weight? It's a common concern among athletes and bodybuilders, as weight gain can negatively impact their performance and physique. If you are looking to increase your muscle mass, creatine is a supplement that can help. Creatine is a natural substance found in our muscles that helps produce energy during high-intensity exercise (1,2). By supplementing with creatine, you can increase the amount of creatine stored in your muscles, which can lead to greater gains in muscle size and strength.

While creatine is known to cause some water weight gain, it does not necessarily lead to fat gain (1). In fact, research has found that creatine can be an effective supplement for increasing endurance and strength (2). Over time, you may see an increase in muscle mass, which can contribute to weight gain, but this is a positive gain that can improve your athletic performance.

However, it's important to note that creatine may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with preexisting kidney problems (1,3). Further research is needed to determine the long-term effects of creatine supplementation on health. In this article, we'll explore the potential benefits and risks of creatine supplementation and answer the question, "does creatine make you gain weight?"

What is Creatine?

If you are into fitness, you have probably heard of creatine. Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in your muscles and brain (1-3). It plays a crucial role in energy production by helping your body produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary source of energy for your muscles.

Your body can produce creatine on its own, but you can also get it from certain foods, such as red meat and seafood. However, the amount of creatine you get from your diet is usually not enough to significantly increase your performance during exercise (3). That's why many athletes and bodybuilders take creatine supplements to enhance their performance.

When you take creatine supplements, your body stores it as phosphocreatine, which can be used to quickly produce ATP during high-intensity exercise (2,4). This means that taking creatine supplements can help you perform better during short, intense bouts of exercise, such as weightlifting or sprinting.

It's important to note that while creatine can help you improve your performance, it is not a magic pill. You still need to put in the work and follow a proper training program to see results. Additionally, the weight gain associated with creatine supplementation is typically due to an increase in muscle mass rather than body fat. So, if you are looking to gain weight in the form of muscle mass, creatine can be a useful supplement to consider.

 

 

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Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?

If you're considering taking creatine, you may be wondering whether it will cause you to gain weight. While creatine can cause some weight gain, it's important to understand that the weight gain may not be due to fat (1).

How Creatine Works

Creatine is a molecule that's naturally found in your body. It plays a role in providing energy to your muscles during high-intensity exercise. When you supplement with creatine, you increase the amount of creatine stored in your muscles, which can help improve your performance during exercise (4).

Creatine and Muscle Mass

One of the primary benefits of creatine supplementation is an increase in muscle mass (2,4). Research has shown that creatine supplementation can help you gain muscle mass, especially when combined with resistance training.

Creatine and Fat Mass

While creatine can cause some weight gain, the weight gain may not be due to fat (1,4) In fact, the weight gain associated with creatine is typically due to an increase in muscle mass rather than body fat.

Creatine and Water Retention

Creatine can cause you to retain water in your muscles. This can lead to an increase in body weight, but it's important to understand that the weight gain is due to water retention, not fat gain (1).

It's worth noting that the International Society of Sports Nutrition has stated that creatine is safe for healthy individuals when taken within recommended dosages (5). However, some people may experience side effects such as cramping, bloating, nausea, and dizziness.

How Creatine Works

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in meat and fish, and it plays a crucial role in energy production in the body. It works by replenishing ATP, the primary source of energy for muscle contractions. ATP is used up quickly during high-intensity exercise, and when it's depleted, your muscles can no longer contract as forcefully. This is where creatine comes in.

When you take creatine supplements, your body converts it into phosphocreatine, which is stored in your muscles and used to replenish ATP during exercise. This means that you'll be able to perform more reps or lift heavier weights before reaching fatigue, leading to greater gains in strength and muscle mass.

Notably, creatine doesn't directly cause muscle growth, but rather enhances your ability to perform high-intensity exercise, which in turn can lead to muscle growth over time. Additionally, creatine can help increase the water content of your muscles, which can make them appear fuller and more voluminous.

Overall, creatine is a safe and effective supplement for improving athletic performance and increasing muscle mass (2). However, it's important to follow the recommended dosage and stay hydrated while taking creatine, as it can cause water retention and weight gain in some individuals.

Creatine and Muscle Mass

Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can increase muscle mass and strength in both trained and untrained individuals (2,5). One study found that participants who took creatine while following a resistance training program gained significantly more muscle mass than those who only followed the training program (2).

Creatine can help you perform better during your workouts (2). Creatine can increase your ability to perform high-intensity exercise, such as lifting heavy weights or doing sprints. By allowing you to do more work during your workouts, creatine can lead to greater gains in muscle mass and strength over time.

Creatine and Fat Mass

While many are concerned about its relationship to fat, the good news is that creatine is not likely to cause fat gain (2). In fact, it may help you lose fat mass when combined with exercise.

Creatine works by increasing the amount of energy available to your muscles during exercise, allowing you to work harder and longer (2,4,5). This can lead to increased muscle mass and improved body composition. While creatine itself is not a fat burner, it can indirectly help you lose fat by increasing your muscle mass. Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. Therefore, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day.

Additionally, creatine can help you maintain your muscle mass while losing fat (1,2,4,5). When you are in a calorie deficit, your body may break down muscle tissue for energy. However, taking creatine can help prevent this muscle breakdown, allowing you to maintain your muscle mass while losing fat.

Overall, while creatine may cause you to gain weight initially due to water retention, it is not likely to cause fat gain. In fact, it may help you lose fat mass when combined with exercise.

Creatine and Water Retention

When you take creatine, it can cause water retention, which is also known as bloating (2,4). This is because creatine draws water into your muscles' cells, which can result in rapid water weight gain. In the initial period, you may gain as much as one to 3.5 pounds of weight, mostly from water. Livestrong suggests that you may experience weight gain from water retention in as little as one to two days after taking creatine.

It is important to note that the water weight gain associated with creatine is temporary and will subside once you stop taking the supplement. According to Healthline, creatine's effects on water retention are not harmful, and the water weight gain is not associated with an increase in body fat.

While water retention can be uncomfortable, it is not the same as dehydration (2). In fact, creatine can help increase your body's water content, which can be beneficial for your overall health. However, it is important to stay hydrated when taking creatine to avoid dehydration.

In summary, taking creatine can cause water retention, which can result in temporary water weight gain and bloating. However, this is not harmful and is not associated with an increase in body fat. To avoid dehydration, it is important to stay hydrated when taking creatine.

 

References

  • Powers ME, Arnold BL, Weltman AL, Perrin DH, Mistry D, Kahler DM, Kraemer W, Volek J. Creatine supplementation increases total body water without altering fluid distribution. Journal of athletic training. 2003 Jan;38(1):44. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155510/.
  • Rawson ES, Volek JS. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2003 Nov 1;17(4):822-31. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/abstract/2003/11000/effects_of_creatine_supplementation_and_resistance.31.aspx.
  • Taner B, Aysim O, Abdulkadir U. The effects of the recommended dose of creatine monohydrate on kidney function. NDT plus. 2011 Feb 1;4(1):23-4. https://doi.org/10.1093/ndtplus/sfq177.
  • Antonio J, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Gualano B, Jagim AR, Kreider RB, Rawson ES, Smith-Ryan AE, VanDusseldorp TA, Willoughby DS, Ziegenfuss TN. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2021 Feb 8;18(1):13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w.
  • Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. 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. 2017 Jun 13;14(1):18. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z.

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