Does Creatine create Weight Gain and Increased Muscle Mass?
Content you'll find:
1. Creatine Overview
2. Does creatine help with muscle growth?
3. Should I use creatine if am trying to lose weight?
4. Should women be using creatine?
5. Why use Kinetica 100% Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine is a popular supplement in the fitness world, often touted for its potential benefits in muscle growth and athletic performance. However, does it help with weight gain and muscle mass?
- Does creatine help with muscle growth?
- Should you use creatine if you are trying to lose weight?
- Should women be using creatine?
- What should you look for in a creatine supplement?
Ready for some answers? Let us dive in!
First, let us ensure you feel comfortable understanding what is creatine.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It is produced daily in various organs, especially the liver, from particular amino acids – arginine, glycine, and methionine (da Silva, Nissim et al. 2009). In other words, creatine is not a foreign substance we leverage by taking supplements. It is natural in the body and derived from the protein we eat.
Creatine is primarily used by the body to produce energy – especially when demands on us are high. Picture it: You are in the gym and pushing yourself hard, whether doing challenging cardio, running a circuit, or lifting weights. You are focused and putting in a lot of effort.
Getting this work done requires energy. This is achieved by the body converting one compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into another compound called adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which releases energy. This is where the story of creatine kicks in.
When you are pushing yourself, creatine helps convert ADP back into ATP. It buffers your energy. Creatine stores high-energy phosphate groups, which are then donated to ADP to regenerate ATP (Brosnan and Brosnan 2007). Creatine can help us perform better in the gym by rapidly producing energy when needed most during intense activity (Ramirez-Campillo, Gonzalez-Jurado et al. 2016).
A helpful way to understand this is to think of creatine as a backup generator for a building. During normal day-to-day operations, the building runs on the primary power grid, and everything functions smoothly. But when there are increased energy demands, the backup generator provides extra electricity to keep critical systems running at their best.
In the body, creatine acts like that backup generator. Under normal conditions, our cells produce enough ATP energy to fuel muscle contractions. But during intense exercise, when energy demands spike, creatine provides extra ATP to give muscles more power to push through intense training.
Just as the generator is not running constantly, creatine reserves are tapped into when the body needs quick bursts of energy beyond what it usually produces. The extra boost from creatine helps people lift more weight, sprint faster, and maintain peak performance during repetitive high-intensity intervals (Kerksick, Arent et al. 2017).
- Increased strength and power output (Forbes, Candow et al. 2021)
- Greater training volume and resistance overload (Lanhers, Pereira et al. 2017)
- Faster sprint times and plyometric training (Ramirez-Campillo, Gonzalez-Jurado et al. 2016)
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most researched supplements in evidence-based medicine. In a relatively recent analysis, The International Society of Sports Nutrition summed up the safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine this way (Kreider, Kalman et al. 2017):
“Creatine monohydrate remains one of the few nutritional supplements for which research has consistently shown has ergogenic benefits. Additionally, a number of potential health benefits have been reported from creatine supplementation… Given all the known benefits and favorable safety profile of creatine supplementation reported in the scientific and medical literature, it is the view of ISSN that government legislatures and sport organizations who restrict and/or discourage use of creatine may be placing athletes at greater risk.”
- Nutritional needs (particularly daily protein intake)
- Strength training (to stimulate muscle hypertrophy)
- Physiological recovery (to balance the catabolic effect of training with the anabolic effect of regeneration)
Should I Use Creatine if I Am Trying to Lose Weight?
Let us start by defining what we mean by losing weight. Most gym goers wanting to lose weight are focused on something more specific: fat loss. They want to decrease the amount of adipose tissue in their body and, in doing so, look leaner and healthier.
In this way, you do not “tone up” a muscle. We might say we want to go to the gym to “get more toned”, but we actually want to burn off excess subcutaneous fat to reveal the lean muscle underneath. You might also want to make that lean muscle bigger by focusing on hypertrophy through strength training. This overall process is called body recomposition: decreasing fat stores and maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle.
The amount of fat loss and muscle gain will have varying effects on scale weight. If we lose 2 lbs of fat and gain 2 lbs of muscle, we will weigh the same but be leaner and healthier. This is why it is preferable to use something more accurate than scales, like a DEXA scan, to understand body composition changes, alongside ongoing metrics like clothes measurements and photos to measure progress over time.
This context is vital because creatine monohydrate supplementation has been shown to increase water levels in the body (Volek, Mazzetti et al. 2001, Kutz and Gunter 2003). More water weight could lead someone to falsely believe they are getting fatter using creatine because scale weight might increase due to water retention. However, as we said, scale weight does not tell you anything about your fat percentage or lean mass. So, you could end up ditching creatine for no good reason.
From a purely fat loss perspective, very limited research shows that creatine can increase metabolic rate (Arciero, Hannibal et al. 2001). Creatine does not appear to increase fat oxidation either, which is the use of fatty acids in the body for fuel (van Loon, Oosterlaar et al. 2003). Nevertheless, none of this means that creatine is not valuable for improving body composition.
Suppose you are hypocaloric (consuming fewer calories daily than your maintenance needs) and performing resistance training. In that case, creatine can be helpful by ensuring you perform well in the gym, add to your calorie deficit from training and maintain lean muscle (van Loon, Oosterlaar et al. 2003). In this way, creatine can help you get in great shape.
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Should Women Be Using Creatine?
If you are a woman looking to get the most out of your health and fitness, there are many benefits to using creatine monohydrate.
From a health perspective, research suggests creatine monohydrate has neuroprotective properties that can help women’s brain health (Forbes, Cordingley et al. 2022). Creatine monohydrate can cross the blood-brain barrier and is emerging as a possible therapeutic tool to help with long-term memory, mental health and cognitive function (Brosnan and Brosnan 2007, Wallimann, Tokarska-Schlattner and Schlattner 2011, Allen 2012, Prokopidis, Giannos et al. 2022).
Evidence of the importance of creatine in mental health can be found in a 2020 study looking at over 20,000. Researchers found that the lower the creatine intake in one’s daily diet, the higher the likelihood of depression, with a more pronounced trend in women (Bakian, Huber et al. 2020). By supplementing with creatine monohydrate, women may be able to protect their mental health more effectively.
Creatine can also help women get the most out of fitness training. It has been shown repeatedly to be an effective supplement for increasing strength, power, and athletic performance (Smith-Ryan, Cabre et al. 2021). Creatine is an excellent adjunct to high-quality nutrition and high-quality training.
Why use Kinetica 100% Creatine?
Given the countless positive research studies on creatine, it is a popular supplement on the market. This can be great because it is easily accessible but like any supplement: purity and quality matter.
Kinetica’s creatine product is Informed-Sport Certified and WADA-approved, ensuring every batch is tested and free from prohibited substances. This gives you peace of mind that what you consume to help you get results is manufactured to the highest standards and only contains what it says on the label.
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About the author.
Justin Buckthorp is a Kinetica Ambassador, a Health and Performance specialist and founder of 360 Health and Performance, a company passionate about helping people thrive. Justin has over 20 years’ experience working in clinics, professional sport, and corporate wellness, as well as extensive training in preventative health, functional medicine, strength & conditioning, and human performance.
Justin holds an MSc in Personalised Nutrition from Middlessex University and has a vast range of experience in numerous fields. He was an educator in the fitness industry delivering courses for the National Academy of Sports Medicine in the UK, has supported Team Europe in Ryder Cup events since 2008, and has sat on the European Tour Medical Advisory Board since 2009.
Justin is motivated by helping others achieve their goals, and in 2012 he founded 360 Health & Performance which leverages technology and education to help people in sport, the workplace, and healthcare. Justin also continues to support PGA, European Tour, LPGA Tour and LET golfers, which includes helping Justin Rose win the US Open in 2013, Olympic Gold in 2016, the Fedex Cup in 2018, and go from a world ranking of 70 in 2009 to world number one in 2019.
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