Creatine is one of the most well-studied and popular ergogenic aids for athletes and everyday fitness enthusiasts looking to improve sports and exercise performance.
But what about creatine for weight loss?
Here’s the deal. Creatine is generally not considered a weight loss supplement because it doesn’t directly affect weight loss.
That said, it can indirectly assist your weight loss efforts through several mechanisms.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about creatine for weight loss and how to use it to hit your weight-loss goals.
- Although it is generally not used strictly for losing weight, creatine can and should be used during a cutting phase to help you maintain lean muscle mass and enhance performance.
- Creatine can indirectly support weight loss by increasing metabolically active lean tissue mass and allowing you to train longer.
- If you are looking for a supplement with ingredients to suppress your appetite and boost your metabolism, consider trying a good quality thermogenic supplement.
QUICK FACTS ON CREATINE
FACT 1: Creatine is an organic compound that is naturally found in your muscle cells. It is formed from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine.
FACT 2: The body produces creatine, and it’s also found in protein-rich foods such as red meat and fish, as well as dietary supplements.
FACT 3: About 95% of the creatine in your body is stored in skeletal muscle as creatine phosphate (phosphocreatine), with the remaining 5% distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes.
FACT 4: Creatine helps your muscles regenerate a molecule called ATP, your body’s primary energy source.
FACT 5: The demand for creatine increases during high-intensity exercise or a heavy lifting session. When the demand exceeds the supply, your creatine stores become depleted, leading to diminished energy availability.
FACT 6: Taking creatine supplements increases your creatine stores, enabling you to produce more ATP to fuel your muscles through intense training over short periods, such as lifting weights.
This is why creatine supplements are so popular among people looking to improve athletic performance, increase muscle mass, and more.
THE REAL QUESTION IS, IS CREATINE GOOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
Creatine is not a traditional weight loss supplement and is not intended to directly aid in weight loss or target stubborn belly fat like thermogenic supplements.
However, it has many health benefits and can be used to enhance weight loss through muscular performance.
CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION: WHAT IT DOES AND DOESN'T DO
Here’s what creatine can and can’t do regarding weight loss.
WHAT IT DOES FOR LEAN MUSCLE MASS
Numerous studies have shown time and time again that creatine monohydrate supplementation increases lean body mass as well as power, strength, and overall athletic capability in short-duration, high-intensity exercises.
There are a couple of ways that taking oral creatine can help you gain muscle mass. First, it increases total work and power output during a training session, which is vital for long-term muscle gain.
Creatine also can increase muscle hypertrophy by drawing water into muscle cells, which results in muscle cell swelling, a key stimulus for muscle growth.
Additionally, a creatine supplement may help increase lean muscle mass by reducing muscle damage during training.
Muscle doesn't directly burn fat, but having additional muscle mass means you burn more calories at the same weight than if you had less muscle mass.
Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat and requires more energy to maintain.
As such, increasing your muscle size can increase your total daily calorie burn, which may help you lose body fat.
WHAT IT DOESN'T DO FOR BODY FAT
One common misconception is that creatine can directly burn body fat.
While creatine can undoubtedly enhance your body composition, it does not contain natural thermogenic ingredients that have scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness at boosting metabolism, increasing fat burn, and reducing appetite.
If you want something designed to target stubborn body fat, consider adding a natural fat burner to your regimen.
THE VERDICT: DOES CREATINE HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
Creatine doesn’t have a direct effect on fat loss or appetite reduction. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used while trying to lose body weight.
When combined with resistance training, an oral creatine supplement can and likely will increase your lean muscle mass, ultimately increasing the amount of calories your body burns.
This can be helpful if weight loss is your ultimate goal.
That said, creatine does have the potential to cause unwanted weight gain as the supplement draws water into the cells in your muscles. It’s believed that people may gain around two to five pounds in the first week of taking creatine supplements due to water retention.
Remember, though, that the number on the scale does not define your progress. If you gain weight after starting creatine, it is unlikely to be fat gain. For instance, one study found that individuals who were supplemented with creatine experienced a more significant fat mass reduction than those who did not.
THE BENEFITS OF CREATINE WHILE IN A DEFICIT
Are we saying you shouldn't use creatine while in a deficit? NEGATIVE!
You most definitely should be using creatine!
- Creatine Increases Energy
- Creatine Supports Muscle Mass
- Creatine Supports Performance and Exercise
- Creatine Improves Muscle Recovery
...Creatine is KING!
When you’re in a calorie deficit, you may feel sluggish and tired, affecting your ability to perform optimally.
Creatine helps increase the energy supply to muscle tissues, which can increase your performance when lifting heavy, sprinting, or performing high-intensity interval training.
Not to mention that an increase in energy can aid in weight loss by allowing you to burn more calories each day.
SUPPORTS MUSCLE MASS
Unfortunately, many people cut too aggressively, which can significantly decrease lean muscle mass. It can also result in a suboptimal intake of creatine-rich foods.
Studies have shown that creatine supplementation combined with resistance training while dieting can effectively preserve muscle mass and help manage adult-onset obesity. Creatine can also help you maintain strength during a cut.
Furthermore, to preserve muscle mass and reduce body fat during a cutting phase, follow a high protein diet and drop your calories by 200-300 each day. Aim for a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.
It’s also vital to prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods to maintain steady energy levels throughout the day.
Check out our free protein calculator to see how much protein you should consume each day.
SUPPORTS PERFORMANCE AND EXERCISE
The role creatine plays in ATP production means that it can significantly improve high-intensity exercise performance. This can be especially helpful if you are experiencing a dip in athletic performance after changing your calorie goals.
Studies suggest creatine supplements can improve high-intensity exercise capacity by as much as 15%.
Many people report a loss of strength during a cut. Creatine supplements can also help mitigate strength loss.
For example, one study found that creatine supplementation combined with intense exercise over four weeks improved maximum muscular strength and reduced muscle damage.
Creatine also can support and improve recovery during a deficit. Studies show that creatine supplements can speed up recovery between high-intensity exercise sessions by reducing muscle damage.
Creatine supplementation may also reduce the inflammatory response following exercise, thereby reducing markers of muscle soreness and damage in the hours and days following exercise-induced muscle damage.
Lastly, it can also moderate muscle and strength loss during the rehabilitation period following an injury and accelerate recovery.
Unlike thermogenic supplements, standard creatine monohydrate supplements do not contain ingredients that specifically target fat loss. However, creatine can indirectly promote weight loss and improve your body composition because it increases muscle mass and energy, allowing you to train longer and harder.
If you are only focused on the number on the scale (i.e., a boxer trying not to exceed their fighting weight before competition), you may want to temporarily avoid creatine because it may cause a few pounds of water weight gain.
For most of us, creatine can and should be used during a calorie deficit to help maintain lean tissue mass and improve exercise performance.
As always, pair oral creatine supplementation with strength training and a healthy diet for best results.