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Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
Does creatine make you gain weight?
Possibly, through fluid retention - but this a good thing. (Keep reading)
Does creatine make you fat?
NO. An unchecked caloric surplus makes you fat.
Creatine monohydrate is the most widely researched and studied supplement, but even with all the studies, facts, and proven benefits - it's still the most questioned and controversial in the sports nutrition world.
Why? We don't know...
But when it comes to creatine and weight gain, what we do know is that it can cause fluid retention and since our muscles are made up of 70-80% of water, we know that's a good thing.
Keep reading, it gets better!
- Creatine can cause fluid retention.
- Fluid retention is beneficial to muscles.
- Creatine DOES NOT make you fat.
- Creatine Monohydrate is superior to other forms of creatine supplements.
- 5g daily in a non-loading phase.
- 20-25g for 5-7 days during a loading phase.
WHY TAKE CREATINE?
Plain and simple; why not?
Studies show us again and again that creatine monohydrate has ample benefits! If you're not taking creatine, you should be.
Reason 1: Creatine increases phosphocreatine stores in the muscle to regenerate ATP: In layman's terms - it provides the energy and fuel your muscles need and rely on for power and explosiveness.
Reason 2: Creatine increases muscle mass and strength.
Reason 3: Creatine reduces lactic build-up to suppress muscle fatigue, endurance, and anaerobic performance.
Reason 4: By reducing lactic build-up, creatine also reduces muscle soreness to improve recovery.
Disclaimer: Yes take your creatine, but you also need to train hard and lift heavy if you want to see any gains.
Many athletes take creatine to build lean muscle mass, promote recovery, gain strength, and enhance overall performance.
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is an organic compound derived from amino acids.
Around 95% of it is stored in muscle cells, where it supplies your body with continuous energy during periods of physical activity. It also helps build muscle mass. Your body makes its own creatine, and you can get dietary creatine from:
- Red meat
- Dietary supplements
Under normal circumstances, in a diet that usually includes around 1–2 grams per day of creatine, muscle creatine stores are only about 60–80% saturated.
In order to increase muscle creatine stores and boost performance, dietary supplementation of creatine monohydrate is a must.
Creatine supplements bind with a phosphate molecule and transform into phosphocreatine, which produces adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.
During periods of intense exercise, adenosine triphosphate is broken down faster than your body can reproduce it. This can limit your ability to continuously perform at maximum intensity.
Because creatine supplements increase your creatine phosphate (phosphocreatine) stores, your body can produce more ATP to fuel your muscles during high-intensity workouts.
CREATINE WEIGHT GAIN - GOOD OR BAD?
Some people avoid using creatine supplements because they’re fearful that it will make them gain body fat.
Although creatine can cause weight gain, it’s very unlikely to contribute to fat gain. Creatine is an amino acid, or protein, with little to no calories. To gain fat, you need to consistently eat at a calorie surplus.
The weight gain associated with taking creatine supplements is usually temporary due to increased water content in your muscles.
If anything, a slight increase in weight from creatine is a good sign because it means your muscle creatine stores are increasing.
Here are a few reasons why you may notice a slight increase in the scale after using creatine.
GOOD: INCREASED MUSCLE MASS
Studies suggest that long-term supplementation of creatine can improve training sessions, which can result in up to 15% greater gains in strength and performance.
Additionally, creatine can enhance the formation of proteins that create new muscle fibers. This can result in new muscle growth and help users gain muscle mass.
Because creatine can promote muscle growth, it may result in muscle weight gain over time.
GOOD: WATER RETENTION
"Increase in lean mass following creatine supplementation has at least partly been attributed to water retention in muscle tissue." BOOM!
Those are exact words from a review of randomized clinical trials studying creatine supplementation for muscle growth.
Let's keep going...
The initial weight gain most users experience when starting a creatine supplement is likely water retention. Creatine is osmotic, meaning it attracts and holds small amounts of water.
An increase in the muscle’s creatine content can result in rapid weight gain because it draws more water into your muscle cells.
To sum it up, the body’s water content will increase as creatine intake increases, resulting in fluid retention and water weight gain. However, the water retention will be in the muscles only, which can be beneficial because it makes your muscles appear larger.
According to a review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, people can expect an average weight gain between 2.2 and 4.4 pounds during the first week of creatine use. This is primarily due to water retention and is more noticeable during a loading phase.
Although fluid retention is often thought of as a negative, it may actually help boost your workout performance.
For example, one older study found that an increase in muscle cell volume causes swelling, which can stimulate protein synthesis.
Additionally, the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that creatine can help hyper-hydrate an athlete and improve exercise tolerance during prolonged exercise in hot and humid environments. This can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness.
BAD: FAT GAIN
NOT due to creatine.
If you're gaining fat while taking creatine, it's because you're in a caloric surplus. Not because of creatine.
Creatine has ZERO calories and can actually help you lose fat by increasing muscle mass.
Tip: If you're gaining fat, track your daily food intake and see where you can dial in your nutrition.
THE BENEFITS OF CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION
Creatine has numerous benefits for athletic performance. In fact, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine monohydrate is considered the most effective nutritional supplement for athletes and non-athletes to support lean body mass and increase exercise performance while training.
One 2018 study published in Nutrients found that creatine combined with complex weight training resulted in muscular strength and reduced muscle damage while training.
Another study found that, following a loading phase, supplementation of creatine can increase high-intensity exercise capacity by 10-20%.
Additionally, some studies suggest that creatine decreases myostatin levels, which may help you build muscle faster.
Creatine may also help improve muscular disorders. According to a 2013 review of studies, creatine can help increase muscle strength and functional performance in people with muscular dystrophy.
Although its safety has been questioned in the past, there is no solid scientific evidence that the short or long-term use of creatine supplements is unsafe.
Moreover, due to its favorable safety profile, it is considered to be a good alternative to potentially harmful anabolic steroids.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding creatine supplements.
IS CREATINE SAFE?
Studies have shown that short and long-term use of creatine is safe for healthy individuals, young and old.
WHAT IS CREATINE?
Creatine is an amino acid found in the muscles as well as the brain. It’s the most widely researched supplement on the market and has been shown to enhance athletic performance, increase muscle mass, and boost strength.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TAKE CREATINE?
Research has shown creatine supplementation to be effective before workouts, during workouts, as well as right after your workout. The key to creatine intake is to keep your creatine stores saturated in order to reap the benefits.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR CREATINE TO WORK?
It depends on how you take it.
~4 weeks till saturation.
How: Take 5g daily.
Why choose a non-loading phase? Because some individuals experience GI issues during a loading phase.
5-7 days till saturation.
How: Take 20-25g (split into multiple doses) per day.
Why choose a loading phase? To saturate the muscles QUICK!
Creatine may make you gain weight, BUT remember, it's water, not fat.
If you are using a loading phase, you may see water retention in as little as 1-2 days after beginning supplementation, but it will go away once the loading phase subsides.
If you are gaining fat, take a look at your diet and see where you can cut out the extra calories.
Lastly, remember this...
- Water retention happens in the muscles.
- Muscles are made up of 70-80% water.
- Water retention is GOOD for muscle growth.
And the very last takeaway, creatine is safe and should be your number one tool in you supplement toolbox to build muscle mass, enhance performance, and increase strength.