Creatine and Weight Loss: Can It Help You Shed Pounds?

Creatine and Weight Loss: Can It Help You Shed Pounds? - Lucid™

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements among athletes and fitness enthusiasts and for good reason. Its benefits are backed by over 700 studies–but do any of them confirm that creatine can help you lose weight?


The answer is pretty simple: it depends on how you use it. Creatine can play a role in weight loss, and some people have experienced significant results when using creatine to support a weight loss-focused fitness journey. But, there are pros and cons to the creatine weight loss approach.


Come along as we explore the connection between creatine and weight loss, and help you understand how you can utilize this strength-enhancing supplement to reach your weight loss goals–and the potential drawbacks you may encounter.

Key Takeaways

Creatine isn't a weight loss supplement, but it supports muscle growth and improves exercise performance.

By enhancing workout intensity and muscle recovery and aiding in calorie burning creatine may benefit weight loss efforts.

To effectively lose weight with creatine, focus on resistance training, maintain a calorie deficit, and stay hydrated.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound made up of amino acids. It’s produced by the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and stored mainly in skeletal muscles. Your body relies on creatine to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy for high-intensity exercise and explosive movements.


While creatine is naturally produced, you can also get it from your diet by eating creatine rich foods, like red meat and fish. (Or, vegans should opt for a vegan creatine supplement). 


However, many people choose to boost their creatine levels with supplements. These supplements are popular in the fitness world for their potential benefits in improving athletic performance and increasing muscle mass.

Creatine's Potential Benefits

Creatine is best known for its role in building muscle and improving athletic performance. Research has shown that creatine can enhance strength, power, and endurance. It also helps with muscle recovery, allowing athletes to train harder and more frequently.


Furthermore, creatine has powerful nootropics benefits, meaning it can also boost your brainpower and lead to you feeling sharper.


In general, the following benefits and studies are commonly associated with creatine:


  • Enhanced muscle strength and power during high-intensity activities (2021 )

  • Increased muscle mass and hypertrophy ( 2022 )

  • Improved exercise performance, especially in short-duration, high-intensity activities like weightlifting and sprinting ( 2012 )

  • Accelerated post-exercise recovery, reducing muscle soreness and fatigue ( 2024 )

  • Enhance brain function and cognitive performance, particularly in tasks requiring short-term memory and decision-making ( 2023 )

  • Provided potential protective effects against neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, although further research is needed to confirm these benefits ( 2014 )

  • Improved hydration status due to creatine's ability to increase water retention in muscle cells, which may benefit overall athletic performance and exercise endurance ( 2012 )

Does Creatine Help with Weight Loss?

To be clear, creatine is not a weight-loss drug. It doesn't directly help you lose weight or burn fat. However, it can indirectly support your weight loss goals by helping you build muscle and improve your exercise performance.


Muscle mass plays a key role in body composition. When you gain muscle, your metabolism increases, allowing you to burn more calories at rest. This can contribute to weight loss over time when combined with a healthy diet and consistent exercise.


In fact, a 2023 study confirms this effect. The study's findings indicate that combining resistance exercise with creatine supplementation for a minimum of four weeks significantly reduced body fat percentage by 1.19%. Interestingly, this reduction in body fat percentage did not correlate with a significant reduction in absolute fat mass, which only decreased by 0.18 kg.


This suggests that the decrease in body fat percentage may be attributed to an increase in muscle mass or other factors, rather than a direct loss of fat mass.


And this effect doesn't just apply to bodybuilders and athletes. A study from 2019 found that older adults who combined resistance training with creatine supplementation experienced greater fat loss and improved muscle mass compared to those who didn't take creatine. This suggests that creatine could be a valuable supplement for people of all ages looking to improve their body composition.


Creatine supplementation, especially when combined with resistance training, can lead to changes in body composition that include:


  • Increased lean muscle mass

  • Decreased fat mass

  • Improved muscle recovery, allowing for more intense workouts


These changes can be beneficial for those aiming to lose fat and gain muscle. However, some people experience some initial weight gain when you start taking creatine due to water retention.


It sounds counterintuitive, but the effects are temporary. Let's discuss:

Does Creatine Cause Weight Gain?

One of the common side effects of creatine is water retention. Creatine draws water into muscle cells, which can cause bloating and a slight increase in body weight. 


This creatine weight gain is typically temporary and not related to increased fat mass. Usually, people experience a water weight gain of 1-2 pounds after starting creatine. Eventually, the body will adjust and drop the excess water.


To minimize the impact of water retention, consider:

  • Staying hydrated to help your body regulate water balance

  • Taking smaller doses of creatine to reduce the initial water weight

  • Focusing on body composition changes rather than the scale


With these tips, you can manage the effects of water retention and focus on the long-term benefits of creatine.

Pros and Cons of Creatine for Weight Loss

PROS

  • Preserves muscle during a calorie deficit: Creatine supplementation helps maintain muscle and strength when you're in a calorie deficit, promoting fat burning instead of muscle loss for energy. This can improve the effectiveness of your weight loss efforts and lead to a higher metabolic rate.

    Creatine's muscle-preserving benefits are especially valuable when dieting for fat loss, as muscle loss can slow metabolism.

  • Enhances workout efficiency : Creatine boosts strength and performance during workouts, allowing you to lift heavier weights and exercise longer. This can lead to more calories burned during sessions, indirectly supporting fat loss.

    Additionally, by helping you train harder and recover faster, creatine contributes to more consistent and effective workout routines.

  • Supports muscle recovery: Creatine can speed up muscle recovery after intense workouts, reducing muscle soreness and enabling quicker return to exercise. 

    This enhanced recovery means you can maintain a regular workout schedule, which is key to consistent progress in a weight loss journey. Faster recovery also decreases the risk of overtraining and injury.


CONS

  • Causes weight gain from water retention: One common side effect of creatine is water retention, causing a rapid weight gain of 2-4 pounds. 

    This is due to creatine drawing water into the muscles, initiating the muscle growth process. While this weight gain isn't from fat, it can be unsettling for those tracking weight loss progress on the scale.

  • Creates confusion with weight tracking: The water-related weight gain from creatine can lead to misleading scale readings, causing confusion and discouragement for those aiming to lose weight. This can be particularly demoralizing if scale weight is used as the primary metric for measuring progress.

    To mitigate this, it's helpful to use other indicators like body fat percentage, measurements, or fitness levels to get a more accurate picture of body composition changes.

  • May cause gastrointestinal discomfort: Creatine supplementation can occasionally lead to gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, cramping, or diarrhea. 

    These symptoms, while usually mild, can affect workout performance and overall comfort, especially during high-intensity training or strict dieting phases. If experienced, consider lowering the dosage or using a different form of creatine to mitigate these effects.

Types of Creatine Supplements


Creatine comes in various forms, including powders, capsules, and even liquid drinks. Here are some common types of creatine supplements:

  • Creatine monohydrate

  • Creatine hydrochloride (HCl)

  • Creatine citrate

  • Creatine ethyl ester


Of these, creatine monohydrate is the most researched and commonly used. It has a high bioavailability and is known for its efficacy and safety. But what does creatine mean for your weight loss journey?

How Can I Lose Weight While on Creatine?


You might be wondering, "Does creatine help you lose weight if you're on a weight loss plan?" While creatine alone won't lead to weight loss, it's possible to lose weight while taking creatine if you focus on other key factors, such as:


  • Maintaining a calorie deficit through diet and exercise

  • Engaging in regular resistance training to build muscle

  • Following a balanced diet with sufficient protein and nutrients


By combining creatine supplementation with a structured fitness plan, you can work toward your weight loss goals while benefiting from increased muscle mass and improved athletic performance.

Safety and Dosage Recommendations


Creatine is generally considered safe when taken in recommended doses. The typical dosage for creatine supplementation is 3 to 5 grams per day. 


Some athletes choose to use a "loading phase" with higher doses (20 to 25 grams per day) for the first week, then transition to a lower maintenance dose–but this has been found to be unnecessary for most people following an average workout regimen.


However, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider or sports nutritionist before starting creatine supplementation, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or concerns. They can help determine the appropriate dosage and guide you on safe usage.


Creatine may impact the liver in those with liver dysfunction. You should also consult your doctor before taking creatine while pregnant

Conclusion

Creatine and weight loss might not seem like a direct match, but creatine can play a role in helping you achieve a healthier body composition. While it doesn't directly lead to weight loss, creatine can support muscle growth, improve athletic performance, and boost your workouts.


So, the answer to the question, "Does creatine help you lose weight?" is this:


Creatine doesn't directly cause weight loss but can be part of a balanced fitness plan that leads to positive changes in body composition. Focus on consistent exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate rest, and you'll be on your way to achieving your fitness goals.




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Resources


  1. “Skill execution and sleep deprivation: effects of acute caffeine or creatine supplementation - a randomized placebo-controlled trial” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/1550-2783-8-2

  2. “Creatine supplementation post-exercise does not enhance training-induced adaptations in middle to older aged males” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-014-2866-1

  3. “CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION ALTERS THE HORMONAL RESPONSE TO RESISTANCE EXERCISE” https://www.webofscience.com/wos/woscc/full-record/WOS:000279896700003?SID=USW2EC0A26WF27O7Hn5oztRZgNLJq

  4. “Effect of Creatine and ß-Alanine Supplementation on Performance and Endocrine Responses in Strength/Power Athletes” https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/16/4/article-p430.xml?content=abstract

  5. “The effects of creatine supplementation on muscular performance and body composition responses to short-term resistance training overreaching” https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/16/4/article-p430.xml?content=abstract

  6. “Effects of short term creatine supplementation and resistance exercises on resting hormonal and cardiovascular responses” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0765159715000039?via%3Dihub

  7. “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469049/





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