Coach Arlan Carroll
Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
Updated: Feb 22
If you're wondering if consuming creatine in your diet makes you gain weight, keep reading. We're discussing everything you need to know about creatine.
Are you looking for a way to improve your athletic performance? You don't have to be a professional athlete to benefit from taking creatine. Creatine use is as high as 40% for grade 12 athletes interested in harnessing the power of this supplement (and it's even higher for adults).
However, many parents and athletes alike wonder whether creatine is a good option for young athletes or not. Namely, does creatine make you gain weight, and what are the other potential side effects of creatine?
In this quick guide, we'll take a look at the evidence and discuss whether or not creatine can help an athlete like you reach your athletic potential.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a compound that is found naturally in the body, mostly in muscle tissue. You can also find it in some foods, such as red meat and fish. But what's so special about this nutritional supplement?
Most athletes take creatine to improve their athletic performance. Creatine monohydrate is the most popular form of creatine supplement on the market. It is believed to increase energy levels and help build muscle mass.
Sounds great, right? Like any other supplement, it can be, and creatine supplements are generally safe. However, some people notice some potential side effects (which we'll get into in just a bit).
How Does Creatine Work in Your Body?
Before talking about potential side effects, it's helpful to have a solid understanding of how creatine works in the human body. Understanding this process helps you understand:
What's going on in your body when taking creatine
How to properly dose creatine supplements
How to prevent potential side effects
Now, how does creatine work?
When you work out, your muscles use a fuel called ATP for energy. Creatine helps to store ATP so that your muscles can use it for short, explosive bursts of energy, like lifting weights or sprinting.
Your body makes small amounts of creatine on its own, but you can also get it from creatine supplements. When you take creatine, it's stored in your muscles in the form of phosphocreatine.
During exercise, when your ATP levels start to drop, phosphocreatine releases energy to help resynthesize ATP. This helps to keep your energy levels up and delays fatigue.
So, in summary, how does creatine work? By helping to store and release ATP, creatine allows you to push your muscles harder and longer during exercise. This can be helpful for athletes looking for that extra push.
What Are the Side Effects of Creatine?
As is the case with any supplement, there are potential side effects associated with creatine use. These can include:
In some cases, people may also experience kidney problems or high blood pressure. However, for the average athlete, it's a pretty safe supplement as long as you dose it correctly.
If you're not sure about the side effects of creatine or how they might impact you then it's important to talk to a doctor before taking creatine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
Already had a bad experience with creatine? That's okay. It doesn't mean you need to swear off the supplement forever.
There are a few things you can do to avoid these creatine side effects. First, be sure to drink plenty of water when taking creatine. This will help to prevent dehydration, which can contribute to cramping.
It's also helpful to take creatine with meals or snacks. This will help to reduce bloating and diarrhea. Finally, start with a lower dose of creatine and slowly increase it over time. This will give your body a chance to adjust to the supplement and reduce the risk of side effects.
Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
One of the most common questions people ask about creatine is whether or not it will make them gain weight. The short answer is that creatine can cause weight gain, but it's not necessarily the weight most people hope for when they're training and building muscle.
Let's break down the science for you to make this easier to understand.
Creatine is a compound that helps to supply energy to your muscles. When you take creatine supplements, your body stores more of this compound in your muscles, which leads to increased water retention.
This extra water weight can cause temporary weight gain, but it's not the type of weight that will help you build muscle mass. Most of the weight you gain from taking creatine will be lost when you stop taking the supplement.
So if you're looking to bulk up, creatine alone is not the answer. However, if you're just looking to improve your performance in the gym, then creatine can be a helpful addition to your supplement regimen.
Benefits of Taking Creatine
Studies show that taking creatine can help improve performance during high-intensity exercises. This makes it a great sports nutrition supplement if you're looking to improve your:
Resistance to fatigue
Overall, creatine has been shown to increase muscle mass, strength, and power. This is principally why most athletes take creatine as part of their nutritional routine.
The above-mentioned study also declares creatine as the "world's most effective supplement" for building muscle mass quickly. In one study, athletes who took creatine for six weeks gained, on average, 4.4 more pounds of muscle mass than those who didn't.
However, creatine may help to protect against muscle injury and contribute to healthy brain function. Overall, creatine appears to be a safe and effective supplement with a variety of benefits for athletes and active individuals, even young ones.
How to Properly Dose Creatine
When it comes to creatine, one of the most important things to consider is how to properly dose it. While the recommended dose is typically 5 grams about four times per day, there are a few things to keep in mind when determining the right creatine dose for you.
Namely, you'll want to consider your weight and fitness level. Both will play a role in how much creatine you need. If you're a larger person or an experienced athlete, you may need more creatine than someone smaller or just starting.
Additionally, your fitness goals will also affect your ideal creatine dose. If you're looking to build muscle, you'll need more creatine than if you're just trying to improve your energy levels.
Finally, remember that creatine is a supplement, and it should be used as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Overdosing on creatine can lead to side effects like bloating and dehydration, so it's important to start with a small dose and increase gradually as needed.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you're taking the right amount of creatine to reach your goals. As always, if you're not sure how to dose supplements for you or your child, it's helpful to look into nutrition coaching support.
Other Nutritional Supplements to Consider
What are the best alternative supplements to take instead of creatine monohydrate? One popular alternative is beta-alanine, which is an amino acid that has been shown to improve exercise performance.
Another option is branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are often used by bodybuilders to help build muscle mass.
Unlike creatine, BCAAs are not stored in the body and must be obtained through diet or supplements. BCAAs are metabolized directly in the muscle, making them an ideal fuel source during exercise.
BCAAs also stimulate protein synthesis and help to reduce muscle breakdown. In addition, BCAAs can increase endurance and reduce fatigue. For these reasons, BCAAs are often considered to be superior to creatine.
Finally, you could also try citrulline malate, which is a compound that helps to increase blood flow and nitric oxide levels. This can lead to improved muscular endurance and reduced fatigue.
If you're worried about weight gain with creatine, then citrulline malate or BCAAs might be a better option. However, citrulline malate does not appear to be as effective as creatine at increasing muscle mass or strength. So, keep this in mind when choosing supplements.
Ultimately, the best alternative supplement for you will depend on your specific goals and needs. So, be sure to do some research and talk to your trainer before making any decisions.
Train With a Qualified Coach
So, you want to get fit, but you're not quite sure where to start. Or maybe you've been working out for a while but you're not able to gain weight and build muscle fast enough. Either way, AC Fitness & Sports Training is here to help.
We offer a unique approach to fitness that combines a bodybuilding mentality with functionality and repetition. This means that not only will you build muscle and improve your overall strength, but you'll also be able to avoid injury and live better.
Schedule a free consultation today and see how we can help you reach your fitness goals.