If you are looking into taking creatine supplements, you are likely looking to increase your strength, not the number on the scale.
So, what’s the deal with creatine and weight gain.
What happens when you take creatine?
To better understand the chatter circulating about any potential pitfalls of using creatine supplements, let’s first discuss how it works.
We get most of our dietary creatine in the form of animal products, especially red meats and shellfish .
Phosphocreatine, the storage form of creatine in our muscles, is utilized in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) for energy, which allows for that boost in performance it’s so well known for .
Adding in supplementation with creatine monohydrate powder can help to increase total creatine storage levels in the muscle to full capacity to support athletic performance by providing that enhanced energy .
It should be noted that most significant benefit will come from those who do not currently have complete creatine stores in their muscle.
Learn more about how much creatine is too much.
What are the benefits of creatine?
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most extensively researched forms of creatine for supplementation, or what we might consider the gold star.
It has shown strong benefits in building strength, especially for use with short duration, high intensity weightlifting .
Studies also suggest creatine monohydrate might enhance post exercise recovery and help to prevent injury as well as provide other therapeutic benefits in the forms of cognitive function, congestive heart failure and even aging .
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) as well as others have agreed creatine monohydrate supplementation to be one of the most effective supplements available for athletes and non-athletes alike for increasing high intensity exercise and building lean body mass during training .
Does creatine make you gain weight?
There is some misconception that creatine might cause you to gain weight because of fluctuations in weight seen with your standard at home scale.
But studies do not support these claims.
One of the likely reasons this rumor came into play is due to the increased gain in body mass when taking creatine .
Creatine might promote muscle growth and muscle is more dense than fat. So it can often fool those who are scale focused.
Another reason may be due to the belief that creatine will result in an increase in water weight during the loading phase.
This is due to the idea that intracellular volume is increased when creatine storage is increased .
But, how accurate is this? To learn more, be sure to check out the facts on creatine and water retention.
Is creatine safe?
There are no reported adverse effects, or really any side effects reported from taking creatine when taken properly.
In fact, creatine has been shown to be safe for long term use in adults for up to 5 years.
There have been some concerns in the past regarding creatine’s potential effects on renal function because it is excreted by the kidneys . This is mostly a concern during the loading phase when you are taking a higher dose.
But there is no significant research to prove the validity of those concerns. To be safe, it is recommended for those with poor kidney function to use caution.
How to get started on creatine supplementation?
According to studies, the most effective way to increase muscle creatine stores with supplementation is to start with about 0.3g/kg of body weight 4x daily for about a week, known as the loading phase (although this is not a requirement).
After that point, in most individuals the muscle stores are filled and you can typically maintain by reducing supplementation to 3-5g daily or 5-10g for larger athletes .
Studies show that consuming this supplement with a carbohydrate and/or a protein source can help with consistently maintaining creatine levels in the muscle.
If you’re just getting started with creatine, try adding creatine monohydrate to a pre workout banana protein shake about half hour before you hit the gym.
To sum it up, creatine monohydrate is one of the most extensively studied athletic performance supplements.
There’s strong evidence that shows creatine can help improve muscle strength by increasing storage forms of creatine in the muscle to max capacity resulting in additional energy.
Creatine is safe when used as directed and can be helpful for athletes and non-athletes alike to improve their performance.