Yes, it’s true – creatine can make you gain weight – but it’s usually not weight gained from fat. If you notice that the scale has gone up after taking creatine, it is usually due to water retention. Over time, increased lean muscle mass can also cause increased weight.
Weight gain from creatine may not necessarily be a bad thing. Keep reading to learn more.
Key Takeaways About Creatine and Weight Gain
Creatine can cause gain in weight, but it’s mainly due to water retention in the muscles. This weight increase is typically localized to the muscles and is not visibly distributed throughout the body.
The weight gained from creatine is usually not from fat but rather from increased muscle mass and cellular hydration.
It's important to note that gaining weight from creatine is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for individuals looking to improve performance, increase muscle mass, and enhance workout intensity. However, maintaining a balanced diet, adjusting macros, and staying consistent with exercise can help minimize any unwanted weight increase.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found mostly in the brain and skeletal muscle of the human body. It supplies energy to your muscles and may also promote brain health.
Creatine can be consumed from certain foods including red meat, poultry, and seafood. It is also a popular dietary supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
What Happens When You Take a Creatine Supplement?
Creatine supplements boost your phosphocreatine levels, helping you push harder, lift heavier weights, and perform explosive movements with greater intensity. This can lead to increased muscle mass, improved muscular endurance, and faster recovery between workouts.
When you take a creatine supplement, your body absorbs it and converts it into phosphocreatine, a molecule that plays an important role in energy production.
This extra phosphocreatine is stored in your muscles, acting as a reserve of readily available energy during intense physical activities.
The increased concentration of phosphocreatine in the muscles attracts water molecules, which causes more water to be stored in the muscles. This is known as cellular hydration.
The water retention caused by creatine supplementation is generally localized to the muscles rather than distributed throughout the body, and also usually only happens during the loading phase of a creatine cycle.
It can give the appearance of increased muscle size and fullness and also contribute to weight gain.
Does Creatine Cause You to Gain Weight?
In short, yes, creatine supplementation can cause weight increase.
While creatine may cause weight gain, it’s important to understand that weight gain does not mean fat gain, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Does Creatine Make You Gain Water Weight?
Creatine monohydrate may cause you to gain water weight.
Taking creatine supplements increase the storage of phosphocreatine in the muscles.
A high concentration of phosphocreatine attracts more water to the cells, resulting in more water being stored in the cells in your muscles. This water retention often causes weight increase.
Does Creatine Cause You to Gain Muscle?
Taking a creatine supplement can help you build lean muscle mass, but creatine itself does not increase muscle mass. Supplementing with creatine without strength training and eating a proper diet will not make you gain muscle mass.
Creatine monohydrate allows the muscles to store more creatine phosphate. When your muscles have more stored phosphocreatine, your body is better able to produce energy during high-intensity activities, such as weightlifting or sprinting.
This allows you to lift heavier weights, perform more reps, and generate greater power output. This stimulates the muscle fibers and promotes muscle growth over time.
Does Creatine Make You Gain Unwanted Weight?
Unwanted weight gain for most people equals fat gain. Creatine supplementation does not cause you to gain body fat or store extra adipose tissue.
The main reason people gain weight with creatine supplements is because of water retention.
While creatine itself does not directly cause fat gain, if you eat more calories than your body burns for energy, you may gain weight in the form of both muscle and fat.
It’s important to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to minimize the potential for unwanted fat gain with creatine.
Is Creatine Weight Gain Permanent?
Water weight gained from creatine is temporary and reversible. If you stop creatine, the water weight typically decreases over time.
The amount of weight gained from water retention can vary among individuals. Some people may experience a more noticeable increase, while others may have a more subtle effect.
But if the weight is from increased muscle mass, then it could be permanent assuming you keep up with proper training and nutrition. But you wouldn't mind that type of weight increase, would you?
What Might Cause Weight Gain From Creatine?
Weight gain associated with creatine supplementation is usually related to increased water retention within the muscles.
When you take creatine, it increases the concentration of creatine phosphate in your muscles, which leads to increased water content in the muscle cells.
This extra water can contribute to a temporary water weight gain.
Creatine does not directly cause weight gain from increased fat storage.
That being said, there are a few factors that can contribute to weight gain with creatine:
As mentioned before, the increase in stored phosphocreatine in the muscle pulls more water into the cells. The water content within the muscle cells can lead to a temporary increase in body weight.
This water weight gain is typically localized to the muscles and is not distributed throughout the body.
Creatine supplementation can enhance workout performance, allowing you to lift heavier weights or perform more repetitions.
This increased workload on the muscles, combined with improved recovery, can stimulate muscle growth over time. As muscle tissue is denser than fat tissue, when you gain lean muscle mass, it can contribute to overall weight gain.
Increased Caloric Intake
If enhanced workout performance and improved recovery are causing you to work out more frequently and more intensely with creatine, you may experience an increase in appetite.
This increased appetite may cause you to eat more.
If you eat more calories than your body burns while taking creatine, it can contribute to weight gain in terms of both muscle and fat.
Creatine itself does not directly cause fat gain, but if you are in a caloric surplus, the excess energy can lead to overall weight gain.
One scoop of creatine per day has no calories. If you exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, it is highly unlikely that you will gain fat from taking creatine.
What to Do If You Gain Unwanted Weight After Taking Creatine?
Drink More Water
Drinking plenty of water helps maintain fluid balance and supports bodily functions. It also increases urination (makes you pee more) which helps eliminate excess water from the body, and minimize some of th e water weight gain.
Consuming too much sodium contributes to water retention.
Eat more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Processed foods and fast food are high in sodium, so limit your intake of these types of foods. This may help minimize water retention and reduce bloating.
If you gain unwanted weight after taking creatine, you may want to reduce carbohydrate intake. While your body needs carbs for energy, carbs also make your body hold onto more water. Think, carbo-HYDRATE. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
You should still eat carbs to fuel your workouts and your brain but don’t overdo it. Most people can safely keep their carb intake between 225 and 325 grams each day.
Stay Consistent With Exercise
One of the best ways to eliminate excess water from the body is to remain consistent with your exercise. Sweating reduces water retention while also helping you work toward your fitness goals.
Low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) both result in increased sweat production, which helps the body rid of excess water.
Eliminating excess water can reduce weight increase caused by creatine supplementation.
A 20-minute sauna session can result in a 2-5 pound weight loss from water.
If you’re retaining water from creatine supplementation, consider regular sauna sessions to decrease the weight gained from water.
Is it a Good Idea for Me to Take Creatine?
Deciding whether or not to take creatine is a personal choice that depends on several factors. You may want to consider the following things to help you decide:
Determine your fitness or athletic goals. Creatine is commonly used to boost performance during high-intensity activities and support muscle growth.
If your goals align with these outcomes, it might be a good idea for you to take creatine.
Consider your overall health and any pre-existing medical conditions. While creatine is generally safe for healthy individuals, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or health conditions.
They can provide personalized advice based on your individual circumstances.
Evaluate your current exercise routine. Creatine is commonly used in strength training and power sports. If your training involves this type of exercise, creatine may potentially result in increased strength, power, and improved recovery.
Diet and Nutrition
Before taking creatine, be sure you have a well-balanced nutrition plan in place. While creatine can offer advantages, it's not a substitute for a healthy diet.
Make sure you're consuming enough calories, macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to support overall health and fitness goals.
The decision to take creatine should be based on your individual circumstances, goals, and discussion with healthcare professionals or sports nutrition experts.
They can provide personalized guidance and help you determine whether creatine aligns with your needs and goals.
Are There Other Risks to Creatine Besides Gaining Weight?
Creatine is generally considered safe and has few adverse side effects. However, there are concerns about potential liver, kidney, or heart damage when taken in high doses.
If you have existing liver, kidney, or heart conditions, it is important to consult with your doctor to determine whether creatine is safe for you.
Some minor side effects of creatine may include muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, heat intolerance, and dizziness. If these side effects worsen or persist, you should discontinue creatine use and seek care from a health professional.
There is a possibility that creatine may increase mania in individuals with bipolar disorder, so if you have bipolar disorder, speak to your healthcare provider before taking creatine.
If you are taking any medications, you should discuss creatine supplementation with your doctor to avoid potential interactions with creatine.
FAQs About Creatine and Weight Gain
Should I Take Creatine While Trying to Lose Weight?
While taking creatine monohydrate may cause temporary water weight retention, it does not promote fat gain. When taken in combination with a proper diet and a well-developed strength training program, creatine can help you lose weight and preserve muscle mass.
Does Creatine Make You Gain Belly Fat?
No, creatine does not directly cause the accumulation of belly fat. Its primary effects are related to performance enhancement and muscle support rather than fat gain.
Does Creatine Make You Look Bigger?
Creatine can contribute to a temporary increase in muscle size and fullness due to water retention within the muscles, which may give the appearance of looking bigger.
Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight if You Don't Work Out?
Even if you don’t work out, creatine supplementation may still lead to weight increase due to its ability to cause water retention in the muscles. However, the gain is typically modest.