If you are cutting, it’s a good idea to take a second look at some of your performance-enhancing supplements, such as creatine. Should you still be taking this supplement while on a cut? Let’s dive in.
What Does Creatine Do?
Creatine is one of the most popular performance-enhancing supplements around and for good reason. Creatine helps to supply energy to your muscles, allowing you to do more for longer and get more results out of your workouts particularly during high-intensity exercise .
Creatine is naturally found in your muscle tissues in the form of phosphocreatine which is an essential precursor to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is your body’s main source of energy .
Having higher amounts of phosphocreatine means creating more ATP for our muscles to use during our workout. This leads to being able to lift heavier or do high-intensity exercise for longer before getting fatigued.
Why Do Athletes Take Creatine?
Creatine is a common supplement used by athletes to help boost performance and improve post-exercise recovery time.
According to studies, our muscles store enough ATP and phosphocreatine for 10 seconds of high-intensity activity, and creatine supplementation can increase phosphocreatine stores by 10-40% .
An increase in these stores means longer bursts of high-intensity exercise before getting fatigued which equals a big boost in exercise performance.
Additionally, creatine supplementation is believed to improve post-exercise recovery and help prevent injuries by reducing the muscle damage that can occur during high-intensity exercise .
Will Creatine Make Me Gain Weight?
One of the most common controversies associated with creatine supplementation is weight gain however, creatine is not associated with any permanent increase in body weight that is related to fat gain.
However, participating in a creatine loading phase may cause a temporary increase in water retention that resolves in most cases once you go back down to a maintenance dose. This increase is due to creatine pulling water into your muscle tissue and may also include a slight increase in muscle mass as well .
Will Creatine Make Me Retain Water?
As mentioned above, creatine can cause water retention but this is typically only if you participate in creatine loading.
Creatine loading is when you take large doses of creatine, such as 20-25 grams per day for 5-7 days to saturate your muscles with phosphocreatine and then you go back down to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day .
This fluid retention is usually mild and typically resolves once the loading phase has ended however, some may still notice some minor fluid retention while taking creatine supplements. This is typically less noticeable as you begin to build more lean body mass.
Will Creatine Help Me Preserve Muscle Mass?
Aside from helping to boost muscle growth, creatine can also help to preserve and support the muscle mass that you currently have.
Creatine is stored in our muscle tissues in the form of phosphocreatine along with water. This is why during a loading phase you may notice some water retention as these stores are increased rapidly. It may also temporarily increase the size of your muscles.
This extra water can help to protect the muscle fibers from damage and atrophy, especially during cutting when your caloric intake is reduced in an attempt to lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass.
Additionally, creatine levels are typically reduced during muscle loss, which can be seen with age. Research has found supplemental creatine can keep phosphocreatine levels high which aids in muscle retention through various pathways likely stimulated by creatine’s osmotic properties .
Should I Take Creatine When Cutting?
Since the goal of cutting is to lose body fat while maintaining or growing muscle mass, creatine may be a helpful tool to give you better results.
One of the challenges with cutting is being diligent about balancing your intake and avoiding under-eating calories or protein and causing unintentional muscle losses. Supplementing with creatine can help to protect the muscle and help you preserve lean body mass better while in a calorie deficit .
How Much Creatine Should I Take When Cutting?
It’s common for athletes to use a loading dose of 20 grams per day of creatine during a cut since it’s typically done over a short period (about 1 month). This can be effective for some but lower doses are also seen as effective.
For example, a typical loading phase of 5 grams of creatine 4-5 times per day for 5-7 days is recommended to boost muscle gains and performance during a cut. After this, athletes can go down to a maintenance phase of 3-5 grams per day but some larger athletes may require slightly higher doses .
Can Creatine Help Me Burn Fat?
Creatine itself does not help you burn fat however, it is associated with an increase in muscle gains which can aid in boosting metabolism and weight loss.
Some studies have found that the combination of creatine supplementation along with resistance training led to more fat loss than those using just resistance training, therefore if you are trying to lose fat, it can be helpful to add creatine in .
Creatine is one of the most popular performance-enhancing supplements around. Research has shown that creatine helps to supply energy to your muscles, allowing you to do more for longer and get more results out of your workouts.
Those who are cutting may see additional benefits with taking creatine during this time as it can help to preserve muscle mass and avoid any potential damage to the muscle fibers while also boosting performance for muscle gain.
Additionally, studies have found that creatine, when combined with regular resistance training, resulted in higher amounts of fat loss compared to those who did not take creatine. This can be especially helpful for athletes who are cutting.
Creatine may result in some temporary fluid retention that may appear as weight gain however, this usually goes away following the loading phase and is not associated with fat gain.
So if you are getting ready for a cut and you are considering taking creatine, you can feel confident that this supplement will help get you where you want to be.