The popularity of creatine as a supplement is so high, that in most cases, creatine is the first name that comes to mind at the mention of supplements. It is only among regular users of supplements that the distinction is made between other formulations. Thirty percent of all athletes are known to use creatine supplements to boost performance and build muscle. There are many claims, supporting the use of creatine, among athletes and individuals who need to remain in the peak of physical fitness. While many outcomes are attributed to creatine, a question that is commonly discussed is – does creatine make you gain weight?
Here is expert opinion about creatine which will set at rest doubts about the combination of amino acids that are naturally produced in the body. Let’ start with understanding the role and the mechanism of action of creatine.
What exactly is creatine, its role and does creatine make you gain weight?
Creatine is a natural combination of amino acids produced in the body. It plays a very important role in transporting energy to the cells which helps us to perform physical activities, including intensive workouts and resistance training. ATP, acronym for Adenosine Triphosphate, delivers phosphate to the muscles during contraction. During this process, the ATP is depleted as it becomes ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate). ATP levels in the body are fixed, which effectively means that when it is depleted, the muscles do not have the required energy to be able to perform contractions. This is overcome by the transfer of phosphate from creatine phosphate in the body. Supplements help maintain a higher level of creatine phosphate in the body and this in turn helps to drive energy levels high, improving performance and outcomes of training.
It is now time to look at the question foremost in the minds of many individuals – does creatine make you gain weight? The straight answer is yes. However it is important to understand how this happens, which will help appreciate the type of weight gain that is associated with creatine. This is a lot different from weight gain associated with unhealthy foods. Weight gain from creatine is mainly due to water retention and muscle mass, which is different from that weight gain due to fat accumulation.
Different outcomes among individuals with low body fat and high body fat
As highlighted above, the weight gain is attributed to water retention and muscle mass. This is precisely why this question – does creatine make you gain weight? – is tricky. Water retention happens inside the muscles and this causes the muscles to puff up or bloat. This creates the appearance of bigger muscles and size in individuals with accompanying weight gain. However, the appearance of the outcomes will differ among individuals. Those with low body fat will look muscular, ripped, with bulging muscles, whereas individuals with higher body fat will exhibit lesser differences. The reason is pretty simple – water retention occurs inside the muscles and as a result the difference is clearly discernible in individuals with less body fat. In the case of individuals with higher body fat, the difference is not discernible as the fat prevents the changes from being visible.
Does creatine make you gain weight through increased muscle mass?
This part is true, with a twist. As individuals begin to experience the effects of better endurance and strength as a result of higher ATP transfer, the workouts have desirable outcomes. In other words, endurance levels increase, and consequently individuals push themselves to higher limits. Muscle building involves the repair of muscles that are damaged by exercise. The repair causes the fibers surrounding the muscles to join together, resulting in the creation of increased muscle fiber. This results in the creation of muscle mass, which in turn accounts for the increase in weight. However, the twist is that despite the gain in weight from the additional muscle mass, actual difference in size may not be very significant. This is because the puffiness associated with water retention would have reduced fully. Therefore the increase in muscle mass is more likely to only replace the lost puffiness. Over a period of time, the increase in muscle mass will continue, with the individual increasing in size, as per diet and training. This is precisely why the question – does creatine make you gain weight – is considered as one with a twist in the answer.
Average weight expected from creatine supplments
Weight gain from creatine intake depends on multiple factors – the type of exercises, diet, and body fat levels. However, on an average, the weight gain from creatine supplements intake is roughly 1.5 pounds. This can increase considerably after the staging phase is crossed. In other words, after the muscle mass drives the weight gain, the increase in weight is likely to be faster and significant, depending on the type of exercises and diet.
The need for sticking to recommended doses
Despite its relatively safe nature, it is essential that individuals take creatine supplements as per recommended dosage only. Excessive levels of creatine are not healthy to the body and in the case of patients with renal impairment, it is safe not to take creatine. Damage to the kidneys are a possibility when patients with renal problems use creatine supplements. Individuals who do not have any renal complications will not experience any side effects and can enjoy the benefits of creatine safely.
Does creatine make you gain weight temporarily?
The immediate weight gain that is experienced from intake of creatine supplements is undoubtedly temporary in nature. However, it is wrong to answer the question – does creatine make you gain weight temporarily? – as yes. Most athletes and professionals in uniformed forces who take creatine supplements are more likely to be involved in intensive workouts, training and resistance training. As a consequence, muscle mass will increase over a period of time and depending on the levels of physical fitness, the gain in weight can be maintained for a longer period. It is therefore, safe and supported by evidence to conclusively state that weight gain from creatine is not necessarily temporary in nature – it entirely depends on how it is used