“Can I lose weight with creatine?”, is a frequently asked question from bariatricians. If you’re enthusiastic about weight loss, someone must advise creatine to you because it’s a commonly used supplement. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that, each year, Americans use more than 4 million kgs of creatine.
Creatine is used by athletes, young and old people to improve their exercise performance and increase their muscle mass. But these are not the only benefits of creatine. If you look creatine medically and scientifically, creatine has many defensive and nurturing roles in the body.
Moreover, Creatine is a 100% harmless supplement and mostly used to help muscles recover more quickly during exercise. There are a lot of myths about creatine for weight loss. You should know the facts about creatine and turn a deaf ear to these myths.
Table of Content
What is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid derivative stored specifically in muscles in the form of creatine phosphate. It’s not an essential nutrient because your body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys produce about 1 gram of creatine daily. But if you will take extra creatine as a supplement, it will have a positive impact on your body.
Creatine monohydrate, the best creatine for weight loss, is a water-loving compound so attracts a lot of water around itself. As it resides in muscles, it loads muscle tissues with water. But as it absorbs a lot of water from interstitial sources, our body’s physiological balance gets upset. This imbalance causes the brain to trigger the feeling of thirst. So, if you are taking creatine, you may have to drink a lot of water.
Should You Use Creatine When Trying to Lose weight?
If someone wants to know whether he/she should use creatine supplements or not when trying to lose weight, then the answer is yes. You should necessarily take creatine because when you cut calories and perform heavy exercises, your muscles can be damaged but creatine prevents this damage.
Creatine will have zero effect if you use it all alone because creatine neither adds nor burns fat. You must do workouts if you’re using creatine for weight loss. Reasons why creatine supplements necessary are:
- When you want to slim down your tummy and for so, you start a heavy workout and cut calories intake, there are chances of your muscles getting hurt. If you’re taking creatine supplements, creatine will prevent your muscles from wearing out. It does so by preserving water in muscle tissues. Water will help preserve and cushion the muscle fibers.
- Additionally, creatine provides energy, more appropriately, ATPs to your muscles when you’re doing heavy exercise. Because during exercise, your body faces a shortage of energy, creatine phosphate breaks down to produce ATP and fulfils this energy demand.
- Moreover, when you’re doing heavy exercises, you get sweaty. It can cause dehydration in your body. In order to prevent it, you must drink plenty of water and should take creatine supplements so that your body’s water can be preserved by the water storing ability of creatine.
- Creatine is extremely recommended during weight loss because if you don’t take creatine supplements, your muscles will get dehydrated and you can have muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are painful involuntary contractions of one or more muscles.
- Creatine boosts collagen production. Collagen is the main component of endomysium in muscle tissue. Collagen is also a main building block of skin, tendons, hair etc. So, collagen production will lead to muscle growth and increase in lean body mass.
Additionally, Study shows that creatine reduces the level of myostatin, a molecule that is present in muscles especially those which are responsible for movement (skeletal muscles), that’s responsible for stunting muscle growth. Reducing myostatin can help you build muscles faster.
Moreover, it can produce changes in many proteinogenic pathways going on in muscle cells. These changes boost protein production and help muscle fibers to grow faster.
Creatine increases muscle growth also in another way. It can also uplift the level of insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). It’s a hormone produced in the liver, skeletal muscles and many other tissues. In skeletal muscles, this hormone promotes the increase of muscle mass by increasing protein production inside them.
Does Creatine Help Burn Fat?
Creatine is very helpful for fatty liver patients. According to a recent study:
Studies have shown that creatine supplements can reduce the stored fat, triglyceride, in liver cells. Creatine does so by increasing the rate of fatty acid oxidation in hepatocytes. In this way, creatine acts as a fat burner in the liver resulting in beneficial effects in fatty liver and non-alcoholic liver disease.
Fatty liver is a silent killer. Initially, it doesn’t show any symptom but when a large amount of fat is accumulated in the liver, it causes liver inflammation and during the healing process, liver tissues are replaced by fibrotic tissues. In this way, liver cirrhosis occurs. In the end, liver cirrhosis is life threatening.
Creatine Benefits While Doing Exercise in Hot Environment
Creatine enhances performance in hot and humid environments so you can burn fat swiftly. It does so by:
- Maintaining hematocrit because it attracts water and maintains plasma volume during dehydration onset.
- Aiding thermoregulation.
- Reducing too much sweating as it may cause dehydration.
Creatine Increase Lean Body Mass
Lean body mass is actually the difference between total weight of body and fat weight. It simply means, the weight of the whole body except fat. The normal range of lean body mass is around 70% – 90% with women being towards the lower end of the range and men higher.
For the people who used to do heavy exercises for muscle building, creatine is a very good supplement for them. Creatine helps increase lean body mass, increase muscle growth and strength, quicker muscle recovery during exercise and heals muscle rapidly after heavy exercise. So creatine increases muscle mass but is also good for fat loss.
Research proved that when trainers with creatine supplementation compared with trainers who didn’t take creatine, the trainers with creatine supplementation had much more muscle strength than others. That’s why lots of athletes and bodybuilders use creatine supplements.
Creatine Prevents Muscle Fatigue:
Muscle fatigue is a signal that your muscle cannot work anymore. It means your muscles are exhausted. It mostly occurs during heavy exercise and during long term workouts.
Creatine acts as an additional fuel stored in muscle. It is preserved in muscle tissues and not used until muscle is in dire need of energy. When you start doing exercise, first of all, your muscles use ATPs already present in your body. But when this ATP reservoir diminishes, creatine phosphate comes into action.
Creatine phosphate provides the body with ATP. If your body is deprived of creatine, it will cause muscle fatigue. It’s an alarming condition that your muscles have no more energy to work. Now, your body is no longer able to workout.
Creatine Boosts Metabolism:
Creatine plays important role in metabolism in 2 ways:
- Uplifting fat oxidation in hepatocytes
- By providing energy in the form of ATP
Creatine helps fat burn by increasing triglycerides oxidation in the liver cells.
During exercise, your muscles need a lot of energy. Your body can’t make so much energy by the food you intake or by other resources. Then the stored reserves in the form of creatine work.
Creatine, present in the form of creatine phosphate in muscles, acts as a source of energy. It is used to break down into ATP that’s used by muscles to fulfil energy demand.
Creatine reduces muscle friction during workout:
Creatine is a water-loving molecule. It used to attract and retain water. As it is present in muscles, it reserves a lot of water in muscle tissues and prevents them from dehydration.
Friction is actually present between all those objects that come in contact with each other. Although muscle fibers are microscopic, friction is still present between them. A lot of energy is utilized to overcome this friction and a lot of your body’s ATPs are used everyday against this friction.
The water present in muscles will help in reducing friction between muscle fibers while doing exercise. This water cushions muscle fibers. So, there is less wear and tear of muscles during long term and heavy workouts.
Best creatine for weight loss
Although, there are many forms of creatine. Some forms of creatine are, creatine ethyl ester, buffered creatine, liquid creatine etc. These all are creatine but different molecules are attached with the creatine in different forms.
Based on scientific evidence, Creatine monohydrate is the best recommended creatine for fat loss because it is backed by the strongest research evidence. Creatine monohydrate is available both in liquid and powdered form. It is believed that creatine liquid is more effective than creatine powder for weight loss because liquid creatine is more readily available.
Creatine monohydrate contains creatine and one water molecule attached to it. It is a highly polar compound and is very efficient in water retention and keeping muscles hydrated.
Myths about Creatine
There are some false ideas about creatine that prevent you from using creatine. Here is the reality of these myths.
Is creatine bad for the kidney?
Creatine isn’t harmful but even helpful for a healthy person. It doesn’t cause any damage to the kidneys of a healthy person. But if taken in large amounts, it can behave as a noxious chemical for the people who are suffering from chronic renal diseases or those who are using potentially nephrotoxic medications.
If you are a patient of any renal disease or if you are taking any nephrotoxic drug, you must consult a doctor before using any creatine supplement.
Does muscle loss occur if we stop taking creatine?
Actuall, during initial days of creatine usage, there is a loading phase of creatine i.e. water retention in the body. This isn’t the muscle mass but the water weight in muscles. When we stop using these creatine supplements, this water weight diminishes and people think they have lost their muscle mass. Creatine can burn fat but can never cause muscle loss because it has proven that creatine is for fat loss and muscle gain.
Should I stop taking Creatine for summer?
This is also a myth that we should not use creatine during hot days. But the truth is the opposite. A research was performed to see the side effects of creatine use during summer and the result was that short-term creatine administration didn’t have any noxious effect on thermoregulatory responses of the human body during exercise at very high temperature.
Even during hot and/or humid summer days, creatine is very beneficial when you are doing exercise in a hot environment. The benefits are already elaborated.
Does Creatine Cause Weight Gain if you Don’t Workout?
Some guys think that they will gain weight if they take creatine supplements but will not do exercise. But expert Roussel denies this notion. He says that creatine has no calories, so it cannot cause fat accumulation in the body. It cannot cause any non-muscle weight gain and cannot cause fat buildup in any part of the body. It is the greater number of calories that is making you fat.
If you are taking creatine but not working out, then your muscle mass increases. It is the loading phase of creatine but some people think that creatine prevents weight loss. This is not the fat but the water weight in muscles. When you stop taking creatine, this water weight disappears.
During creatine loading phase, adults gain about 1.5-3.5 pounds, but that weight gain is temporary and due to water retention in muscles. Still, increase in body weight due to supplementing with creatine is short term and temporary which typically normalizes within a few weeks after the loading phase of creatine ends. But it’s true that creatine stops weight loss if you will not workout.
Does Creatine not Work Unless Loaded?
It’s a false notion that creatine will not work unless loaded. You can saturate your muscles with creatine without reaching the loading phase. But it takes time so you should have patience.
When you are taking creatine in low amounts but you are taking it daily, then it will take time but your muscles are saturated with creatine after some time.
Creatine supplements are extremely safe for your body. They do not cause any harm to your body. It is one of the most beneficial sports supplements available. It is scientifically proven that creatine is for weight loss and muscle gain.
The people who want to lose weight, athletes and bodybuilders should take creatine. The people who are overweight must try to lose weight because obesity is the root of all disease. And in order to prevent any adverse effects on your muscles during weight loss, you should take creatine supplements according to the bariatrician’s prescription.