In a world where fitness, weight loss, and athleticism have become a trend, we can’t rule out the current trend of using creatine for weight loss. Does it help? If it does, how does it work? These are some common questions that irk people’s minds.
Used by athletes, creatine is commonly categorized as an “ergogenic aid” that fitness enthusiasts are now integrating into their routines. The takeaway? It helps improve athletic performance and the overall strength of the individual.
This article will further walk you through all the essential objectives that you need to know regarding the importance of creatine and how it can help with weight loss – in a healthy way.
Does Creatine Help You Lose Weight?
Creatine is a popular dietary supplement athletes, and bodybuilders use to enhance muscle strength, power, and endurance. While creatine has been extensively studied for its performance-enhancing effects, its role in weight loss must be clarified.
Although no detailed research indicates a “direct” contribution of creatine to weight loss, it can indirectly support weight loss by improving exercise performance, increasing muscle mass, and enhancing recovery.
What Exactly is Creatine?
If you are not a fitness nerd, it makes sense that you not knowing what creatine exactly is. Before discussing the growing popularity of this dietary supplement, let us give you a quick fact.
Creatine is naturally produced in the liver and kidneys. However, given its benefits, people often consume it via diet or supplements to augment its bioavailability and its impacts on the body.
Coming to the chemical composition of creatine, it is nothing but an amino acid complex. So, what is it made of? Creatine is a composition of arginine, glycine, and methionine.
Where is it primarily found in the body? According to studies, nearly 95% of the body’s creatine is stored and found in the skeletal muscle. The good news is that the reserves of creatine in the muscles are replenished via our diet (in most cases). It is found in eggs, meat, fish, etc.
Besides that, a significant amount of creatine in the body is created in the liver and the kidneys.
With the natural pathways of creation and bioavailability out of the way, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and bodybuilders often rely on dietary supplements to meet their increased demand for creatine.
While we are on the topic of explaining what creatine is, let us take a look at some of the types available:
Creatine monohydrate – This is the most common type of creatine available. Also, consuming around 5 grams of this form of creatine is adequate for your strength, energy, and fitness needs throughout the day.
Creatine ethyl ester – Compared to the monohydrate form, the ethyl ester form of creative requires less dosage of around 2-3 grams per day. It has a quicker absorption rate and is perfect for muscle strength and recovery.
Micronized creatine – This is a modified version of creatine monohydrate. In this, the creatine monohydrate molecules are cut up, offering more surface area for quicker absorption into the body.
How Does Creatine Work?
Before we walk you through the scientific basis of creatine and its functions, let us pay close attention to the benefits of creatine in the body:
The following benefits are based on the International Society of Sports Nutrition research.
Creatine helps in:
- Improving the exercise performance
- Increasing muscle mass and muscle strength
- Potentially preventing the risks or severity of injuries
- Ensuring quicker recovery from an injury
- Enhancing glycogen synthesis in the body
- Build resilience and sustain heavy training loads for athletes
- Protect the neural function of the brain and spinal cord
Besides these, creatine also has a variety of clinical uses as well, including:
- For treating neurodegenerative diseases
- May prevent risks of sarcopenia
- Regulate cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Reduce homocysteine levels
- It might slow down the tumor growth in certain cancers
- It might minimize bone loss
- Promote cognitive function
- It might be effective as an antidepressant
Now that you have a comprehensive idea about the benefits of creatine on the body let us walk you through the scientific mode of function. How does creatine work in the body to impart these benefits?
Growing up, we read about the importance of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules, which provide us with energy to sustain ourselves throughout the day. Creatine follows a similar pathway.
The creatine available in the body (either via diet or from the liver or kidneys) binds with the phosphate molecules to form a compound called phosphocreatine. This imparts energy to the body and prepares the muscles for high-intensity workouts.
One common misconception people have regarding creatine, weight loss, and fitness is thinking that creatine promotes body fat loss. It doesn’t burn the fat in the body. However, studies have found that taking creatine supplements can help athletes and fitness enthusiasts build lean muscle mass.
You will also find trainers and fitness geeks indulging in strength and resistance training when taking creatine supplements. Wondering why? Well, that’s because these kinds of training help with the fat-burning effects in the body.
Another misconception that needs to be busted is comparing creatine with steroids. Creatine is not a steroid and, for the most part, is safe for the body. However, we’d still recommend discussing your options with a certified physical trainer or a doctor before starting the supplement.
The Relationship Between Creatine and Weight Loss
Coming to the part of the article that made you click it open in the first place.
Does creatine supplement promote weight loss? If yes, how does it work?
We have discussed and highlighted in a previous section of the article that creatine doesn’t support direct weight loss. So, if you are taking the supplement hoping you will shed 10, 20, or 30 pounds without physical effort, you are mistaken.
There are a few researchers conducted to find out the correlation between creatine and weight loss. Let us walk you through them:
- One of the earliest research projects found mixed results when it came to testing the efficacy of creatine for weight loss.
- A few research highlights the potential benefits of creatine in promoting weight loss by reducing the fat mass in the body.
- Lastly, creatine has proven results in regulating the body's cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thereby preventing fat accumulation risks and prompting weight loss.
Considerations and Practical Applications
When discussing the types of creatine supplements, we briefly touched base with the daily dosage. However, let us elaborate on that further and look into the practical applications of the supplement.
Breaking down the dosage of creatine daily
According to recommendations from the McKinley Health Center, it is suggested to follow a specific process known as creatine loading when consuming creatine.
This process involves consuming 20-25 grams of creatine daily, spread equally throughout the day in 5-gram increments, for five to seven days.
It is important to note that following this loading phase, the daily intake can be reduced to 3-5 grams.
Adhering to the correct dosage of creatine helps to minimize potential health risks and maximize the desired results.
However, it is crucial to consult with your doctor before considering creatine supplementation. Doing so lets you better understand the associated risks and benefits and determine if it suits your specific needs.
Strategies for creatine supplementation for weight loss:
With the dosage recommendations out of the way, let us shift our focus to the strategies to maximize the impacts of creatine supplementation for weight loss.
Consume creatine-rich meats – Including food items like lean pork, beef, poultry, etc., is an excellent natural source of creatine.
Include carbohydrates – Creatine uptake in the muscles is enhanced by insulin, which is stimulated by carbohydrate intake. Including some carbohydrates in your pre- or post-workout meals can optimize creatine absorption.
Prioritize smaller and daily dosages – Taking smaller and daily doses (3-5 grams) of creatine is considered a healthier alternative compared to the loading phase.
Focus on resistance training – Including weightlifting and bodyweight exercises while taking creatine supplements is a great way to build muscle mass and promote weight loss.
It's important to note that while creatine supplementation and these strategies may support your weight loss goals, they should be integrated into a comprehensive approach that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sustainable lifestyle changes.
Potential side effects and precautions:
Like most forms of supplements, even creatine supplementation comes with a few downsides and side effects, including:
- Muscle cramps
Note: Always start creatine supplements after consulting your doctor, especially if you are on medications and have pre-existing chronic ailments.
The buzz surrounding creatine and its positive influence in promoting weight loss doesn’t await anyone’s introduction. It has taken over the internet. If you have been curious about its effectiveness, we hope this article gives you a brief rundown. While creatine might not support direct weight loss, it helps build muscle mass and reduce fat mass accumulation, which can indirectly contribute to weight loss.