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Is Creatine Good For Weight Loss?

Published on
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Is Creatine Good For Weight Loss?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Creatine is a popular supplement that may increase muscle growth and improve exercise performance. 
  • Although creatine may help with muscle growth, current research demonstrates it has little to no effect on fat mass reduction and is unlikely to promote weight loss. 
  • To lose weight, follow evidence-based strategies such as eating a balanced diet, doing regular physical activity, and working with a registered dietitian.

Creatine supplements are prevalent in fitness circles because they increase lean muscle mass, aid with muscle tissue recovery, and may improve exercise performance.

The supplements are also being researched for potential health benefits in cognitive function, cardiovascular health, glucose management and diabetes, and people at risk of muscle wasting.  

Although taking creatine while working out can promote muscle growth, there’s no significant evidence it promotes weight loss.

Keep reading to learn more about creatine and decide if it’s right for you. 

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What is Creatine? 

Your muscles rely on creatine for energy during intense bursts of activity, such as heavy lifting and sprinting.

The liver, brain, kidneys, and pancreas produce approximately 50% of your daily creatine requirements, and the remaining 50% should come from food.

Creatine can be found in meat, fish, and other animal by-products such as yogurt and eggs. 

Dietary creatine levels will be too low for people wanting to increase muscle mass, and they may add a supplement to their nutrition plan.

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular options in the fitness and weightlifting community due to its long-standing safety record.

Always speak to your physician before starting a supplement.    

The positive effects of creatine and sports performance have been documented for several decades, and 2022 research continues to demonstrate that taking creatine while following a fitness routine can help muscle growth in young, healthy people. 

Interestingly, creatinine supplementation didn’t have the same effect on older healthy participants (above the age of 54), which suggests creatine metabolism may change as the body ages. 

Is Creatine Good for Weight Loss?

No evidence suggests that taking creatine supplements will lead to significant weight loss.

Although it may help develop muscle, which could alter body composition, taking creatine doesn’t produce notable weight changes. 

When you start using creatine, you may experience a temporary increase in your weight by 2-4 pounds.

This is because creatine promotes water retention, a necessary step for muscle cell growth.

Water weight is not an actual increase in body mass, and your weight should regulate over time. 

Frequent weight fluctuations throughout your weight loss journey can be frustrating and confusing, but they are expected.

Staying away from the scale and avoiding weighing yourself may be helpful.  

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What Science Says About Creatine and Weight Loss

A meta-analysis reviewed 19 studies and found that people over 50 lost 0.5kg after 7-52 weeks while taking creatine and completing resistance exercise routines.

This small amount of fat loss isn’t much. 

Research continues to investigate the possible link between creatine and weight loss; however, most research involves animal studies.

The findings suggest that creatine promotes fat tissue breakdown to use as energy, but these results have yet to be reported in human studies. 

Potential Benefits of Taking Creatine for Weight Loss 

Although it’s unlikely creatine will directly lead to weight loss, it does promote cellular metabolic activity, which may increase your energy output while being active and support weight loss. 

Increased Muscle Mass and Metabolism  

Creatine monohydrate supplements promote muscle growth by increasing the phosphocreatine-to-creatine ratio in skeletal muscle, which speeds up the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Your muscles need a steady supply of ATP to complete exercises, get stronger, and increase in size. 

Maintaining or increasing muscle mass while losing weight is essential for a healthy weight-loss journey.

Losing muscle mass instead of fat can slow your metabolism (making it harder to lose weight) and increase the risk of severe health complications later in life.

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Enhanced Exercise Performance 

More available ATP in your muscles means you can exercise longer, which may indicate better performance.

You may complete more reps (the number of times you complete an exercise, like weightlifting), or you may sprint faster. 

Although creatine may improve exercise performance, no supplement can produce overnight results.

It will take at least two to four weeks and consistency to see changes. 

May Help with Fat Burning During High-Intensity Workouts 

Taking creatine may help you develop bigger and stronger muscles, which may increase energy output during high-intensity workouts. 

The CDC recommends strength and resistance training twice weekly for 30 minutes, including weightlifting, working with resistance bands, pilates, and heavy gardening. 

If you enjoy brief and intense workouts, you may enjoy interval training.

Research indicates that regular resistance training exercises, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) two to three times per week, can increase your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories. 

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Potential Side Effects and Precautions

Most people tolerate 3-5g of creatine daily, but higher doses may cause side effects.

Common side effects include weight gain, stomach pain, diarrhea, and possible muscle cramps. 

Some people may be allergic to creatine and could experience hives and respiratory symptoms, including difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

Seek emergency medical support if you experience any of these symptoms. 

Less common side effects of taking creatine include:  

  • Pounding or irregular heart rate.  
  • Swelling and puffiness in the face. 
  • Symptoms of dehydration (unable to urinate and feeling thirsty).
  • Electrolyte imbalances (feeling dizzy, drowsy, nauseous, light-headed, and fatigued. You may also experience muscle pain or weakness).

Stop taking the supplement immediately if you experience these symptoms, and follow up with your doctor. 

Recommended Dosage for Weight Loss  

There’s no recommended dose for weight loss.

However, most people who take the supplement for muscle growth take 3-5g daily after a workout.

Although taking creatine on an empty stomach is safe, combining it with carbohydrates and protein is recommended to maximize absorption. 

Here are some post-workout snacks that pair well with creatine

  • Apples and nut butter. 
  • Whole grain crackers with a sliced hard-boiled egg. 
  • Cottage cheese with fresh fruit. 
  • Whole grain toast with tinned fish. 

Loading and Maintenance Phase 

In 1992, Dr. Roger Harris was researching creatine and exercise physiology and suggested loading up on creatine supplements to ‘achieve faster results’ (loading phase). 

He recommended ingesting 20-25g of creatine daily for 5-7 days.

To help with absorption, most people would ingest 5g of creatine with four or five meals. 

After one week of high-dose supplementing, filled muscle stores likely grow faster.

Moving forward, you could decrease your intake to the recommended 3-5g/day (maintenance phase).

However, researchers have demonstrated that people taking creatine supplements while working out experienced similar muscle growth, whether they take 3g for 28 days or 20g for six days.

Additionally, people who took smaller doses experienced less weight gain than those in higher-dose groups.

You don’t need to follow the creatine loading and maintenance phases to benefit from the supplement.

If you want to decrease the chances of weight fluctuations, you may benefit from a smaller dose (3-5g/daily). 

A Balanced Approach To Losing Weight

To achieve your weight loss goals, consider taking a holistic approach and making evidence-based changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Eat balanced meals daily, avoid restrictive diets, and exercise regularly.

The CDC recommends building up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, plus two strength training workouts. 

You can build nutritious meals at home by following the USDA MyPlate tool. 

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables, which can be cooked or served fresh in a salad. 
  • Dedicate a quarter of your plate to lean protein, such as poultry, fish, eggs, and plant-based options, including beans and tofu. 
  • Fill a quarter of your plate with grains, including barley, quinoa, brown rice, farro, and wheat berries. 

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Takeaway

Creatine functions at the cellular level (so don’t expect to see instant results) and works best when you complete regular exercise.

The supplement may increase muscle growth and enhance exercise performance, but there isn’t strong evidence it will lead to weight loss. 

Creatine is safe for most people, but you should consult your doctor before starting new supplements. 

How a Dietitian Can Help

Building a weight loss plan under the guidance of a registered dietitian makes achieving your goals much easier.

They’re expertly trained in nutrition and can offer practical tips to help you stay motivated throughout your weight loss journey

You may not know what to expect if you’ve never worked with a dietitian. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Is creatine safe to take? 
  • What happens when I stop taking creatine? 
  • What’s a healthy weight loss goal for my body? 
  • What should I eat to lose weight
  • Do I have to give up my favorite foods to lose weight?

Find a dietitian near you that accepts insurance using Nourish.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I lose weight on creatine?

It’s unlikely that creatine alone will help you lose weight.

However, you might see results if you make other lifestyle changes, like exercising regularly and following a balanced diet. 
If you need help losing weight, you can book an appointment with a registered dietitian.

Does creatine burn belly fat?

No supplement or food can target fat in the body—your genetics influence where you hold weight, which is out of your control. 

Instead, focus on areas of your health you can influence, such as your food choices and level of physical activity.

The best approach to losing fat is to follow a nutrition plan created by a registered dietitian.

Which creatine is best for weight loss?

No creatine supplement is known to promote weight loss.

Still, creatine monohydrate has been the most studied and appears reliable for muscle growth and exercise performance, which may appeal to you depending on your goals.

References

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