You may be familiar with the term creatine if you’re a gym goer or just interested in nutrition, it is usually used by athletes and many fitness enthusiasts to help improve their performance, but can it be used to help you lose weight too?
Creatine is actually a naturally occurring compound that’s found in many red meats and fish, so those that are on a plant based diet will usually have to look at supplementing their diet with creatine to improve their performance at the gym.
But even so, those who eat red meats and fish will still sometimes look to supplement their diet with creatine too, but why?
Well, creatine can actually aid muscle growth, improve brain function and actually speed up exercise recovery, so many fitness enthusiasts will use a supplement creatine powder to get more of the compound into their diet.
When you take creatine, your muscles are able to handle much more exercise, which is absolutely vital if you are looking to build muscle.
It also increases the water retention within your muscles, which can give them a larger appearance, this is one of the reasons why creatine isn’t really regarded as a weight loss supplement, as water retention can lead to you becoming heavier, even if it doesn’t last long.
This article will look at what creatine does, if it helps with weight loss at all and a few other questions surrounding creatine.
What Does Creatine Do?
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is used by our body to power our muscles and about half the creatine we need comes from our diet and the other half is produced in our liver and kidneys.
So why do athletes and fitness enthusiasts insist on taking creatine supplements?
Well, adding creatine supplements into your diet maximizes your body’s natural creatine store which allows those working out to potentially increase their muscle size and strength, cognitive functions and glycogen storage.
You will usually find creatine in either a powder form or capsules and the optimum time to take creatine is usually around 30 minutes before your workout or shortly after your workout.
Using it after exercise is seen as much more effective since exercise stimulates blood circulation which allows cells to be supplied with creatine much faster, but creatine can be taken at any time.
In addition to aiding muscle growth and recovery and improved brain function, creatine also gives you much more energy during your workouts which can improve your performance by quite a lot.
Does Creatine Help With Weight Loss?
If you’re exercising with the sole purpose of losing weight, then you should be cautious.
Taking creatine often has side effects that can lead to weight gain due to increased water retention within your muscle, in the first week of taking creatine, people can gain around 2-4.5 lbs, although this usually is only temporary.
A Creatine also is used to increase muscle mass which can lead to you being heavier, but that doesn’t mean an increase in fat, it’ll just be the number reflected on the scales and you may notice some changes in your body’s appearance.
Creatine isn’t a diet supplement, but it can be really helpful in increasing your exercise and energy levels to maximize your performance which can lead to you losing weight in the long run.
Are There Any Health Benefits To Taking Creatine?
Any supplement that helps you to become fitter and healthier usually comes with a few health benefits and creatine follows this.
Creatine can actually have the ability to improve your functional strength as you age to maintain the strength within the muscles to support everyday life through maximizing muscle size and strength, as well as phosphocreatine resynthesis.
Some research has found that creatine supplements can actually be anti-catabolic, which means it can help to reduce the breakdown of muscle mass and another research found that it can improve short term memory in healthy individuals.
Should You Take Creatine If You’re In A Calorie Deficit?
A calorie deficit is where you burn more calories than you’re taking in, this is the main reason why you lose weight.
Exercising whilst in a caloric deficit can damage muscle fibers and impair recovery, but this is where creatine is really useful, as it boosts recovery and helps to maintain strength and muscle size.
Creatine also provides muscular endurance, which is helpful for someone looking to lose weight, as it means that you can exercise for longer and much harder.
How Much Creatine Should You Take?
It will depend on the individual, and how much creatine they are getting from their diet.
Most healthy adults will produce around 1-2g of creatine naturally per day and a typical omnivorous diet will produce another 1-2g of creatine per day.
Those who are looking to improve their exercise performance should take around 3-5g, which should be sufficient.
Creatine draws water from other parts of the body, so ensure that you drink much more water than normal to prevent dehydration.
Side Effects Of Creatine
The biggest side effect of creatine is water retention, which is only really a problem if your main goal is weight loss and you’re judging your weight loss by the numbers on the scale.
If fat loss is your main goal, water retention shouldn’t be an issue as it will only be temporary and you’ll start to see your body building more muscle and losing fat.
Some minor side effects can include muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and intolerance to heat.
Of course, if these side effects persist or get any worse, make sure to contact your doctor.
Creatine is completely safe to take and can enhance your performance as long as it is taken in the right way, whilst it might not be a weight loss supplement, it can definitely go a long way in helping you burn fat by improving your muscle mass, energy levels within your muscles and boosting recovery after your workout.
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