You might have heard a lot about creatine at your gym. It is commonly used by athletes to get the best possible results.
Do you know what it actually is and how it works? By giving this article a read, you’ll get a clear idea about the mechanism of action of creatine and does creatine make you look bigger?
Why is it called a performance enhancer? Does it cause unnecessary weight gain? There is so much left un-discussed about creatine.
Let’s dive into it!
Table of Contents
- What Is Creatine?
- Benefits of Creatine
- Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
- Does Creatine Make You Look Bigger Without Workout?
- When and How Much Creatine Should You Take?
- What Things To Do If Creatine Has Caused Weight Gain?
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid-based molecule produced naturally in the body. The main production site of creatine is the liver and minutely present in kidney and pancreases.
The storage site of creatine is skeletal muscles which later use it for muscle contraction.
Creatine is obtained through diet as well. It is mostly present in meat sources like red meat and seafood. Vegetarians have minute quantities of creatine in their bodies.
Creatine is used as an energy substrate for athletes during strenuous intensive workouts.
The main idea of creatine is just to escape post-workout fatigue by improving the resting phosphocreatine levels in the muscles and increasing the free creatine.
Studies on creatine explain that it helps in gaining body mass by coupling with the resistance training program.
Benefits of Creatine
Not all supplements give the best results, but fitness trainers vouch for the effectiveness of this well-researched supplement.
Here are some of the chief benefits of creatine are mentioned.
- Several studies have been done over the years to see whether it is involved in strength gains or not. One research concludes that an 8% average increase in muscle strength was observed who followed supplementation with their resistance training routine.
- Creatine can increase your muscles look bigger. Here are two possible reasons for this, creatine helps the water to be stored in your muscle, and on the other side, it has facilitated you with more strength for more weight lifting.
- Creatine can increase your sprinting speeds.
- Some research claims, that creatine improves athletic performance or training. Creatine actively works to produce energy readily that will be utilized to work out even harder. Creatine also enhances the body’s ability for speed training and aerobic exercise.
- Not only the creatine works for your muscles to look fuller, but it also improves your mental performance. Creatine is involved in ATP production which is the primary energy source. When the ATP supply increase, brain activity also increases.
- Creatine helps in speedy recovery after intensive resistance or weight-lifting exercises. Research claims, it reduce cell damage and inflammation caused during the workout.
Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
It is commonly observed that shortly after starting creatine supplementation muscles start looking fuller and bigger.
But that is not due to fat gain and it is crucial to understand the reason or type of weight gain.
The main weight gain observed when having creatine supplementation is water weight. Creatine helps to hold water in your muscles which give a more prominent appearance to your muscles.
The withholding of water in muscle can be called water retention. So, in this case, we can say creatine makes you look bigger.
A notable increase in muscle size is seen even if you have just begun weight-lifting.
With water weight gain, you might experience increased muscle strength and endurance due to creatine supplementation.
Generally, creatine improves your recovery time and performance, the better the performance the better the muscle mass.
After some time, when you have achieved enough muscle mass, then, the water weight becomes less evident.
Non-muscle Weight Gain
You must be worried about an increase in fat, but to your surprise, creatine is not involved in fat deposition.
According to the nutrition facts and chemical composition, creatine has zero fats present.
Hence, an increase in fat requires calories through food, and creatine is not causing any increase in fat.
Does Creatine Make You Look Bigger Without Workout?
Taking creatine and not working out has no effect on your body. As we now know, creatine has no calories and has no effect on fat metabolism.
So taking creatine without working out and expecting to gain muscle is not how it works.
Each muscle cell in our body has the ability to store creatine. When we are taking creatine without working out it just fills up our creatine reserves.
And the rest of it is just excreted from the body, as it is. It is just that when you are not using up the reserves they won’t just be used up as quickly as otherwise.
When and How Much Creatine Should You Take?
Most people are confused about the timing of creatine supplementation.
But this shouldn’t be your only concern, just focus on the overall diet and ensure that you are consuming the proper nutrients to achieve the required results.
One research conducted in 2013 claims that creatine intake with the post-workout meal gave the best results and better muscle strength was observed.
Right after the workout, insulin spikes are experienced, which can help in better transport of creatine into muscle cells.
There’s always a question circulating about how much creatine would be enough. The standard daily dose suggested by most manufacturers is 5 grams per day.
Some sources give the information that the daily dose depends on the body weight of the consumer.
Safety and precautions
Everything, when taken within prescribed limits, is safe. Some studies have reported that people consuming more than 15 grams for more prolonged periods have observed kidney-related disturbances as creatine causes fluid retention leaving the body dehydrated.
Link Between Weight Gain & Creatine
There’s no increase in fat mass, but if you are on calorie controlled diet for weight loss, then you might get bothered.
Creatine may cause a gain of 1 to 3.5 pounds initially. It might frustrate you, but it is just water weight.
On the other hand, creatine provides more energy which will help you perform well during a high-intensity workout.
What Things To Do If Creatine Has Caused Weight Gain?
As explained on above, creatine causes a gain in water weight by fluid retention in the muscles giving them a bloated or plumped appearance.
In such a situation you need to take care of the following:
- Keep yourself hydrated – drinking more water will increase urination which will eliminate excess water from the body.
- Limit sodium intake – the more sodium in the body, the more fluid retention will occur. Your daily salt intake should be less than 2300mg per day. Avoid processed food as they tend to have higher salt.
- Cut down on carbs – carbohydrates cause the body to hold water in the body, so keep the carbohydrate intake between 220 to 325 grams per day.
- Continue exercise – physical activity will help you reduce water retention.
Creatine is considered a safe supplement to improve strength and muscle mass, but in some cases, it increases water weight due to fluid retention.
Once you have built the lean muscle mass, the fluid retention becomes less visible.
However, creatine is not involved in the gain of fat. Creatine is most suitable for athletes and fitness trainers. It also reduces recovery time after an intensive workout.
There’s no scientific evidence regarding the side effects of creatine when consumed within the prescribed limits. Hence, creatine is an effective supplement for short-term and long-term use.