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Have you been considering adding creatine supplementation to your training and nutrition plan?
Do you want to understand how Creatine works and how it enables the body to gain weight? Do you want to add more muscle and improve your athletic performance?
Excellent! So did I and that’s why I have written this article as it’s likely you have the same burning questions I did!
This article will go through all you need to know about Creatine and what you can expect from using it, including all the weight-gaining questions you can think of!
So let’s dig deeper!
You’ve no doubt heard about Creatine, either in the gym or online, right? But barring it being a plain white powder and being able to make you stronger, do you know what it is?
Well, fear not! Let’s get to the stats and facts!
Creatine has been around for over 20 years. It is THE most researched supplement in the sports supplement market today! Its use is widespread across all sports as a natural, results-inducing supplement.
At its fundamental, Creatine is an amino acid that your body needs to create ATP, which fuels all the body’s cells.
Creatine occurs naturally in the muscles and is instrumental in producing energy so they can contract. Due to this, those taking Creatine observe its effects within 48 hours as it enables the muscles to work and contract faster and harder.
It is also worth noting that over 94% of Creatine will be in the muscles, whilst the remaining 6% will be in the kidney, liver, pancreas and brain tissue.
Creatine and ATP go hand in hand.
ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate, and it’s like the energy currency of our cells.
Just like we use the money to buy things we need, our cells use ATP to move our muscles or think.
The “triphosphate” part of its name means it has three parts called phosphates.
When our cells need energy, they break off one of these phosphates, which releases energy the cell can use. Think of it like breaking a dollar bill in half to get quarters – you still have money to use, just not as much. Our cells are constantly making more ATP to keep going.
Creatine helps by giving our cells more phosphates so that more ATP can be made.
So, by having more Creatine in your cells, you can have more energy available to lift weights or run faster.
By lifting more reps with bigger weights, Creatine will help you build lean muscle mass quicker!
Creatine helps you run faster, jump higher, and have more endurance in activities that involve short bursts of intense energy.
Creatine helps reduce muscle soreness and damage after a workout, which can help you get back to training sooner. The faster you recover, the more lean mass you can gain!
Some research suggests that Creatine helps improve memory and cognitive function. However, more research is needed in this area.
It’s important to note that Creatine should supplement a healthy diet and regular exercise. It’s also not recommended for people under 18 years old, pregnant and lactating women and people with kidney problems without consultation with a doctor.
Creatine makes you gain weight due to increased muscle mass, water weight, and overall cell volumization.
Let’s go through each of the above reasons in more detail :
Water weight gain and cell volumization: Creatine attracts water into the muscle cells as it has a chemical structure that forms a bond with water molecules, known as osmosis. It also promotes cell volumization due to the cells being over-hydrated, and this causes the muscle cells to swell in size.
Increased muscle mass: Both of the above effects will add weight to the body as the water will only get flushed out of the system once Creatine use decreases.
It’s important to note that the water retention caused by Creatine is okay; it can have some benefits. For example, the extra water in the muscle cells can help provide a better environment for muscle growth and can also help cushion the muscle fibers, reducing muscle damage and soreness during training.
Can you minimize the water retention from Creatine? Yes, but honestly, you want to embrace it as it’s good for the body and your gym gains!
How so? Hydrating muscle cells is good for the body as it creates an environment for your muscles to perform stronger and longer. This stimulates the muscle fibres, allowing them to grow bigger and stronger.
However, that being said, no one wants to have excessive bloating, so you should consider the following points when taking creatine supplements:
Drink more water: If the body is provided with ample water, it doesn’t need to hold on to water. So please ensure you drink at least 2 liters of water per day.
Spread out your creatine dosage: Split the creatine dose across the day, as this will limit how much Creatine goes into the cell, thus stopping water retention. 2.5g / dose should be more than enough.
Take a break from Creatine: It is always recommended to cycle it instead of being on it indefinitely. The general industry recommendation is to cycle it four weeks on and eight weeks off and change it according to results.
Reduce your sodium intake: Salt will increase water retention, so monitoring how much you take is very important. Keep to the recommended guidelines, check how much you consume, and change accordingly.
Yes, there are side effects associated with taking Creatine.
But it is worth noting that Creatine is the most researched sports supplement in the market, with over 20 years of use and thousands of research papers on its use and results.
On that side, if you use the supplement wisely and consider the following, then those will be minimized:
Weight gain: Creatine will help you gain muscle mass and, therefore, weight gain. This is usually positive, but some people may not want this effect.
Cramping: You may experience muscle cramps if you consume too much Creatine or your body is sensitive to it. If you do, discontinue its use and if needed, consult a doctor.
Dehydration: Creatine increases water retention, and if you don’t consume at least 2 liters of water per day, there is a risk of dehydration.
Stomach upset: You could experience diarrhea if you are sensitive to
creatine, in which case, reduce the dose or stop it completely.
Kidney problems: Whilst rare, there have been a handful of cases related to kidney issues, so if you experience them, please stop Creatine and seek medical help.
It’s important to note that most of these side effects are minor and can be avoided by staying hydrated and taking the recommended dosage.
Many types of Creatine exist, but the most common forms are listed below.
Creatine Monohydrate: The most popular and widely studied form of Creatine and the first to market over 25 years ago.
Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE): CEE was created to be easily absorbed by the body. After creatine monohydrate, CEE is the most popular, albeit with a very bitter taste.
Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL): This has been made with hydrochloric acid. It’s a cheaper form of Creatine and easy to mix with water.
Creatine Nitrate: This has been made with nitric oxide. It gives the users unique muscle pumps as it increases blood flow to the muscles.
Buffered Creatine is the preferred creatine type for those with stomach sensitivity.
Depending on your creatine supplement, you may see more than one type of Creatine in the blend. Trying various kinds will enable you to see which forms work best for your body, as not all classes will give the same results.
The recommended dosage is between 3 and 5 grams per day to limit water retention from the Creatine. We recommend that it is split up into 2 or 3 doses per day so take 1.5 grams three times per day.
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Creatine will not make you gain belly fat, and you will need a calorie surplus to gain fat.
Creatine helps increase muscle creatine stores and, therefore, also helps build muscle mass. But the initial phases of creatine supplementation will induce water weight gain, which can be as much as 7 lbs in one week.
You can take Creatine whilst trying to lose weight, but if you measure your results by weight, the scales may lie to you due to water weight gain in the body.
Creatine will enable you to put on more lean muscle mass to help you gain weight. Any weight loss you experience will be via your diet and training schedule.
Lean muscle mass will be permanent (assuming you continue to diet and train), but do expect your body to drop water weight once you stop taking creatine supplements.
You can expect to gain up to 3lbs of lean muscle mass in a month if you train and eat right and supplements with Creatine. You can expect up to 10 lbs of weight gain if we include water weight.
A creatine loading phase is five days in which you take around 8 to 10 grams of Creatine per day to saturate your body with Creatine. This loading phase ensures that your muscle cells get the maximum creatine levels. Once this 5-day period finishes, you continue at 3-5 grams daily for another three weeks before cycling off.
Yes. Creatine will be higher in your muscle stores and cells, allowing you to lift heavier weights in the gym.
As you can see from all the information in this article, Creatine DOES make you gain weight. It WILL make you stronger and bigger, some of that due to water weight gain, and the rest is from muscle tissue growth.
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