Continually improving your performance as an athlete is incredibly challenging, and for many athletes, it is impossible to pursue these improvements without a lot of support. A quality diet is one of the most important aspects of fitness, however, even the most well planned diet can’t always provide everything you need.
Certain forms of exercise place a lot more demand on the body than others, and one of the most challenging is weight lifting, and other explosive forms of exercise like this.
Not only do these forms of exercise place a lot of stress on your muscles and joints, but they also use a lot of energy, and require a lot to allow for proper recovery.
Not being able to meet these needs can lead to everything from plateaus in performance which are very difficult to break through, as well as injury and a loss of motivation.
All of these can stop even the most dedicated athlete, which is why so much research goes into sports supplements, and why so many high-level athletes rely on them.
While amateur athletes and sportspeople may not have access to all of the equipment and tools professionals benefit from, there are a ton of great supplements readily available, and one of the most popular is creatine.
Creatine is widely used, particularly in weight lifting and bodybuilding communities and it offers a ton of benefits when used correctly.
In this guide, we’re going to take a close look at creatine, and answer one of the most common questions regarding this supplement: does it make you gain weight?
We’re also going to look at the benefits creatine offers as well as other key information to help you maximize the benefits of this supplement and prepare for any side effects that may come with it.
Also, as always with any dietary change, you shouldn’t begin a course of creatine without first speaking to your doctor who will be able to advise you of potential risks to you personally, in line with your own medical history and other factors.
But let’s take a look at what creatine actually is.
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What is Creatine?
Many people will think of sports supplements as a very modern scientific phenomenon, but creatine was actually discovered in 1832 by Michel Eugene Chevreul and was identified as a potential boost to muscle gain by researchers at Harvard University in 1912.
Creatine plays a role in the cellular process of energy production and is stored in the muscles of the body, where it assists in particularly demanding and explosive movements.
While creatine is naturally present in the body, the amount of it varies a lot depending on an array of factors from diet to physical activity.
For example, vegetarians and vegans have a much lower amount of natural creatine in their muscles, as opposed to people who eat meat.
But even people who eat meat don’t have enough to sustain long periods of demanding exercise and training, which is where the supplement comes in.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common and widely available version of creatine, and is taken in a particular cycle that aims to load the muscles with creatine at the beginning, before tapering into a maintenance period which helps sustain creatine in the muscles over a cycle.
There are many rumours about the use of creatine, and while it is proven that it has huge benefits to sports performance, studies into side effects have shown varying results, but we’ll touch on this more later.
Can Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
Many rumours exist about creatine, and one of the most common is that it can make you gain weight.
This is true, depending on your interpretation of what you mean by weight gain.
As creatine massively improves sports performance, people who lift weights and train regularly will see increased muscle mass and size which of course increases overall body weight.
This can take some time however, and relies on a fairly structured exercise regime and diet in order to be fully effective.
Some rumors state that creatine can lead to water retention, as well as bloating, and this is one of the reasons why people are cautious about starting a creatine cycle.
While it is true that creatine can cause some water retention, for healthy people this is generally not considered to be a risk, and water will tend to naturally leave the body as a cycle comes to an end.
So yes, creatine can make you gain weight both in muscle mass and water, however the water will tend to fall away once a cycle comes to an end or enters its maintenance phase, while the muscle mass you’ve gained will remain as long as you continue working out, which is why creatine is so effective in bodybuilding and weight training.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Creatine?
The main benefit is the increase in energy and explosiveness.
At a cellular level, creatine interacts with ATP, one of the most key compounds of energy production in the mitochondria of muscle cells, and the more creatine which is available to support these interactions, the more energized and explosive your muscles will be.
Without getting too scientific about it, creatine increases your ability to lift weight, improving strength, rep count, and recovery times which are all very important for various forms of exercise.
Is Creatine the Same as Protein Powder?
While there are some protein powders that include creatine in their ingredients, creatine itself is different to protein powder.
Creatine is most commonly used and sold as a separate supplement that has a very specific use and effect on the body.
Protein powder is much different and is simply a way to pack more protein into your diet to assist in muscle recovery and growth, and doesn’t play an integral role in exercise at the cellular level in the same way as creatine.
If you’re looking to increase your muscle mass through weight training, creatine can be a great way to maximize your gains and improve the intensity of your workouts.
The benefits to your muscular endurance and strength after a successful cycle of creatine are well documented and proven, however, creatine does have its drawbacks, and only provides quality gains if used in conjunction with a well-chosen workout regime that adheres to the fundamental principles of training and targets the goals you want to achieve.
Taking creatine expecting miracle gains and improvements will lead to disappointment, but when used correctly creatine can make you gain the quality weight you want to achieve without causing you to gain fat.
Some creatine users report issues with water retention and bloating, so after a cycle, some users will start a cut phase to solidify their physique and drop what extra water and fat they may have gained after a cycle.
Creatine is very popular and should be in the toolbox of anyone looking to make serious progress on their physique and physical fitness.
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