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Does Creatine Help You Lose Weight? According to a Dietician

Anthony Diaz
Published by Anthony Diaz
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 3, 2022

Dietary supplements are a hot topic at the gym. My fitness clients often come to me with questions after they hear chatter about the latest trending weight-loss product their fellow gym-goers are taking.

I sat with our dietician to evaluate the risks and benefits of oral creatine supplementation so I could better equip my clients to make informed decisions.

Read on to find out if taking creatine aids weight loss.

Quick Summary

  • Creatine supplementation may indirectly aid weight loss by promoting lean muscle mass, which will burn more calories than fat.
  • Creatine does not target fat burning but promotes muscle protein synthesis, so you should not use it specifically for losing weight.
  • Creatine supplements can efficiently increase athletic performance and capacity.

Will Creatine Help You Lose Weight?

A spilled creatine in a container

Creatine may indirectly help you lose weight by promoting muscle growth.

Increasing muscle mass can help strip body fat because muscle tissue burns more calories than fatty tissue [1].

Before diving into creatine’s role in weight loss, let’s look at what it is and what it does in the body.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid found in muscle cells. It provides energy to muscles during workouts or other intense activities.

The muscles store approximately 95% of the creatine in the body in the form of phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate) [2].

Most people get through consuming seafood and red meat.

Additionally, our bodies produce about one gram daily of creatine naturally in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys [3].

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine monohydrate is the most common type of creatine found in supplements and the most effective for increasing athletic performance, capacity, and lean muscle mass {4}.

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What Does Creatine Do?

Getting a scoop of creatine

Creatine helps provide muscle cells with a continuous supply of energy.

The heavier the workout, the more depleted creatine stores can become.

A creatine supplement can restore the body’s supply and provide a quick burst of energy at the gym for lifting weights [5].

Besides being a popular supplement for everyday gym-goers for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance training, creatine use is prevalent in power athletes like bodybuilders, wrestlers, and football or hockey players [6].

Creatine is also good for runners as it provides the strength and power to push to the limits.

Creatine may promote water retention because it draws water into your muscles. It generally happens during the loading phase (more on that in a minute) because the initial higher dosage rapidly pulls water into your muscles [7].

More water in your body will likely add a few pounds to the scale. One study shows that during the first week, some people experienced a gain of as much as 4.5 pounds [8].

“Consuming creatine supplements can increase the amount of it in your cells. This can aid energy production and improve exercise performance.”

-Grant Tinsley, Ph.D.

How Much Creatine Is Safe to Take?

It is difficult to say how much creatine is safe to take because no established dose exist, and studies evaluating athletic performance use varying amounts.

Now, having said that, there is some common practice among creatine users.

Many users will start with a creatine loading phase of 20 grams daily for up to seven days and follow that up with a maintenance dose of up to ten grams for a max of 16 weeks [9].

The loading phase saturates your muscles with creatine with the hope of experiencing the benefits sooner.

Are There Any Health Benefits to Taking Creatine?

A muscular woman flexing her muscles

Creatine offers many health benefits to the human body, from muscles to blood sugar to cognitive functions [10].

Let's look at the list of those benefits:

  • Improves athletic performance
  • May aid exercise recovery
  • May prevent or reduce injury
  • Can increase training capacity and tolerance
  • Efficiently promotes muscle gains
  • May fight against neurological diseases
  • May lower blood sugar
  • May reduce fatigue and tiredness
  • Can improve brain function

Are There Any Side Effects?

Creatine use has potential side effects, which is valid for any supplement. Some creatine users report water retention, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, muscle pain, weight gain, and high blood pressure [12].

Excess water retention can signify a more severe condition, so it is always best to consult your healthcare provider before and while taking a supplement.

FAQs

Should You Take Creatine if You Are in a Calorie Deficit?

You should take creatine during a calorie deficit to potentially aid muscle repair and recovery that training during a cutting phase may otherwise impair.

Should I Take Creatine When Trying to Lose Belly Fat?

You should not take creatine if you are trying to lose belly fat because it is not a fat burner.

However, creatine supplementation can maximize athletic performance and promote lean body mass. These benefits can indirectly aid fat loss because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat.

So, Is Creatine Effective for Weight Loss?

Creatine indirectly affects weight loss by increasing muscle mass, but it is not highly effective for weight loss.

If you want to gain lean muscle and, as a result, reduce body fat, combine a creatine supplement with resistance training.

If your goal is only to lose fat and improve health, you can combine a natural fat burner with reduced caloric intake and a consistent exercise program.

Here are some of the products that we reviewed and trust:

Whether you want to get ripped or just burn fat, supplementing enhances your hard work regardless of your end game.


References:

  1. https://www.livestrong.com/article/446991-does-creatine-burn-fat/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine#basics
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7910963/
  6. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17674-creatine-and-creatine-supplements
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/creatine-bloating#bloating
  8. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-6#citeas
  9. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-873/creatine
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-creatine
  11. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263269
  12. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/creatine

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