Is creatine good for fat loss or is it another fad? Here is how creatine can help you get to your fat loss goals.
That influencer on TikTok, the neighbor’s kid, the grocery store cashier…everyone is talking about it — but what is creatine? Do I need to take it? Is it safe?
These days it’s hard to keep up with the latest supplements on social media and commercials promising quick fat loss and easy muscle gain.
Is creatine any different? Let’s take a look at some of the latest research studies to dive deeper into what creatine really is and what it does.
Let’s start from the beginning. Creatine is nothing new. In fact, creatine has been around for years…thousands of years, actually. That’s because creatine is an amino acid that our bodies produce naturally (thanks, kidneys!) to help our muscles contract when they need to.
About half of the creatine our bodies use comes from the kidneys, with the other half coming from our diet–specifically meat and fish.1 This means that adding a creatine supplement to your routine is simply adding more to what we naturally get from our diet.
Creatine is stored in the body as phosphocreatine. When our muscles start to get fatigued, our bodies turn to our phosphocreatine stores to supply more energy. By increasing the amount of phosphocreatine we have available to use, it allows us to have more energy to do more work. More work = more muscle gains!
The effects are particularly beneficial when used during short duration, high-intensity activity (think weightlifting, sprints, or any activity requiring quick bursts of rapid energy). In fact, studies have shown that the average increase in performance following a consistent supplementation routine of creatine sits around 10-15%.2 Additionally, creatine has been shown to help decrease recovery time following intense training. 3
Honestly, there really isn’t one. Creatine monohydrate is one of the most well-researched, evidence-backed supplements available to athletes and gym-goers alike. Over 1,000 short-term and long-term studies have explored the effects of creatine on the body with no adverse side effects in any study found when it is used appropriately.3,5
If you choose to take creatine, the general recommendation is 5g per day of creatine monohydrate. The supplement can be taken before or after a workout, and on non-workout days as well. Consuming it along with a carbohydrate-rich meal can help drive absorption.
Some people implement a “loading phase” for creatine, where they take 20g (spread into four 5g doses throughout the day) for 5-7 days. This can be helpful if you are prepping for an event or something else that requires a short time frame, but it can also cause water retention, and it is not necessary to see results.
You might associate creatine with male bodybuilders, but this supplement isn’t just for people who are trying to become extremely muscular! Supplementing creatine has also been proven to lead to similar amounts of increased lean muscle gain, increased muscle strength, and decreased recovery time in women as well.6
Even if your main goal is fat loss, rather than muscle gain, creatine can still be a great supplement to support your goals. When you gain lean muscle mass, your body burns more calories at rest, so this can help you lose fat without lowering your calorie intake. When you gain muscle and lose fat, your weight may stay the same on the scale, but your body can look and feel very different (this is known as body recomposition). For this reason, it’s important to look at other measures of progress beyond the scale! Changes in progress pictures, measurements, and how your clothes fit are great indicators of body recomposition.
FYI, when first starting creatine, you may see the number on the scale go up just a tad. This is due to water retention that can happen during the “loading phase” of beginning the supplement. So don’t worry–it’s not fat gain!
Simply taking a creatine supplement will not improve your physique. You still need to put in the work! Consistent and intentional resistance training is key to bring out the positive effects that creatine can have on muscle gain.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to losing fat or building muscle. However, taking advantage of every tool you can may help you reach your goals faster and set you up for long-term success.
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