Does Creatine create Weight Gain and Increased Muscle Mass?

Content you'll find:

Creatine Overview

Does creatine help with muscle growth?

Should I use creatine if am trying to lose weight?

Should women be using creatine?

Why use Kinetica 100% Creatine Monohydrate?

Creatine Overview 

 Creatine is a popular supplement in the fitness world, often touted for its potential benefits in muscle growth and athletic performance. However, does it help with weight gain and muscle mass?  

In this post, we will explain what creatine is, where it can be valuable, and how to take it. We will specifically answer the questions:  

 

  • Does creatine help with muscle growth? 
  • Should you use creatine if you are trying to lose weight?  
  • Should women be using creatine?  
  • What should you look for in a creatine supplement? 

Ready for some answers? Let us dive in!  

First, let us ensure you feel comfortable understanding what is creatine.  

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It is produced daily in various organs, especially the liver, from particular amino acids – arginine, glycine, and methionine (da Silva, Nissim et al. 2009). In other words, creatine is not a foreign substance we leverage by taking supplements. It is natural in the body and derived from the protein we eat.  

Creatine is primarily used by the body to produce energy – especially when demands on us are high. Picture it: You are in the gym and pushing yourself hard, whether doing challenging cardio, running a circuit, or lifting weights. You are focused and putting in a lot of effort.  

Getting this work done requires energy. This is achieved by the body converting one compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into another compound called adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which releases energy. This is where the story of creatine kicks in.  

When you are pushing yourself, creatine helps convert ADP back into ATP. It buffers your energy. Creatine stores high-energy phosphate groups, which are then donated to ADP to regenerate ATP (Brosnan and Brosnan 2007). Creatine can help us perform better in the gym by rapidly producing energy when needed most during intense activity (Ramirez-Campillo, Gonzalez-Jurado et al. 2016).  

A helpful way to understand this is to think of creatine as a backup generator for a building. During normal day-to-day operations, the building runs on the primary power grid, and everything functions smoothly. But when there are increased energy demands, the backup generator provides extra electricity to keep critical systems running at their best.  

In the body, creatine acts like that backup generator. Under normal conditions, our cells produce enough ATP energy to fuel muscle contractions. But during intense exercise, when energy demands spike, creatine provides extra ATP to give muscles more power to push through intense training.  

Just as the generator is not running constantly, creatine reserves are tapped into when the body needs quick bursts of energy beyond what it usually produces. The extra boost from creatine helps people lift more weight, sprint faster, and maintain peak performance during repetitive high-intensity intervals (Kerksick, Arent et al. 2017).   

Given what we have just said, you can imagine how creatine might be valuable in your health and fitness. Getting results in the gym requires progressive overload: we must stress tissues and systems to get results. We also need to replenish energy as quickly as possible during tough sessions so that we can go again and crush another high-quality set. Creatine can help you in this overall process, resulting in: 

  • Increased strength and power output (Forbes, Candow et al. 2021) 
  • Greater training volume and resistance overload (Lanhers, Pereira et al. 2017)
  • Faster sprint times and plyometric training (Ramirez-Campillo, Gonzalez-Jurado et al. 2016) 

As importantly, there is ongoing turnover of creatine in the body. This means we must also replace creatine daily. Your creatine status will be impacted by various factors such as age, muscle size and exercise demands. Research suggests the body needs to replace 1-3g of creatine per day to maintain normal creatine stores in our muscles, though this will vary depending on your starting point and personal needs and can be higher (Kreider, Kalman et al. 2017). 

The most well-known and researched form of creatine supplementation is creatine monohydrate. This supplement is tasteless and odourless, making it easy to add to water or your preferred drink. Other forms of creatine are emerging, such as creatine HCL, but creatine monohydrate is currently the most researched and validated in peer-reviewed studies. 

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most researched supplements in evidence-based medicine. In a relatively recent analysis, The International Society of Sports Nutrition summed up the safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine this way (Kreider, Kalman et al. 2017): 

“Creatine monohydrate remains one of the few nutritional supplements for which research has consistently shown has ergogenic benefits. Additionally, a number of potential health benefits have been reported from creatine supplementation… Given all the known benefits and favorable safety profile of creatine supplementation reported in the scientific and medical literature, it is the view of ISSN that government legislatures and sport organizations who restrict and/or discourage use of creatine may be placing athletes at greater risk.” 

Does Creatine Help with Muscle Growth? 

The short answer is yes – creatine can help with muscle growth. But to answer this question accurately requires more information than that.  

First, what do we mean by muscle growth? The technical term for muscle gain is hypertrophy. This involves increasing the diameter and number of cross-sectional fibres within a muscle. Whilst there is more to hypertrophy than just this, it’s a helpful way to think about it (Haun, Vann et al. 2019).  

Can creatinehelp here? Absolutely. Multiple studies show that creatine can help us put on lean mass alongside strength training (Forbes, Candow et al. 2021). This can happen through several different mechanisms, such as sustaining high-intensity work, pulling water in the muscle cells, which can support protein synthesis and increasing levels of specific proteins involved in muscle growth. 

Does this mean that creatine alone is enough to put on muscle mass? 100%, no. To experience hypertrophy, we need to dial in three fundamental parts of our lifestyle:  

 

  • Nutritional needs (particularly daily protein intake) 
  • Strength training (to stimulate muscle hypertrophy) 
  • Physiological recovery (to balance the catabolic effect of training with the anabolic effect of regeneration) 

 

First, getting sufficient daily protein in your diet is vitally important. Every day we need to consume a certain level of amino acids to gain lean muscle. Hypertrophy happens with a positive protein balance: when muscle protein synthesis (MPS) occurs at a higher rate than muscle protein breakdown (MPB). 

How much protein is enough to stimulate hypertrophy? It depends on several factors, such as age and training status (Paulussen, McKenna et al. 2021). However, research suggests protein intake should be between 1.62g and 2.2g protein/kg/day for muscle hypertrophy when regularly doing resistance training (Morton, Murphy et al. 2018). 

The second driver of hypertrophy is resistance training. Hypertrophy training has three core physiological components: mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage (Schoenfeld 2010). All three combine to help us build muscle.  

To maximise muscle growth during phases of regular resistance training, you might typically need to eat 10-20% above maintenance needs to optimise muscle protein synthesis. Research suggests starting low and raising surplus calories slowly to determine the best response for you (Slater, Dieter et al. 2019). 

A final part of the hypertrophy equation is recovery. Protein intake and resistance training get all the glory in the discussion on muscle gain because they influence muscle protein synthesis. However, we still need to ensure that we take care of background factors like sleep, stress and gut health so that our body can adapt to the load and get bigger and stronger (Marasingha-Arachchige, Rubio-Arias et al. 2022).  

In this respect, we do not get stronger and bigger when training, even though we might leave the gym feeling pumped. It is after resistance training and once recovery mechanisms are activated that we build muscle. Recovery is, therefore, central to putting on muscle (Daniela, Catalina et al. 2022). 

Creatine can help us tick all these boxes important for hypertrophy by supporting our nutrition status, improving performance in the gym, and helping with physiological recovery.

creatine 3

 

Should I Use Creatine if I Am Trying to Lose Weight? 

Let us start by defining what we mean by losing weight. Most gym goers wanting to lose weight are focused on something more specific: fat loss. They want to decrease the amount of adipose tissue in their body and, in doing so, look leaner and healthier.  

In this way, you do not “tone up” a muscle. We might say we want to go to the gym to “get more toned”, but we actually want to burn off excess subcutaneous fat to reveal the lean muscle underneath. You might also want to make that lean muscle bigger by focusing on hypertrophy through strength training. This overall process is called body recomposition: decreasing fat stores and maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle.  

The amount of fat loss and muscle gain will have varying effects on scale weight. If we lose 2 lbs of fat and gain 2 lbs of muscle, we will weigh the same but be leaner and healthier. This is why it is preferable to use something more accurate than scales, like a DEXA scan, to understand body composition changes, alongside ongoing metrics like clothes measurements and photos to measure progress over time.  

This context is vital because creatine monohydrate supplementation has been shown to increase water levels in the body (Volek, Mazzetti et al. 2001, Kutz and Gunter 2003). More water weight could lead someone to falsely believe they are getting fatter using creatine because scale weight might increase due to water retention. However, as we said, scale weight does not tell you anything about your fat percentage or lean mass. So, you could end up ditching creatine for no good reason. 

From a purely fat loss perspective, very limited research shows that creatine can increase metabolic rate (Arciero, Hannibal et al. 2001). Creatine does not appear to increase fat oxidation either, which is the use of fatty acids in the body for fuel (van Loon, Oosterlaar et al. 2003). Nevertheless, none of this means that creatine is not valuable for improving body composition.  

Suppose you are hypocaloric (consuming fewer calories daily than your maintenance needs) and performing resistance training. In that case, creatine can be helpful by ensuring you perform well in the gym, add to your calorie deficit from training and maintain lean muscle (van Loon, Oosterlaar et al. 2003). In this way, creatine can help you get in great shape.  

 

Should Women Be Using Creatine? 

If you are a woman looking to get the most out of your health and fitness, there are many benefits to using creatine monohydrate. 

From a health perspective, research suggests creatine monohydrate has neuroprotective properties that can help women’s brain health (Forbes, Cordingley et al. 2022). Creatine monohydrate can cross the blood-brain barrier and is emerging as a possible therapeutic tool to help with long-term memory, mental health and cognitive function (Brosnan and Brosnan 2007, Wallimann, Tokarska-Schlattner and Schlattner 2011, Allen 2012, Prokopidis, Giannos et al. 2022).  

Evidence of the importance of creatine in mental health can be found in a 2020 study looking at over 20,000. Researchers found that the lower the creatine intake in one’s daily diet, the higher the likelihood of depression, with a more pronounced trend in women (Bakian, Huber et al. 2020). By supplementing with creatine monohydrate, women may be able to protect their mental health more effectively. 

Creatine can also help women get the most out of fitness training. It has been shown repeatedly to be an effective supplement for increasing strength, power, and athletic performance (Smith-Ryan, Cabre et al. 2021). Creatine is an excellent adjunct to high-quality nutrition and high-quality training. 

Why use Kinetica 100% Creatine? 

Given the countless positive research studies on creatine, it is a popular supplement on the market. This can be great because it is easily accessible but like any supplement: purity and quality matter. 

Kinetica’s creatine product is Informed-Sport Certified and WADA-approved, ensuring every batch is tested and free from prohibited substances. This gives you peace of mind that what you consume to help you get results is manufactured to the highest standards and only contains what it says on the label.  

About the author.

Justin Buckthorpe

Justin Buckthorp is a Kinetica Ambassador, a Health and Performance specialist and founder of 360 Health and Performance, a company passionate about helping people thrive. Justin has over 20 years’ experience working in clinics, professional sport, and corporate wellness, as well as extensive training in preventative health, functional medicine, strength & conditioning, and human performance.

 Justin holds an MSc in Personalised Nutrition from Middlessex University and has a vast range of experience in numerous fields. He was an educator in the fitness industry delivering courses for the National Academy of Sports Medicine in the UK, has supported Team Europe in Ryder Cup events since 2008, and has sat on the European Tour Medical Advisory Board since 2009.

 Justin is motivated by helping others achieve their goals, and in 2012 he founded 360 Health & Performance which leverages technology and education to help people in sport, the workplace, and healthcare. Justin also continues to support PGA, European Tour, LPGA Tour and LET golfers, which includes helping Justin Rose win the US Open in 2013, Olympic Gold in 2016, the Fedex Cup in 2018, and go from a world ranking of 70 in 2009 to world number one in 2019.

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Justin Buckthorp

Written by
Justin Buckthorp

Justin Buckthorp has over 22 years of experience in health and wellness. He has a Master of Science Degree (MSc) with Distinction in Personalised Nutrition, where he specialized in the gut-brain axis in depression.

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