Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight? Let’s Talk FACTS…

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You’ve heard of CREATINE and wonder whether it can help you gain weight and muscle mass? Let me start by telling you a funny story…

When I was in college, I met this guy in my philosophy class who was super jacked. Probably around 200 pounds of lean muscle. For a 20-year-old 5’10-ish guy, that was definitely out of the ordinary. He stood out at school like a white wolf.

Sure, he worked out daily, and we all assumed that it was a mixture of genetics + his intense workouts that gave him those results.

Now, one day, during an exceptionally boring philosophy class, we started talking about our vacation plans for the summer. He then proceeded to show me pics of him and his family on a beach vacation in the Mediterranean from 2 years prior…

One thing I noticed in those vacation photos is that he was extremely skinny and had no visible muscle. He was almost unrecognizable!

I had to to stop him and immediately ask: wait, you were THIS skinny two years ago, and now you’re looking like this? What gives? It makes no sense. It’s almost as if you doubled your weight in 2 years!

He gave me the boring explanation: “well, you know, I work out really hard and eat a healthy diet. It’s consistency and hard work. You know the drill… “

I said: “no but wait, we had lunch a couple of times at the cafeteria; you eat exactly the same thing we all eat. I have never seen you order anything extra. Besides, there are plenty of guys who work out religiously like you do, but none of them look like you.”

He then said: “OK fine, I’ll tell you my personal secret, but you promise NOT to tell any of the other guys, right? I want to keep the edge haha.”

I said: “of course! Your secret is safe with me. Drop the sauce, buddy.” 🙂

He said: “ok, next time you’re at the pharmacy, ask them where the supplement aile is. Go there, and look for CREATINE MONOHYDRATE. It’s a white powder. It’s a compound found in meat and fish. This thing is like magic. You need to take 5 grams per day in a juice or smoothie, ideally an hour before your workout. Do it for a few months, and you should start noticing significant gains in both strength and size. I’ve been doing it for 2 years.”

There’s the story, folks. That’s how I heard about creatine the first time. That was about 20 years ago. Since then, creatine blew up to become one of the most popular supplements amongst athletes to increase muscle mass and strength.

How Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight

Creatine can lead to weight gain through several mechanisms. It’s important to note that this weight gain is typically NOT in the form of fat. Instead, it’s often due to increased muscle mass development due to creatine’s ability to increase strength, explosiveness and overall performance during workouts.

That said, the weight gain can also be caused by water retention within your muscles (hence why most experts recommend drinking a LOT of water while taking creatine).

In summary, here’s how creatine can contribute to weight gain:

  1. Water Retention: One of the initial effects of creatine supplementation is increased water retention within the muscle cells. Creatine pulls water into the muscle tissue, causing it to swell and appear fuller. This water weight can account for a noticeable increase in body weight, typically within the first week of creatine use.
  2. Muscle Mass: Creatine is well-known for its role in enhancing athletic performance, especially in activities that require short bursts of intense effort, such as weightlifting, weighted calisthenics, and sprinting. With improved performance, athletes may engage in more strenuous workouts, leading to increased muscle hypertrophy (growth). Over time, this muscle growth can contribute to weight gain.
  3. Increased Energy: Creatine provides an immediate source of energy during high-intensity exercise. This can enable athletes to lift heavier weights or perform more repetitions, which can stimulate muscle growth. As muscles adapt and grow, this can also contribute to weight gain.
  4. Improved Recovery: Creatine has been shown to help reduce muscle damage and inflammation after intense exercise. This improved recovery may encourage athletes to train more frequently and intensely, leading to gradual muscle gain and, subsequently, weight gain.
  5. Increased Appetite: Some individuals may experience a temporary increase in appetite when using creatine, which can lead to higher calorie intake and potential weight gain if not managed.

It’s essential to understand that creatine-induced weight gain is generally considered a positive outcome for athletes and individuals seeking to build muscle and improve performance. This weight gain is often associated with improved strength, power, and physical appearance.

Please note that individual responses to creatine can vary. Some people may experience more significant water retention initially, while others may see more substantial muscle growth. Additionally, the amount of weight gained can vary from person to person.

To maximize the benefits of creatine and manage weight gain effectively, athletes often incorporate creatine supplementation into a structured training and nutrition program. I highly recommend consulting with a personal trainer, sports nutritionist or healthcare professional who can help you tailor your creatine use to your specific goals and needs.

Facts About Creatine Usage

  • 50% of NFL athletes take creatine (source)
  • 48% of NCAA athletes take creatine (source)
  • 50% of NBA players take creatine (source)
  • The majority of NHL players take creatine (source)

Famous Top Athletes who have taken Creatine to Gain Mass

Here are some examples of top athletes from various sports who have either openly discussed their use of creatine or are known to have benefited from it:

  1. Bodybuilders: Many professional bodybuilders and physique competitors have incorporated creatine into their supplement regimens to help with muscle mass and strength gains. Some well-known bodybuilders who have used creatine include:
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger
    • Ronnie Coleman
    • Jay Cutler
  2. Weightlifters: Weightlifters, including Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters, often use creatine to support their strength training and muscle development. Notable weightlifters who may have used creatine include:
    • Dmitry Klokov (Olympic weightlifting)
    • Hafthor Bjornsson (powerlifting and strongman)
  3. Football Players: American football players, especially those in physically demanding positions like linemen and linebackers, have been reported to use creatine to enhance their size and strength. Some NFL players known for using creatine include:
    • Ray Lewis
    • Terrell Owens
  4. Mixed Martial Artists (MMA): MMA fighters have utilized creatine as part of their strength and conditioning programs. While not all fighters use it, some have acknowledged its benefits for muscle mass and explosiveness.
    • Georges St-Pierre
    • Conor McGregor
  5. Track and Field Athletes: Sprinters, shot putters, and other track and field athletes who rely on explosive power occasionally turn to creatine to improve their performance and gain muscle mass.
    • Usain Bolt (sprinter)
    • Ryan Crouser (shot put)
  6. Bodybuilding and Physique Competitions: Athletes who compete in physique competitions, such as men’s and women’s physique, figure, and bikini, may use creatine as part of their preparation to enhance muscle definition and fullness.
    • Phil Heath (men’s bodybuilding)
    • Brooke Ence (CrossFit and fitness model)
  7. Basketball:
    • LeBron James
    • Dwight Howard
    • Blake Griffin
  8. Baseball:
    • Mark McGwire
    • Barry Bonds
  9. Soccer:
    • Cristiano Ronaldo
    • Zinedine Zidane (He admitted using it when he signed up at Juventus in order to gain muscle weight and strength)
    • Gareth Bale
  10. Rugby:
    • Jonny Wilkinson
    • Sonny Bill Williams
  11. Hockey:
    • Wayne Gretzky
    • Mario Lemieux
  12. Tennis:
    • Novak Djokovic
  13. Swimming:
    • Michael Phelps
  14. CrossFit:
    • Rich Froning

These are just a tiny fraction of top athletes who have taken creatine to either gain muscle mass, strength, or explosiveness in their sport.

Other Factors That Influence Weight Gain & Muscle Mass

Aside from creatine, one element you need to pay attention to when it comes to gaining weight is your Testosterone levels.

In fact, I highly recommend you get a blood test to see where your T levels are at right now. Testosterone, along with Insulin, are considered anabolic hormones, which means they contribute to gaining muscle mass and shedding fat. If you have low testosterone levels, you likely will emd up losing muscle mass and gain fat weight instead, which nobody wants!

If your Testosterone levels are too low, I highly recommend you check out some of the top testosterone boosters available on the market today. Although these are NOT magic pills, many of these supplements contain scientifically proven ingredients that CAN help boost your testosterone significantly, such as D-bal Max or TestoPrime.

However, keep in mind that supplements do NOT replace a healthy lifestyle, which includes a carefully crafted strength training routine, sufficient sleep and a healthy diet that avoids testosterone-killing foods. Without these foundational elements, you cannot achieve your weight gain goals.

Conclusion: Weight Gain Involves MORE than just Creatine

As we covered in this article, creatine can definitely help you gain muscle mass and shed fat. However, it’s not a magic compound and won’t fix a bad diet/lifestyle.

You still need to incorporate intense workouts, a regular sleep schedule, and a healthy diet that is either in caloric deficit or caloric surplus (depending if you are currently overweight or underweight) if you want to reap the benefits of creatine. You also need to be drinking sufficient amounts of water.

Lastly, combining creatine with testosterone-boosting supplements may help you skyrocket your muscle mass and ensure you gain muscle weight, NOT fat.

As always, speak to a personal trainer or healthcare professional to determine if creatine is right for you.

Creatine FAQ

1. What is creatine, and where is it found naturally?

  • Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in foods like red meat and fish. It is also synthesized by the body, primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

2. What is the recommended creatine dosage for supplementation?

  • The standard creatine monohydrate dosage for most individuals is about 3-5 grams per day, typically taken as a single dose. A loading phase with higher doses (up to 20 grams per day) for a week is sometimes used to saturate muscle stores faster but is not necessary.

3. What are the benefits of creatine as far as fitness goes?

  • Creatine helps increase the body’s phosphocreatine stores, which serve as a rapid energy source during short bursts of high-intensity exercise. This can lead to improved strength, power, and performance in activities like weightlifting, sprinting, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

4. Are there any non-fitness related benefits of creatine?

  • Yes, creatine may offer several non-fitness-related benefits, including potential cognitive improvements, especially in tasks that require short-term memory and quick thinking. Some studies suggest it may have therapeutic applications in neurological conditions.

5. Are there any side effects associated with creatine supplementation?

  • Creatine is generally safe when used as directed. Some individuals may experience minor side effects like gastrointestinal discomfort or water retention. Staying hydrated can help minimize water retention. It’s important to use creatine in accordance with recommended dosages.

6. Can creatine help with weight loss or fat loss?

  • While creatine is not a fat burner, it can indirectly support weight loss by enhancing muscle mass and metabolism. Increased muscle mass can lead to higher resting energy expenditure (calories burned at rest), potentially aiding in weight management.

7. Is creatine suitable for vegetarians and vegans?

  • Yes, creatine supplementation can be especially beneficial for vegetarians and vegans who may have lower natural dietary sources of creatine due to their diet. It can help fill the gap and provide performance benefits.

8. Can creatine be taken with other supplements or medications?

  • Creatine is generally safe to use alongside other supplements and many medications. However, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns or specific medical conditions to ensure there are no contraindications.

9. Can creatine be used by both men and women?

  • Yes, creatine can be used by individuals of all genders. It offers performance and potential health benefits to both men and women.

10. Is cycling creatine necessary, and are there any drawbacks to long-term use?

  • Cycling creatine (taking breaks from supplementation) is not necessary. Long-term use of creatine is generally safe and can provide ongoing benefits without significant drawbacks. However, speak to your doctor to ensure it doesn’t conflict with your meds.

11. When can I expect to see results from creatine supplementation?

  • Some individuals notice improvements in muscle performance within a few weeks of starting creatine supplementation, while others may take longer. Consistency with both supplementation and training is essential.

12. Can creatine be used for endurance sports, or is it primarily for strength and power athletes?

  • While creatine is most commonly associated with strength and power sports, some endurance athletes may also benefit from improved performance during high-intensity intervals or sprints.

13. When can I expect to see results from creatine supplementation?

  • Some individuals notice improvements in muscle performance within a few weeks of starting creatine supplementation, while others may take longer. Consistency with both supplementation and training is essential.

14. What types of creatines are there?

  • Several types of creatine supplements are available, with creatine monohydrate being the most common and well-studied. Other types include creatine hydrochloride (HCL), creatine ethyl ester (CEE), and buffered creatine. While these variations may claim faster absorption or reduced side effects, creatine monohydrate remains the most researched and widely recommended form.

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