Creatine is popularly known to burn fat. Does it work? Should you start taking creatine supplements? Well, there is more to creatine than meets the eye. In this piece, we will dissect what creatine is and how exactly it helps your body – while also understanding the reason behind its reputation as a weight-loss supplement.
First of all, you should know that creatine supplements are mainly intended for bodybuilding. Even the most industrious bodybuilders will swear by the efficacy of creatine supplements so does creatine help you lose weight?
What is creatine and what does it do in regards to weight?
Creatine is a natural substance. It is present in many types of meats and fish. It is quite common in nature. In fact, creatine is produced by the human body as well.
Athletes, bodybuilders, and enthusiasts often take creatine supplements. It aids mainly in strength training.
The purpose of creatine is muscular development, and not weight loss or fat burning at all. In fact, it is one of the gravest misconceptions among people researching weight loss supplements.
However, it’s not completely useless for weight loss either. Creatine can indeed help reduce fat in an albeit indirect way when used as part of a regular resistance training regime.
Creatine regimens should not be started without ample research. Also, discuss with your doctor or a physician to find out if it’s really the best supplement for weight loss in your case.
Essentially a nitrogenous acid, creatine gets stored in muscle tissue as phosphocreatine. It then breaks down within tissue to form ATP – your body’s key source of energy. A single intense resistance training session can easily deplete your creatine stores (that is why bodybuilders take it as supplements).
Creatine does not directly reduce weight. It is completely ineffective (for weight loss) in a sedentary lifestyle. If you are lifting weights then your gym trainer will definitely recommend creatine supplements. But in any other case, there is little reason to take creatine.
Endurance athletes are also not recommended to take creatine as it will be pretty much pointless for them.
So, what does it do exactly?
Does creatine help you lose weight? No. Does creatine help you build muscle? Yes. Can muscle building be conducive to weight loss? Yes.
Long story short, creatine can easily be used as a supplement if you are strength training – which will naturally tone your body and help you lose weight. In fact, strength training for weight loss while not taking enough creatine can be detrimental to your health.
Muscle development and body toning will obviously lead to fat reduction. So, if that sounds like something you might take up or something that involves your current workout, you should definitely consider creatine supplements.
The recommended dosage for creatine supplements is 20 to 25 gm per day for 5-7 days. Note that each dose of a creatine supplement has to be taken as a 5 gm increment throughout the day (so a total of four or five increments).
After one week of this dosage, you are recommended to consume 3-5 gm per day as your body’s own creatine production will amp up.
Muscle mass and weight loss
Muscle mass is strongly associated with weight loss. Increasing your muscle mass can help you burn more calories. Creatine smoothens and amplifies muscle gain. It speeds things up. And as a result, you end up losing more weight.
The increase in lean muscle mass is always a good thing. Apart from weight loss, it helps you achieve a better quality of life in general.
Creatine does not (directly) reduce weight
To those still asking does creatine help you lose weight or not – the short answer is no. It has no direct weight loss effect.
When paired with an intense strength training or resistance training program, however, it can speed up muscular development and the increase in muscle mass, which, in turn, reduces your weight.
In a way, fat burning is a side-effect of creatine supplementations within a resistance training program. This fat burning effect, however, will not kick in until your lean muscle mass increases to reach an equilibrium.
Three 1-hour sessions per week are sufficient for absolute beginners. Strength training will be most effective when you target each critical muscle group (shoulders, chest, arms, abdominals, back, calves, and legs). Check out this post on how to get a perky butt.
Side effects of creatine
Creatine is known to have some serious side effects on continuous usage. Extended usage of creatine supplements can lead to kidney failure and muscle tissue breakdown.
Irregular heartbeats, liver complications, upset stomachs, and high blood pressure are also associated with extended usage of creatine supplements under certain circumstances.
Discontinue usage at once if you experience any side effects. And of course, don’t take more than the recommended dosage to start with. Also, always consult with a physician or your trainer before you start taking any creatine supplement.
Does creatine help you lose weight? Well, no. It does not help you lose or gain weight. The process in which it indirectly influences your body weight is quite straightforward, really.
In the long run, creatine helps you build muscle faster while used alongside a strength training regimen. This also leads to an increase in lean body mass as well as a faster metabolism. Both these factors help you lose weight.
So yes, as long as you are in a resistance training regimen and taking recommended dosages of a creatine supplement without any side effects, the substance will indirectly help you lose weight faster than without – given how strength training and body toning workouts will lead to weight loss by themselves anyway.
Those who are willing to exercise continually can start taking creatine supplements after consulting with a doctor and basically fast-track their weight loss goals. This will continue as long as you continue exercising, even after you have stopped taking the creatine supplements (as your body naturally produces its own).