Myths and truths about creatine: does creatine make you gain weight? My team and I have gotten several e-mails in the past weeks regarding creatine.
So today, we gladly present this quick guide about this topic to clear any doubts you might have had.
What is creatine used for?
Creatine is one of many food supplements used in sports due to its effects in achieving greater and better muscle recovery, improving results, and muscle response in general.
For this reason, and because of its popularity, creatine has always been caught in the crossfire. Hence, many myths have been unleashed that we must disprove not to take them into account.
This is something that happens very often whenever you get your hands on a new food supplement. But, it’s also true that in certain moments of excess activity and muscular stress, it is necessary to use these aids.
Nevertheless, as a general rule, ingesting “supplements” should never be your first resort.
It is always more advisable to do it through food. For this reason, when these supplements appear, they are always accompanied by myths about what they might trigger in your body.
Creatine: Myths and truths
There are many myths about creatine. Some of them are true, and others not so much. This is why it’s necessary to delve into what they mean.
Myths always appear when people make false or unverified beliefs derived from a lack of knowledge of certain products. This happens with creatine; since many people don’t know if it’s a protein, support to perform better, a pre-workout aid, etc…
Let’s take a look at some of the myths that we’ve heard the most about this supplement and see if these are true or not since everything that is said is not always true.
Will I go bald if I take creatine?
We’re going to review this widespread myth about creatine intake, for starters, which has to do with alopecia. Many people attribute this phenomenon to the continued consumption of creatine.
- There are no conclusive studies on this subject, and there is no scientific evidence that determines a direct relation between the consumption of creatine and hair loss
- There are no conclusive studies on whether or not creatine causes baldness. Genetic predisposition, however, plays a significant role in this
One of the few studies on this subject dates from 2009 and is known as Three Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Affects Dihydrotestosterone to Testosterone Ratio in College-Aged Rugby Players.
This study is not conclusive, as it was done with a small group of people. What it makes clear, though, is that hair loss has a lot to do with a genetic predisposition.
Specifically, the study concluded that men who consumed creatine and had bald parents and grandparents lost their hair just as much as those who did not.
Another important factor to consider is that diet has a great influence on hair loss. Furthermore, if your predisposition is high and you don’t eat properly, your hair loss problem can accelerate and be, in many cases, irreversible.
Do I need to go through a creatine loading phase to make it work better?
Another common belief is that the loading phase is not necessary for many people when they first start taking creatine.
There are many discrepancies about this, as there are people who believe that it is necessary to be in a loading phase for at least one week.
The idea behind this method (loading phase) is to consume greater amounts of creatine initially, so it accumulates in the body.
This is totally unnecessary for other people, as the body assimilates creatine directly without the need for loading periods.
It should be noted that creatine is excreted through the urine, and the body does not tend to store it. I.E., the more you consume, the more you’ll excrete.
This is why the loading phase is somewhat illogical since the body will only use what is necessary depending on the circumstances and the moment.
Does creatine make you gain weight by fluid retention?
Another popular belief about creatine is that it causes fluid retention.
This aspect is important to keep in mind since creatine is an amino acid assimilated by the cells that make up the body’s fibers, and they do so along with water.
This cell assimilation is what causes the body to retain liquids. It is simply part of the metabolization and assimilation process of this substance. Hence, creatine can help you gain weight through a little liquid retention.
On the other hand, creatine will also help you to increase muscle volume. However, retained liquids can indeed make it seem like greater muscle size.
Liquid retention has always been linked to creatine supplementation. It can appear to a lesser or greater extent, but it’s always there.
The amount of fluid retention will depend on each person since each organism will respond to creatine in a certain way. But even if it’s a little, the retention phase will occur, and it’s something you must take into account.
If I consume more creatine, will I gain weight and achieve better results?
Many people like to take creatine before and after training, and in many cases, they go as far as consuming more than 30 grams a day when the recommended dose is only 10gr.
This excessive consumption reinforces the belief that the more creatine consumed, the greater the result achieved.
In line with what we’ve said before about the loading phase, creatine is eliminated through urine naturally and spontaneously. So the body will only use what it needs, and there is no point in consuming more.
The only thing you’ll be doing is increasing the kidney & liver workload to eliminate creatine excess from the body.
Achieving good results does not only depend on whether or not you take creatine. There are other factors to take into account which are equally important.
The bottom line is, increasing creatine intake does not mean you will generate more muscle. Muscle fibers’ growth and strengthening depend on consistency and correct training, proper nutrition, and good quality rest.
Is creatine addictive?
Many people claim that creatine is addictive. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not an addictive substance. However, it can inhibit the body’s natural production of it.
Bear in mind that the body generates creatine naturally. It would be best if you only take a supplement when performing high-intensity training.
Another thing to remember is that consuming creatine for extended periods of time will cause the organism to stop producing it independently since it is naturally obtained from external sources.
For this reason, it is essential to alternate periods of creatine intake with periods of no intake.
Especially because you may expose the body to high amounts of this amino acid that can end up loading the renal system and eventually lead to other problems.
Should I take creatine even if I don’t do sports to improve muscle quality?
Another myth says that even if you don’t do sports, it’s good to take creatine to avoid muscle destruction.
This is false since, as we’ve said before, providing an extra dose of this substance makes sense ONLY when performing high-intensity activities or subject your muscles to more than normal stress.
In these cases, an extra supply of creatine is totally justifiable and in most cases necessary.
Therefore, a not active person and even a sportsperson should not consume this supplement when he does not exercise. This has a simple explanation that has to do with the above and is that the urine eliminates creatine excess.
By not doing sports, the body will not need extra amounts of this amino acid and will eliminate most of it. This way, you will only be throwing money away and putting the renal system to work in excess.
Does creatine make you gain weight because of the sugar?
Many other beliefs are surrounding this supplement. We will end by highlighting that it should always be taken with sugar to maximize its effects. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Its assimilation is normal, like that of any food. And that is why sugar has no role in this work since creatine is enough by itself to carry out its mission.
People who defend this theory say it is better assimilated. This is not quite realistic. The only thing that can be highlighted is that sugar can momentarily make you feel stronger after exercise by increasing glucose reserves.
It is an amino acid that the organism assimilates to accelerate muscle recovery and increase muscle growth. A good diet will help you get the creatine you need in a completely natural way.
This may be the only quality attributed to this food. But let us not forget that the effect of increasing glucose quickly, just as quickly decreases, causing an opposite effect of lowering energy.
For this reason, it is better to consume creatine alone to improve muscle recovery after training.
Above all, you need to keep these points in mind and that the best way to achieve this amino acid is through a correct diet.
You can find creatine in fish and meats above all and eggs, which contain a wide chain of necessary and fundamental amino acids for the correct functioning of the organism.
Besides, it is not clear that supplementation with creatine has the desired effect or is simply something momentary.
As we said at the beginning of this post, there are no conclusive studies or scientific evidence that support its effectiveness, so we will start with this idea and take it into account at all times when choosing one supplement or another.
Bonus: 8 Creatine rich foods, gain weight naturally
This is one of the richest foods in creatine. There’s about 750 mg in 100 grams of herring, that is to say, between 6 and 8 grams per kilo.
It is a well-known fish found in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Baltic seas.
This fish will help you gain muscle mass by providing you with strength and energy. Likewise, it’s also an important source of , so you will be able to control cholesterol, blood pressure, and other diseases.
Oh yes, the good ol’ salmon. This bad boy has a rich presence of creatine. In one kilo, you can find between 4.5 and 5 grams of creatine.
Thanks to how famous Japanese food has become, you can find salmon anywhere.
It is a very nutritious fish, as it has vitamin A, D, B3, B6, and B12 and other minerals, such as potassium or magnesium.
3. Red meat
Ideally, you want to buy lean cuts. So you can avoid cholesterol as much as possible and maximize the amount of protein.
For every kilogram of meat, you can find between 4 and 4.5 grams of creatine.
4. Beef liver
In 1 kilo, there is around 4.5 grams of creatine, an important amount. Nevertheless, it has to be consumed carefully, because it has a lot of fat.
Beef liver is widely consumed for cases of anemia, because of its rich presence of vitamins.
Impossible to leave tuna out of a list of foods rich in creatine.
It is one of the most consumed fish species, both in its fresh version, which is the most recommended and canned version.
It contains between 4 and 4.5 grams of creatine per kilo, although a little less in the canned version.
This fish has nutrients and vitamins similar to herring, such as B12, B6, potassium, Omega3, or phosphorus.
Important amounts of creatine are also found in chicken, about 400 mg in 100 grams of this popular bird.
It’s better to cook it in the oven or stir-fry it so that the fire can be prevented from decreasing the amount of creatine.
With this fish you can get up to 3 grams of creatine per kilo.
In addition, it has large amounts of vitamins and proteins, as well as Omega3.
Just be careful not to over-salt it.
This is one of the foods with the highest amounts of creatine just after herring.
Just be careful with pork fat content. Get the lean parts, like loins and chops.
Don’t overlook the fact that there is a dose of creatine for a certain period of time and then a maintenance phase with a smaller amount.
The loading phase dose (if you decide to implement it) is 0.3 grams per kilogram per day, which means that a person weighing 70kg (155lbs) needs about 21 grams of creatine per day to be increased in the case of bodybuilders.
During maintenance phase, dosage should be cut down to half.