While Mass Gainers and Whey Protein shakes are widely regarded as the best muscle building and weight gain supplements, there are many other supplements that can help you reach your goals faster. Supplements indeed make only a small part of your diet, but using the right supplements in the right way can largely impact the rate at which you build muscle. In this article, the particular supplement that I’ll talk about is Creatine. Starting from what is creatine, we’ll see how creatine and weight gain are related, does creatine make you gain weight, or is it safe to add creatine to your supplement stack or not.
Creatine, or any other supplement for that matter, only works if your nutrition and workout is on point. This means if you’re not engaging your muscles properly in the gym, or if your diet in terms of whole food is not right, supplements aren’t going to do the magic. Before including supplements in your diet, always make sure that you’re getting at least 80-90% of your caloric and macro-nutrient requirements through high quality whole foods.
Coming over to the process of weight gain, it may seem easy for people to put on healthy weight, but it is not. For hard-gainers and people with high metabolism, gaining healthy weight takes a lot of patience and a regular supply of calorie surplus for a period of time. In simple words – you need to eat more calories than what your body burns in a day. THE EXTRA CALORIES = WEIGHT GAIN.
To explain the above paragraph in detail, our body needs specific amount of calories in a day to function properly. The amount of calories you need in a day can be calculated through the Daily Calorie Calculator.
Once you have the approximate amount of calories you need in a day with you, adding to this number would make you put on weight, while reducing the number will make you lose weight. It’s as simple as that. A 500 calorie surplus everyday for a week will help you gain almost 1 lb of healthy weight. While more calories makes you gain more weight, it’s better and safer to stay in the 300-600 calorie surplus zone, since you need to make sure that you only gain healthy weight and not unnecessary fat.
If you’re already taking other supplements, or need information about how other supplements affect weight gain, check out these articles:
Protein Shakes for Weight Gain
Top Mass Gainer to Help You Gain Weight
How Do Supplements Like Creatine Come into Play?
Once you have your average caloric and macro-nutrient requirements with you, it’s time to work upon your nutrition. The more you focus on whole quality foods to reach your body requirements, the faster you will reach your goals and see results.
Coming over to supplements, while focusing on whole foods is definitely the priority, sometimes it becomes difficult to complete the requirements with food alone. For instance, people with low appetite looking to gain weight find it difficult to consume enough calories to reach their goals. On the other hand, people with busy schedules find it difficult to prepare healthy meals throughout the day to help them lose weight.
This is where supplements come into play. While creatine does not directly help you reach your caloric goals, it does help you perform better in the gym, giving you an extra edge. Does creatine make you gain weight or not will be discussed later in this article. Before that, we need to know what Creatine exactly is.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a chemical that is found in our body, mainly in our muscle cells. Often regarded as one of the best performance enhancing supplement, it increases strength and improves performance in the workout session. Apart from creatine supplements, it is also found in Sea foods like Salmon and Tuna, as well as red meat.
Creatine is stored in our muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. These stores of phosphocreatine produce ATP(adenosine triphosphate), which is a molecule that gives energy. Supplementing with creatine increases our phosphocreatine stores, leading to more energy stores during workout. ATP is said to be the energy currency of body, and increased ATP will help you perform better in the gym due to the extra energy.
Apart from enhancing performance, creatine is observed to have been altering the cellular processes in the body, leading to an increase in muscle mass, better recovery and increased strength.
Benefits Of Creatine
- Increases Athletic Performance: Creatine as a supplements has been seen to improve athletic performance, and hence can be used by athletes and gym-rats if they’re looking to enhance performance.
- Enhances Recovery: Creatine will reduce the recovery time as it is taken up by the body after an intense session. It was observed that creatine reduces muscle cell damage thus promoting complete recovery after gym. Personal Experience- within 4 weeks of supplementing with Creatine, I could feel that I was recovering better and faster as compared to the time when it was only whey protein. Better and faster recovery automatically means that your muscles will grow stronger, and you will be able to lift better the next since your recovery is on point.
- Increases Muscle Volume: Creatine is said to have a property that causes muscle cell to look like they have been inflated. It’s obviously exaggerated, but due to extra water retention in your muscles, they look fuller and bigger and give out an impression of thicker muscles. It is reported that if you start taking creatine, you will gain 4-6 pounds within few weeks. Will creatine make me gain weight? Now you know.
- Improves Strength and Stamina: This is the main reason why athletes and bodybuilders use creatine. Within 1-2 weeks of supplementing with creatine, you may notice an increase in strength and stamina while working out. You might be able to lift much more weight than before, will be able to work out for a longer time and you will recover faster than before. All these effects can be seen within the first 4 weeks of creatine use.
Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
Now that we know what creatine is and what it does, next we need to see the link between creatine and weight gain. While creatine may not directly increase weight, it may indirectly help you achieve your final goals of gaining weight and building muscle. Let’s see the real link between creatine and weight gain.
Opposite to what most people believe, creatine is a well researched supplement and when taken as a supplement, creatine can have several important functions in your body. When taken by a healthy person, creatine can produce rapid energy during intense workouts and can help you increase muscle mass over a period of time. Creatine Monohydrate, which is the simplest and cheapest form of creatine available, can help you enhance strength and build muscle if taken in the right dosages.
The important thing to note here is the importance of heavy and intense workouts. According to Mark Tarnopolsky, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and medicine and director of the neuromuscular and neurometabolic clinic at McMaster University Medical Center in Ontario, “The best effect of creatine is seen only when it is combined with resistance training”. Hence make sure that you’re giving your best in the gym while you’re supplementing with creatine, and you’re bound to see results.
Since creatine also retains water into your muscles, you may gain a little water weight and feel your muscles to look bigger and fuller. As per Christine Rosenbloom, Ph.D., R.D., sports dietitian for Georgia State University Athletics, “0.8 to 2.9 percent of body weight is seen in the first few days of creatine supplementation in most of its users”. Since your ultimate goal is to gain weight, this may be helpful in the short run.
To sum it up in a short answer, will creatine make you gain weight? Yes it may. During the initial days of supplementing with creatine, you may gain anywhere from 1 to 4 pounds of weight. This is primarily because of the water retention that occurs due to water retention property of creatine, as well as the increase in muscle mass due to strength and performance improvement.
Who Should Take Creatine
There is no particular set of audience who should take creatine. Since creatine is not made up in the body in abundance, it is always a great idea to supplement with creatine. Since vegetarian diets do not include sea foods and red foods, adding a creatine supplement in your vegetarian diet can make sure that you get the benefits of enhanced performance and increased muscle mass.
However, people with prior kidney or liver diseases should avoid taking creatine. In fact, its always better to consult a doctor before starting any supplement, be it creatine or whey protein. Though creatine and weight gain are indirectly linked, do not exceed the recommended dosage expecting faster results.
Best Creatine for Weight Gain
Now that you know what creatine is, and that it helps you build muscle and gain weight, here are my top recommendations on best creatine supplements for weight gain:
1) Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder: Once of the most renowned brand in health and nutrition supplements is bound to top the list. Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine Powder is ranked number one not because of its cheap price, but because of its effectiveness despite being relatively cheaper than other creatine products.
Everybody in their lives go through times when they workout with the intensity but don’t see themselves going anywhere. This is when your body hits a plateau and doesn’t respond to workouts like it used to. This is the best time to include Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine Powder in your stack; to help you feel energized during the gym and lift more, eventually breaking the plateau.
Another reason why this product needs to be on the top is because of its ingredients. ON’s Creatine powder contains only creatine monohydrate, which according to evicence is the safest and most effective type of creatine. Since there are no fillers or sugars and the product is made with CreaPure, you can easily trust this creatine to help you gain weight and muscle by enhancing performance. If you’re looking for the best creatine for gain weight, look no further.
5g of creatine monohydrate per serving
Made by one of the top supplement brands – Optimum Nutrition.
Made from CreaPure
Purest and finest quality micronized Creatine Monohydrate.
2) MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine, Ultra-Pure Micronized Creatine Powder: Another great product from top nutrition supplement brand, MuscleTech’s Platinum 100% creatine contains ultra-pure micronized creatine powder to help you get through the workouts with better focus and energy.
While there are dozens of creatine supplements in the market, choosing the most cost effective and powerful supplements becomes difficult. When making a decision, always try to go with brands that are trusted by others by looking for reviews and ratings by people who have already tried them. For a reasonable price, MuscleTech’s Platinum Creatine will give you enough servings to help you gain weight and build muscle. A 400gram pack contains about 80 servings, which depending on how you take it can last for over a month and can prove to be the best creatine to gain weight.
5g of pure creatine monohydrate per serving
Made by the leading nutrition supplement brand – MuscleTech
Easily mixable with water or any other drink
Flavorless, can easily go with water or juices
Micronized creatine for faster absorption
3) Cellucor Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder: The reason why “Micronized” is used is the product is because it has been processed so that it becomes more soluble in water, that helping in better absorption. Cellucor’s Micronized Creatine Powder is another great product if you’re looking to gain weight and build muscle. Their unique formula can help you gain lean muscle mass, improve performance and aid in muscle building.
A 380g pack of this supplement gives you almost 72 servings; with each serving contain 5g of high quality creatine monohydrate. Though I’ve only tried this product once, the results were visible enough to include this creatine in the list of top 5. One of the best combinations for creatine monohydrate and weight gain.
Supports rapid production of cellular energy
5g of micronized creatine monohydrate in each serving
Micronized to improve water solubility
Cost effective and easily affordable
Available in different flavors
4) Musclepharm Creatine: If you have been working out for a long time, MusclePharm is one company that you must have come across once in your life. Makers of Arnold Schwarzenegger Series with products like Iron Whey, MusclePharm has a long history of producing pricey but highly effective nutrition supplements.
MusclePharm’s creatine is yet another simple creatine monohydrate, with 5g of high quality creatine monohydrate in each serving. As per the company, Musclepharm’s Creatine Monohydrate helps you amplify strength and power in the gym, and increases athletic performance at the same time. This in turn promotes strength and help you build lean muscle mass. However you’re only bound to see results when this product is combined with intense workouts and proper recovery, which is basically the case with every supplement that you take.
Made by one of the leading brands in sports nutrition – MusclePharm
5g of high quality creatine monohydrate in each serving
Unflavored and easy to mix
Strength and Power Amplifier
5) Dymatize Micronised Creatine: An easy to mix high intensity sport performance supplement, Dymatize’s micronized creatine is made to help you support your fitness goals. A 300g pack has almost 60 servings, with each serving containing 5g of micronized creatine monohydrate.
As per the company, the creatine is micronized to 180 microns, which makes it easier to absorb and gives instant results. While it is definitely not the best creatine for weight gain, it does deserve to be in the top five.
Dymatize is one of the best brands in sports nutrition
5g of micronized creatine in each serving
Boosts energy, and enhances performance
Unflavoured, easy to mix
Gluten free/ No dyes
Now that you have my recommendations for the best creatine for weight gain, it’s time to figure the best possible way to consume creatine along with the precautions.
What to Avoid While Taking Creatine?
- If you are using creatine for weight gain, it is advised not to consume alcohol as it will bring down the benefits and may cause some side effects.
- Avoid Caffeine as much as possible.
How and When to take Creatine:
It is advised that creatine should be taken in 2 phases:
- Loading Phase:Loading is done for first 4-5 days in which 20g of creatine is to be taken in 4 parts. This is done so as to fully saturate creatine levels in the body.
Take 5gm of creatine in breakfast, 5gm before workout, 5gm after workout and last 5gm before bed.
- Maintenance Phase:After the loading phase, take 5g of creatine before or after workout every day. This is done to make sure that your creatine levels stay saturated and are replenished after being consumed while or after working out.
While there isn’t much evidence to prove the importance of loading phase, it is advised to do so in order to reap maximum of creatine for weight gain.
Creatine can be taken in water or juices. I personally took Creatine in Grape Juice because using a High-Carbohydrate drink leads to insulin spike thus increasing the creatine absorption.
Warning and Precautions
- Do not try to over dose creatine. Once the ATP is full all the excess creatine will be flushed out from the body.
- Drink plenty of water. This is the most important step while supplementing with creatine. As creatine draws water from body to muscle cells, the chances of dehydration increase. Hence drink at least 3 liters of water to counter this.
- Before taking creatine, consult a certified doctor. It may not be safe for everyone to take creatine as everybody would react to it differently.
- Creatine may cause stomach pain , diarrhea, muscle cramps or nausea. If any such problem arises, discontinue immediately and consult a doctor.
- Do not consume alcohol or excess caffeine while supplementing with creatine.
More on Side Effects: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10999421
Now that you have a clear idea of what creatine is and how it works, the answer to the question “does creatine make you gain weight” seems self-explanatory. While a supplement alone cannot help you gain weight without proper nutrition, supplementing with creatine does show some minor weight gain changes due to its water retention and performance enhancing properties. There’s no definite answer on how to gain weight with creatine, and each person will see the effects of creatine differently.
Creatine and weight gain aren’t directly related, but using creatine does improve in reaching the ultimate goal. If you’re someone who’s been working out for a long time, have hit plateaus in your workout, looking to gain weight or build muscle or just need to improve your performance in the gym, creatine can prove to be the best supplement in the long run, apart from whey protein supplements and mass gainers. Don’t forget to go through the do’s and don’ts of using creatine, and always consult a doctor before taking supplements.
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