The book “Nutrition for Health, Fitness and Sport” by Melvin H. Williams lists creatine as one of the most popular sports supplement of all time. Yet, popularity does not dictate proper use. Creatine plays a specific role in energy metabolism and not all users will respond to supplementation. Therefore, you must educate yourself before applying creatine to a weight loss regimen.
Creatine is created in the body and sent to muscle tissue for use. Your body utilizes creatine for short-term, maximal exercise tasks of less than 30 seconds. Although opinions vary, most professionals support creatine supplementation for repetitive high-intensity exercise bouts with brief recovery periods. The American College of Sports Medicine lists proper creatine use as beneficial for short-burst high intensity activity, such as weighted squats, and not for endurance activity.
The average adult needs to replace about 2 grams of creatine per day to maintain normal levels. Supplementation may increase the ability to store creatine and therefor improve energy utilization. Because creatine is found in meat, vegetarians tend to have low creatine stores. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service claims that vegetarians may increase their creatine levels with supplementation.
Increased creatine content draws water into your muscle tissue. Therefore, most people will experience increased water weight during their first week of supplementation. In addition, creatine is typically used to increase muscle mass through improved energy and increased exercise ability. Therefore, properly used creatine supports muscle mass gain and not weight loss.
Creatine supplementation without exercise will result in increased water weight without added benefits. In that regard, creatine will not cause weight loss on its own. Creatine may promote exercise ability and result in more calories being burned per exercise bout, but it is not considered a weight loss supplement.
Possible Side Effects
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service lists nausea, muscle cramps and high blood pressure as possible side effects of creatine supplementation. Individual creatine response is highly variable. Therefore, if you decide to supplement with creatine, you must educate yourself and start with small doses.
Creatine supplements come in many forms. Large doses are useless because excess protein will be passed through the body unused. Please consult a doctor before starting any supplementation program.
- Nutrition for Health, Fitness and Sport; Melvin H. Williams
- American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance
- United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service: Creatine Revisited