While creatine offers a range of benefits for athletes, such as increased strength, enhanced recovery, and improved performance, some are hesitant to incorporate it into their regimen due to concerns about potential weight gain. However, does creatine make you gain weight?
Although creatine may cause a temporary increase in weight during the initial days of use due to heightened water retention and potentially contribute to long-term weight gain through muscle development, there is no substantiated evidence suggesting that creatine leads to fat gain.
You need to consider some things if you want to use creatine but are concerned about seeing the number on the scale increase.
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Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
When discussing the impact of creatine on weight, it is essential to differentiate between fat gain and weight on the scale. Two things to consider that can cause an increase in scale weight without affecting your fat percentage in any way: Water retention and increased muscle mass.
The initial loading period for creatine supplementation, which involves taking 20 grams daily for 5-7 days, generally leads to a rise in body mass of 1-3 kilograms. This increase is primarily water retention [1, 2].
However, even though this is only a short-term response, many individuals have assumed that this response persists in the long term without sufficient scientific evidence to substantiate this belief .
Creatine affects how water is retained in the body. It enters muscles with the help of a transporter that uses sodium .
This process also brings water into the muscles to keep things balanced. However, because of other processes in the body, creatine probably doesn’t greatly change the amount of sodium inside cells .
Next, you might also see scale weight increase due to increases in muscle mass, which is one of the main reasons many athletes choose to take creatine .
There is no evidence that taking creatine will lead to fat mass gain in various populations.
In short-term studies (ranging from 1 to 8 weeks) of supplementation on older women ages 58-71 years , older men ages 59-72 years , young adult men doing resistance training between the ages of 20 – 23  adult recreational male bodybuilders ages 23 – 26 , young men between the ages of 21 and 24 , exercising male and females between 21 – 23 years old  and rugby union players between the ages of 27 – 30 , creatine intake did not affect fat mass.
These results were reproduced in studies longer than 8 weeks. Healthy resistance-trained men who did the standard loading protocol (20 g/day for 7 days) followed by a maintenance protocol of 5 g/d for 11 weeks saw an increase in fat-free mass (muscle mass) but no changes in fat mass .
When older men (about 70 years of age) took creatine for 12 weeks while doing resistance training, no increases in fat mass could be found . Similar results were seen when older females took creatine for 24 weeks .
How Much Weight Will You Gain Taking Creatine?
A meta-analysis of 96 publications (100 studies) with 1847 participants found that creatine users had a 2.2% increase in starting body weight due to lean body mass. They had gained a further 1.8% of their starting body weight due to water retention. However, participants lost 2.5% of their starting body weight in fat mass.
This means that, in total, participants only saw an average of 1.2kg of weight gain from taking creatine, and this was due to muscle gains and water retention .
Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight If You Don’t Work Out?
If you are in the early stages of taking creatine, you will have some water retention regardless of whether you work out. For optimum effects, creatine should be taken daily, including rest days.
However, if you do not engage in regular workouts, you won’t experience significant improvements in muscle strength or gains solely from creatine supplementation – you need to incorporate a training stimulus to fully reap the benefits of creatine.
To gain fat, you must be in a positive energy balance  – i.e., eating more than you burn. Creatine itself contains minimal calories and, will not lead to excessive energy intake and does not lead to storage of fat .
Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight In Your Face & Stomach?
The water retention can manifest itself in the face and stomach area. However, this is temporary , and your body’s fluid balance will return to normal after a few days.
While there is a chance that creatine can cause fluctuations in scale weight due to initial water retention in the short term and muscle gains in the longer term, current research suggests that it does not make you gain fat mass – and in some cases, it can even lead to decreased fat mass.
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