Creatine is a top-tier workout supplement proven to boost exercise performance, muscle growth, and recovery.

Despite its popularity and benefits, many avoid it because they’re concerned it’ll make them gain weight.

Is this worry warranted?

Does creatine make you gain weight?

And if so, how much weight does creatine make you gain?

Get evidence-based answers to these questions and more in this article.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound comprising the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and methionine

Your body produces creatine naturally and absorbs and stores it from foods like red meat, eggs, and fish.

Athletes and gym-goers also often supplement with creatine because it has numerous muscle-building and performance-enhancing benefits. 

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How Does Creatine Work?

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the most basic unit of cellular energy. When muscle cells use ATP, they split it into smaller molecules, and when they’re finished, they “reassemble” the fragments back into ATP for reuse.

The more ATP your cells can store and the faster your body can regenerate this source of energy, the more “work” it can do. 

Creatine donates a molecule to an ATP “precursor” called adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which expedites ATP production, enabling your body to replenish its ATP store more rapidly. 

That’s why supplementing with creatine helps you gain muscle and strength faster, improves anaerobic endurance, enhances muscle recovery, and boosts exercise performance.

Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight?

People often associate creatine with weight gain, discouraging some from using it. Supplementing with creatine may increase your weight a little, but not in a way that sabotages your body composition or fitness goals.

Let’s look at some common questions people have about creatine and weight gain:

  • Does creatine make you gain water weight?
  • Does creatine make you gain belly fat?
  • Does creatine make you gain muscle?

Does Creatine Make You Gain Water Weight?

Gaining water weight is a common side effect of taking creatine, especially if you start with a “loading” phase.

Loading creatine involves taking a high dose for the first 5-to-7 days of supplementation—usually 20 grams daily instead of 3-to-5 grams. This strategy is popular because it accelerates creatine accumulation in your muscles, allowing you to reap its benefits sooner.

However, because it can increase initial water weight gain and cause stomach discomfort, some skip a loading phase and take 3-to-5 grams daily instead.

Forgoing a loading phase may mean you have to wait slightly longer to experience creatine’s performance-enhancing benefits, but it helps you avoid unwanted side effects and doesn’t impact its long-term effectiveness. 

Creatine causes water weight gain because it’s an osmotic substance, meaning it draws in water. When your muscle creatine levels rise, your muscles hold more water, which temporarily increases your body weight.

For the most part, this extra water stays in the muscles, giving them a fuller appearance without making you feel bloated. 

Notably, the water weight gain from creatine is not the same as gaining fat. It has no negative impact on your overall health or body composition, so you shouldn’t view it negatively. It may also expedite the muscle-building process, helping you build muscle faster.

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Does Creatine Make You Gain Belly Fat?

Creatine doesn’t make you gain belly fat.

While some gym-goers assume that the weight they gain when taking creatine is fat, several long- and short-term studies show otherwise. 

For instance, a study by the University of British Columbia showed that women who took creatine while following a 4-week HIIT program gained no fat. Similarly, researchers at Nova Southeastern University found that male bodybuilders taking 5 grams of creatine per day gained no fat over 4 weeks. 

Some research even hints that creatine may decrease body fat. However, since studies in this area tend to be hit or miss, it’s wise to interpret these results cautiously.

Given what we know about what drives fat accumulation, it’s clear that creatine isn’t to blame for fat gain.

As I explain in my fitness books for men and women, Bigger Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger, the only way to gain fat is to consistently consume more calories than your body burns. While a scoop of creatine may contain a few calories, it would never be enough to make you gain significant belly fat.

Thus, if you gain belly fat while supplementing with creatine, it’s more reflective of your overall diet than the supplement itself. 

Does Creatine Make You Gain Muscle?

Creatine helps you gain muscle by:

In other words, creatine enables you to train harder for longer, boosts recovery, and enhances your body’s “muscle-building machinery,” helping you gain more muscle and strength over time. 

Evidence of creatine’s effectiveness in this regard comes from a 2022 review of 35 randomized controlled trials. The results showed that supplementing with creatine increased muscle mass regardless of age, sex, or the type of exercise you do, though it’s especially potent if you combine it with strength training.

Other research shows that even older adults who don’t lift weights may see a slight increase in muscle mass when taking creatine. It won’t turn them into bodybuilders, but it may help them retain muscle as they age, increasing their independence and making day-to-day activities easier.

How Much Weight Does Creatine Make You Gain?

The amount of weight you gain while taking creatine depends on how you take it, your sex, and your training regimen.

Loading creatine may result in you gaining 2-to-5 pounds during the first week, primarily because of increased water retention in your muscles. You shouldn’t worry about this water weight gain, however, since it’s typically temporary, doesn’t affect your health, and may boost muscle gain.

Men tend to gain more weight when they begin taking creatine than women. On average, men can gain about 3.2 pounds, while women might gain around 0.6 pounds. This difference is mainly because men usually have more muscle than women, so their muscles hold more water.

If you combine creatine with strength training, you can expect to gain 2-to-4 pounds of muscle in the first 4-to-12 weeks. Despite increasing scale weight, muscle is a boon for well-being, boosting strength, athletic performance, and several markers of overall health.

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What to Do if You Gain Weight While Taking Creatine

You don’t need to do anything special if you gain weight while taking creatine. Any increase in weight is typically caused by an increase in water weight, not fat, and tends to be harmless, temporary, and beneficial for muscle gain.

The best way to avoid creatine weight gain is to skip the loading phase. While loading creatine may help you get results sooner, you can achieve similar long-term gains by supplementing with 3-to-5 grams daily over an extended period.

Other Creatine Side Effects

Supplementing with creatine is generally safe, even when taking large daily doses (30 grams per day) for several years.

Contrary to what some say, there’s no evidence it causes acne, headaches, or high blood pressure. Moreover, it doesn’t disturb sleep, almost certainly doesn’t cause hair loss, and provided you have healthy kidneys, it won’t harm kidney health, either.

What’s the Best Creatine Supplement?

Research shows that creatine of any kind improves your athletic performance in numerous ways. 

However, no type of creatine is as well-studied, safe, cost-effective, and reliable as creatine monohydrate

For a natural source of micronized creatine monohydrate that also includes two other ingredients to enhance muscle growth and improve recovery, try Recharge.

(If you aren’t sure if Recharge is right for you or if another supplement might better fit your budget, circumstances, and goals, then take the Legion Supplement Finder Quiz! In less than a minute, it’ll tell you exactly what supplements are right for you. Click here to check it out.

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