As usual, gym experts tend to come up short when it comes to the real science. Sorry guys, but bro-science usually contains just enough real science to get it all wrong. When it comes to creatine supplementation there tends to be more bad information than good. From what type of creatine is best to when and how to take it, when in doubt, look at the research.
Once inside the muscle, creatine is shown to increase muscle cell volume and trigger the growth of contractile proteins to provide better, faster muscle gains from resistance training. However, a popular misconception among many bodybuilders and other athletes is that creatine is great for getting big and strong, but if you want to “cut-up” or get lean, then creatine supplementation must be avoided.
So let’s take a look at the information relevant to creatine and fat metabolism so that you can make an informed decision about supplementation.
Firstly, creatine contains no fat or carbohydrates. In fact, creatine contains zero calories. Therefore, supplementation does not provide additional calories to the diet.
Regarding applied research, hundreds of well-controlled studies that have examined creatine’s effects on body composition. The vast majority have shown that longer-term creatine supplementation (8-12 weeks) increases lean muscle mass with little or no change in fat mass. Remember that an increase in lean mass with no change in fat mass equals a decrease in body fat percentage.
Over an even longer term, new gains in muscle mass increase in a person’s metabolic rate that, in turn, burns more body fat. Therefore, by its ability to speed gains in lean mass, creatine supplementation promotes better fat metabolism. Let me repeat; creatine supplementation promotes better fat metabolism.
The short-term well-designed and controlled research on creatine and energy metabolism show no impact on resting calorie expenditure – no impaired fat metabolism. The fact that trained muscle has a greater capacity to metabolize fat and use it for fuel adds further evidence to the notion that supplementation over the longer term will logically result in an improvement in body composition.
Where did the notion that creatine prevents fat loss come from?
Who knows, but most inaccuracies and fallacies about bodybuilding training techniques and supplements are perpetuated, repeatedly until they become gym-gospel.
Need some examples? How about “high rep training is the way to provide cuts and definition to your physique” or “side crunches will tighten the waist and obliques” or the classic, “low-intensity cardio is the best way to burn body fat.” Where do you think all these bogus ideas came from? Definitely not from the scientific research.
Creatine is a Zero-Calorie, Mean Mass Stimulator
Creatine is an important part of the bodybuilder’s arsenal to gaining a bigger, stronger, leaner physique. Of the hundreds of studies that have examined creatine’s effects on body composition, the vast majority show very favorable increases in the lean mass to fat ratio. If maximum muscle gain is desired, I cannot see a reason to exclude creatine during any attempt at fat loss. Combined with a correct, calorie-controlled eating plan, creatine will only serve to accelerate your fat loss efforts, not impede them.