Are you done with bulking and looking to cut fat and get in the leanest shape possible?
If so, you might wonder what the best approach to cutting is. You might even ask yourself, "Should I take creatine while cutting? Isn’t creatine there to simply build muscle size?”
In this article, we’ll explore the effects of taking creatine while cutting and give tips on how to make the most out of it.
So, let's dive right in.
Can You Take Creatine While Cutting Body Fat?
Yes, you can lose fat while taking creatine. In fact, there is no better time for a creatine supplement than during a cutting phase. Let's explain.
While bulking, you're not just gaining muscle mass - you gain fat, too.
So, when it comes to losing fat mass from a weight gain, it is important to recognize that cutting involves losing both fat and muscle mass.
This is where creatine supplementation plays a major role.
Let's assume you're trying to burn fat tissue. How do you go about it?
Well, there are two things essential for body fat loss - exercise and calorie deficit.
You burn more calories than you take in; therefore, you lose weight. And, when you lose weight, you lose both fat and lean muscle mass.
Which brings us to the following problem - how do you go about fat loss while retaining muscle mass?
Well, you eat right, train hard, and take creatine.
As we know, creatine draws water into your muscle cells, making them stronger and appear fuller.
To oversimplify, creatine stores water in your muscles; it doesn’t store fat, meaning you should be able to maintain muscle mass (most of it) while cutting fat.
So, yes, you can take creatine on a cut - whether it’s your love handles or tummy fat you’re trying to lose.
Since there’s no targeted fat loss, which area needs some trimming shouldn’t affect your ability to take creatine.
The Benefits Of Creatine While On A Cutting Regimen
To better understand how creatine helps us during a cutting phase, it’s important to know what it actually does.
Creatine is arguably the most researched amino acid in sports nutrition. It is one of many naturally occurring amino acids we produce.
It is mostly contained in the skeletal muscles but can also be found in your liver, brain, kidneys, and pancreas.
The way creatine works is that it helps produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the main energy source for our body.
It's what the human body burns to fuel every process in the body, including muscle contractions.
Therefore, by providing more ATP, creatine allows muscle tissue to work harder and longer.
This leads to lean mass muscle growth, improved muscle recovery by decreasing muscle damage from inflammation, improved athletic and sport performance, enhanced stamina, etc.
And according to some scientific evidence, muscle hydration and water retention could even lead to improved muscle protein synthesis, preventing muscle breakdown and muscle loss.
So how does all this benefit an actual cutting cycle?
Well, during high-intensity exercise, ATP reserves are quickly depleted and turned into ADP (adenosine diphosphate).
This causes our performance to drop off and our muscle tissue to tire quickly. Creatine stores and replenishes the ATP reserves, allowing us to work harder and get that extra rep or two in.
Another thing that gives us energy when we train is food. Still, during the cutting phase - you're in a net calorie deficit.
Your overall calorie intake goes down (carbs, for most people), and the "only" energy source for our body is protein and fat.
Those may not be enough for your muscles during bouts of strenuous muscle-hypertrophy-inducing workouts, resistance training, or even long cardio sessions.
So, if we keep that in mind and circle back to the main tenets of a cutting phase - exercise and diet - it's easy to see how stored creatine could help you increase muscle power, crush that workout and shed some fat while staying muscular and lean.
Another thing you should keep in mind is "appearing lean."
While creatine supplements (mainly creatine monohydrate) have been linked to side effects like water retention, which could make you look bloated or puffy, that doesn't have to be the case.
Taking creatine supplements can improve "muscle definition" when dosed correctly.
How? By drawing water into the muscle fibers instead of leaving it under your skin.
However, this is just a minor, almost negligible benefit.
Suppose you're actually cutting for a bodybuilding competition.
In that case, you're probably better off halting creatine intake a week before the show (as many bodybuilders do), as you will have to severely dehydrate yourself anyway.
How To Correctly Take Creatine Supplements When Cutting
Optimizing your creatine supplementation protocol for shredding is super simple. It involves doing nothing.
You just keep doing what you've been doing while building muscle - 5 grams daily with 8 to 12 liquid ounces of water.
How come it's that simple? Aren't there rules, loading phases, cycles, etc.?
There are several myths surrounding creatine monohydrate or creatine supplementation in general, but the "loading phase" myth is the most prevalent.
The Creatine Loading Phase
A loading phase involves taking more creatine for a short period (about a week) in order to fully saturate your muscles quicker.
A loading dose is usually around 20 mg of creatine daily, followed by a maintenance dose of 5 mg moving forward.
This is complete rubbish. It yields no actual performance benefits, nor does it have any effect on your body composition. Every personal trainer worth their salt will tell you the same.
Learn More - How Long Does Creatine Take To Kick In And Work?
Your Creatine Dosing
Whether you saturate every muscle cell within seven days or a month does not matter in the long run. The fitness journey is a marathon, not a sprint.
This is also the main reason why you shouldn't change anything about your creatine supplementation, whether you're trying to gain lean muscle mass or cut fat.
Simply lower the calorie intake, focus on your workouts, and don't neglect heavy weight training in favor of resistance exercise or cardio.
In addition, you need to hit your muscles during your cutting phase; otherwise, you might experience muscle loss you didn't account for.
Learn More - How Much Creatine Should I Take? | Garage Gym Pro
Precautions To Consider When Taking Creatine
Side Effects Of Taking Creatine
While there aren't many, some side effects are associated with taking creatine.
The most notable ones are upset stomach, bloating, and water retention.
However, I am here to assure you neither of these will cause an issue for you.
First of all, upset stomach and other gastrointestinal issues are closely related to high doses of creatine. Like the ones during a loading phase. So, that shouldn't be an issue.
Next up, water retention, while definitely one of the "side effects" of creatine, is actually not a problem in this case. It's actually beneficial.
The water retention associated with creatine is not subcutaneous. It's intracellular.
Related Article - Does Creatine Make You Bloated? (Expert Tips To Avoid It)
In plain terms, creatine won't cause water retention that would have you look swollen or bloated. The water creatine "stores" isn't located under your skin but rather inside your muscles.
So, no, you won't bloat from creatine. You'll actually end up appearing fuller, more muscular, and sometimes even more defined.
Side Effects Of Cutting
So, are there any side effects you need to be aware of or any precautions you need to take when it comes to creatine? None. Don’t buy into myths. Creatine is very safe.
There are side effects to cutting, though.
You will likely experience the following:
Looking at that list of potential side effects, it becomes obvious that supplementing with creatine actually helps push through a cutting phase.
Proper muscle and overall hydration will help with cramps and constipation, and creatine reserves pushing out ATP will aid with fatigue and decreased gym performance, which one might say could also help elevate your mood.
Taking Creatine While Cutting FAQs
While in a calorie deficit, you force your body to burn stored fat for fuel through an intense and complex training session. The way creatine ensures your body burns fat instead of muscle tissue is by preventing muscle breakdown during strenuous physical activity.
An effective dose of creatine for weight loss is 3 to 5 grams per day, with the latter being the optimal maintenance dose.
Creatine, preferably creatine monohydrate, is equally efficient for both building muscle and losing fat. What creatine allows you to do is become more efficient in your workouts, which is ultimately what builds your physique alongside a proper diet.
In conclusion, creatine is an incredibly effective and helpful supplement for cutting. There are no known drawbacks to taking creatine when cutting whatsoever.
As long as you maintain a proper diet and follow a training regimen that emphasizes both weight training and cardio, supplementing with creatine will help you achieve your desired body fat percentage quicker.