Does creatine decrease body fat?

creatine body fat

Does creatine decrease body fat?

Creatine and Body Fat

In this series, we’ve learned creatine definitely increases strength and muscle mass. It accomplishes both by increasing the availability of ATP in muscle tissue, allowing you to workout at a higher intensity. This leads to both strength and size gains. If creatine increases workout intensity and promotes increases in muscle mass, it should also work to decrease body fat. Let’s take a look at what the research says on the topic.

The Supplement Database: Creatine Monohydrate

The Supplement Database currently rates 20 creatine monohydrate claims and has an average rating of 2 out of 3. This rating means there is some evidence that using creatine monohydrate may lead to positive results. The database also rates 37 products containing creatine monohydrate. For more information, follow the links below.

What does the research say on creatine decreasing body fat?

Study 1: Combined effect of creatine monohydrate or creatine hydrochloride and caffeine supplementation in runners’ performance and body composition1

In the first study, researchers looked at the effects two types of creatine, in combination with caffeine, had on body composition. Sixteen participants were divided into three groups: 1) creatine monohydrate + caffeine, 2) creatine hydrochloride + caffeine, 3) placebo + caffeine.

Creatine supplementation amounts:

  • Group 1 – creatine monohydrate + caffeine
    • creatine monohydrate: 20 grams per day for 1 week followed by 5 grams per day thereafter
    • caffeine: 2.7 mg per pound of body weight*
  • Group 2 – creatine hydrochloride + caffeine
    • creatine hydrochloride: 6 grams per day for 1 week followed by 1.5 grams per day thereafter
    • caffeine: 2.7 mg per pound of body weight*
  • Group 3 – caffeine only
    • caffeine: 2.7 mg per pound of body weight*
  • * caffeine was only given on the last day of the study in all three groups

All groups participated in four running sessions per week for four weeks. Researchers collected data on body fat before the study began and after it ended. The body fat changes among the groups were:

  • Group 1 – creatine monohydrate + caffeine
    • before: 25.4 lbs of body fat
    • after: 24 lbs
    • change: decrease 5.2%
  • Group 2 – creatine hydrochloride + caffeine
    • before: 31.1 lbs
    • after: 28.2 lbs
    • change: decrease 9.2%
  • Group 3 – caffeine only
    • before: 26.2 lbs
    • after: 24.3 lbs
    • change: decrease 7.6%
  • the values given for before and after: average amount of body fat each participant in the group had

While all three groups saw a decrease in body fat, the creatine hydrochloride group saw the biggest decrease. The creatine monohydrate group saw a smaller decrease than caffeine alone.

Study 2: Creatine HCl and Creatine Monohydrate Improve Strength but Only Creatine HCl Induced Changes on Body Composition in Recreational Weightlifters2

The second study also compared the effects of creatine monohydrate with creatine hydrochloride on body fat. Forty participants were split into four groups: 1) creatine monohydrate, 2) creatine hydrochloride, 3) creatine hydrochloride (smaller dose), and 4) placebo. The doses for each group were:

  • Group 1 – creatine monohydrate: 5 grams per day
  • Group 2 – creatine hydrochloride: 5 grams per day
  • Group 3 – creatine hydrochloride: 1.5 grams per day
  • Group 4 – placebo

One benefit creatine hydrochloride manufacturers promote is its lower recommended dosage relative to creatine monohydrate. To test this, researchers tested it at 2 different dosages: recommended dosage (1.5 grams per day) and the same dosage as creatine monohydrate (5 grams per day). All groups performed resistance training for 4 weeks.

The body fat changes among the groups were:

  • Group 1 – creatine monohydrate
    • before: 36.2 lbs of body fat
    • after: 34.4 lbs
    • change: decrease 5%
  • Group 2 – creatine hydrochloride 5g/day
    • before: 32 lbs
    • after: 29.3 lbs
    • change: decrease 8.4%
  • Group 3 – creatine hydrochloride 1.5g/day
    • before: 30.4 lbs
    • after: 28 lbs
    • change: decrease 7.9%
  • Group 4 – placebo
    • before: 33.5 lbs
    • after: 31.5 lbs
    • change: decrease 6%
  • the values given for before and after: average amount of body fat each participant in the group had

The results in this study showed that creatine hydrochloride decreased body fat more than both creatine monohydrate and the placebo. The difference between the two creatine hydrochloride groups was very small. Researchers noted that creatine monohydrate promotes an increase in total body hydration status which may be responsible for overestimating body fat.

Study 3: The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels3

This study looked at the effects of creatine ethyl ester on body fat. Creatine ethyl ester is marketed as being absorbed at higher rates than other forms of creatine. Thirty participants were assigned to three groups: 1) creatine monohydrate group, 2) creatine ethyl ester group, 3) placebo group. Both creatine groups took 20 grams per day for 5 days followed by 5 grams per day for the remainder of the time (48 days total). The subjects participated in 4 resistance training sessions per week.

The results showed a few interesting points. Muscle creatine levels in both the monohydrate and ethyl ester groups increased significantly. The creatine monohydrate group saw these increases on day 6, while the ethyl ester took until day 27 to see the same levels. The body fat changes for the groups were:

  • Group 1 – creatine monohydrate
    • before: 47.5 lbs of body fat
    • after: 44.3 lbs
    • change: decrease 6.7%
  • Group 2 – creatine ethyl ester
    • before: 23 lbs
    • after: 24 lbs
    • change: increase 4.3%
  • Group 3 – placebo
    • before: 31.6 lbs
    • after: 30.2 lbs
    • change: decrease 4.4%
  • the values given for before and after: average amount of body fat each participant in the group had

The results in this study showed the monohydrate group lost the most fat mass while the ethyl ester group saw a slight increase.

What does this research mean? Should I take creatine to help reduce body fat?

The results are somewhat mixed. In the first two studies, creatine hydrochloride outperformed creatine monohydrate in decreasing body fat. If you look a bit closer, the news might not be all that bad for creatine monohydrate. The first study had subjects only engage in a running workout. We already know that creatine isn’t great at improving aerobic performance.

If you supplement with creatine and your only activity is running, your body fat reductions should be similar to if you had not taken any creatine at all. In the first study, creatine monohydrate significantly lagged behind both the placebo and creatine hydrochloride. This may have been due to increased water retention in the monohydrate group. The hydrochloride group took significantly less creatine and should not have seen as much water gain.

The second study used resistance training instead of running. It also found that both creatine hydrochloride groups saw bigger decreases in body fat than creatine monohydrate. The researchers noted that creatine monohydrate may have caused subjects to hold more water, skewing the body fat results. The third study found creatine monohydrate performed better than creatine ethyl ester for body fat reductions. This study also found that creatine ethyl ester does not work as advertised. Creatine ethyl ester is supposed to be absorbed better than other forms of creatine. Researchers found creatine monohydrate increase muscle levels of creatine much faster than creatine ethyl ester.

Is creatine effective when it comes to decreasing body fat? The research generally points to a yes.

The Bottom Line Recommendations: Creatine Use for Body Fat

We looked at three different studies using three types of creatine. Creatine hydrochloride and creatine monohydrate showed the best results while creatine ethyl ester disappointed. Generally, creatine monohydrate is the best, cheapest, and most widely available form to use. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Creatine Monohydrate: start with a dose of 20 grams per day for 7 days, lower the dose to 5 grams per day thereafter.
    • If you’d prefer to skip the loading dose of 20 grams, you will probably see good results going straight to a 5 gram per day dosage.
    • Creatine monohydrate will cause body weight gains. If this is an issue, using a smaller dose or trying creatine hydrochloride might work better for you.
    • Creatine can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. If it does, use smaller doses spread throughout the day and avoid taking the supplement immediately before exercising.

If you’re convinced creatine hydrochloride is the way to go, follow these guidelines:

  • Loading phase: take 6 grams per day for 7 days followed by 1.5 grams per day thereafter.
  • You can also skip the loading phase and still see results with a daily dose of between 1.5 and 5 grams daily. In the above study, there was not much difference between those taking 1.5 grams per day and those taking 5 grams daily.

References

  1. Santana, J., & Franca, E. (2017). Combined effect of creatine monohydrate or creatine hydrochloride and caffeine supplementation in runners’performance and body compositionRevista Brasileira De Prescrição E Fisiologia Do Exercício, São Paulo. V.11. N.70. Suplementar 1. P.844-854. Jan./Dez. 2017. Revista Brasileira De Prescrição E Fisiologia Do Exercício, 11(70), 844-854.
  2. França, E. D., Avelar, B., Yoshioka, C., Santana, J. O., Madureira, D., Rossi, F. E., & Lira, F. S. (2015). Creatine HCl and Creatine Monohydrate Improve Strength but Only Creatine HCl Induced Changes on Body Composition in Recreational WeightliftersFood and Nutrition Sciences, 06(17), 1624-1630. doi:10.4236/fns.2015.617167
  3. Spillane, M., Schoch, R., Cooke, M., Harvey, T., Greenwood, M., Kreider, R., & Willoughby, D. S. (2009). The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levelsJournal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 6(1), 6. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-6
Facebook Comments