Creatine is the most successful supplement in the history of sports nutrition.
It’s been tested hundreds (if not thousands) of times, and shown to not only be effective, but (more importantly) safe.
Many individuals assume that creatine is only beneficial for building muscle and strength, and wonder whether or not they should use creatine while cutting.
We’ll answer that very question for you in this article.
What Does Creatine Do?
Creatine is synonymous with building muscle and strength, but how does it help accomplish those goals?
Well, for starters, creatine doesn’t directly build muscle, meaning that simply taking it does not cause your body to build bigger and stronger muscles.
Creatine’s effects in the body are numerous, but the effect that it is best known for is its ability to enhance energy (ATP) production.
ATP serves as the “cellular currency” of energy production that fuels every biological process, including muscle contractions. The more ATP you have and the faster you can create ATP, the more work you can perform before experiencing a drop in performance.
Now, the body only has so much ATP stored in muscle tissue, about enough to last for 5-10 seconds of high intensity effort. As this ATP is “burned” by your muscles to perform work, it degrades from ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to ADP (adenosine diphosphate)...which from an energy producing standpoint is relatively useless to the body.
After this is used up, the body then has to start breaking down and metabolizing glycogen (stored glucose) and fat to generate more ATP.
As we mentioned above, creatine is stored in muscle tissue in the form of phospho-creatine, meaning it has an extra phosphate molecule attached to it.
Creatine donates this phosphate group it to ADP, thereby transforming the seemingly useless ADP into the energy-generating powerhouse that is ATP.
Therefore, the more creatine that is stored in your muscles, the more ATP your body can produce before tapping into glycogen and fat.
Note: It’s much quicker for the body to produce ATP from creatine than it is from carbohydrate or fat, which is important when it comes to maintaining a high level of performance.
The important takeaway here is that creatine improves the body’s ability to do high-effort work, meaning it helps you lift more weight for more reps for more sets. Ultimately these leads to higher volume of work done over time, resulting in better results in muscle and strength.
But, that’s not all, creatine also improves cellular hydration, and it can reduce neuromuscular fatigue as well as perceived fatigue when training.[2,3]
Creatine also benefits the brain as well as it has been shown to boost mood following sleep deprivation or psychologically-intensive tasks. And, it’s been found to improve working memory and intelligence.[5,6]
Should I Use Creatine While Cutting?
Despite all the upsides creatine has, there is still a considerable amount of misinformation spread concerning its use and/or effects in the body.
Two of the biggest ones is that creatine hurts fat loss or causes water retention.
Studies to date find that creatine has no impact on resting calorie expenditure or fat metabolism, meaning that it does not impair your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel or reduce the amount of calories your body burns each day.
Furthermore, creatine helps you to build muscle and train harder in your workouts. The bigger and stronger a muscle is, the greater capacity it has to metabolize fat and use it for fuel.
Moreover, one of the most important goals of dieting is holding onto lean muscle mass. Since creatine improves your performance in resistance-training, it supports lean muscle retention during dieting.
As for the “water retention”, creatine does cause your body to store more water.
But here’s the catch, creatine causes the body to store water in muscle tissue not in fat tissue.
And in regards to creatine bloating, that usually occurs as a result of following a creatine loading protocol where you’re consuming between 20-25 grams of creatine per day.
This bloating issue can be solved by simply consuming 5 grams of creatine per day.
1UP Pure Rebuild delivers 5 grams of pure creatine in every serving. In addition to our novel tri-creatine complex, Pure Rebuild also supplies 5 grams of Glutamine to support muscle recovery and immune function as well as a full spectrum of essential amino acids and the full research-backed dose of betaine -- a muscle building nutrient that supports endogenous creatine production.
Furthermore, a recent study found that betaine supplementation may enhance body fat loss in combination with resistance training.
Creatine is safe, effective, and well-tolerated.
It improves energy production, cellular hydration, and lean mass gains. There is no need to cycle off of creatine and there is no need to stop supplementing with it while cutting.
If anything, it may help you to train harder while dieting, thereby helping you hold onto more muscle (and possibly build some new muscle)!
- Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017) doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
- Smith AE, Walter AA, Herda TJ, et al. Effects of creatine loading on electromyographic fatigue threshold during cycle ergometry in college-aged women. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007;4:20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-20.
- Hadjicharalambous M, Kilduff LP, Pitsiladis YP. Brain serotonin and dopamine modulators, perceptual responses and endurance performance during exercise in the heat following creatine supplementation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2008;5:14. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-14.
- McMorris T, Harris RC, Swain J, et al. Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol.
- Rae C, Digney AL, McEwan SR, Bates TC. Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2003;270(1529):2147-2150. doi:10.1098/rspb.2003.2492.
- Benton D, Donohoe R. The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. Br J Nutr. 2011;105(7):1100-1105. doi:10.1017/S0007114510004733
- Cholewa, J.M., Hudson, A., Cicholski, T. et al. The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on body composition and performance in collegiate females: a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 37 (2018) doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0243-x