It’s pretty much universally agreed that creatine works!
One concern that pops up from time to time is water retention.
Some people complain that creatine will make them look smoother i.e. they’ll lose definition on it. They believe that there is more extracellular water retained than intracellular water. Obviously we want the intracellular (inside the muscle) swelling, but not the extracellular.
So let’s take an objective look at this. Thankfully a study was designed to test this very notion.
32 trained individuals, 16 men and 16 women, were split into 2 groups:
1. The creatine group – 7 days loading then maintenance
2. The Placebo group – Sugar pill loading for 7 days then maintenance
The study lasted 4 weeks, then subjects were measured for:
- Muscle creatine concentrations
- Total Body Water
- Extracellular water
- Intracellular water
Check out the details of the study then see the bottom for the conclusion…
Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution
To examine the effects of oral creatine (Cr) monohydrate supplementation on muscle Cr concentration, body mass, and total body water (TBW), extracellular water (ECW), and intracellular water (ICW) volumes.
Design and Setting:
After an overnight fast, urinary Cr and creatinine concentrations, muscle Cr concentration, body mass, TBW, ECW, and ICW were measured, and subjects were randomly assigned to either a Cr or a placebo (P) group.
The Cr group ingested 25 g/d of Cr for 7 days (loading phase) and 5 g/d for the remaining 21 days (maintenance phase), whereas the P group ingested a sucrose P using the same protocol. All the measures were reassessed immediately after the loading and maintenance phases.
Sixteen men (age = 22.8 ± 3.01 years, height = 179.8 ± 7.1 cm, body mass = 84.8 ± 11.2 kg) and 16 women (age = 21.8 ± 2.51 years, height = 163.4 ± 5.9 cm, body mass = 63.6 ± 14.0 kg) involved in resistance training volunteered to participate in this study.
Muscle Cr concentration was determined from the vastus lateralis muscle using a percutaneous needle-biopsy technique. Total body water, ECW, and ICW volumes were assessed using deuterium oxide and sodium bromide dilution analyses.
The Cr group experienced a significant increase in muscle Cr concentration, body mass, and TBW. The P group experienced a small but significant increase in TBW only.
The Creatine supplementation protocol was effective for increasing muscle creatine concentrations, body mass, and TBW; however, fluid distribution was not changed.
study: Powers, M.; Arnold B et al. (2003). "Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution". Journal of Athletic Training (National Athletic Trainers' Association, Inc) 38 (Jan-Mar 2003): 44–50.
Total body water is indeed increased but, importantly, the fluid distribution is not affected.
Supplementing with micronized creatine monohydrate is very important to preserving and growing new muscle tissue while cutting. However, from the above data, it may be advantageous to cease creatine supplementation before a contest.
I don’t compete and never have, so this isn’t an area of speciality for me. It would seem that you may look a little more ripped when cycling off creatine, BUT also note that you would appear slightly smaller too, the choice is yours. When primarily targeting muscle growth however, creatine supplementation is a no-brainer in my opinion.
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Never tried creatine before. Maybe one day 🙂
That’s pretty unusual these days Yavor.
I like it when you do the science bit Mark.
I think that like most things in life Creatine effects people in different ways. I find that if I haven’t taken Creatine for a while I get ahem ‘gassy’ for the first day after taking it. I also have a raging thirst (this seems like a common theme in the forums). But after 12 hours or so it is fine.
I’m coming off Creatine for a week next week whilst I’m on holiday, so will see if any noticeable difference.
Thanks Chris. Totally agree on the thirst issue and taking time off it is beneficial IMHO, as I state in the book.
Thanks for the clarification, Mark. I often wondered about this and have heard many viewpoints. Appreciate the objective stance. P
No worries Paul, glad you found the info useful.
Mark, just curious, are you still cycling your creatine? I’ve found it to be a bit of a pain to keep track of which days are loading and which days are off. Also, im a student and bringing my creatine to classes on loading days is also a pain (I forget my shaker, it gets warm, etc.) Just was curious to see if the cycling was working better than the normal loading period and then maintenance.
No rick. As I stated in the book, I switched back to regular dosage after an experimentation period yielded no better results.
Never actually tried creatine myself either as my work out schedule is unfortunately hit and miss these days due to heavy amounts of college work. Also, with my budget, it’s either protein.. or creative. Oh well, perhaps at a later date when I become more serious.
Glad to see the research though, definitely.
I meant creatine… not creative.