When you’re looking to drop some body fat you’ll usually want all the help you can get. If it speeds things up or makes things easier than it’s worth doing, and optimising your diet can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful cut.
Alongside whey protein, creatine is one of the most popular supplements amongst athletes and bodybuilders. It has been shown to help with recovery and muscle growth and has even been linked to increased strength levels, so it’s easy to see why it’s included in the regimes of those looking to achieve and maintain peak performance levels.
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How does this relate to fat loss? One of the most common questions we get around supplementation is ‘should you take creatine while cutting’ and in short, yes you should – and here’s why.
When you cut calories with the aim of losing weight, you’re typically going to lose both fat and muscle as the number on the scale goes down. One of the key components in a successful cut is the retention of as much lean muscle mass as possible, while continuing to drop body fat. To achieve this successfully, a combination of a solid diet and regular weight training is essential.
Continuing your heavy weight training through your cutting phase encourages your body to hold on to your lean muscle mass despite the lack of calories you’re ingesting. To optimise this as much as possible you’ll need to recover effectively from your workouts, and make sure you don’t lose intensity in the weight room.
One of the main benefits of creatine is the improvement in strength and performance it provides when you’re at the gym, and supplementing with creatine while you’re in a caloric deficit will allow you to continue to bring a high level of intensity to your training. By maintaining your strength levels, supplementing with creatine and getting enough protein you should be able to minimise muscle loss, while dropping a higher proportion of fat.
In terms of how much creatine you should take while cutting, just stick to the dosage recommended by the supplement manufacturer. This will typically be between 3-5g of creatine monohydrate per day, which will be enough to help keep the muscles saturated throughout your dieting phase.
Some people are concerned with creatine causing bloating, but this is largely a myth. It does cause some additional water retention but this is contained within the muscle cell and will increase definition rather than causing bloating.
If you haven’t been supplementing with creatine prior to cutting you may notice a slight increase in scale weight, but this is purely due to the water retention in the muscle tissue and should not be a cause for concern.
Overall, creatine is a worthwhile addition to your cutting supplementation regime and, alongside proper nutrition and exercise, can help retain lean muscle while you’re losing fat.