Creatine is an alpha-amino acid that provides our body with energy and helps in gaining muscle mass. It is formed from three essential amino acids – L-arginine, glycine, and L-arginine and makes around 1% of the total human blood volume. The human body generally produces around 1 gram of creatine in a day. Excess creatine is stored in muscle and brain for later use by the liver, kidney, and pancreas.
Creatine plays an important role in building muscle mass and is therefore often consumed by athletes as a supplement. Since it is released in increased muscle mass, it is supported along with some additional weight gain which is often misread as fat gain. Therefore it becomes important to understand the whole concept behind the additional weight gain.
People experience extra weight after taking creatine supplements due to water retention or fluid retention. The main constituent of the human body is water, occupying around 70% of the space. It is an essential component of the human body because it helps in the functioning of various biological processes. However, when there is an excess of water in the body than the required percentage and the body fails to eliminate the extra accumulated water, it results in a condition called water or fluid retention. This usually occurs when one of the body mechanisms faces problems while maintaining the body’s fluid levels.
Creatine is osmotic, therefore it fills water in your muscle tissues that results in water retention and hence the additional swelling and bloating around parts of your body which might seem as gained weight referred to as water weight. With an increased Creatine level, it also pulls in the extracellular and intracellular water, resulting in the rise of water levels inside and outside the cell. While storing water inside the cell makes you look bigger in terms of muscle mass, extracellular water leads to minor bloating effects that might be misconceived as fat gain. Many people experience this during the starting phase of their supplement intake.
Although it is not prominent or permanent and some people do not even experience so, there are a few things that one can do to reduce water retention by creatine. An increased magnesium intake is often suggested accompanied by a reduced sodium intake as excess sodium causes the body to retain the fluid. Additionally, the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is advised. High processed carbs also result in storing water in the body, therefore one should consume as many carbs as needed for energy production.