Creatine is one of the most commonly used supplements by athletes.Certainly it is important for building muscle mass and strength, but will it work during the reduction of body fat?The issue is not so simple.It is generally accepted that fat reduction requires a special environment, i.e. a negative caloric balance.
When do I get rid of body fat?
There are three main options
- energy expenditure <energy supply – it means that you are not moving much, you usually spend time in a motionless state, do not exercise strength or aerobic training, you have a small muscle mass, and at the same time you eat a lot!Much too much in relation to your needs.Effect = gain,
- energy expenditure = energy supplied – you eat as much as you consume during the day.Effect = no change in weight,
- energy expenditure> energy supplied – it means that you are on a negative calorific balance.So you provide less energy with food than you spend during training, activity outside of training and less than it results from your resting metabolism (the amount of energy needed to sustain vital functions).Effect = thin.
Most often, creatine is used with a positive caloric balance, which promotes the increase of circuits and muscle strength.During the reduction, its use seems pointless – is it actually?
What is creatine?
Creatine is a compound made up of 3 amino acid fragments.It occurs naturally in the body, in fast-twitch muscles.It can also be given in the form of dietary supplements (eg creatine in capsules, powder, etc.).During the day with urine, we lose about 2 g of creatine.Creatine resources are played via two ways.About half of the creatine lost per day, we recover thanks to the intake of food containing it (eg in 1 kg of raw beef or salmon there is approximately 4.4 g of creatine).Under normal conditions, the missing amount of creatine, the body synthesizes from 3 amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine.
What happens during the reduction of body fat?
You can expect a decrease in muscle circuits, loss of muscle mass, inferior well-being, less strength and endurance (especially on restrictive low-carbohydrate diets).In terms of the hormonal profile, the reduction is almost always associated with a decrease in the amount of free and total testosterone, thyroid disorders, decrease in resting metabolism, which means that the removal of fat tissue is slower.
Reduction of body weight is unfavorable, in addition causes loss of dry matter, that is muscle.For example, when examining body composition in postmenopausal women, after deliberate weight loss, and then in weight recovery
- for every 1 kg of fat lost during weight loss, 0.26 kg of lean body mass (eg muscle) was removed,
- for every 1 kg put back as fat, during the next year appeared only 0.12 kg of lean tissue (eg muscle).
We know from research that the intensive body fat reduction (from 8.8 ± 3.1 to 5.3 ± 2.4 kg) causes
- decrease in the amount of total testosterone by 38.4% (decrease was noted within 16 weeks of reduction),
- decrease in free testosterone by ~ 49% (decrease was recorded within 16 weeks of reduction),
- decrease of key, anabolic hormone (IGF-1) by 26.3%,
- decrease in the amount of thyroid hormones.
In turn, women (fitness players) after 4 months of reduction
- ladies lost 7.5 kg of fat in 4 months (average 1,875 kg per month),
- the thyroid during the introduction of calorie restriction up to 20 of 27 ladies T3 fell below the minimum threshold.Even 3-4 months without caloric restriction were not enough to restore the functioning of the thyroid gland!
- a decrease in TSH was noted,
- there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of leptin (which may cause a constant feeling of hunger),
- decreased T3 level resulted in a decrease in blood pressure and a slow heart rate,
- there has been a decrease in the amount of testosterone and estradiol.Estradiol returned to baseline after 3-4 months after exiting the reduction, but unfortunately testosterone is not,
- there was a decrease in the amount of hematocrit (-2.3 ± 4.4%) and hemoglobin (-2.9 ± 4.1%), and this means less power and efficiency at work, especially long-term,
- there was a decrease in force in leg extrusion (-0.5 ± 9.5%), bench press bench pressing (-3.4 ± 7.5%) and in a change in the direction of movement (-3.4 ± 9.1%).
Mass reduction in the pre-start period suppresses resting metabolism, negatively affects thyroid function, decreases anaerobic and aerobic capacity, strength, and free and total testosterone concentrations.In women, it causes menstrual cycle disorders and other hormonal problems.
Can creatine help during the reduction?
Research by Oöpik V. et al. Shows that creatine acts in some way during the reduction of body fat.Well trained individuals were examined before and after losing an average of 3.0% – 4.3% of body weight, to determine whether muscle performance could be maintained or even increased through the administration of creatine.During the 5-day weight loss period, players were randomly assigned to a diet supplemented with creatine or a placebo. Evaluated: peak moments of strength and total muscle work of knee extensor muscles (or quadriceps muscles), 3-minute interval operation.The test included a 45-second high-intensity operation that consisted of performing 30 repetitions per minute of straightening the leg while sitting at a certain angular speed, alternating with a 15-second repetition at maximum speed and intensity.
- despite the reduction of body weight, creatine allowed to maintain the peak moment of strength,
- creatine allowed to maintain the value of work done at the peak moment of strength,
- creatine administration had no effect on maximum work (15 seconds), in turn had a negative effect on submaximal work.
As you can see, on the one hand, creatine reduction brings benefits, but it can also negatively affect high intensity training.Researchers speculate that the uptake of creatine during weight loss may be impaired or that creatine affects in some way the metabolism of glucose or muscle glycogen. However, the study was conducted on too few people to draw binding conclusions from this study.
The same group of researchers coped a lot better a few years later (in 2002).It was tested how supplementation with creatine and simultaneous intake of carbohydrates in the period after rapid reduction of body mass will influence the restoration of body weight and physical fitness of well-trained wrestlers.
The wrestlers reduced their weight by 4.5-5.3% in two series of tests separated by a month.During the 17-hour period after reduction, they consumed a controlled diet supplemented
- glucose (placebo),
- glucose and creatine.
The ability of the subjects to perform submaximal and maximum work was assessed.The performance was measured using a 5-minute interval test in the Cybex II device.The measurements were carried out three times before (test 1) and after weight loss (test 2) as well as after 17-hour regeneration (test 3).
- no increase in body weight was found during 17-hour regeneration,
- after creatine administration, a 19.2% increase in performance at maximum exercise intensity was noted, the change was not noticeable in the glucose group.
Conclusion The results suggest that supplementation with creatine while taking glucose within 17 hours after rapid weight loss does not accelerate weight recovery, but it affects the return of physical fitness, especially in the efforts of maximum intensity, in well-trained wrestlers.This should not be surprising, because 17 hours is too short a time.The peak effects of creatine supplementation are noted after a few weeks of regular administration.
Does creatine prevent muscle wasting?
This is a situation of forced inactivity, in which similar phenomena occur as during the caloric deficit.Well, research is not conclusive at all.In one of them, 30 healthy young men (aged 23 ± 1 years) were randomly assigned to the creatine supplementation or placebo group.Patients received placebo (carbohydrate) or creatine (20 g / day) for 5 days before immobilizing one leg with a cast for 7 days.Muscle samples were taken before administration of creatine, before and immediately after immobilization of the legs and after 7 days of regeneration.Both circuits and muscle strength did not differ significantly in the placebo and creatine monohydrate groups.But it may also be that creatine works better in the case of immobilization of the upper limb, as indicated by further studies carried out on men aged 18-25 years, who have not used creatine until now.Some received placebo (maltodextrins), others 20 grams of creatine per day.One of the hands of the subjects was placed in a cast.What turned out after 7 days?
- the amount of muscle tissue decreased by 3.7% (placebo), in the creatine group it increased by 0.9%,
- strength in biceps (1 maximal repetition) decreased by 21.5% (placebo), in the creatine group a decrease of 4.1% was noted,
- the number of repetitions (at a weight of 60% of the maximum) in the bicep training decreased by 43% in the placebo group, in the creatine group a decrease by 9.6% was noted,
- strength in triceps (1 maximum repetition) decreased by 18% (placebo), a decrease of 3.8% in the creatine group,
- the number of repetitions (at 60% of maximum weight) in triceps training decreased by 35% in the placebo group, in the creatine group a decrease by 6.5% was noted.
As you can see, creatine allows you to maintain muscular strength and endurance, even when it is impossible to train, for example, the arm (in this case, because of immobilization in a cast).
Other benefits of using creatine
Some studies indicate that supplementation with creatine may reduce the levels of proinflammatory cytokines, and in addition (when aerobic training is conducted) improves glucose tolerance in humans (reduces insulin resistance).It has also been suggested that creatine supplementation may act as an appetite stimulant because animal models have found that creatine concentration in the brain plays a role in the regulation of food intake and body weight.
Mechanisms behind the observed effects of creatine (anti-inflammatory and / or sensitizing tissues to glucose) are not yet fully explained.Further experiments are needed to clarify whether the improvement is due to the systemic or local effects of creatine on leukocytes and muscles.
Creatine can affect muscle strength, weight and strength while reducing body fat.In addition, its administration may bring numerous other benefits, such as lowering inflammation or improving carbohydrate tolerance, which may be crucial for weight reduction.
You can read also: 5 reasons why you should use creatine