Should You Take Creatine While Cutting?

February 10th, 2015
creatine powder

Creatine is probably one of the most widely used supplements in the weight lifting world.  If you have been using creatine then you have seen the results and know what it can do for you.  During regular training, creatine helps boost the production of ATP, a natural energy source in your body.  ATP cannot be made without creatine.  In the muscles, creatine changes to phosphocreatine which converts to ATP.  This is where the energy to go the extra set or two comes from.  It also builds up the water in your muscles, which improves the size and shape of your muscles.  Some people use creatine all the time and do not participate in bulking and cutting.  This is a perfectly fine training routine, but there are those who like the aspects of bulking and cutting.  So it is amazing during training and bulking but what about when you are moving from bulking up to cutting?  In the cutting phase, you want to drop the fat and reveal new muscle definition.  Will creatine help you reach this goal?  The answer is, yes.

Creatine is such an incredible energy booster.  You already have creatine in your body that is naturally produced by the liver and you get it from lean protein that you eat (unless you are a vegetarian because it comes from lean meat).  By adding creatine powder you increase the ATP production to a level that gives you some mad energy during your workout.  In the cutting phase, the idea is to decrease the fat and bulk.  Creatine has an indirect effect on this.

During cutting, weight lifters and body builders will restrict their caloric intake.  They will usually cut out all fat and reduce carbs to almost nothing.  They will, however, maintain their protein intake.  They will also increase their weight training to keep from losing muscle- even adding extra reps to increase muscle size.  Add to this an increase in their cardiovascular workout and those drastic dietary changes, from bulking to cutting, energy can be lost. This is where the creatine powder steps in.  Since creatine adds a huge energy boost, it is an essential part of the cutting phase.  Does creatine alone burn fat? No.  You cannot sit on the couch, take creatine and lose fat.  What is does is provide you the energy that you may have lost in the cutting phase.  This allows you to continue and increase your training, thus burning fat and increasing the muscle.

While in the cutting phase, using creatine to your advantage is a smart thing to do.  What is not smart is when you sabotage your cutting phase by using creatine that contains sugar or mixing it with drinks containing sugar.  Flavored creatine powders only taste good because they are full of added sugar and fake flavoring which is directly counterproductive to what you are trying to accomplish in the cutting phase.  You must be sure you are using only 100% natural creatine.  Read the labels and be ready to pay a couple bucks more for the real, pure deal.  If you are using sugar filled drinks to mix even the purest of creatine, you are again, sabotaging your cutting goals.

Some sugared drinks and/or sugared creatine powder can add upwards of 600-800 calories a day.  That’s like sticking a big mac in a blender and drinking that.  Common sense says that using water is your best bet.  Stick it in the water, add ice and blend to make it a thicker consistency.  You can add a sugar free drink mix, like crystal light to it if you don’t like it straight.

Another issue with cheap creatine is the salt content.  High salt content will cause you to bloat due to water weight.  The same goes for whatever you decide to mix your creatine with.  A lot of sugared drinks have high salt content as well as sugar.  A lot of sugar free drinks have high salt also.  Just be sure to read the ingredients on everything.  Adding calories is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. It can really make the difference in your weight loss during this time.  As an added note,  100% creatine has no calories, no fat, no salt and no fillers.

Some question the use of creatine during cutting because of the amount of water in the muscle and how this can tend to make the muscles look bulky but soft.  After talking with and researching several websites, the general consensus is that this really is a non-issue.  The difference was minimal at best, and almost irrelevant to most.  Bodybuilders in competition have no issue with this at all.  Before competitions, most body builders will cut their water intake to the bare minimum and some will even partake in an over the counter diuretic.  While this is not at all recommended, it explains their categorizing any water weight as unimportant.  For the non-competitive body builder or weight lifter, the difference was barely recognizable, if at all.

While creatine can give you the much needed energy and much desired bulk during the cutting phase, it ultimately lands on you.  You need to increase your cardio as that is what destroys the fat.  You need to up your reps and use the creatine’s energy burst to its full advantage.  You need to watch not only your fat intake but also your calorie intake. The decrease in fat and calories is a huge part of a successful cut.  Watch the sugars and salts too as they can also be stymieing your progress.  Be sure to use pure creatine – save yourself the trouble of added junk in your system.  Remember, when it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for. The few extra bucks you drop will be worth it to make your cut successful. Stick with lean proteins and you will retain that muscle mass.