Does Creatine Burn Belly Fat? (According To Science)

People taking creatine experience a myriad of benefits ranging from increased strength to more muscle mass and power output. But what about weight loss? Does creatine burn belly fat?

No, creatine does not burn belly fat or help you lose weight directly. However, creatine can help you build more muscle mass, which increases your metabolism and results in more calories burnt at rest. So creatine can help with weight loss indirectly if you work out.

This is the answer in short. Keep reading this article, as we will explore:

  • How exactly does creatine help you lose weight
  • Gaining weight with creatine and what to do about it
  • How to lose weight with or without creatine

But first, let us have a quick and non-geeky rundown of what creatine is and does.

Creatine basics

Picture of a cup of creatine powder

Creatine is a non-protein compound naturally produced by your body.

On a day to day basis, your body produces 1-2g of creatine. If you consume meat and animal products, you are also getting around 2g of creatine from your diet.

Around 95% of the creatine in your body goes to your skeletal muscles to be used as energy.

However, your cells are only 60-80% full with creatine at any given point.

And before you can experience the benefits of this compound, you have to reach a state called muscle creatine saturation - i.e. your cells have to be 100% full with creatine.

We have talked at length about this in our article about how long creatine takes to work.

But here is a quick rundown:

  • You can only experience the benefits of creatine once your muscles reach 100% storages
  • To reach 100% creatine storage, you need to take 3g of creatine per day for 28 days, in what's called a maintenance phase, then maintain by taking the dose indefinitely or
  • You take 20g of creatine every day for 5-7 days, in what's called a loading phase, then follow with a maintenance phase indefinitely

These numbers come from a very detailed scientific study on creatine conducted by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN).

Now that you know the basics of creatine, let's discuss whether creatine burns fat.

Does creatine burn belly fat?

In the section above I mentioned how 95% of the creatine in your body goes to your muscles.

From this alone you can understand why creatine doesn't directly help you lose weight. It is not a fat burner or a weight loss supplement. Creatine is, in fact, just one of the energy sources of your muscles. To be more specific, creatine helps with the first ~10s of muscle activity.

This is yet another cue as to why creatine doesn't directly help you lose weight.

Creatine helps with the first ~10s of muscle activity.

Therefore, it aids your ability to perform strength and power activities such as lifting heavy weights, sprinting, high intensity interval training, and so on.

It doesn't improve your endurance or performance in cardio exercises.

A study conducted by Willis et al. determined that aerobic training (cardio) was more effective than resistance training at reducing weight and fat mass. It was more effective than even combining cardio with resistance training.

From this, we can conclude that:

  • Creatine doesn't burn belly fat and
  • Creatine doesn't even fuel the type of exercises which help you burn fat

So does that mean that this supplement doesn't help with your weight loss journey? Kind of but not entirely. There is a way creatine indirectly helps with burning fat and losing weight.

How does creatine help you lose weight?

Does creatine burn belly fat?

Even though creatine doesn't directly help you lose weight, it can have a beneficial effect in your weight loss journey, provided you combine it with resistance training.

You may be a bit confused, so I will clear everything up.

In the previous section I mentioned how creatine:

  • Is a source of energy not a fat burning supplement
  • Benefits resistance training, which is not linked to weight loss

So how can creatine and resistance training work together to help you lose weight? Easy.

More muscle mass leads to more energy expenditure

Even though it doesn't help you lose weight, creatine has been proven to help you gain more muscle mass, as compared to people who do not take this supplement.

Now, here are some interesting facts:

  • Muscle tissue burns 7-10 calories per day per pound
  • Fat tissue burns 2-3 calories per day per pound

These values constitute calories burned at rest. However, when you use that newfound muscle tissue to exercise, the calorie burn effect increases significantly. So creatine helps you lose weight by aiding your ability to increase your muscle mass, which in turn burns more calories.

High-intensity interval training is effective in terms of weight loss

As far as exercise performance is concerned, creatine helps with high-intensity exercises and has little to no effect on low intensity exercises, like steady state cardio.

Therefore, creatine can help you lose weight if you do high intensity interval training (HIIT) as part of your fat burning routine.

One study compared the weight loss benefits of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Even though the magnitude of weight loss was comparable between the two, meaning that neither is superior in terms of losing weight…

  • Muscle tissue burns 7-10 calories per day per pound
  • Fat tissue burns 2-3 calories per day per pound

Therefore, we can safely conclude that in general, HIIT is superior to MICT.

And this is where creatine comes into play.

Supplementing with creatine improves HIIT performance, meaning that you can indirectly improve your weight loss benefits.

Creatine and weight gain

Picture of two people doing bench press

If you have started taking creatine, you might have noticed that the scale starts to show more weight. This may panic you a little but don't worry. It is normal and it is NOT fat.

One of the effects of creatine is water retention in your muscles.

That is not harmful in any way. If anything, it helps prevent dehydration, muscle cramping, tightness, and strains - according to the previously mentioned study on creatine from JISSN.

So when you start taking creatine, you will notice two physical changes early on:

  • Your muscles get fuller
  • The scale starts to go up

Depending on how lean you are, your muscles looking fuller may make you look more muscular or, quite the opposite, more overweight. However, you need to have a high percentage of fat and quite some muscle mass for creatine supplementation to make you look overweight.

As far as the scale is concerned, the weight gain is only water retention related.

What to do if you gain weight after taking creatine?

Since the weight gain resulting from taking creatine is water weight only, here are some of the ways to bring your scale back to pre-creatine supplementation values:

  • Drink more water. Even though it is counterintuitive, you should drink more water to get rid of the water weight. Drinking more water will have you use the toilet more often, resulting in a decrease of water weight from your body.
  • Eat less sodium. Consuming too much sodium can result in increased water retention in your body. Limit your sodium intake to around 2300 milligrams per day or less.
  • Eat less carbohydrates. Just like sodium, carbohydrates can make your body hold onto water. That doesn't mean you should cut all carbohydrates and go keto. Just make sure you don't over consume them.

Water retention from creatine only goes so far. After one month of consistent creatine intake, your scale will start to level out to a particular value and you will not retain more water than that.

So, just the way creatine doesn't burn belly fat or help you lose weight…

It doesn't make you gain weight either.

How to burn belly fat without creatine?

If taking creatine is not going to affect your weight loss journey that much, then what is?

As always, it all comes down to going back to the basics. If you want to lose weight, there is no way around being in a caloric deficit. Whether you lower your calorie consumption (i.e. eat less calories), increase your calorie expenditure (i.e. you burn more calories), or both…

At the end of the day, you have to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight.

But how much?

You need to burn 3500 more calories than you take in, to lose 1lb of weight. Obviously, all these calories don't have to be in a single day but cumulatively over a period of time. Ideally, you would want to be in a 3500-calorie deficit over a period of 7 days so that you lose 1lb of weight per week.

Once you reduce your calories and begin losing weight, your belly fat will come right off.

Unfortunately, there is no way to do targeted fat loss, where you only lose weight from a particular spot of your body. This process is autoregulated by the body and, usually, you will lose fat from that spot which holds the most.

The bottom line

So, does creatine burn belly fat?

No and, unfortunately, there is no way to reduce fat from a particular spot. When you start to lose weight, it will come off from all around your body, starting with the area holding the most fat.

And even though creatine doesn't help you lose weight, it can help speed up the process. When coupled with resistance training, it helps your muscles get bigger. As a result of being bigger, your muscles will require more calories, both at rest and during activity.

This is the only way creatine can help on your weight loss journey.

Over to you.