Creatine – Good Or Bad For Your Six Pack?

Creatine is probably one of the most talked about fitness supplements available due to not only its benefits, but also concerns about its possible long-term side-effects. But is it good or bad for your six pack? Having researched it for myself, and with many years experience of where I have and haven’t used it, in this article I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to decide whether or not it’s right for you.

What Is Creatine?Creatine

Creatine is made up of 3 amino acids so put simply, it’s a protein like any other. It is found in red meat and fish, though much of it is destroyed by cooking, plus it is made naturally by the body. It’s stored mostly in skeletal muscle where it’s available for instant, high-intensity, explosive activities such as sprinting, power lifting or weight training. It hasn’t been shown to benefit aerobic or endurance activities such as marathon running because the effects of creatine only last about 10 seconds. After that time, a different energy system, the lactic acid system, is then used. It does however, help to reduce the amount of lactic acid produced. This is a good thing as lactic acid is a waste product that causes muscle fatigue and the burning pain you feel at the end of a good set.

The other main effect of creatine is an increase in muscle mass. Where this differs from other, less legal supplements, is that with creatine this comes mostly from water. This is because creatine draws water from other areas of the body and as it’s stored in skeletal muscle, it makes them look slightly bigger. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you can imagine this does also have the effect of decreasing definition, which is always a bad thing.

Creatine Controversy

The controversy around creatine comes from it’s possible side effects, particularly damage to the kidneys, as they deal with its waste product known as creatinine. While this is in theory a possibility, the well known guidelines on the maximum amount of creatine to use and how to take it are there for good reason. Only doses taken well in excess of these produce a very small number of cases where creatine was suspected as being the cause, though this was never proven.

Creatine is actually one of the most tested supplements available, and more realistic possible side effects are stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhoea, muscle cramps and weight gain. And even these are rare. Some of them come from simple dehydration as creatine takes water from other areas of the body, so drinking more fluids will prevent muscle cramps. While stomach cramps and diarrhoea can just be a reaction to a certain brand, especially one that has a carrier (see below) already mixed in. Simply trying a different brand can solve the problem.

How Much Creatine To Take

Six Pack From CreatineThe precise amount of creatine you should be taking depends on how much you weigh. The general guide and the one that most reputable creatine supplement companies suggest is 20 grams a day when loading and 5 grams a day for maintenance. What this means is when you first start taking it, take 20 grams a day in measures of no more than 5 grams each time. This will ensure that you get the maximum amount of creatine stored in your body as possible. After this, the general guide is to take 5 grams a day to replace the creatine used during workouts for 4 – 8 weeks, then take none at all for about 4 weeks before returning to the loading phase.

The reason for this is to allow the body to have to produce its own creatine so that natural functioning still occurs, plus many people find that the first couple of weeks of taking it is the best.

What Is A Creatine Carrier

I mentioned earlier that some creatine supplements come with a carrier, in other words dextrose or some other simple carbohydrate. This helps to increase uptake into the body. Not only are these more expensive however, they often don’t taste too good (to say the least) and are unnecessary. As long as you’re taking creatine with some form of carbohydrate, even a cheap fruit juice, you will get the same effects.

Personally I have found that taking creatine increases my weight by 4 or 5 pounds after a week or two, so obviously this is due to extra water being stored in my muscles. Being a hard gainer means that for me this is a good thing. But as I have a body fat percentage that is always below 10 percent I see no loss of definition, in my six pack or anywhere else. I do notice a slight increase in strength, but mostly I notice an increase in muscle endurance. For example, where I can only do 8 reps with a certain weight without creatine, with it I can get to 10 reps. So as I can train harder with it I keep my body fat down and increase my muscle mass. I take creatine for 6 – 8 weeks and then have 4 weeks without it, and I’ve never noticed any side effects.

So Is Creatine Good Or Bad For Your Six Pack?

Well that depends. If you don’t have any side effects it could help you train harder, and while in the short term it might cause your six pack to look a little softer, in the long term it will help the muscles develop. That means that when you stop taking it, your stronger, more impressive six pack will be revealed. If you’re curious about what creatine will do for you though, the only way to find out is to try it. As long as you stick to the guidelines for how much and how often you shouldn’t have any problems but if you’re unsure, ask your doctor first.

Any questions or feedback leave a comment below.

14 Replies to “Creatine – Good Or Bad For Your Six Pack?”

  1. Glad to hear that cycling it in and out works well because I don’t like taking it for extended periods. I’m only a few weeks into taking creatine supplements, but I’ve seen the endurance effect and unfortunately the weight gain. Bad for me as I don’t have a six pack anyway – just trying to get one! Thanks for the article!

  2. Hi..I am 70 Kg with 180cm height.i am working out past 1 year.I am lean built.I am starting creatine as i want to increase my size but at the same time aiming for a ripped abs.I am also planning to get my portfolio done in 3-4 months.Can you please suggest and guide me..

  3. Hi..I am 70kg and 180cm.I have been working out past 1.4 years.I am planning to start creatine cycle as i want to gain muscles
    at the same time i want ripped abs.I am planning for portfolio shoot in 3-4 months.
    Can you please help me out and suggest as i am very much worried…

    1. Hi, Rohit
      From your height and weight it doesn’t seem like you need to lose much, if any, body fat, so this is going to be all about building muscle. Creatine can help you do this but I would stop taking it 3 or 4 weeks before your portfolio shoot as it can take away definition. You need to make sure you’re getting enough calories and include enough protein to build muscle, then do a muscle building program.

      If you don’t have one try this Workout Routine To Build Muscle Fast

      If you really want to get some in-depth information I recommend you take a look at the my Vince Delmonte or Ben Pakulski product reviews.

      Good look with your shoot and feel free to ask anything else.

      David.

  4. hi im about 82kg and quite big with a body fat of a bout 14%. I want to get more ripped but not gain much bulk will creatine still be good.
    thanks

    1. You can still take creatine to help you train harder as it’s your workout and your diet that will determine whether or not you gain bulk or get more ripped. Taking creatine may cause you to retain some water in your muscles but once you get to your target weight or like the way you look you can then stop taking creatine to really add some extra definition.

      The best thing for you to do is try creatine if you want to and see how it helps your workouts. If you don’t like it you can always stop and the water retention it caused will be gone in a couple of weeks.

  5. Hey, I’m 6ft tall and about 200 pounds, I was always a tiny kid until high school where i got up to 235 pounds and was benching over 300lbs and squatting over 500lbs. I took some time off and got a little fat and lost strength. I’ve been getting back into the game for a while now and I just really want a 6-pack but it’s taking forever and I feel like I’m almost there but still far away at the same time. I’ve been doing intermediate fasting for over 2 months now and it’s worked a lot with my definition and strength, but I need to find a new supplement that works because half the stuff you can buy legally doesn’t have to work. I want to cut fat and just gain muscle, not looking to get too huge I just want a 6-pack for the first time in my life and have a good amount of strength like i use too. I still lift and run as much as I can and watch what i eat but if there is anything you know works or has worked for a friend could you please let me know, I don’t care on how expensive i just want something that works.

    1. Thanks for your question but I don’t use any supplements myself except the occasional protein shake. A (legal) supplement isn’t going to make much difference to how you look or how strong you are, it’s down to what you’re doing in the gym but mostly what you’re eating.
      You sound like you don’t have much trouble putting on muscle so to get a six pack you just need to get your body fat percentage to below 15%. This means looking at your diet. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “intermediate fasting for over 2 months” but the way I cut fat, as I’m doing right now, isn’t to fast in any way as this is just going to give you short term benefits (if any). When a body builder cuts fat, say for a competition, they start a few weeks in advance depending on how much they have to lose. The method is basically cut your daily calories right down (I recommend not dropping below your BMR) and get most of your calories from protein and some healthy fats/oils. Carbs should make up as little of your diet as possible.
      I deliberately put some fat on over the winter to help put some muscle on my legs and now I want to get my body fat percentage from around 20% to about 10%. I have followed the above method and have lost over 8lbs of fat in 6 weeks with little effort so I know it works. If you’re having problems, stop fasting and look at longer term, sustainable, fat loss.
      Also, dieting and cutting fat isn’t the time to be trying to build muscle and strength, it’s the time to hold on to what you’ve got. Either work on your muscle and strength building, or diet and work on your fat loss, you’ll find it very hard to achieve both at the same time.
      I hope this helps and any more questions get in touch.
      David.

  6. Hi,david,i am now 65 and before 1 year i was 90.I did a lot of cardio andlifted weight also.But now the hanging skin is irritating me.will taking creatine be a bad option or good option,as i also feel i need to be stronger to lift heavy weight.

  7. Hi..I am 70kg and 178cm.I have been working out past 6 months.I am planning to start creatine cycle as i want to gain muscles ans also want ripped abs as i’ve a fat belly.
    Please help me out on this and also which creatine product to buy.

    1. Hi, Dipak
      I don’t recommend specific products but I suggest any product that contains just creatine, no other ingredients, as these are unnecessarily expensive and can lead to upset stomachs.
      David.

  8. Hi David,

    Your post certainly seems helpful. I am 26 years old, about 181 cm in height and my body weight is round 70 to 71 kg. I started training a year ago and weighed in at 88 kgs back then. Since then, I have been determined not to let any fat stick on to me. Per the BMI machine at my gym, my body fat has dropped as low as 6%. Currently its hovering around 9. It is because of this mental block of not wanting to gain too much fat, that I never did any “gaining” phase. My skeletal muscle mass (37.2 I believe) has remained more or less stagnant. I train really hard in the gym but my diet has been in a deficit mostly given that I am averse to gaining any fat.
    I now want to increase my muscle mass and strength, and apart from a few tweaks in diet, I was exploring the option of creatine. I have a few questions:

    1. I have been taking some amount of creatine monohydrate/nitrate in some form or the other e.g. my protein blend or a pre work out etc. Is taking dedicated creatine supplement post work out a better choice?

    2. Given that it has been my dream to have six pack (I have 4 right now with a decent amount of loose skin veiling the last 2), will creatine be a right choice? Do you advise taking creatine for a month and then maybe stop and get into a cutting phase?

    3. I would chose a leaner and more defined physique than a bigger and bloated (cloud like) physique. I still however want to gain more muscle mass. I drink 5 litres of dedicated water a day. Will this keep my bloating worries at bay?

    Thanks a lot for your help.

    Gaurang

  9. Dear sir
    I m gagan from india and i m doing weight training long time but i could not get 6 pack abs i dont eat carbs and my body in good shape but abs not clear, i have started creatien monohydred 5 gm b4 work out within 2 days i felt heavy on my bally, it looks my tummy comes out with in 2 days should i stop this. I m using it 1st time, age 37

    1. Although creatine is creatine, different brands can have a bad effect on some people but not others. I suggest you stop taking it and wait a few days. If you feel better you can give it another try to confirm it’s the creatine causing the problem, or buy a different brand and try that. It is possible that your stomach just doesn’t like creatine supplements, however.

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