Does Creatine Increase Metabolism?

In this article, we will take a close look at the role of creatine in metabolism. We will explore its impact on both anabolic and catabolic processes, and discuss whether it can directly increase metabolism. We will also explain the effects of creatine on muscle mass growth and energy metabolism.
Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the
University of Oxford.

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What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a popular supplement often used by athletes and those looking to increase muscle mass. It's stored in skeletal muscle and has been shown to have several effects on muscle metabolism [1].

However, whether creatine directly increases metabolism is complex and depends on how we define "metabolism."

In the context of increased metabolism, anabolic metabolism is important for people who wish to increase their muscle mass or strengthen bone tissue. In contrast, the catabolic mechanism is important for people wishing to lose weight [2]. This blog will examine the contribution of creatine to both anabolic and catabolic metabolism to answer whether creatine can increase your metabolism.

People Also Ask

Creatine supplementation has been shown to have positive effects on muscle growth and recovery. Creatine helps increase the intracellular pool of phosphocreatine in skeletal muscle, which provides a reserve of energy for rapid ATP regeneration during muscle contraction. This can lead to increased muscle strength, power, and size. Creatine supplementation has also been found to reduce muscle damage, inflammation, and soreness, aiding in faster recovery from intense exercise. It may also enhance the muscle adaptive response to exercise training. However, the effects of creatine supplementation may vary among individuals and populations [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

There is limited evidence to suggest that creatine supplementation alone can directly aid in weight loss. However, some studies have shown that when combined with resistance training, creatine supplementation may lead to a greater reduction in body fat percentage in adults over 50 years of age compared to resistance training alone. It's important to note that creatine primarily helps with increasing muscle mass and improving athletic performance, rather than directly promoting weight loss [1].

Creatine and Metabolism

Creatine and Anabolic Metabolism

Creatine supplementation has been shown to have a significant impact on muscle metabolism. It can potentially enhance muscle mass growth and hypertrophy through multiple mechanisms, including modulation of protein synthesis pathways and the myogenic process. Myogenic processes refer to processes that increase muscle growth and encompass insulin-like growth factor signalling, which is common to the mechanisms of how MK-677, sermorelin and ipamorelin work to increase muscle tissue growth [1].

Conversely, creatine also increases muscle mass through increasing water retention. This may lead to the perception of larger muscles, but the water loading will be lost once creatine is withdrawn [3].

Despite this, creatine is an effective peptide for muscle and bone growth in at-risk populations, including elderly people, cancer patients, and people in high-performance sports [4, 5, 6].

Creatine and Catabolic Metabolism

In contrast to anabolic metabolism, creatine reduces markers of the catabolic mechanism in muscles [7]. This includes markers of inflammation, demonstrating that creatine can reduce post-workout muscle inflammation [8]. Whether this effect occurs systemically, that is, throughout the body, remains to be determined.

Creatine and Energy Metabolism

Energy metabolism can be considered a catabolic and anabolic reaction. It requires the breakdown of food items into ATP, followed by their anabolism to sites where ATP or macromolecules are needed. Hence, whether creatine increases energy metabolism will be discussed in a separate section below.

Studies have suggested that when combined with exercise, creatine supplementation can improve glucose tolerance in healthy individuals [9, 10]. Notably, improved blood sugar regulation was not significant when only taking creating without exercise [11], demonstrating the importance of exercise in glucose regulation.

At the cellular level, creatine supplementation was found to protect against oxidative damage to the mitochondria—the powerhouse of the cell. This mechanism reduced mitochondrial losses, which make up a large part of muscle fibres and resulted in improved energy metabolism [5].

Although most evidence supports the use of creatine in sports [12], not all studies agree. For example, q study on aerobic and anaerobic metabolism in swimmers found that creatine had no effect on either type of metabolism [13]. This highlights the individual response to creatine and the need for individualised approaches in clinical treatments and performance enhancements. On a positive note, creatine is a legal nutritional supplement with fairly few side effects [3].

Summary: Does Creatine Increase Your Metabolism?

While creatine is primarily known for enhancing physical performance and muscle strength, it does not directly increase metabolism. By aiding muscle growth and promoting more intense workouts, it can indirectly lead to a higher metabolic rate due to increased muscle mass and physical activity, demonstrating a positive effect on anabolic metabolism.

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Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is a postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. She has worked across a spectrum of hot topics in neuroscience, including her current project measuring reinforcement learning strategies in Parkinson’s disease. Previously, she studied the efficacy of psilocybin as a therapy for critical mental health conditions and examined molecular circadian rhythms of migraine disorders. She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow and participated in a year abroad at the University of California, where she worked on a clinical trial for spinal cord injury.