Does Creatine Have Calories?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 13, 2023

When it comes to muscle building, creatine is one of the most studied and used supplements around.

But, a common question many ask is, "Does creatine have calories?"

This article will explain what creatine is and whether or not it has any caloric content.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a natural substance found predominantly in muscle cells.

It's key in producing energy through ATP production during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise.

This is made from glycine and arginine, which are both amino acids, as well as through food sources such as fish and red meats.

Does Creatine Contain Calories?

Creatine itself does not contain calories.

Calories are units of energy found in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—the macronutrients in our diet.

Creatine, however, is not a macronutrient.

It has no caloric value and therefore does not provide energy like macronutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Calories are a measure of energy that we typically associate with food and drink consumption.

The energy we get from food is used by the body for various functions, from basic cell activities to intensive physical exertion.

Creatine isn't a source of energy per se but rather a facilitator of energy production, it doesn't contribute calories to our diet.

Creatine is a calorie-free supplement.

It doesn’t contribute to your daily caloric intake.

This makes creatine an excellent choice for individuals who want to gain the benefits it offers without affecting their overall calorie balance.

How Does Creatine Provide Energy?

Creatine helps produce the energy-carrying compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The body uses ATP for muscle contractions and various other functions, not by burning creatine as a source of caloric energy.

How Does Creatine Work?

In high-intensity workouts, ATP gets depleted quickly.

Creatine stored in the muscles donates a phosphate group to ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate), reforming ATP.

This process replenishes the energy supply rapidly, allowing you to perform at a higher intensity for a longer duration. [1, 2]

Benefits of Creatine

Creatine is well-researched and proven to increase muscle mass and strength while providing energy for high-intensity workouts.

It can also aid in recovery post-exercise. [3]

Enhanced Exercise Performance

Research has shown that creatine supplementation can significantly improve exercise performance, particularly during high-intensity and short-duration activities.

By increasing the availability of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy source for muscle contractions, creatine enables you to perform at a higher intensity and potentially achieve better results. [4, 5]

Increased Muscle Strength and Power

Creatine has been extensively studied for its ability to enhance muscle strength and power.

Regular supplementation can lead to increased muscle mass and improved strength gains, particularly in activities that involve repeated short bursts of energy, such as weightlifting and sprinting. [6]

Muscle Recovery and Reduced Fatigue

Supplementing with creatine has also been associated with faster muscle recovery and reduced fatigue.

It aids in replenishing ATP stores more rapidly, allowing for quicker recovery between bouts of intense exercise.

This can be especially beneficial for athletes or individuals engaged in rigorous training programs. [7]

Potential Cognitive Benefits

Emerging research suggests that creatine may have cognitive benefits as well.

It has been linked to improved memory, attention, and overall cognitive function, although further studies are needed to establish the extent of these effects. [8, 9, 10]

Side Effects of Creatine

Creatine is generally considered safe for most individuals when used within the recommended dosage guidelines. [11]

However, it's important to be aware of potential side effects, which are typically mild and temporary.

Gastrointestinal Distress

Some users may experience gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea when starting creatine supplementation.

These symptoms usually subside as the body adjusts to the supplement.

To minimize discomfort, it is advisable to start with smaller doses and gradually increase over time.

Water Retention

Creatine can cause an increase in water content within the muscles, leading to temporary weight gain.

This is not fat gain but rather a result of improved hydration and enhanced muscle volumization.

It's important to stay properly hydrated while using creatine to maximize its benefits and minimize any potential water retention.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions

Prior to beginning creatine supplementation, it's recommended for those with pre-existing liver or kidney issues to seek guidance from a medical professional.

While creatine is generally safe, it may not be suitable for those with specific medical conditions.

Does Creatine Cause Weight Gain?

Creatine can cause weight gain, but not due to caloric content.

The weight gain is usually due to water retention in the muscles and increased muscle mass from enhanced workout performance.

Misconceptions about Creatine and Calories

Creatine and Water Retention

One misconception is that creatine causes excessive water retention and bloating.

While creatine can lead to increased water content in muscles, this is typically not associated with.

Creatine Is Not a Steroid

You should be aware that creatine is not a form of steroid.

It's a safe and natural substance used to enhance athletic performance. [11]

How to Take Creatine Properly

Dosage and Timing

The recommended dosage of creatine is typically 3-5 grams per day.

Some people prefer to start with a loading phase, consuming 20 grams of creatine per day for a week, then dropping down to the maintenance dose.

As for timing, it can be taken before or after workouts, or anytime during the day.

Types of Creatine

There are several types of creatine available, each with unique properties:

Creatine Monohydrate

This is the most researched and widely used form of creatine.

It's effective and usually the most affordable.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

This form may be absorbed better by the body than creatine monohydrate, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Creatine Hydrochloride

This type is easily soluble in water and may be easier on the stomach for some people.

You can find this type here.

FAQs about Creatine

Does creatine cause weight gain?

Yes, but weight gain is generally associated with increased muscle mass and water retention, not an increase in fat due to caloric intake.

Can I take creatine without working out?

Yes, but it's most effective when combined with resistance training or high-intensity workouts.

What are the side effects of creatine?

Creatine is generally safe, but overconsumption can lead to gastrointestinal issues, such as stomach cramping or nausea.

Always stick to the recommended dosage.

Can vegetarians and vegans use creatine?


As creatine is found predominantly in meat and fish, supplementing with creatine can be particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans.

Can I mix creatine with my protein shake?

Yes, creatine can be mixed with a protein shake or any other beverage.

Bottom Line:

Creatine doesn’t contain calories.

It provides energy through its role in ATP production, not through the provision of caloric energy.

The potential weight gain associated with creatine usage comes from increased muscle mass and water retention in the muscles, not from an influx of calories.

It's a safe and effective supplement when used correctly.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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