Hunger Pangs After Creatine? Here’s Why (& What to Do)

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Creatine neither increases nor suppresses hunger. Creatine merely increases the energy stores in your muscles. With that being said, creatine supplementation will require you to drink more water than usual, and often dehydration is mistaken for hunger. Furthermore, the increased energy in your muscles should generally help you to workout for longer and harder. So, your appetite is likely to increase due to your more intense workouts.

Are You Thirsty Rather Than Hungry?

Firstly, I will say that creatine should not directly have any impact on your appetite.

By this I mean that creatine is neither an appetite stimulant nor suppressant.

Admittedly, there is no actual research into the effects on creatine on hunger.

However, this is simply because creatine has never been connected to appetite in any way.

Creatine’s main role is to provide a source of energy for your muscles.

"For athletes looking to squeeze every ounce of potential out of their training, creatine is a no-brainer. It's safe, effective, and backed by decades of science." - Eric Helms, MS, RD, CSCS, Strength Coach and Author

This is achieved through the compound phosphocreatine, which in turn increases adenosine triphosphate (APT) production in the body, and it is this that provides your muscles with energy.

With that being said, one of the main changes to your diet that you will need to make when supplementing with creatine is to increase your water intake.

Water is basically drawn towards the creatine in your muscles.

This means that there is less water available for your body and vital organs to function efficiently.

Therefore, the solution is simply to drink more water.

If you don’t increase the amount of water you’re drinking, this can often lead to feeling sick, tired, experiencing muscle cramps, etc.

Realistically, you’re suffering the effects of dehydration.

Now interestingly, dehydration is fairly often mistaken for hunger, and this certainly could be the case if you’re supplementing with creatine.

In fact, whether you take creatine or not, if you are slightly dehydrated you’ll typically feel quite hungry too.

However, regardless of your situation, drinking more water will usually make those hunger pangs go away.

So, I would suggest that you gradually increase your water intake and see if this resolves those feelings of hunger.

The Effects of Water Retention & Perceived Hunger

So, I’ve spoken about potential dehydration being mistaken for hunger, as you should be drinking more water when supplementing with creatine.

This is mainly because water is drawn towards the muscles, which can often mean that there isn’t enough water for your vital organs to function normally without increased water intake.

However, something else to be wary of when taking creatine is water retention.

This process of water retention, often called cellular hydration, is crucial for anyone trying to understand how their body responds to creatine supplementation. 

Essentially, when you take creatine, it pulls water into your muscle cells, increasing their volume. 

This isn’t just about looking more “pumped” but has real physiological implications, including how you perceive hunger.

This increase in muscle water content can sometimes play tricks on our hunger signals. 

Normally, you might expect increased muscle mass and exercise intensity to ramp up your appetite because your body is burning through energy reserves. 

However, the early stages of creatine supplementation can blur these signals. 

The additional water in your muscles can contribute to a feeling of fullness or bloating, which might temporarily suppress your appetite. 

"Creatine isn't a secret weapon, but it's a valuable tool in any bodybuilder's arsenal. Use it wisely and see the difference." - Kai Greene, 4x Mr. Olympia

It’s an interesting balance because, as your body adjusts to the creatine and your workout intensity continues to increase, this effect may lessen, and your appetite could bounce back, sometimes stronger than before.

Understanding this dynamic is key to managing your diet and hydration while on creatine. 

I emphasize the importance of listening to your body and adjusting your water intake to compensate for the increased retention.

It’s not just about chugging water but ensuring you’re adequately hydrated to support your muscles’ new demands. 

Also, recognizing that these changes in hunger perception are temporary can help you plan your meals and snacks accordingly, ensuring you’re fueling your body correctly for recovery and growth.

Have You Increased Your Workout Intensity?

Okay, I’ve mentioned that creatine won’t directly make you hungry, but that doesn’t mean it won’t indirectly increase appetite.

Basically, you need to look at the main reason that most of us take creatine in the first place.

I’ve already spoken about the role of creatine, phosphocreatine, and ATP in providing the muscles with energy.

Realistically, creatine isn’t some type of magical elixir that’s going to turn you into a muscle-bound hunk.

Creatine simply supplies you with that “little bit more”.

"Creatine isn't magic, but it's a potent tool when used strategically. Combine it with proper training and diet, and you'll see the difference." - Jeff Nippard, CSCS, Physical Therapist and YouTuber

So, you may expect creatine to allow you to crank out an extra rep or two.

Maybe, creatine will help you knock 0.5 seconds off a 100-metre sprint.

Perhaps, creatine will allow you to hold that plank for an increased 10-15 seconds.

However, it is these tiny additions that can make all the difference to your physique.

An extra 2 reps a week is 104 reps a year.

An additional 10 seconds on a plank, 3 times a week, is an extra 26 minutes of planking a year.

So, it’s quite easy to see how creatine can improve your strength and muscle mass.

With that being said, if creatine is really working out well for you then you’ll be training harder or for slightly longer each workout.

And it is this increase in intensity of your workouts that is causing you to feel hungry.

It stands to reason – the harder your workout, the more calories you’ll burn.

And the more calories you burn, the hungrier you are likely to feel.

So, in effect, unless you’re trying to lose weight or burn body fat, you’ll need to fuel your workouts with more food.

You Have More Lean Muscle & A Faster Metabolism

I guess this fits in quite well with what I’ve mentioned above.

I’ve spoken about creatine giving you that “bit extra”, which in turn could mean that the intensity of your workouts increases, thus making you more hungry.

However, when we talk about the effects of creatine on our bodies, one area that often comes up is how it impacts our metabolic rate and muscle growth. 

Creatine doesn’t just give us a temporary boost in energy; it also plays a role in enhancing our body’s efficiency at rest, known as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). 

This is pretty significant because your BMR accounts for the majority of your daily calorie expenditure, covering everything from keeping your heart beating to repairing cells.

You can use this BMR calculator to determine your own BMR.

Now, you might be wondering, “How does creatine actually do this?” 

Well, by supporting the synthesis of ATP, the primary energy molecule, creatine helps you push harder during your workouts. 

This increased physical activity stimulates muscle growth over time. 

"Creatine was a game-changer for me. It helped me push harder in the gym and achieve results I wouldn't have thought possible naturally." - Ronnie Coleman, 8x Mr. Olympia

Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns calories even when you’re not moving. 

So, the more muscle you have, the higher your BMR. 

As a result, your body may require more calories to maintain this muscle mass, potentially making you feel hungrier as it signals the need for more energy.

Jeff Nippard, a well-known fitness coach and bodybuilder, emphasises the significance of nutrition in complementing your workout regimen to support muscle growth and recovery. 

He points out that feeling hungrier when on a creatine supplement could be your body’s way of telling you it needs more fuel to support the increased metabolic demands.

In essence, the relationship between creatine, metabolic rate, and muscle growth is proof of the body’s complex interactions between nutrition, energy production, and physical performance. 

What Are You Mixing Your Creatine With?

Something else to consider is what you mix creatine with, or more specifically, how you take your creatine.

Firstly, many users state that they can’t abide the taste of creatine.

And this is even though creatine is supposed to be tasteless and odourless.

But, we know different, don’t we?

Anyway, this means that many users will mix creatine with something sweet tasting, like juice.

And unfortunately, in terms of hunger, this is where the problem may lie.

Creatine is most commonly mixed with a sugary juice, such as orange, apple, or grape.

But, many of these drinks are in effect completely sugar-based.

This will typically cause a spike in blood sugar levels, before they sharply fall back down again.

So, regardless of when you take creatine, this spike and fall in blood sugar is likely to leave you feeling hungry (among other things).

There is actually research which claims that a spike in blood sugar levels, especially through eating carbohydrates, is actually a good thing when it comes to creatine supplementation.

It is said that the carbs can help you to absorb creatine into the muscles quicker.

With that being said, there is further research which now claims that an equal amount of protein and carbs, along with creatine, will have exactly the same effect.

Now, I’m not one to argue with “scientific evidence”, but I feel this goes slightly against the principles of taking creatine.

"Creatine is one of the few supplements with a mountain of research behind it, consistently showing benefits for strength, power, and muscle mass gains, especially for high-intensity training." - Layne Norton, PhD, Bodybuilder, and Author

What I mean by this is that the whole point in taking creatine is so that your muscles become saturated with creatine.

And this will eventually occur once you’ve been taking creatine for a while.

So, in effect, after a month or two of taking creatine you won’t need “faster absorption”, as the creatine is already there in your muscles.

However, much the same as juice, eating carbohydrates at the same time as taking creatine will spike your blood sugar levels.

And once they drop back down you’ll undoubtedly feel hungry.

So, once again, you can’t really blame the creatine for your increased appetite.

Key Learning Points

  • It’s highly unlikely that creatine itself is making you hungry, but more so what creatine is doing inside your body.
  • Creatine naturally draws water towards itself in the muscles, which means that there is less water for the body to function normally.
  • It’s extremely important to increase your water intake when you supplement with creatine.
  • If you don’t increase your water intake you’re likely to feel dehydrated, and dehydration is often mistaken for hunger.
  • Creatine supplementation can lead to water retention in some indivduals, which can cause confusion with feelings of hunger or satiety.
  • Creatine is aimed at making you workout harder and for longer, so more intense workouts could leave you feeling hungry.
  • Your BMR can increase with creatine supplementation, along with increased muscle mass, which will make you feel hungrier.
  • Be wary of what you mix or eat with creatine, especially when it comes to carbs and sugar, which can cause a spike in blood sugar, thus leading to increased appetite.

So, that’s hunger sorted, but make sure you check out what I have to say about why creatine is making you pee so much.

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