Is creatine keto-friendly or not?


Creatine is one of the cheapest, safest, effective, and well-studied supplements one can include in their fitness diet. Containing 0 grams of net carbs, creatine can be taken as one is pursuing a keto diet to boost power output and increase strength. Studies have shown that creatine could offer benefits for brain health, bone health, and controlling blood sugar.

is Creatine Keto or Not?

Feel free to exhale here, as creatine is keto-friendly. If you decide to supplement with creatine, you will not be kicked out of ketosis.

Although the creatine itself is keto-friendly, not every creatine supplement is keto-friendly.

The reason for this is due to the fact that some creatine supplements are pre-mixed and have additional sugars added to them. However, one can simply read the label to make sure that creatine is the main ingredient on the list.

When creatine was introduced to the public, it was implied that creatine was capable of being mixed with any sort of juice (or other sugars) in order to improve uptake. Today, we understand that this isn’t required.

Why One Should Take Creatine On A Keto Diet

What’s great about creatine is the possibility it can buffer the performance drops experienced when one switches to a keto diet. With keto diets being low carbs in nature, endurance and strength loss occurs due to the decrease in glycogen.

To put this into perspective, it’s best to think of glycogen as one’s energy reserve, since muscle glycogen is a form of energy storage itself.

It has been discovered that creatine can increase skeletal muscle glycogen, which can be of great use for individuals following low-carb diets. This is especially true for ketogenic diets because less glucose is available in such a health regimen.

According to one study, once one has become keto-adapted, the repletion and glycogen utilization after (and during) exercise is somewhat similar to athletes with high carb diets.

The Basics Of Creatine

Believe it or not, creatine is naturally stored in our muscles.

Whenever our muscles are working, they utilize adenosine triphosphate (which are three phosphates). When the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is utilized, a single phosphate group is then removed and transitions into adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which is two phosphates.

By technically “donating” a phosphate to ADP, creatine makes it ATP once again. This cycle allows us to do more work in a short time span.

Creatine supplementation can be viewed as a reserve, much like stored energy in a hybrid car. So, as ATP is utilized and turns into ADP, creatine is capable of pulling the ADP and recycling it into ATP.

The fuel utilized during exercise can be determined by the duration and intensity of the activity being performed. To be more concise, a high-intensity workout utilizes more ATP. However, it should be mentioned that the ATP amount stored in muscles is fairly small.

If you are wondering why maintaining a sprint for a long period is difficult or why muscles cannot maintain strength throughout an entire workout, ATP is to blame.

Water Retention, Keto, and Creatine

The concern individuals have when supplementing creatine is the increase in water retention when on a keto diet.

With just a week of creatine loading, individuals have reported 1 to 2 kg of weight gain. This quick gain of weight is often due to increased water retention spurred from the creatine.

Being osmolytic, creatine in the muscle draws more water to one’s muscle cells.

If one happens to experience water retention, it should be recognized as intramuscular water retention (which is inside the muscle). One shouldn’t experience what most people assume water retention is, which is a puffy, bloated appearance.

Many individuals discover that water retention only remains temporary, with the weight evening out to where it once was.

Increased water retention usually makes one look more toned or leaner since the muscle is swelling as it pushes against the skin and makes the muscle look more defined. One may experience a boost in the gym due to increased weight.

How and When To Use Creatine On A Keto Diet

Regardless of when it’s taken, creatine is capable of saturating muscle creatine storage.

Although there isn’t a whole lot of data supporting such a claim, results from a study suggested that creatine taken after a workout can lead to small increases in one’s fat mass.

One popular method for utilizing creatine is called “loading”, where one saturates one’s muscles quickly with a large dose. Although “loading” is effective when saturating one’s muscles quickly, it is not absolutely necessary. A dose of 3 grams daily is capable of saturating muscles (after it has been supplemented for 3 to 4 weeks).

Another reason why many individuals do not resort to “loading” is due to the fact that mild gastrointestinal discomfort may occur.

Research supports that 5 grams of creatine for men and 3 grams of creatine for women is good enough to saturate muscle creatine.

What Creatine Should Be Taken While On A Keto Diet?

There are several different selections of creatine available on the market which claim to absorb faster or be more bioavailable than other competitors, but it’s the literature that’s more important. Creatine monohydrate is known as the first creatine form to be studied. Not only is creatine monohydrate the first to be studied, but it is a widely studied and very affordable type of creatine.

Regardless of marketing claims, there isn’t a form available on the market that outperforms creatine monohydrate. Other forms of creatine are likely to be a cash grab.

Creatine Benefits

The main benefit of creatine is that creatine improves power output and strength for workouts, but it’s possible that there are more perks to creatine.

– The brain and creatine – Research has suggested that creatine may improve one’s cognitive performance. Individuals who were older (and were utilizing creatine) noticed improved recollection and memory.

– Lower blood sugar levels –  people who combined exercise with creatine exhibited better control over their blood sugar than those who only exercised (without creatine).