Share on Pinterest
Urbazon/Getty Images

Elite bodybuilding competitors cut back on fat and carbohydrates while increasing protein intake in the cutting cycle. Carbohydrates are carefully timed to fuel exercise regimens.

Studies show 0.5 to 1 percent of body fat loss per week is safest to keep muscle while losing fat.

If you cut too fast or sharply by restricting your diet too much, you’ll end up losing muscle. You’ll also have a slower recovery, hurting your competitive success.

Cutting too fast can also stress the body, something you don’t want to do. It can affect many bodily functions that can influence your long-term health, such as:

  • metabolism
  • sleep
  • energy
  • concentration

Cutting typically happens anywhere from several months to 1 month before a competition. Bodybuilding is well known for cutting cycles. Others include combat sports like karate, taekwondo, jiu jitsu, boxing, and wrestling to name a few.

You naturally produce it

Creatine is derived from three amino acids — glycine, arginine, and methionine. It provides the energy required to power muscles for high-intensity exercise.

Creatine is mainly stored in skeletal muscle. Smaller amounts are also stored in your:

  • liver
  • brain
  • kidneys
  • pancreas

Your body needs to replace 1 to 3 grams of creatine per day. Your levels are based on your muscle needs and hormones like testosterone.

If you perform high-intensity exercises, you drain your stored creatine faster. You’ll need to take in more to keep your muscles powered. Diets rich in meat and fish have creatine and help with refueling your body’s needs.

Elite athletes have been using creatine supplements before and after training to improve high-intensity power performance, gain strength, and increase post-exercise recovery for years.

Numerous studies have found creatine monohydrate (CM) is an effective type of creatine supplement available to increase muscle size and power.

There are a lot of factors that play into success in cutting.

Some are your own individual characteristics, like:

  • genetics
  • sex
  • your overall health
  • mental stamina (drive, determination, focus)
  • physical stamina and workout load

Other issues that might affect your success can be related to timing and methods. Timing isn’t just about when you train, it also includes diet and nutrition.

When and how much to exercise, how fast or slowly you try to cut fat, and when you add supplements like creatine can all make a difference.

A study found that adding creatine before and after resistance training had the most effect in increasing lean body mass and increasing strength.

Taking CM supplements increases lean muscle mass while providing a boost in strength and power.

How it works

Creatine can help support and protect your muscles during cutting by bringing water into your muscles. This helps boost and preserve muscle fibers from damage.

That’s also why drinking plenty of water during cutting is important. It protects muscles from breakdown or injury from dehydration during your cutting cycle.

One study found 4 weeks of intense training during the cutting phase with creatine supplementation improved body fat percent, muscle strength, and power performance.

Other studies on performance sports have also found creatine supplements can increase endurance without affecting fat mass.

20 grams per day is common. Many athletes use a loading dose of 20 grams per day for up to 1 month. While that may be effective, it may not be a necessary amount to see creatine muscle benefits. Furthermore, the recommendation is 5 grams (approximately 0.3 grams/kg body weight) four times per day for 5–7 days.

3–10 grams may help with maintenance. Once creatine stores are fully saturated 3–5 grams per day can help with maintenance but some studies suggest that larger athletes may need to consume as much as 5–10 grams per day to keep creatine stores constant.

Overall, taking creatine supplements during cutting doesn’t harm your weight loss goals. It might offer benefits beyond just muscle protection.

Negative side effects from creatine supplementation often have to do with cutting too many calories or losing too much fat too quickly.

Rapid weight loss from aggressive cutting can be damaging to the body and the mind. Effects can be different for every person.

Common negative effects include:

  • Upset stomach. During the loading phase of creatine supplementation, taking 10 grams of creatine at 1 serving can cause diarrhea and stomach irritation. Taking smaller, divided doses over a longer time (3 to 5 grams) can help avoid these problems.
  • Weight gain. Cutting too much can also result in rebound weight gain during the recovery phase after competition.

Studies show rapid weight loss during the preparation phase of competition can also affect:

In addition, men may experience lower testosterone levels during cutting or deficit phase. Women may experience amenorrhea, or lack of periods.

Follow these tips for healthier cutting:

  • Plan to allow for slower weight loss. It’s safer and preserves lean muscle mass and energy while still cutting fat.
  • Getting proper nutrition — including 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight — will provide protection for preserving lean muscle mass.
  • A maintenance dose of 3 grams CM may improve strength, power, and recovery.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Make sure to get proper sleep as it’s key to mental and physical stamina and focus.

There are a lot of factors that go into the best weight loss training regimen. Effectiveness in achieving fat loss without compromising muscle integrity is key.

One important point to keep in mind when you consider cutting is your safety. Rapid weight loss could derail your success, so set long-range goals.

Creatine supplements can be beneficial if you’re looking to increase muscle power and performance. It may also be effective for weight management.

Creatine monohydrate has years of scientific evidence to back its safety and effectiveness. It supports boosting muscle power and providing protection from damage during exercise and recovery.

It doesn’t negatively affect weight during cutting cycles for elite sports weight management goals.

Before starting a cutting phase, always discuss your weight goals with your healthcare provider, physical trainer, and coach to stay within safe deficit levels. Reveal what products you plan on taking and ones that you are currently consuming. They can also help monitor any specific health conditions.