There’s no denying that vascularity is a major aim for most people taking up weightlifting or bodybuilding. Not only is vascularity a sign of low body fat levels but it also serves the aesthetic purpose of looking gnarly and like a hardcore lifter.
While vascularity is a sought-after feature, there are certain factors that you’ll need to have in place to truly demonstrate vascularity and something that can help with that is supplementation.
Does creatine make you more vascular?
Creatine does not directly make you more vascular, however, as an osmolyte, it draws water into the muscle and pushes veins closer to the surface of the skin which could improve vascularity. It’s also a mild vasodilator that improves blood flow and can ultimately improve vascularity as a result.
While some supplements enhance blood flow to improve vascularity, many people wonder whether or not the most researched and affordable supplement will do the same. That supplement is of course creatine.
Vascularity is often a sign that you are doing something right in the gym and acts as a visual sign of progress with your physique. In this article, I’ll therefore cover if creatine can make you more vascular or if it will have the opposite effect and hide your veins!
What Is Creatine
I’m sure many of you reading this will already know what creatine is. It’s one of the most researched, inexpensive, and widely used supplements on the market. Athletes, bodybuilders, fitness fanatics, body transformation trainees, and even general gym-goers will take creatine at some point in their training journey.
Therefore, I’ll just give a brief overview of creatine but don’t skim over this section, there are some points that stand out when it comes to creatine supplementation and may help answer the question of “does creatine make you more vascular”.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is similar in structure to an amino acid. It’s mainly found/produced in animals and humans and is stored primarily in skeletal muscle tissue.
When our body uses energy for muscular contractions, it uses an energy system known as ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) and as ATP depletes after repeated repetitions of muscular contractions, creatine kicks in to act as a back fuel source to ATP.
We can only hold so much creatine in our body at any one time (with a maximum capacity being around 5lbs) and the average is quite a bit less at around 3.5lbs.
So, you can see that we are some way off from holding our capacity for most people yet the more creatine we store, the more energy we’ll have for resistance training when ATP needs replenishing.
For a more detailed explanation of what creatine is and what it’s beneficial for, check out this video below:
There is research for creatine supplementation on sports performance, muscle performance and growth, and even cognitive ability. It appears to be a powerhouse supplement but what impact does it have on vascularity, if any?
Does Creatine Make You More Vascular
Creatine does not directly make you more vascular, the primary function of creatine is to provide a source of energy for muscular contractions. This is worth pointing out straight away as it’s not a supplement that is designed to make users more vascular.
There is also the opinion that creatine makes you gain weight, become bloated or even fat and if that’s the case, these are certainly not aspects that would improve vascularity but rather reduce it.
While creatine is likely to make most people gain some weight, it’s important to understand the process first. Creatine is an osmolyte and draws water into the muscle. This is the most important distinction to make as it won’t be stored as subcutaneous water.
Subcutaneous water is water directly below the skin and holding excess subcutaneous water (like people do when stressed, overweight, or consuming a high amount of carbs) is something that will reduce the visibility of your veins.
As creatine draws water into the muscles themselves, it can instead cause the muscles to increase in size (not in terms of actual muscle growth though) and push veins closer to the surface of the skin making them more visible.
This will depend entirely on the individual’s body composition as more muscle + less body fat = more vascularity and the impact will be so minimal that it will be very difficult to see a noticeable difference in vascularity.
Does Creatine Affect Blood Flow
Another point to consider is that creatine is a mild vasodilator. This means it relaxes the blood vessels and allows more blood and nutrients to pass into the muscle, which is combined with the osmolyte effects of water retention for a fuller muscle.
While vasodilation doesn’t have a direct impact on the veins, an improved flow of blood will mean more blood leaving the muscle groups and being pushed through the veins. This, however, is something that will only be observed through resistance training when the active muscle is being contracted.
Even without creatine, you’ll still notice that you are more vascular when training and pumping blood into the contracting muscles so again, the theory is there to support creatine having an impact on vascularity but again, it’ll be so minor that you won’t visibility notice the difference in vascularity.
When supplementing with creatine, you’ll be primarily looking to improve training performance in terms of endurance and set duration. Squeezing out some extra reps to promote muscle growth is the main benefit that comes with supplementation.
If you want to take creatine as a supplement to improve your body composition and physical appearance, you’ll likely end up disappointed. While creatine can enhance blood flow and the effects of drawing water into the muscle could push veins closer to the surface of your skin, the actual effects are unlikely to be visibly noticeable.
Creatine can help to make you more vascular but the impact will be minimal. If you want to improve vascularity, focus on reducing body fat and gaining more lean muscle mass. That’s boring advice but creatine will not be the quick fix that you’re looking for.
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