Creatine is definitely a buzzword floating through the gym these days.
If you're someone consuming creatine to build muscle and overall body mass, you might wonder what the common side effects of taking creatine are - especially if you feel puffy and look bloated.
Here, we'll provide you with everything on "does creatine make you bloat?" We'll discuss what creatine bloating is, how to stop creatine bloating, and more.
- Will Creatine Make You Look & Feel Bloated?
- What Is Creatine Bloating? (Water Retention Discussed)
- The Real-Life Benefits Of Creatine Supplementation
- How To Get Rid Of Your Creatine Bloating
- How To Prevent Creatine Bloat In The Future?
- Frequently Asked Creatine Bloating Questions
Will Creatine Make You Look & Feel Bloated?
First things first, does creatine make you bloated? Under normal circumstances, consuming 3 to 5 grams of creatine daily wouldn't make you feel bloated.
The only time you would look and feel bloated when taking creatine is during the loading phase.
Commonly done by those in the fitness industry, loading creatine is beneficial for individuals that want to reap the benefits of creatine more quickly.
To achieve this, the loading phase requires individuals to consume between 20 to 25 grams of creatine daily for five days.
Once the loading phase is done, individuals revert back to the maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams daily.
What Is Creatine Bloating? (Water Retention Discussed)
As creatine has a hydration shell around it, it can retain water.
Hence when you increase the levels of creatine you consume, the chemical properties will also increase the volume of water in your muscles.
If the muscles don't end up absorbing the creatine, it can cause bloating and water retention.
While short-term creatine bloating is easily resolved, consistent creatine water retention can place additional stress on the kidneys, blood vessels, and heart.
Creatine bloating can also extend to the gastrointestinal area and cause intestinal bloating - an unpleasant feeling of gas in the stomach.
In terms of how long it lasts, it depends on your hydration levels and how much creatine you supplement.
In most cases, if you drink plenty of water, it will go away within a few hours. Interestingly, not everyone will experience creatine bloating at all.
The Real-Life Benefits Of Creatine Supplementation
Even though consuming higher doses of creatine can cause creatine bloating, there's nothing wrong with consuming creatine supplements in general.
In fact, creatine supplements are known to have real-life benefits.
While your body naturally produces creatine from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine found in muscle cells, taking creatine can help enhance exercise performance.
Not only does this organic compound provide energy to your muscles, but it's also known to help with healthy aging and brain function.
When you work out, your muscles need energy, which comes from ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). The issue with your body, however, is that it has limited amounts of ATP.
With a creatine supplement, you'll be able to fuel your body with creatine to make a difference in your workout.
Just by taking some creatine powder or creatine supplementation, your body will be able to increase its phosphocreatine storage which is used to create ATP, allowing you to work out at a higher intensity of exercise and have better athletic performance for longer periods.
Specifically, a creatine supplement is also great as a source of fuel for anaerobic exercises such as weightlifting.
As creatine contains three amino acids and is stored in the skeletal muscles (muscle cells), it's extremely effective for building muscle mass.
How To Get Rid Of Your Creatine Bloating
If you're feeling bloated, the best way to get rid of it is to skip the loading phase altogether and stick with the standard three to five grams - the required maintenance dose.
If you're adamant about proceeding with the loading phase, however, you'll want to consider spreading your daily dose into multiple smaller ones.
For example, instead of taking 20 grams all at once, you can spread it out throughout the day.
Otherwise, another way to get rid of water retention and creatine bloating is to drink extra glasses of water.
The more water you drink, the more urine you will pass, and the higher the chance of you reducing water retention.
If you still can't find relief after drinking lots of water, you should seek the help of a physician who will prescribe you some pills.
How To Prevent Creatine Bloat In The Future?
Creatine bloat can be uncomfortable, so how to prevent creatine bloating altogether?
1. Skip The Loading Phase (If Needed)
There has been some research out there to suggest that creatine bloating only occurs during the loading phase.
While the loading phase will have your muscles saturated with creatine quickly, consuming creatine monohydrate is enough creatine to allow you to also achieve that level of saturation in 28 days.
Learn More - How Long Does Creatine Take To Kick In And Work?
You can also skip the creatine loading phase depending on the type of creatine you're using. If you use creatine hydrochloride, for example, you won't need to have a loading phase.
Beyond the loading phase, it's also important you experiment with your daily maintenance dose, as some individuals can consume a significantly higher dose than others.
2. Drink Lots Of Water
Other than stopping consuming too much creatine, drinking plenty of water is another way to avoid creatine bloating. For every 1 gram of creatine you consume, drink 100ml more than usual.
So, if you're taking 5 grams of creatine a day, adding half a liter to your water intake can help to avoid bloating.
3. Follow A Healthy Diet
Certain food items can also cause bloating, so that's something you'd need to take into consideration. Also, avoid processed foods and sugar, and minimize your carbohydrate intake.
You should also ensure you're not consuming too much salt, which can add to the bloating. Sports nutrition is key, so make sure that you're being careful of what you're consuming.
4. Go For High-Quality Creatine
Newer versions of creatine, such as creatine HCL and buffered creatine instead of traditional creatine supplementation, may be available on the market, but it's still better to stick with creatine monohydrate.
Related Article - Creatine HCL Vs Monohydrate (Which One Is Best For You?)
Not only is creatine monohydrate safe, but it's also extremely effective.
Other forms of creatine, such as buffered creatine, are simply creatine mixed with an alkaline agent such as magnesium glycerol phosphate.
While it claims to help reduce bloating and cramping, there is no evidence found to support this.
5. Stay Away From High Sodium
As mentioned earlier, staying away from high-sodium foods is essential. Not only will too much salt cause you to retain water, but it can also cause bloating.
So instead, stick with a lower sodium diet and try to consume healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Frequently Asked Creatine Bloating Questions
Creatine bloating typically goes away a few weeks after the loading phase and is relatively short-term - especially if you consume larger amounts of water during this time.
No, creatine does not make you gain belly fat. High doses of creatine can cause other side effects, such as increased weight due to water retention, but it has low amounts of calories in general and shouldn't cause you to gain belly fat.
It is safe to consume creatine supplements daily, and there is no evidence to support otherwise. So, you won't have to worry and can continue supplementing with creatine to provide you with more energy for your physical performance and build muscle.
In the initial phase, it might seem like the creatine supplement is causing gas, but the bloating is due to water retention, not air. If you have a sensitive stomach to creatine, you may have a more positive experience with micronized creatine.
As creatine pulls water, it can increase your total body water and cause you to bloat as a common side effect - especially if you're doing creatine loading.
That doesn't mean you should stop taking creatine, though.
Consumed in normal amounts, creatine is an amino acid that's great for intense exercise and building lean muscle, as it fuels the body with more ATP and helps you train harder.