Creatine has been proven to aid performance and muscle development, but it’s also been linked to weight gain. Some people have even noticed that their face has gone puffy when they start taking it.

So, will creatine make your face fat and bloated? Well, the simple answer is yes, it can - but if you use it properly, then it shouldn't.

In this guide, I'll explain why taking creatine can make you look puffy and give tips to help avoid and reduce bloating.

Yes, it’s possible that creatine supplements can make your face look fatter and cause some bloating and puffiness. However, there are disagreements about the extent to which taking creatine has an impact.

Your overall face shape and your whole body shape generally come down to your genetics and diet. If you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, then how much creatine you take (natural creatine or otherwise) shouldn't be a huge factor.

However, there are two main ways that taking creatine can lead to facial swelling:

Water Retention

When you take a creatine supplement, particularly an oral creatine, then it can cause your face to swell up slightly.

This is because creatine pulls water into your muscle mass to make them seem bigger. As your muscles swell, it can cause you to gain water weight that can leave your face puffy.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that causes swelling in your body. If taking creatine makes your face, tongue, and cheeks swell up quickly, you're likely having an allergic reaction.

You'll typically have a rash or skin reaction alongside the puffing up.

If left untreated, it can cause your throat to close up, giving you difficulty breathing, and you should seek immediate medical attention.[1]

It could mean you're allergic to the creatine make/brand, or there's a specific ingredient triggering a reaction.

Does taking creatine only impact your face?

Scientifically, there's no consensus about the relationship between creatine supplements and facial bloating, but it is recognized that creatine supplements can cause unwanted weight gain across your whole body.

If you've just started a program of creatine supplementation and noticed some weight gain then it is normal, but keep reading and I'll explain why this happens and how to battle against it.

Man Inspecting His Face In The Mirror

Why Creatine Supplementation May Lead To Weight Gain?

It's fairly common to start taking creatine and notice weight gain. This won't just impact your face but can lead to a visible increase in mass across your body.

This is because when you start taking creatine, your body has a lot more water retention within your muscles.

This can cause short-term weight gain in the form of water weight and can make you look fat and bloated, and cause facial swelling.

Not everyone will experience this, and there are other reasons for feeling fat, but it’s generally linked to creatine.

This all comes down to how creatine works.

Creatine is an amino acid that works by stimulating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the source of energy in your body.

The increased ATP production when you take creatine can boost performance during high-intensity exercises and improve athletic performance.[2]

While creatine helps some performance, there are also other symptoms that occur when you take it. In particular, it can make you look and feel bigger.

Creatine draws water into your muscle mass. This makes your muscles swell and can reduce muscle weakness, helping you to feel stronger and improve your performance.

Creatine can make you feel bigger but doesn't directly let your body build lean muscle mass.

However, it does let you work harder and decreases recovery time so you can develop your muscle cells more quickly and lose weight in the long run.

So, does creatine make you fat?

No, it's important to note that while taking creatine does lead to water weight gain, but it isn't fat. Body fat gain can only happen when you eat more calories and won't be caused by the supplement.

However, it's also worth noting that creatine isn't magically creating muscle either, causing non-muscle weight gain. Creatine is just triggering a reaction in your body to let you work harder and build muscle more quickly.

How Much Water Weight Can You Expect To Gain?

When you first start taking creatine supplements, you can expect to gain 2-5 pounds in the first few weeks. The water retention is worst when you first start taking oral creatine, and you'll probably notice an increase in your body weight straight away.

A study that compared creatine use with a placebo in a control group found that those taking creatine absorbed around 1 liter more of water in a 28-day period.[3]

This may not sound like much, but it is noticeable and it’s why the supplement is making you gain weight.

The bad news is that fluid retention can cause your face to swell and you'll likely notice bloating in the mirror.

However, the good news is that this isn't facial fat and you will probably notice you have larger muscles and improved athletic performance when you start weight training.

Will This Puffiness Go Away?

Yes, the puffiness and bloating are linked to your creatine intake and will go away

Creatine is taken in phases, a loading phase and a maintenance phase. During the loading phase, you'll have a much higher creatine intake, and that's when you'll notice the increase in body mass and facial bloating the most.

Your loading phase will typically only last 5-7 days and the puffiness and bloating should decrease a few weeks after you’ve completed it.

If you stop creatine intake completely, the facial puffiness and water retention should stop within 3-4 days. Naturally, if your intake of creatine increases, then you may have more bloating and facial puffiness.

If you're concerned that you've stopped taking the supplement and your puffiness isn't decreasing, you should consult a medical professional.

How Can I Treat A Bloated Face Caused By Creatine?

If you notice a slightly puffy face swollen shortly after taking creatine, then it's fairly normal. It's natural to cause some weight gain, and it doesn't mean you should stop taking creatine.

However, if you don't want to wait a few weeks to lose the puffy face, then there are a few ways to speed up the process and remove the symptoms:

1. Switch to Creatine HCL or CEE

There are several different creatine brands, but there are only really three types of creatine supplement:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Creatine hydrochloride (creatine HCL)
  • Creatine ethyl ester (CEE)

Creatine monohydrate is a commonly used supplement and is used to aid performance around the world.

However, creatine HCL and CEE are newer types of creatine that can reduce water retention (among other benefits).

There is a lack of scientific research into creatine HCL and CEE to really understand if it makes you bloat or not.

They seem to be absorbed more quickly, and some athletes use them as a more stable way to boost performance.

However, increased water uptake is an essential part of how creatine impacts your body, so less bloating could also mean the other supplements are less effective.

GNC Creatine HCL 189 With Exercise Equipment

2. Drink More Water

If you notice creatine makes you hold water, it may seem counterintuitive to drink more water, but hydration is key, and ensuring you have enough water will reduce the bloating.

There are two reasons for this; firstly, drinking water makes you pee, which can remove excess water and reduce puffiness in various places.

Secondly, an increased water intake prevents dehydration which can come as a result of creatine.

3. Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Sodium, or salt, will naturally make you retain water. Limiting your salt intake to under 2300 mg a day can reduce puffiness (and other symptoms) due to water retention when you take creatine.

Just remember that salt is essential for your body's natural processes, so if you notice any dizziness, you should up your intake and consult a professional.[4]

4. Limit Your Carbohydrate Intake

Carbohydrates also cause you to retain water, and while you need them for the energy effects they provide, you should limit your intake.

Try to have a balanced diet and avoid eating processed foods to reduce bloating caused when you take creatine.

Creatine Causing Puffy Face FAQs

Does dehydration decrease puffiness?

Yes, in the early stages of dehydration, your body will keep hold of whatever water it can, and this retention can make your cheeks puffy.

What foods help reduce a puffy face?

Fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can all naturally reduce inflammation.[5]

What happens if you stop taking creatine?

When you stop taking the creatine supplement, the bloating and puffiness should reduce in a few days. However, if you notice the symptoms continue even after you've stopped taking creatine you should consult a medical professional as you may need additional treatment.

Does creatine help you look younger?

Creatine can increase the firmness of your skin and reduce wrinkles to make you look younger. Some face creams even contain extra creatine because of the impact it can have on muscle cells.[6]

Is It True That Creatine Makes Your Face Fat?

Creatine can make your face puffy because of the increased water retention, and it's more likely you'll have a bloating face if you've just started taking creatine.

So does creatine make your facial fat increase? No, absolutely not. Creatine makes your muscles collect water which can leave your face bloated, but it does not create fatty tissues.

Scientific evidence, as noted above, supports the fact that creatine is an effective supplement that helps athletic performance. It might cause a temporary puffy creatine face, but if you stick to the recommended dose, then there are many benefits in the long run.

References: 

  1. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/immune-system/anaphylaxis
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/creatine-for-muscle-and-strength#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155510/
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium
  5. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-puffy-face-home-remedies
  6. https://www.nivea.co.uk/advice/skin/is-creatine-good-for-your-skin
Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Meet Miloš, a certified sports nutritionist and self-taught supplement expert whose pharmacological background and nearly a decade of gym experience make him the perfect guide for optimizing your health and athletic performance through supplement reviews and practical advice rooted in factual, science-backed information.