If you’ve ever taken creatine, you probably know that it can cause a bit of bloat. As I started my last loading phase, I wondered, why does creatine cause bloat? So I did some research to find out the causes and methods of prevention.
Creatine bloat is primarily caused by water retention, which is caused by excess intake of creatine. Creatine molecules attract water, and taking too much creatine can cause there to be an excess of this water, which causes bloating.
Take these steps to avoid creatine bloat:
- Take the right amount of creatine
- Drink enough water
- Take creatine with carbohydrates
- Try a different type of creatine
- Skip the loading phase
- Use a trusted brand of creatine
- Avoid bloat inducing foods
Let’s take a closer look at these things. Below, I’ll go more in-depth into what causes creatine bloat and each of the things you can do to prevent it from happening.
What Is Creatine Bloating?
Creatine molecules naturally attract water. This means that when you put creatine into your body, each molecule holds onto at least one molecule of water. When we’re talking about multiple grams every day, this adds up pretty quickly. This is where the water retention aspect comes from. Unfortunately, the cause of bloating isn’t this simple.
If you take the right amount of creatine, it will all be stored within your muscle cells. If this happens, your muscles will look bigger, but it wouldn’t make you look bloated.
If you’re looking for a good creatine that helps avoid bloating, check out my article on my favorite one. I’ve used it for years, and I’ve never had any issues with it and bloating. Plus, I left a coupon code in that article, so be sure to check it out!
Bloating comes in when the creatine you’re taking isn’t being properly absorbed into your muscle cells. When this creatine and water combo is floating around your body in places it shouldn’t be, it causes you to look bloated and bigger, not just your muscles.
Reducing Creatine Bloating: 7 Steps
The improper absorption that I just mentioned can be caused by many different things. Sadly for you, if you’re experiencing creatine bloat, there’s no one thing you can do that’s guaranteed to stop it, short of not taking it altogether.
Next, I’ll go over each of the steps you can use to try to prevent bloating. If none of these things work, it may be time to stop taking creatine.
Take the Right Amount of Creatine
Taking the right amount of creatine is crucial for reducing bloat, and probably the most likely solution for you. Earlier I mentioned this, but the main cause of creatine bloat is having too much extra creatine in your body.
What would you do if you’re taking more creatine than your body can absorb? Take less creatine. It’s (most likely) that simple!
Taking the proper amount of creatine is crucial to your success with it. In fact, it’s so important that I built a calculator with a custom formula that will tell you the exact right dose of creatine for you. Check it out, and don’t be afraid to give it a share! I worked really hard to develop it, and I’m pretty proud of the result.
For some other people, the problem isn’t with taking too much creatine, but other issues in their system that cause poor absorption.
If this step doesn’t work for you, or you don’t want to sacrifice potential gains by taking less creatine, keep reading. I’ll go over how to increase the absorption of creatine next.
Drink Enough Water
Drinking enough water is also extremely important. It might sound odd that drinking water can fix water retention problems, but it’s true.
Water is essential for cell function, and for creatine absorption. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your cells may not be able to properly absorb creatine, which will cause it to stay outside of the muscle cells where they’ll cause bloating.
Really, just make sure you’re drinking enough. You should be doing this anyway, but it’s even more important if you’re taking creatine. Not only can it cause bloating, but not drinking enough can also cause dehydration.
Drink more water.
Take Creatine With Carbohydrates
This one might also seem contradictory if you know anything about nutrition.
Eating too many carbs can definitely cause bloating on its own. This being said, creatine absorption is increased when you take it along with some carbs.
This doesn’t mean to eat tons of carbs, but to take your creatine with some milk, fruit, or a drink that has carbs in it.
So, don’t go crazy on pasta, but try taking your creatine with some carbs to see if it reduces your bloating.
Try a Different Type Of Creatine
You might not have ever noticed this, but there are many different types of creatine out there. Each one of them claims to be the best, that they cause less bloating, that they’re absorbed better, that they’re more effective, etc.
One of them technically has to be the best, but this can’t be true of all of them at the same time.
If nothing else has worked for you so far, try changing your type of creatine. Creatine monohydrate is by far the most popular, but you might have more success with something else. I have an article on all the types of creatine available on the market. So, if you’re looking for a new type, check that out!
Skip the Loading Phase
If you know much about creatine, you know what a loading phase is. If not, a loading phase is something you can do when you start taking creatine. Basically, you take a lot of creatine for a week or two to build up your creatine reserves. It’s not necessary, but it can help you see results faster.
Now, if you’ve read this article up until this point you can probably see why this might cause issues. If you’re bloating during your loading phase, and you’ve tried everything else on this list, you should probably skip it altogether.
For some people, it’s very difficult to absorb this much creatine. Like I said before, it’s not necessary to do a loading phase, so if you’re getting creatine bloat during it, just take the normal dose.
Use a Trusted Brand of Creatine
Unfortunately, not every creatine manufacturer is a good company. Some of them are malicious and sell bad products. I won’t name any names, but there have even been reports of companies selling fake creatine on Amazon. They were also reported to be buying fake reviews, but you could dig through to find the real ones.
I read through some of the real reviews of this product, and they all said that whatever it was it wasn’t creatine. Some even had pictures of worms in their creatine containers!
Obviously, if you’re taking some unknown powder when you think it’s creatine, it could cause some unwanted side effects. Now, if you do your due diligence, this won’t be a problem. Just make sure to research every supplement and supplement company before you start taking it.
Avoid Bloat Inducing Foods
Sometimes, bloating might not have anything to do with creatine. If you’re experiencing bloating, along with all these other steps, you should be taking a look at your diet.
Are you eating lots of junk/fast food? Are you eating too many carbs? Are you not eating enough vegetables?
All of these things and more could cause bloating even without creatine. So, pay attention to your diet, and look out for patterns, and you can find if a specific food contributes to makes you bloated, instead of creatine itself.