Creatine is a product that is naturally produced within the body and helps produce energy for your muscles to carry out short, intense bursts of movement or exercise.
When creatine is present in the body, it draws water to your muscles to help facilitate proper function and increased energy production.
However, when you take creatine as a supplement, the levels present in the body increase, as does the amount of water.
This can affect the appearance of the body. In this article, we will look at whether creatine can make you bloated and what to do if you experience bloating from creatine supplements.
Does Creatine Make You Bloated?
The short answer to this question is, yes it can. However, it is a little bit more complicated than that.
The most important thing to be aware of is that creatine doesn’t make everyone who takes it bloated, and if it does make you bloated, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong, it is simply a possible side effect.
Despite bloating being a side effect of creatine, among other side effects such as headaches and nausea, it is perfectly safe to use to help advance your fitness goals.
Despite the potential for bloating when taking creatine, there is a long list of benefits that come with taking this fitness supplement.
Creatine is composed of three amino acids, glycine, L-methionine, and L-arginine.
When creatine is present in the muscles, a phosphate group is added by the muscles to create a substance called phosphocreatine that can be charged with energy to help your muscles perform to the best of their ability during exercise.
The energy that is produced from the creatine in the muscles is produced at an extremely rapid rate during the early stages of exercise or a workout.
The presence of creatine in the muscles during exercise, whether naturally produced or from supplements, enhances physical performance, particularly in relation to exercises such as sprinting and powerlifting.
Creatine Water Retention
As mentioned above, creatine brings water to the muscles that are bound to the creatine compound.
The more creatine you take in supplement form, the more water is taken to your muscles and held there.
When this excess water is present in your muscles, it causes them to swell in size to accommodate the water.
If your body does not absorb all of the creatine that is in your muscles, the swelling from the water will stay until your body is able to remove it via the kidneys, turning it into urine.
Until the creatine and excess water have been removed or absorbed, it will sit in the cells of the muscles as water retention which is what causes the bloated appearance and sensation.
When the bloating caused by creatine lasts for a short time, it is completely harmless and only presents cosmetic concerns.
However, if creatine bloating and water retention are present for an extended period of time, it can place extra strain on the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels which can lead to more significant issues.
How Long Does Creatine Bloating Last?
The length of time that creatine bloating lasts vastly depends on how much creatine you are taking and how often.
However, the most significant factor in how long your creatine bloating lasts is whether or not you are drinking enough water.
If you are just starting to take creatine and are participating in what is known as the loading phase, where you take an increased amount of creatine for the first week, you are likely to experience bloating until you finish this phase.
Once the loading phase is over, you should be able to manage any subsequent bloating by drinking more water and making alterations to your diet.
The loading phase is the most common time to experience bloating when taking creatine due to the high levels being consumed. However, this phase should only last for 5-7 days, after which you should see a significant improvement in bloating.
How To Get Rid Of Creatine Bloating
If you are experiencing bloating beyond the loading phase, there are a few things you can do to help get rid of or lessen the bloating that you are experiencing.
The best way to reduce bloating of any kind is to increase the amount of water you are drinking.
The more water you consume, the more efficiently your kidneys will remove the excess water from the cells in your body.
This should be your first port of call when you are experiencing creatine bloating outside of the loading phase.
If you have increased your water intake and are still experiencing boating while taking creatine, it may be caused by other factors.
Another common cause of bloating while on creatine is having a diet that contains a high level of salt.
Because of the excess water that is brought to your muscles by the creatine, you are going to be more prone to bloating.
If you are then consuming a diet that is high in salt, you will become more prone to bloating.
Adding these two factors together is likely to result in regular or consistent bloating. To reduce bloating, altering your diet to contain less salt will help avoid and reduce bloating.
If neither of these methods works to reduce your bloating, it is important to visit your doctor.
They will be able to ensure that your dosage is correct and they will be able to prescribe products that will help reduce your bloating.
Avoiding Creatine Bloating
If you haven’t yet started taking creatine and are put off by the prospect of experiencing bloating, there are a few things that you can do to help avoid creatine bloating.
One of the main ways to avoid creatine bloating is to skip the loading phase.
The loading phase that you can go through when you first start taking creatine is the biggest cause of bloating.
If you skip this phase, you are much less likely to experience bloating, however, you will have to wait longer to see the results you want from the creatine.
Another way to try and avoid creatine bloating is to make sure that you purchase high-quality creatine.
Creatine bloating can be a common but harmless side effect of taking creatine.
However, despite it being harmless, it can be annoying and less than ideal.
Luckily, there are some very simple solutions to creatine bloating that can help you get the benefits of creatine without the side effect of bloating.