Creatine helps those who take the supplement to gain muscle, increase performance and it provides energy to your cells.
But a question that may “weigh” on your mind is….will it make you gain belly fat?
The short answer is no, unless you change your diet significantly, you shouldn’t gain actual stomach fat.
Does taking creatine cause belly bloat?
Now it’s important to know Alana Biggers, M.D. and MPH, (Doctor of Medicine, Master Of Public Health), points out that before taking creatine supplements you may experience weight gain.
But, it isn’t the kind of weight you expect, it’s actually water weight, or what some people know as water retention, or the ever haunting B word: “bloat”.
Bloat in this case comes from the water the supplement draws into your muscles cells. According to an article in Healthline, your muscles will hold onto the water and store it in your legs, arms, or stomach.
This then in the turn causes the added bloat. Not what you may be thinking was extra weight.
Gavin Van De Walle, MS and RD notes that creatine bloating is most often a side effect that occurs during the “loading” phase. The loading phase as previously mentioned, is the start to building up creatine supplement rapidly.
When you take 20 to 25 grams of creatine for 5 to 7 days in a row, you’ll have successfully started this stage of your creating building. But, as you start adding in your creatine at a rapid pace, your amount of fluid retention increases at almost the same rate.
On average, you can expect to gain around 1-2% of body mass related to water weight during this time.
But have no fear, you won’t drown in the excess water. It’s important to know that the bloat from the water retention is generally short term and resolves itself within 1-2 weeks time.
Not everyone will experience bloating, but this doesn’t mean your creatine supplement isn’t working. It can still be effective and increase your athletic performance all without the extra water retention. (Yay!)
If you’re worried about this you can always skip the loading phase altogether and take the lower maintenance dose, which is 3 to 5 grams a day. This way you can reduce the chance of quick and unsettling belly bloat, but you can still take your supplement and see results.
Can you still lose fat while on creatine?
In a medically reviewed article in Healthline by Natalie Olsen, R.D, L.D, ACSM EP-C, (She also works for the American College of Sports Medicine), it’s pointed out that often bodybuilders who are taking creatine supplements cut out carbohydrates from their diet and in turn increase their amount of protein that they take in.
But sometimes faster is not always better. If you cut too fast or restrict too sharply you may end up losing muscle, and with that muscle loss comes a slower recovery time.
This then hinders your overall competitive success, recovery and overall athletic ability. Carbohydrates are necessary to fuel those intense exercise regimes, and should still be part of your diet when taking a creatine supplement.
So what should you do if you find yourself gaining a little weight when you start this supplement? It’s important to realize that restricting certain foods such as carbohydrates and fats isn’t necessarily a good idea.
For when you finish the loading phase, and come off that empowering muscle high of a competition you could gain what is called “rebound weight”. Your body is trying to recover from the intense muscle building, burning, and overall use.
So, if you aren’t training excessively and burning every bit of “extra” calories you take in your body will store it, not sure when it will be used again or when it’ll see that type of excess nourishment. Be mindful in your diet, don’t associate creatine supplements with restrictive dieting, it’s simply not the case.
For more help on bettering your diet and building that perfect balance you should schedule an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician.
How to beat the bloat
But in the meantime here are some other things you can do if you feel that you have gained some weight, or if you feel you aren’t losing as much belly fat as you had hoped during this creatine regime.
Remember to drink excess water to beat the bloat, eat a diet rich in proteins, and whole grains, do not cut carbs completely, and if you find yourself having an irritable stomach or diarrhea, you could try taking smaller divided doses of your creatine supplement throughout the day versus all in one lump sum.
In an article published online by Muscle and Strength, many people ask, if creatine is so good for my body and my muscles why can’t I use it to diet? I certainly thought the same thing while researching this topic. The health benefits are vast, because when dieting you are at risk for deficiency of creatine boosting foods.
Most diets suggest lean meat, (chicken, turkey, and seafood such as tilapia, cod, etc), in place of red meat. It’s also been shown to be an excellent recovery agent to help your metabolism and muscles in their post workout recovery phase . But the short answer?
That stubborn bloat. While this bloat is different from the bloat you would experience from eating fatty and fried foods, it does discourage a lot of people. You tend to feel “softer” when you see your workouts increase but then the scale increases due to your water retention.
In the long run, creatine is by far the best muscle building supplement that is out there today, and with the countless studies out there and medically reviewed by scientists and doctors, it’s an excellent motivator to get your body moving and the best way to see quicker, faster and more satisfying results.
But the downside to using creatine as a diet supplement is the fact you won’t see instant gratification because your muscles are using it to build, build, build. But the good news?
It doesn’t add belly fat, and you can still bust those stubborn pounds while on it. Just remember to eat clean, but still include carbohydrates and drink plenty of water. You’ve got this!