Creatine While Cutting: Does it Cause Bloating?

"I can't take creatine while cutting, it will like, make me look bloated and outta shape" moaned the bodybuilder.

"Yeah you got it, creatine is only for bulking bro. It just makes you fat on a cut" Lied the second bodybuilder.

Let's cut to the truth. Here are 4 reasons why you need to take creatine during your next cut.

1. Fuller Muscles

Image of a bodybuilder doing barbell curls

We've all been there during cutting season…

Our fat loss progress is coming along nicely, and we can even begin to see visible abs popping out. But for some reason, our muscles look stringy and flat.

What gives?

As we slowly begin pulling the plug on our carb intake, glycogen depletion quickly sets in, leaving our once pumped and full muscle bellies looking more like dried up balloons.

Cutting can sure be a party pooper. But it doesn't have to be this way…

How Creatine Makes Your Muscles Look Bigger

Creatine increases water weight.

I know that probably isn't what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. However, what if I told you that it's not all bad news?

If all the extra water made your muscles look more substantial and fuller, all without gaining fat or eating more carbs, how great would that be?

Well, I have another truth for you….

95% of the body's creatine is stored in the muscles. So, guess where all that extra cell-hydrating water is gonna be transported to?

That's right, straight to your arms, chest, back, and legs — all without impacting your fat-loss progress. But that not all…

Aside from making the muscles appear fuller and more pumped, creatine enables more training volume to be performed, which is THE primary driver of muscle growth.

More on this in a bit.

2. Better Strength Retention

Image of a shirtless bodybuilder loading weights onto a barbell

I realize that this might be hard to hear, but if you're losing strength during a cut, you're probably also losing muscle. The hard truth is, that unless you're getting ready to step foot on a bodybuilding stage, you shouldn't be losing any significant strength while dieting.

The whole idea that strength loss in natural during a cutting phase is one huge nocebo effect. But that a topic for another time…

So, how can creatine make you stronger during a cut?

The short answer is by increasing ATP stores, which are used for muscle contraction during high-intensity exercise like bench pressing.

One really cool study shows that even during intense overtraining, creatine enables people to maintain their strength, and check this, also grow muscle mass.

And because I'm sure none of you sensible readers would ever think about overtraining, you may even enjoy better effects still.

3. You Can Train Harder

Image of a bodybuilder doing dumbbell exercises in the gym mirror

It's not an exaggeration to say, a calorie deficit makes workouts tougher.

Workouts that were once a stroll in the park while bulking, now feel like walking through mud — with a loaded barbell on your back.

But I'm not going to sugar coat it, training is meant to feel like that at times, especially when you're restricting calories in pursuit of ripped abs.

The real problem arises when you can no longer cope with the same workload as before. When this workload decreases, so does the stimulus for muscle maintenance, and indeed for muscle growth. The solution?

I'm not going to sit here and say that humble monohydrate is a cure-all. However, research shows that taking it increases the amount of work that can be performed in a given training session.

This work is called volume in the scientific landscape and is considered the primary driver for increasing muscle size and maintaining it during times of lower calories.

4. Lower Protein Breakdown

Image of a shirtless man drinking a workout shake

This one is a little more scientific. But since science alone won't make you shredded, I'll try and keep it light.

Two things are certain in life…

No, not paying taxes and dying — protein synthesis and protein breakdown.

In the life of a lifter, synthesis and breakdown are like the angel and the devil, perched on each shoulder. Being so calorically-expensive, the devil tells your body to break down your precious muscle. Then, moments later, the angle persuades it to keep growing, by bribing it with protein and heavy weight lifting.

Weight training naturally causes high levels of both protein synthesis and breakdown. As for which is higher, well, much of that is down to your diet, supplements, and recovery regime.

Creatine is not like plant food, where seemingly within a week, feeding a little green organism can double its mass. However, research does suggest that taking it can decrease levels of leucine oxidation by around 19%, which can positively contribute to maintaining your size.



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Does Creatine Make You Look Fat?

No, it increases total body water which is classed as lean mass. This can actually enhance the appearance of your muscles and does not contribute to fat gain.

Does Creatine Cause Bloating?

If by bloating you mean water retention, then yes. With 95% of the body's creatine supplies being stored in muscle tissue, some of it is bound to find its way into your abs, which may make them slightly bloated.

However, many foods within a typical diet can cause bloating. So, don't be so quick to point the finger at your supplement.

So, Is Creatine Good For Cutting?

Not only do I think that creatine is an excellent supplement to take while cutting, but it may also well be one of the best. Reason being, it has decades of research supporting its beneficial effects, which not many other supplements can boast about.

Being able to make your muscles appear full, it can ease the psychological discomfort that may come with seeing your muscles decrease in size during a cutting phase.

While diet and effort are the most critical variables for getting ripped, supplements certainly play their part too. And for those who want to maximize their physique progress, it is well worth keeping monohydrate firmly in you cutting stack.

So, should you take creatine while cutting?

Yes, it's a good idea. You can click the link for our guide on which creatine supplement you should take.

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Jonathan Abbott
Jonathan Abbott
Jonathan is a long time fitness enthusiast who specializes in helping others reach their goals faster with the most up to date sports science. When he's not working, you'll find him challanging his body with heavy squats and deadlifts.

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