You want to take creatine, but you fear the bloat. You are uneasy, and that’s understandable. People have told you about bloat while taking creatine. There is additional water retention with creatine, and that’s the cause right? Well… Maybe it’s the cause. Maybe it’s something else. Let’s remove the maybe and find out EXACTLY what is going on.
When you take creatine, your body begins to pull in more water. This additional water is required to help store the incoming supply of creatine. Without the additional water, you would become dehydrated, and end up with cramps all day. Thus, It is important to consume extra fluids while on creatine to ensure that you remain hydrated. So, let’s look into this water retention thing on a cellular level.
Intracellular Water Retention (ICR)
Intracellular water refers to the water that resides within the cells, and in this regard specifically to muscles. It is calculated that around 95% of creatine is stored within the cell (i.e. intracellular water). Studies have shown a significant increase in ICR during creatine supplementation. Which makes these markers for intracellular water retention may also directly relate to an increase in protein synthesis during creatine supplementation (we’ll consider that creatine 1, haters 0). It should also be noted that men tend to have higher levels of intracellular and extracellular (outside the cell) water retention versus women.
Total Body Water Retention (TBW)
Total body water retention is obvious, but refers to the amount of water the body retains. In terms of creatine supplementation, this has relevance. Why? Because if the amount of intracellular water in relation to total body water were effected, it would point toward creatine having a negative effect on water retention (i.e. TBW increases, yet ICR remained the same or near the same). That basically means that creatine may in fact cause issues of bloat simply by ingesting creatine.
Studies support an increase in TBW, with a significant increase in ICR during creatine supplementation. So, it is mainly water drawn INside the cell.
Subcutaneous Fluid Retention
The effects here are extremely minimal and not of significant value. So, the issue is not necessarily with the use of creatine. The real issue with subcutaneous water is in the solubility of the creatine you are using (i.e. if you bought crappy product, you get this crappy result). Word to the wise, buy QUALITY and don’t worry about saving a dime or two. Unless of course you like that water buffalo look.
There you have it! All the nonsense broken down layer by layer. Buy quality product, get quality result. Buy cheap product, get cheap product results. It IS that simple.