Last updated on November 9th, 2022 at 12:59 pm
It’s a question that gets asked time-and-time again, “Can I Get Abs While on Creatine?”
We all know what a great supplement creatine is when it comes to building lean muscle and recovery.
However, there’s always the worry that you’re going to retain water, and therefore your abs won’t be visible.
This probably isn’t an issue if you’re bulking or it’s wintertime, but we’d all prefer to see our abs when cutting or in the summer.
So, allow me to answer whether creatine supplementation will affect your ability to get abs.
Can I Get Abs While on Creatine?
Yes, you can definitely get abs while on creatine. Not all individuals will experience bloating or what is believed to be water retention that is typically associated with creatine supplementation. Your abs will always be more visible and prominent when you have a lower body fat percentage. However, if you feel your diet and training are on-point, but can’t see your abs, then try cycling off creatine for 2-3 weeks. This will help you to determine whether you do suffer from bloating when taking creatine.
1. The Truth About Creatine Bloat & Water Retention
I guess the main reason you want to know about getting abs while on creatine is due to bloating.
Whether you’ve read about creatine bloat before, or suffered it yourself, you know it may affect the visibility of your abs.
However, in truth, creatine doesn’t obscure muscle definition in any way.
In fact, many professional bodybuilders will take creatine all the way up to competition day.
The reason being is that creatine is drawn INTO the muscles.
This is actually completely different from what we would consider water retention.
Water retention is typically caused by dehydration or excess sodium.
However, what happens here is that water is held ON TOP of the muscles, but below the skin.
And it is this that can blur muscular definition.
There is one very important takeaway here, and that’s the mention of dehydration.
Creatine will draw water from the body and into the muscle cells.
This will automatically mean that there is a risk of dehydration, as there is less water available for the vital organs to function.
And this is why you’ll constantly hear that you should dramatically increase your water intake when taking creatine.
So, in effect, taking creatine, while ensuring that you’re well hydrated, should never affect your ability to produce and see your abs.
2. We All React Differently to Creatine
If you are someone who suffers with bloating, or what you believe to be water retention, this could mean that you’re simply not drinking enough water.
Bloating and “water retention” will typically vary from person to person.
One person may feel that their muscles look far fuller, but have lost all definition, and they even think they look a little “fat”.
Whereas, someone else may have absolutely no bloating effects from creatine whatsoever.
They look lean, muscular, and extremely well-defined.
I’m not going to turn around and say that bloating is simply a myth and is only caused by dehydration or not taking on enough water.
I’m sure there are many of you who eat, drink, and train correctly when supplementing creatine, but still look bloated afterwards.
Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things.
As I say, the reaction to creatine will vary from one person to the next.
You’ll even hear people say that certain types of creatine are less likely to cause bloat than others.
And it’s often creatine monohydrate that is the whipping boy of the creatine varieties.
In fact, I know people who swear by micronized creatine.
They’ll say that they always felt and looked bloated with monohydrate, but this immediately went away with the micronized variety.
But then again, there are just as many people who say that they have never had any issues with monohydrate.
3. Abs Are All About Body Fat
I’m just going to come and say it – getting visible abs is all down to your body fat percentage.
So, whether you take creatine or not should have absolutely no bearing.
As I’ve mentioned, creatine is drawn (along with water) into the muscle cells.
Therefore, this is very different from actual water retention.
Once again, I’m not saying that you won’t become bloated through creatine supplementation, but this isn’t usually down to creatine itself.
First and foremost, it could simply be that you’re not drinking enough water.
Then again, it could also be down to how your body reacts to creatine.
In truth, no matter how often you hear about creatine bloating, the vast majority of people suffer no adverse effects whatsoever.
So, the most important part of producing abs will be down to your diet.
Yes, of course, specific ab training and cardio will come into the mix too.
However, you could have the most defined sets of abs ever, but if they’re covered in a layer of body fat, you’ll never get to see them.
This will not only be impacted by what you’re eating, but also how you’re specifically training.
Let’s say you’re currently on a bulk, and therefore eating at a calorie surplus.
Your training could be absolutely on-point, plus you’re eating clean, wholesome foods with every meal.
But, the point being, you’re eating a certain number of calories above maintenance in order to put on weight.
And unfortunately, getting abs is about lowering body fat, which can only be achieved by eating at a calorie deficit,
In other words, your current training and nutrition may not be attuned to producing visible abs.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be training abs or even performing cardio.
However, if your main goal is to bulk and add muscle, then you’re looking to put on weight.
Body Fat For Abs to Show – The Truth! (Men & Women)
4. Try Cycling Off Creatine
Okay, even though I honestly believe that you can get abs while on creatine, and that you shouldn’t suffer any adverse effects, I’m aware some people do “react” to creatine.
Once more, I’m willing to bet that this is potentially due to other reasons, but still, it happens.
So, if you have been supplementing with creatine, but can’t see your abs coming through, there is another option.
However, firstly ensure that you are training well and getting adequate rest and recovery.
Furthermore, make sure that your nutrition is on-point, and that you’re drinking plenty of water.
In fact, while supplementing with creatine you should be drinking more water than you normally would.
If you are adhering to all of these factors, but you still feel as though your abs are covered in blubber then I suggest you cycle off creatine for a few weeks.
Basically, stop taking creatine for 2-3 weeks.
But, during this time you should continue to train, rest, sleep, eat, and drink water in exactly the same way as you did before.
If you suddenly find your abs appearing after a couple of weeks then you might be one of the unlikely ones.
It is said that creatine may cause gastrointestinal issues in some individuals, although this is extremely rare.
So, if your abs become visible then it’s time to drop the creatine.
However, I will reiterate that this is extremely rare, and more often than not it is something other than creatine that may be causing the problems.
And this could be something as simple as what you mix creatine with.
5. Treat the Abs Like Any Other Muscle
The final thing to consider has nothing to do with creatine at all.
Basically, when you train abs, remember that they’re a muscle, and therefore you should train them in the same way as other muscles.
So, this means that you shouldn’t be doing hundreds of reps every single day.
It also means that you should be aiming to increase strength in your abdominal muscles through progressive overload.
And of course, you should allow your abs plenty of time to recover between workouts.
I’m sure there are many people who completely ignore the rules of “normal” training when it comes to abs.
And to make matters worse they blame their lack of abs on creatine bloat.
Don’t be one of these people.
Train sensibly, eat sensibly, and supplement (sensibly) with creatine and you can produce a beautiful set of chiselled abs.
How Often to Work Out Your Abs?
So, hopefully you understand that you can get abs while on creatine.
Creatine is drawn into the muscles and therefore is very different from water retention.
If you are suffering from water retention while taking creatine this usually means that you’re not drinking enough water.
The most important factor for producing visible abs is having a low level of body fat.
Therefore, you should be more concentrated on your training and especially your nutrition.
An extremely rare number of people may suffer gastrointestinal problems with creatine, which may impact on your ability to get visible abs.
You can check this by cycling off creatine for a few weeks, while adhering to good training, nutrition, and fluid principles.
Here’s another creatine-related article that will be of interest, especially if you’re trying to get abs – discover what I had to say about drinking alcohol while on creatine.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.