Some people avoid creatine because they are concerned about its potential effects on their health, even though it is the most effective sports performance supplement available.

Some people claim that the pill can cause weight gain, cramping, or issues with digestion, the liver, or the kidneys. But hundreds of studies support its safety and effectiveness.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is an acid that helps supply energy to cells throughout the body, particularly muscle cells.

Creatine is a substance that can be found naturally in red meat and fish. It is also something that the body manufactures, and it can be found in supplement form as well.

Athletes use supplements to improve their performance, older adults use them to increase muscle mass, and they are also used to treat problems when the body cannot metabolize creatine properly.

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Creatine consists of three amino acids: L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. It accounts for around 1 percent of the total volume of human blood.

The vast majority of creatine in the human body is found in skeletal muscle, with a small amount in the brain.

Approximately 1.5-2% of the creatine found in the body is used each day by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

ATP is a molecule that provides energy to parts of the body that need a lot of energy, like muscles and the brain.

Different forms of creatine are used in supplements, including creatine monohydrate and creatine nitrate. The most popular and effective form of creatine is creatine monohydrate.

No supplement containing creatine has yet been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. There are dangers associated with using supplements without restriction.

Fast Facts on Creatine

Some key points about creatine are that it is an amino acid found in the body, it helps to create ATP, and it is found in meat and fish.

  • Athletes use creatine to assist in high-intensity training.
  • It can cause body mass to increase.
  • Creatine is being studied for use in some diseases including Parkinson’s disease and depression.
  • Because creatine helps build muscle, it may be useful for individuals with muscular dystrophy.
  • There is some evidence that creatine can boost memory.
  • Creatine appears to be safe in moderate doses, but long-term safety has not been proven.

Purported Side Effects of Creatine

Depending on who you ask, the suggested side effects of creatine may include:

  • kidney damage
  • liver damage
  • kidney stones
  • weight gain
  • bloating
  • dehydration
  • muscle cramps
  • digestive concerns
  • compartment syndrome
  • Rhabdomyolysis

Source and Needs

Approximately 1-3 grams of creatine per day are necessary for an individual, with approximately half coming from their diet. The other half is synthesized by their body. Foods which contain creatine include red meat and fish, with one pound of either providing 1-2 grams.

Creatine provides energy to the parts of the body where it is needed. Athletes use creatine supplements to increase energy production and improve athletic performance. This allows them to train harder.

Larger athletes who train intensely may need to consume up to 10 grams of creatine per day to maintain their stores, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN).

People with a health condition that prevents them from synthesizing creatine may need to take 10 to 30 grams per day to avoid health problems.


One of the most popular supplements in the U.S. is creatine, which is especially popular among men who participate in ice hockey, football, baseball, lacrosse, and wrestling.

It is also the most common ingredient in sports nutrition supplements, including sports drinks.

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Improving Athletic Performance

Athletes commonly use creatine supplements to improve their performance during high-intensity training.

The idea is that creatine supplements give the body additional energy so that athletes can train harder and improve their performance.

Some people see an increase in performance when they increase the creatine in their body.

A 2003 study found that creatine could improve performance for activities that involve short, powerful bursts, particularly when those activities are repeated several times.

The researchers cautioned that not all studies had reported the same benefits.

In 2012, a review concluded that creatine:

  • boosts the effects of resistance training on strength and body mass
  • increases the quality and benefits of high-intensity intermittent speed training
  • improves endurance performance in aerobic exercise activities that last more than 150 seconds
  • may improve strength, power, fat-free mass, daily living performance, and neurological function

Anaerobic exercise seems to benefit athletes, while aerobic activity does not.

This statement is referring to how effectiveCreatine is in improving athletic performance. It is most useful for short-duration, high-intensity exercises, but may not have the same effect in other types of exercise.

A study published in 2017 found that creatine supplementation did not boost fitness or performance in 17 young female athletes who used it for 4 weeks.

Increased Body Mass

Muscles with increased creatine content have been associated with greater body mass.

However, the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that creatine does not build muscle. The increase in body mass is due to the fact that creatine causes muscles to retain water.

One review from 2003 found that the weight gain seen in people taking supplements is most likely from water retention.

Repairing Damage After Injury

Creatine supplements may help prevent muscle damage and enhance the recovery process after an injury, according to research.

Creatine may help protect against cell damage caused by free radicals after an intense session of resistance training, and it may help reduce cramping. It may also help people with brain injuries recover from their injuries.

Is Creatine a Steroid?

There are some people who wrongly claim that creatine is an anabolic steroid. This claim is also made about its unsuitable for women or teenagers and that it should be used only by professional athletes or bodybuilders.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition regards creatine as safe, despite the negative press. They conclude it is one of the most beneficial sports supplements available.

The study found no adverse effects on the 69 health markers it examined after participants took creatine supplements for 21 months.

Creatine can also help to improve various health conditions, such as neuromuscular disorders, concussions, diabetes, and muscle loss.

Should I Use Creatine Supplements?

Creatine is a popular supplement that people take to improve their performance in sports. It is estimated that people in the United States spend about $2.7 billion annually on sports supplements, most of which contain creatine.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) both allow the use of creatine, and it is widely used among professional athletes. In the past, the NCAA allowed member schools and colleges to provide creatine to students with school funds, but this is no longer permitted.

The effectiveness of creatine varies depending on the sport, and it has not been found to improve the performance of those who already have a high level of the substance naturally or who are already high-performing athletes.

While creatine supplements may help some athletes treat medical conditions, they should never be used long-term.

You should moderate your use of supplements and discuss them with a physician beforehand. Whenever possible, you should try to get nutrients from natural sources.

A healthy diet is the best way to get the nutrients you need, supplements can be a good option if you are not able to get enough of a nutrient from diet alone.

Is Creatine Safe to Take Every Day?

Daily creatine consumption is safe, even over long periods of time, according to research. No significant detriment side effects have been linked to consuming high doses of creatine (30 grams/day) for up to 5 years.

Regular supplementation of creatine has been shown to have positive health benefits for athletes who take it every day.

How Does Creatine Work Biologically?

Creatine is a substance that is found in your body, with the majority of it stored in your muscles.

You will not typically have maximum levels of creatine in your muscles if you follow a natural diet.

The average stores of creatine in someone who weighs 154 pounds (70 kg) is about 120 mmol/kg, but with supplementation these stores can be increased to around 160 mmol/kg.

Creatine helps your muscles produce more energy during high-intensity exercise, which enhances your performance.

If you have extra creatine in your muscles, it is broken down into creatinine and processed by your liver. Creatinine is then released in your urine.

Does It Cause Dehydration or Cramps?

Creatine supplements increase the amount of water stored in your body, causing your muscles to absorb more water.

This theory that creatine causes dehydration may be due to the fact that it causes a minor shift in cellular water content. However, there is no research that supports claims that this shift in water content causes dehydration.

Results from a 3-year study comparing college athletes taking creatine to those not taking it showed that those taking creatine were less likely to experience dehydration, muscle cramps, or muscle injuries. They also missed fewer sessions due to illness or injury.

One study examined the use of creatine during exercise in hot weather and found that it had no adverse effects on cyclists compared to those who took a placebo.

Further blood tests also confirmed that there was no difference in hydration or electrolyte levels between the two groups. Electrolytes play a key role in muscle cramps.

The most convincing research on the benefits of creatine has been conducted on individuals receiving hemodialysis, a treatment that commonly causes muscle cramps. In a study, the group taking creatine experienced a 60% reduction in the number of cramps experienced.

The current evidence suggests that creatine does not cause dehydration or cramping. If anything, it may help to prevent these conditions.

Does Creatine Cause Weight Gain?

Studies have shown that taking creatine supplements can lead to a rapid increase in body weight.

The study found that 1 week of high dose loading of creatine supplementation increased participants’ body weight by around 2–6 pounds.

In the long term, creatine users are likely to see greater weight gain than those who don’t take it, due to increased muscle growth rather than increased body fat.

More muscle can also be helpful for seniors, people who are obese, and people with certain illnesses.

How Does It Affect Your Kidneys and Liver?

Creatine can slightly increase the levels of creatinine in your blood. Creatinine is often measured to diagnose kidney or liver conditions.

However, the fact that creatine raises creatinine levels does not mean that it is harming your liver or kidneys. Creatine is a substance that is naturally produced by your body, and it helps to supply energy to your muscles. When you take supplements that contain creatine, your body may produce more creatinine than usual. This is because the supplements cause your body to produce more creatine than it would if you were not taking them. Although creatinine is a by-product of creatine, it is not harmful to your body.

No study has found evidence that creatine use is harmful to healthy individuals.

Other studies that looked at markers in urine found no difference after people took creatine. A long-term study of college athletes found that there were no side effects related to how the liver and kidneys function.

One study that lasted for four years found that creatine does not have any negative side effects.

A separate study that is often cited in the media found that a male weightlifter who supplemented with creatine developed kidney disease.

A single case study is not enough evidence. There are many other factors that could have been involved, such as additional supplements.

Use caution when taking creatine supplements if you have a history of liver or kidney concerns. A healthcare professional can help you decide whether taking creatine is right for you.

Other Potential Side Effects

There is a suggestion that those who take creatine may be at risk of developing compartment syndrome, which is a condition where there is too much pressure building up in a space that is enclosed – typically within the muscles of the arms or legs.

One study found that, although increased muscle pressure resulted from heat and exercise-induced dehydration, this was not due to creatine.

Researchers also concluded the pressure was short-lived and insignificant.

Though some say that creatine supplements may lead to rhabdomyolysis, a condition where muscle breaks down and leaks proteins, there is no evidence to support this notion.

The myth that creatine supplements are bad for you originated because a marker in your blood called creatine kinase increases with creatine supplements.

The increase in creatine kinase is much smaller than in rhabdomyolysis and experts suggest that creatine might actually help protect against this condition.

Some people also think that creatine is a type of anabolic steroid, but this is just a myth. Creatine is a natural substance that your body produces, and is also found in certain foods, such as meat. There is no connection between creatine and steroids.

Despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that creatine is unsuitable for women or older adults, there is still a misconception that it is only suitable for male athletes.

Creatine is different from most other supplements because it has been used as a medical intervention for certain conditions in children, such as neuromuscular disorders or muscle loss.

Studies that lasted for up to three years found that there were no negative effects of creatine in children.


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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

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