Creatine is, I believe, one of the few worthwhile supplements on the market. The benefits have been well documented. It is used by thousands of people across the world – including elite sportspeople, and I often recommend that many of my online personal training clients supplement with it. However, each and every one of them will have likely asked themselves at least once – what are the side effects of creatine? It is an important question to ask so you can weigh up the risks yourself and decide whether you should be using this supplement and, if so, in what quantities.
Every person is different, and taking creatine may pose different risks for them. To assist you in making in informed decision, I lay out below what I believe to be the main possible side effects of creatine.
I should start by saying that recent studies have shown that taking up to 10grams of creatine per day is largely devoid of health risk. However, there are so many reported side effects that I want to give my views. Note that these are mainly my views, and if you have any concerns, you should consult a doctor before taking the supplement.
Side Effects of Creatine
One commonly reported side effect is upset stomach and stomach cramping, though I have never personally experienced this. What I have experienced is increased dehydration on creatine, particularly towards the start of a cycle, and some very mild nausea. I always ensure that I am drinking sufficient fluids anyway, but do up my intake when taking creatine. Because of this dehydration, some people believe there a risk to the liver but most studies have disagreed with this point.
Similarly, most studies would suggest that there is no risk to kidney function. I believe this to be true but there could be some risk to people with preexisting Kidney problems (though some studies have suggested otherwise).
Creatine has also been associated with asthmatic symptons, and it’s actually possible to be allergic to creatine, so obviously these people should avoid the supplement altogether.
One virtually certain side effect of creatine is that you will gain weight. This will happen very quickly. Initially it will likely be water weight (perhaps 2-4 pounds in the first week), with subsequent gains hopefully due to growth in the muscles. However, these subsequent gains will only occur if you work out and utilise the additional energy that creatine is giving you – it won’t build the muscles by itself. Without working out, you will just put on the water weight.
If you are under the age of 18, my advice would be to avoid creatine altogether. There are almost certainly no side effects, and it will likely be beneficial, but its worth noting that very few studies have been done on that age group and the effects creatine can have.
I dont believe that cycling your creatine intake is necessary. Some people will take a few weeks off every 2 months for example, but there is no medical evidence to suggest this is required. I just allow myself some time off when I go on vacation for example.
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As I mentioned before, all of the above is my own opinion, formed from much self testing and research. Do you use creatine? Do you find it worthwhile? What side effects have you experienced? Let us know! And if you are interested in becoming one of my online personal training clients, and changing your body forever, then please contact me.