Creatine is the number-one sports activities efficiency complement out there.
But regardless of its research-backed advantages, some individuals keep away from creatine as a result of they’re afraid it’s dangerous for well being.
Some declare it causes weight acquire, cramping, and digestive, liver, or kidney issues.
This text offers an evidence-based evaluation of creatine’s security and negative effects.
Relying on who you ask, the prompt negative effects of creatine could embody:
- Kidney injury
- Liver injury
- Kidney stones
- Weight acquire
- Muscle cramps
- Digestive issues
- Compartment syndrome
Moreover, some individuals wrongly declare that creatine is an anabolic steroid, that it’s unsuitable for ladies or youngsters, or that it ought to solely be utilized by skilled athletes or bodybuilders.
Regardless of the adverse press, the Worldwide Society of Sports activities Vitamin regards creatine as extraordinarily protected, concluding that it is without doubt one of the most useful sports activities dietary supplements out there (1).
Main researchers who’ve studied creatine for a number of a long time additionally conclude that it is without doubt one of the most secure dietary supplements in the marketplace (2).
One examine examined 52 well being markers after contributors took creatine dietary supplements for 21 months. It discovered no adversarial results (2).
Creatine has additionally been used to deal with varied illnesses and well being issues, together with neuromuscular problems, concussions, diabetes, and muscle loss (1, 3, 4, 5).
Though claims abound about creatine’s negative effects and questions of safety, none of them are supported by analysis.
Creatine is discovered all through your physique, with 95% saved in your muscle tissue (6).
It’s obtained from meat and fish and may also be produced naturally in your physique from amino acids (7).
Nevertheless, your food plan and pure creatine ranges don’t usually maximize muscle shops of this compound.
The typical shops are about 120 mmol/kg, however creatine dietary supplements can elevate these shops to round 140–150 mmol/kg (8).
Throughout high-intensity train, the saved creatine helps your muscle tissue produce extra power. That is the primary cause that creatine enhances train efficiency (9).
When you fill your muscle’s creatine shops, any extra is damaged down into creatinine, which is metabolized by your liver and excreted in your urine (8).
Round 95% of the creatine in your physique is saved in your muscle tissue. There, it offers elevated power for high-intensity train.
Creatine alters your physique’s saved water content material, driving extra water into your muscle cells (10).
This reality could also be behind the idea that creatine causes dehydration. Nevertheless, this shift in mobile water content material is minor, and no analysis helps the claims about dehydration.
A 3-year examine of faculty athletes discovered that these taking creatine had fewer instances of dehydration, muscle cramps, or muscle accidents than these not taking it. In addition they missed fewer classes as a consequence of sickness or damage (11).
One examine examined creatine use throughout train in scorching climate, which might speed up cramping and dehydration. Throughout a 35-minute biking session in 99°F (37°C) warmth, creatine had no adversarial results in comparison with a placebo (12).
Additional examination by way of blood assessments additionally confirmed no distinction in hydration or electrolyte ranges, which play a key position in muscle cramps (12).
Probably the most conclusive analysis has been performed in people present process hemodialysis, a medical therapy that will trigger muscle cramps. Researchers famous that creatine lowered cramping incidents by 60% (13).
Primarily based on the present proof, creatine doesn’t trigger dehydration or cramping. If something, it could defend towards these situations.
Opposite to well-liked perception, creatine doesn’t enhance your threat of cramps and dehydration — and, the truth is, could scale back your threat of those situations.
Analysis has totally documented that creatine dietary supplements trigger a fast enhance in physique weight.
After one week of high-dose loading of creatine (20 grams/day), your weight will increase by round 2–6 kilos (1–3 kg) as a consequence of elevated water in your muscle tissue (1, 14).
Over the long run, research present that physique weight could proceed to extend to a larger extent in creatine customers than in non-creatine customers. Nevertheless, weight acquire is because of elevated muscle development — not elevated physique fats (15).
For many athletes, the extra muscle is a optimistic adaptation that will enhance sports activities efficiency. As additionally it is one of many essential causes individuals take creatine, it shouldn’t be thought-about a aspect impact (1, 14).
Elevated muscle can also have advantages for older adults, overweight people, and people with sure illnesses (16, 17, 18, 19, 20).
Weight acquire from creatine is due to not gaining fats however to elevated water content material inside your muscle tissue.
Creatine can barely elevate ranges of creatinine in your blood. Creatinine is often measured to diagnose kidney or liver issues.
Nevertheless, the truth that creatine raises creatinine ranges doesn’t imply that it’s harming your liver or kidneys (21).
Up to now, no examine of creatine use in wholesome people has offered proof of hurt to those organs (1, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26).
A protracted-term examine of faculty athletes discovered no negative effects associated to liver or kidney operate. Different research measuring organic markers within the urine additionally discovered no distinction after creatine ingestion (27).
One of many longest research to this point — lasting for 4 years — equally concluded that creatine has no adverse negative effects (24).
One other well-liked examine typically cited within the media reported kidney illness in a male weightlifter who supplemented with creatine (28).
Nevertheless, this single case examine is inadequate proof. Quite a few different elements, together with extra dietary supplements, have been additionally concerned (26, 28).
That stated, creatine dietary supplements must be approached with warning when you have a historical past of liver or kidney points.
Present analysis means that creatine doesn’t trigger liver or kidney issues.
As with many dietary supplements or drugs, extreme doses could trigger digestive points.
In a single examine, the 5-gram really useful dose prompted no digestive issues, whereas a 10-gram dose elevated diarrhea threat by 37% (29).
Because of this, the really useful serving is about at 3–5 grams. The 20-gram loading protocol can be break up into 4 servings of 5 grams every over the course of a day (1).
One main researcher reviewed a number of research and concluded that creatine doesn’t enhance digestive issues when taken at really useful doses (30).
Nevertheless, it’s doable that components, substances, or contaminants generated in the course of the industrial manufacturing of creatine can result in points (21, 31).
It’s subsequently really useful that you simply buy a trusted, high-quality product.
Creatine doesn’t enhance digestive points when the really useful dosages and loading tips are adopted.
As with every food plan or complement routine, it’s best to debate your creatine plans with a physician or different medical skilled earlier than you begin.
You might also want to keep away from creatine dietary supplements in case you are taking any drugs that have an effect on liver or kidney operate.
Drugs that will work together with creatine embody cyclosporine, aminoglycosides, gentamicin, tobramycin, anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen, and quite a few others (7).
Creatine will help enhance blood sugar administration, so in case you are utilizing treatment identified to have an effect on blood sugar, it’s best to talk about creatine use with a physician (5).
You must also seek the advice of a medical skilled in case you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a severe situation, equivalent to coronary heart illness or most cancers.
Creatine could trigger issues in case you take sure varieties of drugs, together with drugs that have an effect on blood sugar.
Some individuals recommend that creatine can result in compartment syndrome, a situation that happens when extreme stress builds inside an enclosed house — normally inside arm or leg muscle tissue.
Though one examine discovered a rise in muscle stress throughout two hours of warmth coaching, it resulted primarily from warmth and exercise-induced dehydration — not from creatine (32).
Researchers additionally concluded the stress was short-lived and insignificant.
Some declare that creatine dietary supplements enhance your threat of rhabdomyolysis, a situation through which muscle breaks down and leaks proteins into your bloodstream. Nevertheless, this concept is just not supported by any proof.
The parable originated as a result of a marker in your blood known as creatine kinase will increase with creatine dietary supplements (32).
Nevertheless, this slight enhance is sort of completely different from the massive quantities of creatine kinase related to rhabdomyolysis. Apparently, some specialists even recommend creatine could defend towards this situation (32, 33).
Some individuals additionally confuse creatine with anabolic steroids, however that is yet one more delusion. Creatine is a very pure and authorized substance present in your physique and in meals — equivalent to meat — with no hyperlink to steroids (7).
Lastly, there’s a false impression that creatine is appropriate just for male athletes, not for older adults, girls, or youngsters. Nevertheless, no analysis means that it’s unsuitable in really useful doses for ladies or older adults (1).
In contrast to most dietary supplements, creatine has been given to youngsters as a medical intervention for sure situations, equivalent to neuromuscular problems or muscle loss.
Research lasting so long as three years have uncovered no adverse results of creatine in youngsters (1, 4, 34).
Analysis has constantly confirmed creatine’s wonderful security profile. There isn’t a proof that it causes adversarial situations like rhabdomyolysis or compartment syndrome.
Creatine has been used for greater than a century, and over 500 research assist its security and effectiveness.
It additionally offers many advantages for muscle and efficiency, could enhance markers of well being, and is being utilized in medical settings to assist deal with a wide range of illnesses (1, 4, 5).
On the finish of the day, creatine is without doubt one of the least expensive, simplest, and most secure dietary supplements out there.