Creatine is a popular supplement used by athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts. According to scientific research, it improves skeletal muscle mass strength and athletic performance and increases energy levels. But despite its popularity, there are still many misconceptions about creatine and its potential side effects.
In this article, we'll discuss creatine's good, bad, and ugly side effects so you can decide whether it's right for you. We'll also provide tips on minimising possible risks associated with taking creatine supplements. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of what to expect when using creatine and how to get the most out of it safely.
Reported Side Effects Of Creatine Supplementation
The good news is that there are no known long-term side effects associated with creatine supplementation. Most studies indicate that it is safe for healthy adults to take up to 5 grams daily without any adverse health effects.
However, there have been some reports of short-term side effects, such as:
Some people taking creatine phosphate supplementation may encounter digestive issues, such as bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. These digestive issues can result from increased muscle water retention due to creatine supplementation. If taken without adequate hydration, creatine can lead to dehydration which can cause these adverse effects. Additionally, some people may experience an upset stomach or nausea when taking creatine supplements.
In some cases, some people have reported experiencing muscle cramps while taking creatine supplements. This is typically a result of increased muscle hydration and electrolyte imbalances caused by supplementation. To avoid this, drinking plenty of water when taking creatine and monitoring your electrolyte levels is important. Additionally, adding sodium and potassium to your diet can help prevent muscle cramps.
Creatine is often associated with weight gain due to its ability to increase water retention in muscles. This can lead to increased body mass, particularly if taken without proper hydration or a caloric intake that matches the energy expenditure of an individual. Therefore, if you want to gain weight with creatine, it is important to ensure that your caloric intake is adequate.
Due to its ability to increase water retention, creatine supplements may raise the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can occur when the body does not have enough water or electrolytes to carry out its normal activities. When taking creatine tablets, it is important to ensure you drink enough water to avoid dehydration. When taking creatine powders, it is important to ensure you are consuming enough electrolytes.
Although there have been reports of possible kidney damage in some individuals taking creatine supplements, this has not been scientifically proven. However, if you already have any pre-existing kidney disease or conditions, it is advised not to take creatine supplements.
What Increases The Risk Of Experiencing Adverse Effects?
Many factors can increase the likelihood of an adverse drug reaction when taking creatine supplements. For instance, those who are not well hydrated or lack adequate electrolyte levels are more likely to experience negative side effects such as muscle cramps and dehydration.
The risk of experiencing side effects from creatine supplementation can be increased by:
Due to changes in how their bodies metabolise medications and a diminished capacity to recover from bad effects, older persons are typically more susceptible to the unpleasant effects of creatine supplementation. As metabolism slows with age, elderly individuals must be aware of the possible side effects of taking creatine supplements. Additionally, aging may cause an individual's body to be less efficient at absorbing creatine, making them more prone to side effects.
Other Medical Conditions
Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions should exercise caution when taking creatine supplements, as they may be more prone to experiencing side effects. In particular, those with kidney function or liver diseases should consult a doctor before taking any supplements. Additionally, it is important to know the possible interactions between medications and creatine supplementation.
Use Of Multiple Medications
The possibility of side effects when taking multiple drugs at once is increased due to the potential for interactions between medications that can cause unanticipated consequences. Taking multiple drugs simultaneously can increase the risk of experiencing an adverse drug reaction as the body may not be able to process all the medications effectively. Additionally, certain drugs may interfere with each other, resulting in increased side effects from both medications.
Pregnant women may be particularly at risk for experiencing side effects when taking creatine supplements because certain medications are not recommended for pregnant women. Taking multiple drugs simultaneously can increase the risk of experiencing an adverse drug reaction, as the body may not be able to process all the medications effectively while carrying a developing fetus. Certain drugs may also interfere with each other, resulting in increased side effects from both medications.
A person's body may not be able to manage the medication as effectively if they are undernourished, which increases the chance of side effects. Poor nutrition can significantly impact how the body processes and absorbs medications and their effectiveness. When an individual lacks essential vitamins and minerals, their body may not be able to process medications as efficiently. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential to ensure that the body can optimally absorb any medication taken.
How to Minimise The Risk Of Adverse Effects of Creatine
The most effective way to reduce the risk of experiencing side effects from creatine supplementation is to ensure that you follow the recommended dosage and use. Additionally, it is important to ensure you are consuming enough electrolytes and staying hydrated when taking supplements. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or take multiple medications, you should consult a doctor before taking creatine supplements. Lastly, it is important to ensure you are eating a balanced and healthy diet to ensure your body can optimally absorb any medications taken.
Always seek professional medical attention or advice if you have questions about taking oral creatine supplements or other medications like whey protein supplementation.
Suggestions For Individuals Considering Using Creatine Supplements
Discussing with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements to ensure they are suitable for the individual is highly recommended. Our healthcare professionals can assess preexisting medical conditions and advise on potential interactions between medications and supplements. This allows individuals to decide what and how much supplement they should take.
Additionally, it is important to stick to the recommended dosage and take breaks from supplementation. Regularly taking breaks from taking supplements will help reduce the risk of side effects and allow the body time to rest and recover.