Creatine Side Effects
Creatine is an extremely popular supplement used by advanced athletes, bodybuilders and general gym goers. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance which our bodies can produce in small quantities. Creatines main role is as an energy replenisher, heightening levels of ATP – the molecule which is responsible for the energy needed for muscle contractions. Creatine also possesses some more favourable characteristics for gym goers, such as buffering lactic acid, heightening protein synthesis and increasing the hydration of muscle cells. Whilst creatine sounds like a great supplement to use for many, some remain unsure about the possible side effects. This article aims to cover the main side effects associated with creatine supplementation.
Stomach upset and nausea
A slight stomach upset, diarrhoea, nausea and headaches are possible side effects from creatine supplementation, although if these do appear they are likely to be very mild. The likely cause of this is the hydration levels within the body after taking creatine. It is important to drink plenty of fluids during creatine supplementation. These side effects will most likely appear if a loading phrase is followed due to the higher concentrations of creatine levels.
Solution: Drink plenty of fluids, split up the daily dosage, and take around meal times.
Muscle cramps are a well documented side effect of creatine, again, likely due to fluid levels. Cramping would most likely appear during sports, such as football, tennis, and rugby. Gym goers may notice cramping, yet this is less likely due to the exercise choice. It is worth considering other potential causes of the cramping however, such as electrolyte imbalances, low mineral levels and insufficient muscle stretching.
Solution: Drink plenty of fluids, stretch well before and after exercise, supplement with minerals.
Toxic to the kidneys
Creatine is often stated as being toxic to the kidneys. Creatine supplementation will raise creatinine levels, which in turn is used to calculate the current function of the kidneys. Therefore, anyone who is going to have tests performed by their doctor would be strongly advised to inform the doctor about the creatine supplementation as the increased creatinine levels may give misleading results.
Solution: Speak to your GP if you are thinking about supplementing with creatine, or if you are or have in the past and are taking medical tests/examinations.
What can I realistically hope for from creatine?
For most, creatine will add several pounds of bodyweight over the course of a month or two, and increase muscle strength and size. There are some non-responders to creatine, although it would be wise to experiment with both creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester (CEE). The effects of a supplement, both positive and negative, are highly individual, yet most people who supplement with creatine do not notice any notable negative side effects from its usage and benefit from a slight to moderate increase of performance.