Creatine is one of the few supplements that has actually been proven to work in scientific studies.

If you have read my previous WatchFit article on ‘Safe and Natural Sources of Creatine’ you should be aware of how creatine supplementation has been scientifically proven to increase muscle mass and endurance in individuals who lift weights.

And as well as getting all the creatine we need from supplements, creatine is actually a completely natural compound of amino acids, which can be found in foods we eat such as meat or fish or produced by our own bodies in the liver, kidneys and pancreas.

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This is of course what we all want from the supplements we buy and the food we eat – something that does exactly what it claims to do! So, on the surface, all sounds pretty positive and a good case for everyone to start using creatine.

But is it really that good for everyone to use?

What is the side effect of creatine?

Bearing in mind that the majority of average creatine doses are about 90 times higher than what we would normally ingest in our everyday food, there are bound to be some side effects.

Positive side effects

Whenever you mention side effects everyone always assumes you are talking about ‘negatives’. It has to be said though that creatine, especially in supplement form, has some very positive side effects for those who train and exercise regularly.

Creatine has been shown to positively:

– Increase muscle strength and size

– Enhance recovery

– Improve sprint and running speed performance

– Enhance brain function

So, pretty good so far then!

However, there are some conflicting reports among the medical profession about the dangers of creatine supplementation that may not make it the wonder supplement for everyone…

Negative side effects

One of the reports within the medical profession is that it is thought the body may stop naturally producing its own source of creatine if constantly being supplied by a supplement.

This will obviously lead to a massive drop in the amount of creatine available in the body to carry out the ‘positive’ functions unless the user continually uses a supplement for the rest of their lives.

side effect of creatine_2There are also, as yet uncorroborated concerns, that high doses of creatine could cause long term damage and harm to the liver, kidneys and heart.

Although not proven, you will find that most, if not all, creatine supplements will carry a health warning on them stating that anyone with kidney disease, heart disease or is diabetic should refrain from using it which should give you a bit of clue as to potential health risks.

Although these concerns from the medical profession are potentially quite serious these are still just concerns at this stage and not proven scientific fact.

Less serious health problems

There are a number of less serious health problems and negative side effects that have been reported by users of creatine that you may want to know before you buy a huge tub of the stuff.

Due to how creatine works, causing your muscle to absorb and retain more water, your body’s demand for greater amounts of water will obviously increase.

This can lead to dehydration and muscle cramping, especially for those people who train in hot climates if they do not increase their water consumption considerably.

Short term symptoms

Bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and nausea are just a few other symptoms that have been reported by people who have used this supplement – including myself.

Although not dangerous, as the symptoms simply go away after you stop taking creatine, it can obviously exacerbate dehydration and just generally feel unpleasant.

These symptoms are thought to result because of the body’s inability to tolerate, absorb or utilise the excess creatine entering its system so it remains in the G.I tract in order to be expelled with the waste.

Whilst there it causes irritation by absorbing water, etc. which leads to the above symptoms.

All of these concerns and negative symptoms are said to be lessened and eliminated at much lower doses than many supplement companies would in fact recommend.

Some ‘professionals’ claim that it is not necessary, nor beneficial to take additional creatine supplementation of over 3g per day.

I would recommend you always speak to a medical professional or better still, a nutritionist before taking potentially harmful or unnecessary supplements.

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