How Creatine Can Work for You: Pros, Cons and Side Effects



The Need For Creatine

Athletic training is a lost cause without adequate rest and energy. In to support daily recovery, safe creatine supplementation can make your progress feel like night and day.

Figure out if creatine can be worked into your nutritional regimen by weighing out its benefits and side effects. 

What is Creatine? 

Creatine is an organic, amino acid found in meat, fish, and naturally produced by the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. In turn, it supplies energy to the muscles during contraction. However, many find it helpful to aid their intake of creatine through dietary supplements to recover faster than without it.

Commonly found in powder and pill supplement form, creatine leads a key role in delivering extra energy to muscle cells during intense exercise. Bodybuilders and various athletes take it to regularly to stimulate their muscle’s energy stores during heavy lifting and rigorous performance.

Evidently, an overwhelming amount of research shows how creatine provides increased strength, muscle mass, and overall physical performance.

Since our muscles prominently use creatine, most of it is stored as phosphocreatine throughout muscle cells. A minute portion is stored in the organs that create it and in the brain.

Although there are differing viewpoints about the advantages and downfalls of creatine supplementation, the clear majority of peer-reviewed studies embody its strong benefits.

As with anything, moderation is crucial – creatine is not an exception.

How Creatine Works

Creatine is known to advance our physical performance through many healthful avenues.

During strenuous exercise, it increases the phosphocreatine stores in muscles. Effectively, this paves the way for extra ATP to be utilized – providing more energy and the competitive edge many are looking for.

Training sessions can be made more demanding yet still sustainable. Vital for long-term muscle development and strength, creatine helps by maximizing your current workload.

Both anabolic hormone IGF-1 and cell hydration are increased providing a clear gateway to aid in muscle cell growth.

Furthermore, myostatin levels are considerably reduced – this unique protein inhibits muscle development.

Aside from packing on pounds of muscle, added stores of phosphocreatine in the brain defends against neurological disease as well.

The ways of gaining muscle through creatine vary, but they all point to increasing muscle mass and making processes more efficient through improved cell communication.


Specific goals differ among athletes, but they all share the common vehicle to carry out their passions – the human body. The benefits are numerous when it comes to creatine supplementation, but here are some of the most prominent reasons people love to implement creatine to their weekly diet and workout plans.

  • Athletic Power

Without a doubt, athletes need to be resilient, strong, and fast. Power output can directly be enhanced through a consistent creatine intake.

  • Lean Body Mass

Studies have shown a slight increase in lean body mass and a reduction in excess body fat while taking this supplement alongside short, intense exercises.

  • Work Capacity

Pushing for extra weight overtime is the goal of progressive overload. But with creatine, overloading becomes much quicker and responsive.

  • Muscle Size

Within days of supplementing creatine, most people can see clear gains in their muscle size. Water retention in the muscle, the whole point of creatine, is the cause of this. More water means more movement and cell production in the long-run for your muscles.

Disadvantages and Side Effects

Side Effects

Even though creatine boasts an abundance of rich benefits, be aware of the disadvantages and side effects it brings to the table.

  • Insufficient Water Intake

Often, those who are suffering from dehydration or inadequate gains do not drink enough water. When switching over to a creatine supplement, remembering to take enough water for your body’s needs is imperative. You will have to drink even more water than usual when using creatine.

  • Nausea and Stomach Pain

If your body does not need the amount of creatine you plan to take, it will let you know. Symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, gassiness, and diarrhea can occur if your body is rejecting taking more and more creatine every day. Be sure to take the recommended doses or make necessary adjustments. Not everyone should take the same amounts of this supplement.

  • Renal Issues

If you have known kidney problems, whether they be inefficient or weak, it is suggested to stay away from creatine. Healthy individuals with strong kidneys can easily metabolize recommended dosages of the supplement. However, creatine will force kidneys lacking in strength to be overworked. Otherwise, if you still want to use it, check with your primary care doctor regularly to see if your renal issues escalate.

 Take Note: Creatine Is Not for Everyone 

As with anything in life, creatine may just not be for you or others. The fact of the matter is that people may already have a sufficient production and intake of creatine naturally via their current body and diet. Taking an excess amount of creatine may be detrimental to one’s health when there is an overabundance present.

Various Types of Creatine Supplements

While creatine supplementation provides largely similar results, there are different, specific forms available on the market. Each of them caters to slightly different needs. Take a look at which version you gravitate toward the most. 

Creatine monohydrate

Creatine Monohydrate

This is the most popular form of creatine and has a widespread use across the athletic spectrum. Creatine monohydrate is intended to be loaded over the first week, then cut back to recommended dosages. Cramping and nausea can happen if there is a lack of water intake.

Micronized Creatine 

Similar to monohydrate, micronized creatine dissolves and mixes better because of it being milled into an ultra-fine powder. The absorption rate is the same, but it main difference is that it mixes better into shakes or drinks.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

There are claims of CEE stating is more bioavailable than creatine monohydrate, but that statement has not been backed up extensively.

Creatine Kre-Alkalyn

Also known as “buffered” creatine, creatine Kre-Alkalyn does not need to be loaded or cycled. Rather, taking it straight away can leave you with great results. Side effects such as bloating are not common through Kre-Alkalyn.


While there are handfuls of various creatine products around to take, perform your own due diligence to see if you even need to supplement in the first place. Supplementation is to finesse and build upon what you have already earned. Once you have a solid exercise and nutrition base to expand from, taking creatine can definitely take you to the next level.

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