What Are 3 Risks For Creatine?

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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Creatine is a substance that is produced naturally in the human body. It is also found in certain foods, such as red meat and fish. 

Creatine is often sold in powder form as a dietary supplement. 

When used properly, it can have performance benefits for athletes that engage in strength training. 

But let’s face it – everything that has major benefits also comes with certain downsides… right?

Well, maybe.

In this article, we’ll discuss creatine, what it is, and, more importantly – what’s the downside of creatine? And is creatine harmful long term?

If you’re using creatine or are looking to get some and are wondering whether or not it’s worth it, stay tuned to this article as we delve deeper into what you really need to know about this supplement!

The Nature Of Creatine

As we mentioned in the intro of this article, creatine is a substance that is found naturally in the body. 

It is essentially the body’s secondary energy reserve, which is used during high-exertion muscle activity, to regenerate ATP (the body’s main source of energy.)

The body makes creatine (about 1g per day), but it is also found in some foods, such as seafood and red meat.

Besides food, creatine is also available in the form of powdered supplements or pills and is, without a doubt, one of the most popular supplements on the market.

All in all, if you’re wondering whether or not creatine and steroids are alike, the answer is no – creatine is an amino acid that is naturally found in the body, and supplements can only saturate its reserves.

What are 3 risks for Creatine? The Benefits

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Speaking of saturation, it is important to point out that this is precisely what creatine supplements are meant to do, whether they’re in the form of a powder or pills.

They are simply meant to saturate your muscles with creatine.

So what are the benefits and risks of creatine?

Let’s find out by first going through the benefits.

1. Muscle Mass

Addressing the benefits of creatine supplementation, many health and fitness enthusiasts report that creatine has helped them to achieve their desired physique. 

Particularly, users suggest that taking creatine leads to an increase in lean muscle mass. 

Some scientists attribute these claims to the fact that phosphate groups are donated by creatine to ATP, resynthesizing ATP faster, which supports higher power output. [1] 

A higher output leads to a better stimulus for growth and, thus, increased muscle mass.

With this in mind, it is fair to say that those interested in fitness, health, and muscle mass, should consider taking creatine as a supplement.

2. Strength Gains

Besides bodybuilder-like mass gains, creatine supplementation is a popular product for increasing strength. 

By taking creatine supplements, it is only logical that the increased energy reserve will be simply available to the muscles.

And well, more available energy is a good prerequisite for more output (strength & force.)

However, it is important to note that individual results may vary, and some people may not see any increase in strength at all. 

Still, for the majority of the population, strength gains during creatine supplementation are imminent.

3. Strength Endurance

As we learned, once creatine is ingested, it is converted into phosphocreatine, which then aids in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). 

ATP is responsible for providing energy to cells, making creatine an essential compound for athletes and weightlifters. 

Now, one of the biggest benefits of creatine supplementation is that it can help increase strength endurance, so it’s no surprise that this compound has become so popular in the fitness world. 

If you’re wondering what we mean by “strength endurance,” think of it as the number of repetitions, you can do with a heavy weight.

Quite simply, creatine supplementation may increase the total number of reps you can do with a given weight.

What Are 3 Risks For Creatine? The downsides

So what’s the downside of creatine? 

Well, creatine is generally considered safe, but there is some concern that creatine may have side effects. 

Let’s have a look at the possible side effects and answer the question of “what are 3 risks for creatine?” once and for all!

1. Increased Total Bodyweight

Though creatine can lead to increased strength, it can also lead to weight gain.

Now, don’t think of this as “getting fat,” though.

The temporary weight gain caused by creatine is simply water retention because creatine draws water into the muscles.

A study found that creatine supplementation leads to increased muscle creatine concentrations, as well as increased water retention and total bodyweight. [2]

Now, this water retention is generally not harmful in any way, but if you are scared of the numbers on the scale, keep this in mind!

2. Kidney Function

As we’ve previously said, creatine is one of the best-researched fitness supplements on the market.

And while some people firmly believe it is bad for the kidneys, there is currently no direct evidence that creatine supplementation causes kidney damage in healthy people. 

It is important to consider, though, that creatine supplementation has been shown to raise creatinine levels, which may be a concern for your doctor, who’s reviewing your bloodwork.

Nevertheless, this rise in creatinine only mimics a kidney disease, and the current literature on the topic is conclusive – quality creatine supplements do not have adverse side effects on renal function. [3]

This means that generally, healthy individuals should feel free to consume creatine in moderation.

And, if you are predisposed or have a history of kidney disease, it is of the essence to consult with your doctor before starting creatine supplementation.

3. Massive Gains

The biggest side effect of creatine is that it leads to massive gains! 

You’ll become so muscular that your parents won’t even recognize you. 

In fact, you’ll probably have to move out of the house because they’ll be too intimidated by your new body. 

Good thing you’ll be able to afford a nice place of your own with the money you make from all the fitness modeling deals. 

Let’s face it – creatine is one hell’uva supplement, and every self-respecting trainee should try it at least once during their training career.

We hope this answer the question, “What are 3 risks for creatine?”

So, is creatine harmful long-term?

So what are the benefits and risks of creatine? And is creatine harmful long term?

Well, so far, the research on creatine indicates that it is safe for most people when used as directed. 

The benefits span from an increase in strength and strength endurance to an increase in muscle mass.

In general, you should always consult your doctor before starting any new supplement, especially if you have a preexisting medical condition. 

Be sure to let them know if you’re considering taking creatine, so they can help monitor your progress and ensure your safety. 

Are there any other risks or concerns you have about creatine? Let us know in the comments below!

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