Some people report that they experience constipation when they take creatine, while others do not. Amid the wandering questions about creatine, one of the most common is, “Does creatine make you constipated?”
Many are concerned that the supplement will cause digestive issues, but there is no direct evidence that taking creatine supplements causes constipation or muscle cramps.
Simply put, many factors will affect each person differently when taking creatine.
Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes and mostly weight lifters because it can increase muscle mass and strength. Although there is much anecdotal evidence that creatine causes constipation, the research on the matter is limited.
If you are concerned about constipation while taking creatine, read on to learn more about the potential causes and what you can do to avoid it.
What is Inside Your Creatine Supplements?
Inside your creatine monohydrate supplement, there are three amino acids such as:
This specific amino acid helps your body build protein, which classifies as a vasodilator, which widens your blood vessels. L-arginine improves blood circulation throughout your body, including your muscle cells.
You can also find this in protein-rich foods such as fish, red meat, soy, poultry, and dairy products. This ingredient is one of the primary amino acids used in your body to create creatine.
Glycine is an amino acid that improves exercise performance and helps the body build muscle. Additionally, it may reduce fatigue after exercise.
You can find glycine in foods such as beef, pork, poultry, fish, and some vegetables, including kale and spinach.
L-methionine is an amino acid that helps the body create other vital compounds, including proteins and enzymes. It is also essential for proper liver function.
This component is also essential as it helps your body’s average growth and repairs body tissues. Therefore, it is necessary to properly function many systems in your body, including your nervous system.
These three amino acids work together to help your body create creatine. Once it is produced, it’s sent to your muscles for energy during high-intensity exercise.
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in small amounts in some foods, such as beef, pork, and fish. Your body can also create creatine, but the amount you get from food is usually insufficient to increase muscle mass.
Is Creatine Supplementation Safe?
While the amino acids in creatine are considered safe, some other ingredients may cause digestive issues. For example, many supplements contain sweeteners and flavorings that can cause gas and bloat.
Furthermore, you can also combine creatine with other supplements, such as caffeine or beta-alanine. These substances can also cause side effects such as an upset stomach, cramping, or diarrhea.
It’s also important to note that taking large doses of creatine at once can cause an upset stomach, regardless of the other ingredients in the supplement. Most importantly, starting with a smaller amount and increasing it gradually to avoid digestive issues is best.
How Does Creatine Monohydrate Affect Your Digestion?
Creatine doesn’t seem to have a direct effect on your digestive system. However, it can cause an upset stomach when consumed in large doses because creatine pulls water into your intestines. As a result, you feel bloated or gassy.
When supplementing creatine, there is the “loading phase,” where you take a larger dose for the first few days to help saturate your muscles with creatine. This phase is more done for bodybuilding and muscle building. After that phase, you can take a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams daily.
Some people may be more sensitive to the effects of creatine and may need to take a lower dose to avoid digestive issues. If you experience discomfort after taking creatine, try reducing the spreading amount throughout the day.
Creatine may also cause you to retain water, leading to weight gain. However, this is usually only temporary and will disappear once you stop taking the supplement.
Can creatine cause constipation?
Yes, creatine can cause constipation. If you experience severe cramping or constipation after taking creatine, try reducing the dose or spreading it throughout the day. Additionally, you can increase your water intake to soften your stool.
As creatine alters your body’s water balance, it’s essential to stay hydrated when taking this supplement, especially if you exercise frequently or live in a hot climate. So, drinking lots of water is recommended.
Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, bowel movement, and cramping. It can also lead to more severe problems, such as heat stroke.
In short, creatine is a safe and effective supplement that can improve your exercise performance and build lean muscle mass. However, it is essential to ask for expert advice on how to take it to avoid any digestive issues.
How Much Weight Can You Gain From Taking Creatine?
Creatine can cause you to retain water, leading to weight gain. However, this is only temporary and will disappear once you stop taking the supplement. Muscle growth will go away once your body adjusts to the supplement.
If you’re looking to gain lean muscle mass, you can expect an increase of about 1.5 to 3.5 pounds initially when taking creatine due to increased water retention and muscle growth.
However, once your body adjusts to the supplement, you should only see a small amount of weight gain (1-2 pounds or 0.5-1 kg) per month.
Does Creatine Affect Your Poop?
A high dosage of creatine can cause diarrhea and affect your bowel movements. Generally, diarrhea and constipation are associated with increased protein consumption, wherein creatine is a protein.
Although not all people experience this side effect, it is best to be aware of the possibility. While many use creatine monohydrate to improve athletic performance, supplementing creatine in high doses can cause complications such as dehydration, muscle cramping, and gastrointestinal distress.
So, if you have problems with your bowels, it is best to consult a physician before taking creatine supplements.
How to Prevent Diarrhea from Creatine?
While not everyone experiences the side effect of diarrhea from creatine, there are some things you can do to minimize your chances of having this happen to you.
If you have a sensitive stomach, taking your creatine with food is best because it buffers the supplement and makes it easier for your stomach to digest. Undissolved creatine can also cause stomach upset. So, mix your powder thoroughly in water or juice before drinking.
On the other hand, if you want to take creatine but are worried about the potential for diarrhea, here are a few things you can do to prevent it:
Take a maximum of 3-5g of creatine daily
The usual recommended dose is 5g per day. However, you may want to start with a lower amount of 3-5g and increase it gradually over a few weeks as your body gets used to the supplement. Therefore, you can minimize any potential side effects.
Spread your creatine monohydrate intake throughout the day
Besides limiting your overall intake, another way to reduce the chances of creatine-induced diarrhea is to spread your consumption throughout the day. Therefore, take 1-2g at once instead of all at once.
Choose a high-quality creatine monohydrate supplement
When taking creatine supplements, choose one that is high quality and free from impurities to reduce the likelihood of experiencing any gastrointestinal side effects.
Simply stay hydrated
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of diarrhea, so it’s essential to ensure you’re drinking enough fluids when taking creatine. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day.
You may also consider adding an electrolyte-rich beverage such as coconut water to your diet to help replace any electrolytes lost through diarrhea.
What are the Benefits of Creatine?
Some people believe creatine is a steroid, while others think it’s only for bodybuilders. Creatine is a compound produced naturally in the body and plays an essential role in energy production. You can find it in meat, fish, and spinach.
Have you wondered why your muscles feel “pumped” after working out? That results from increased blood flow to your muscles due to the release of creatine and other compounds.
Creatine also has several potential benefits, including:
Improved athletic performance
You may have heard of athletes using creatine to improve their performance because it has increased energy levels, strength, and power. Creatine can also help you exercise for longer by reducing fatigue.
And not only athletes reap the benefits of increased creatine levels. If you’re looking to improve your physical performance, whether for sports or simply working out at the gym, creatine supplementation may help.
Increased muscle mass
In addition, creatine has also increased muscle mass because it helps to promote protein synthesis and acts as a cell volumizer, which can help you pack on the muscle.
If you’re struggling to add muscle mass despite eating a calorie and protein-rich diet, creatine supplementation may be able to give you the extra boost you need.
Since creatine increases strength and power, it can also benefit those trying to build muscle mass.
Improved brain function
Creatine also improves brain function, enhances memory and cognitive function in young adults, and reduces the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Studies show that people taking creatine have improved recognition, working memory, and intelligence. It also reduces mental fatigue, which enhances focus and concentration.
So, if you’re looking for a way to boost your brain power, whether for school or work, creatine may be able to help.
Reduced risk of injury
Creatine also reduces the risk of injury because it protects your muscles from damage and reduces inflammation.
Creatine supplementation may also help you recover from exercise-related injuries more quickly. As you can see, athletes constantly balance their training, rest, and recovery, and creatine is one of the most important things they use to stay on top of their games.
Are There Any Side Effects of Creatine?
Creatine is a powerful supplement with a wide range of potential benefits. However, it’s important to remember that more research is needed to determine its long-term safety.
If you’re worried about the potential side effects of creatine, here are a few to keep in mind:
Some people report experiencing muscle cramps when taking creatine.
When creatine enters the muscle cells, it may increase intracellular osmolality, leading to muscle cell dehydration and cramping. During this process, the accumulation of creatine in the muscle cells may lead to a fluid shift from your extracellular compartment into the cells.
As a result, your cells will shrink and swell. The cell shrinks due to dehydration and may contract and cause cramps.
Creatine can make your stomach upset. It can also give you nausea, diarrhea, and bloating. Since it can pull water into the intestine, it may increase intestinal contents and stomach discomfort.
If you experience any of these side effects, it’s essential to stop taking creatine and see a doctor.
There is some concern that creatine may damage the kidneys, especially when taken in large doses.
The kidneys filter creatine and excrete it in the urine. Taking large doses can increase the kidneys’ work, leading to kidney damage.
However, there is no evidence that creatine causes kidney damage in healthy people.
Creatine can cause dehydration by pulling water into the muscles, leading to water loss. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure you’re drinking enough water when taking creatine. Dehydration can cause nausea, fatigue, and muscle cramps.
If you’re taking creatine, it’s essential to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated.
Creatine can cause weight gain by water retention in the muscle cell, leading to a temporary increase in weight.
However, your diet and training will determine weight gain in the long term. In most cases, you will be gaining weight due to an increase in lean muscle mass resulting from taking creatine and working out.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does creatine take to work?
Creatine begins to work as soon as you start taking it, but it may take around one to four weeks to see the full effects, depending on your body type and the amount of creatine you’re taking.
How much creatine should I take?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The amount of creatine you should take depends on your goals, body type, and how much you’re currently working out. Talking to a doctor or certified professional before starting any supplement regimen is essential.
On the other hand, taking only 3-5g of creatine per day is commonly suggested.
Can I take creatine with other supplements?
You can take creatine with other supplements. However, before starting any supplement regimen, you must talk to a doctor or certified professional. You should also ensure you’re not taking more than the recommended creatine dosage.
Is creatine safe?
Creatine is generally safe, but there are some potential side effects to keep in mind. If you experience any of these side effects, it’s essential to stop taking creatine and see a doctor.
Creatine is a known and effective supplement for increasing muscle mass and strength. However, some potential side effects to keep in mind are constipation.
There are ways to prevent these side effects by drinking plenty of fluids and lowering the dosage. Talking with a doctor or certified professional is still best before starting any supplement regimen.
If you found this article helpful, check our other articles on ExpertFitness.org.
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Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.