science

Deciding Whether to Take Creatine? What Are the Pros and Cons of Taking This Supplement

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

4 min read

Two green smoothies on a countertop with strawberries

Creatine is a hugely studied supplement because of its many benefits for sports performance and overall health. However, what are these pros and cons?

What Are the Pros of Creatine Monohydrate?

There are many benefits of creatine, which is why so many athletes use a creatine nutrition supplement. But what are these benefits exactly? Here are just a few of the many.

May Increase Strength and Muscle Size

One of the most popular benefits of creatine is that it may increase strength and muscle size. Although this may give you a bit of weight gain at first, it is forming the muscle that you want.

Taking creatine can provide your muscles with more fuel and energy for the exercise regimen that you are about to do. This makes it easier for you to continue working out for longer.

With added energy, you may also increase your strength due to less muscle fatigue and enhanced recovery from the supplement. Additionally, it allows an increase in strength because it makes strength training easier to do for longer without your muscles fatiguing as quickly.

It is also best to use for high-intensity exercise like HIIT, cardio, running, swimming, and so on.

May Combat Muscle Loss

While it may increase the size of your muscles, studies show that it may also combat muscle loss.

The loss of muscle strength and function comes naturally with aging, but supplementing with creatine may be a way to combat that to build muscle and increase muscle mass.

While taking creatine by itself is not going to reduce your muscle loss, taking creatine paired with strength training and exercise can help older adults build more muscle mass.

May Boost Brain Function

Not only can taking creatine help with your muscle strength and recovery as well as provide a reduction in muscle loss, but it can also help to boost your brain function.

When there is an increase in creatine in the brain, there is increased oxygen delivery and energy supply to the brain, as well. When this happens, it is easier to perform functions, and it can also improve your short-term memory, intelligence, and reasoning.

Taking creatine supplements can enhance cognitive health in situations with limited oxygen like being in high altitude environments. This study supplemented 15 healthy adults with creatine or a placebo over a period of 7 days and then proceeded to expose participants to short term oxygen deprivation. Those who used creatine were able to maintain their ability to focus and prevent the cognitive decline associated with low oxygen.

Another study shows that supplementing with creatine prior to sleep deprivation can help combat some of the negative cognitive effects associated with sleep loss. These findings suggest that creatine may have some neuroprotective properties.

What Are the Cons of Creatine?

While there are many benefits that studies show creatine has, there are also some cons when taking creatine. Here are a few of them.

Kidney Concerns

There are many claims that creatine can cause kidney issues although there have not been any studies that support these claims.

It is likely that this concern exists because some studies report creatine can briefly raise your creatinine levels. However, it has not been found to damage your kidneys. Creatinine levels can also be impacted by high protein intake and increased muscle bulk.

Bloating and Stomach Upsetness

While kidney concerns should not be a concern for you, you may notice that upset stomach or bloating can occur.

This can likely happen when you first start taking the supplement during the creatine loading phase, which pulls water into your muscle cells and can create the feeling of being bloated.

However, there are ways to reduce the likelihood that you experience bloating. If you keep your dosage on the lower side, you may be able to prevent this from happening.

Overall Safety Concerns

While there are some safety concerns about what creatine can do to your body, there is no sound evidence that it actually harms you. Studies do not show that there are any safety concerns when supplementing with creatine monohydrate.

Creatine Dosage

When taking a creatine supplement, the recommended amount is to take 5 grams of the supplement four times per day for 5-7 days per week. This would be the creatine loading phase to kickstart the benefits of creatine.

However, a lower dose can maintain high levels after loading and saturation of your muscles. Typically, maintenance doses range from 2–10 grams per day.

Best Form of Creatine

There are various forms of creatine. However, creatine monohydrate is the most effective, having been backed by numerous studies. Most come in powder form that you can add to water or another form of your favorite drink.

How to Take Creatine

You can take creatine at any time of the day. The main goal is consistency. However, you will usually get the best, most optimal results if you take the supplement right after a workout.

Is It Worth It to Take Creatine?

As you can see, creatine monohydrate has a lot of benefits and no proven drawbacks that would significantly impact your health. Because of this, we believe that supplementing with creatine can improve exercise performance, create a lean body mass, and be great for resistance training.

If you are ready to reap the benefits and build muscle, you can check out our creatine supplement at Care/of. We have them in single-serve packets for ease of use that are already dosed out!

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