This article is all about the effects of creatine on your gut and bowels and how you can use it safely.
Yes, creatine can disturb your digestive system and lead to constipation or diarrhea, depending on your underlying gut health issues, diet regimen, and supplement dosage.
Though it is the most famous amino acid supplement for athletes and gym freaks, users often report some temporary side effects.
You can get the details of its impact on your bowel movement and overall health in upcoming sections.
In addition to that, we have also included a few tips to help you reap creatine’s benefits without causing any damage to your health.
So, let’s dig in and discuss the impact of creatine on your gut health;
Table of Contents
How does creatine affect your bowels?
When you start taking creatine, you may notice disturbing changes in your bowel movements.
The effect of creatine supplements on the bowels seems to vary from person to person because some people complain of diarrhea while others have experienced constipation.
Interestingly, the reason for both is presumed to be fluid shift and other osmotic effects of creatine.
When it causes excessive absorption and retention of water inside intestinal muscles, feces are hardened, and it becomes painful and uncomfortable to defecate.
Conversely, it can also burden the absorptive machinery of the gut, making the absorption of digested food and water slower.
As a result, a good volume of water passes through the large intestine unabsorbed, and you get loose bowel.
A study performed in 2008 to analyze the effects of creatine on gut functions inferred that diarrhea is the most frequent adverse effect of creatine. It further states that the condition becomes intensified if a person uses larger doses.
Other Common Creatine side effects
Some other adverse health outcomes are also associated with creatine.
However, most of these symptoms are reported in the initial stage of creatine supplementation and are usually relieved within a week or two.
Creatine is known to cause other gastrointestinal problems, too, like belching, stomach distress, and bloated feelings.
As the stomach is the part of the gut where most proteins are digested, when you consume a higher amount of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) than your usual intake, your stomach is overburdened.
That is why digestion slows down, and you may feel heaviness for a while after taking creatine.
Another reason for creatine bloating is that fluid retention caused by this amino acid can make you feel puffy and restless.
However, as muscles become saturated with creatine and your body slowly adjusts to its effects, the GI distress is usually gone.
Some people feel thirsty and dehydrated after creatine usage. The blame for this is usually kept on its water-retaining properties.
When most of the water becomes stored in muscle tissues, less of it would be available for normal body functions.
That is why if you ask your trainer, nutritionist, or any professional athlete, you would be told to consume more water if you are taking creatine.
Another side effect of creatine is muscle cramps. Like most other adversities associated with creatine, it is also reported mainly during the loading phase due to high dosage.
But it diminishes after some time when your body gets accumulated with the supplements’ effects, and the dose is also reduced.
A research paper narrates that creatine causes a fluid shift in muscular tissues, moving water from extracellular space to intracellular compartments. Thus, the extracellular volume shrinks, and the muscle becomes cramped.
However, this kind of shrinkage usually results from a high dose of creatine monohydrate, and minor doses are known to be completely safe.
Damage to kidneys
In rare cases, creatine is reported to cause damage to kidney tissues. A young weightlifter was diagnosed with proteinuria and acute renal impairment due to bodybuilding supplements, including creatine.
However, researches show that damage was most probably caused by the effects of bodybuilding supplements and not by creatine.
Also, a systematic review of scientific publications concluded that creatine supplementation is a safe practice and does not disturb kidney function.
How do you safely take creatine to avoid effects?
As you have noticed in the discussion above, most creatine effects are caused when people overdose on a single derivative of creatine or do not modify their diet and lifestyle accordingly.
Following are some ways to safely get the benefits of creatine;
Drink more water
Increasing your water intake is the best tip when using creatine products.
It helps you avoid many creatine side effects like constipation, dehydration, and even cramps.
Firstly, you will not feel thirsty and dehydrated all the time.
Secondly, when your water intake is higher, your stool will be softened, and you will stay safe from the constipation symptoms.
Plus, abundant water availability keeps extracellular reservoirs well-hydrated and prevents muscle cramps.
Take more fiber
Dietary fiber helps keep the bowel movement normal.
This is because fibers pass undigested into feces, preventing them from hardening. Thus, you can avoid constipation due to creatine by taking high-fiber meals.
Avoid too many carbs
If you take meals rich in carbohydrates, you are more likely to feel bloating and constipation after using supplementary amino acids. The reason is the water soaking capability of carbs.
Hence, the combined water-retaining effects of creatine and carbohydrates will make you feel distended and may also result in hardened stools.
But you can easily escape this adversity by modifying your diet plan and taking low-carb foods.
Use Green tea
Taking green tea can indeed be a delectable way to increase water intake.
Plus, herbal extracts positively affect your gut microbiota and help you get rid of bowel irregularities.
To prevent or relieve constipation, you can use homemade chamomile, senna, or ginger tea recipes.
Likewise, lemon tea, fennel tea, and peppermint tea are the best herbal potions to get relief from diarrhea.
Do not overdose
Most creatine side effects can be easily avoided if you stick to the recommended dose and do not add additional scoops to your creatine shake.
Getting in touch with a nutritionist or fitness trainer would also help you use the supplement safely.
Another tip for a safer intake of creatine is to take a supplement that contains a balanced mix of different creatine derivatives instead of the bulking amount of a single compound.
In our experience, Ultimate CRN-5 from Crazy Nutrition has been very effective.
Firstly, it is a blend of 5 different types of creatine (creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride, creatine ethyl ester, tri- creatine malate, creatine citrate pyruvate) that supplies all the benefits of creatine but does not result in dose-related side effects.
Secondly, it contains micronutrients for better absorption and bioavailability of these amino acids. For example, citrate and marine-based minerals are very helpful in improving the efficiency of creatine in ATP production.
Plus, it has some premium electrolytes that might save you from dehydration by compensating for the water-salt loss during workout sessions.
Does creatine cause weight loss?
No, creatine does not directly induce weight loss.
But as it improves your workout performance, you can burn more fats and lose weight quickly by using this supplement.
Does creatine cause hair loss?
Yes, creatine supplementation is related to the increased risk of hair loss.
It is found to raise the level of the androgenic hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is associated with hair loss and poor hair regrowth.
This is because DHT can bind to receptors present in hair follicles, producing negative effects on hair strength and growth. As a result, hair can become thinner and weaker.
However, this effect is mainly seen in people who have a genetic disposition for hair loss because the variation in their hair genes increases the activity of follicle-hormone receptors.
Does creatine cause acne?
No, there is no scientific evidence that relates creatine with skin breakouts.
However, some people complained about developing acne after they used creatine.
Most probably, this effect is caused by hormone sensitivity. (When the hormonal balance in their body is changed due to increased production of DHT, they get hormone-driven acne.)
Does creatine cause weight gain?
Yes, creatine helps you gain muscle weight, but it does not increase fat mass.
As it causes water retention in muscle fibers, you will notice a weight gain due to increased water accumulation in the body.
This weight gain (commonly called water weight) is visible only in the creatine loading phase when you first start using creatine products.
Plus, creatine supplementation makes you gain lean mass because it increases the endurance of muscles. Hence, they get stronger and bulkier over time.
Does creatine cause bloat?
Yes, creatine intake can make you feel bloated and distended.
The fluid shift in muscles is thought to be the primary reason for this effect. This supplement makes muscles retain a large amount of water which can lead to a distended feeling.
Also, it may cause stomach distress, leading to slower digestion and bloating.
Can creatine cause hemorrhoids?
No, creatine does not cause hemorrhoids.
There is no evidence that hemorrhoid formation is induced by creatine.
However, if someone takes creatine and develops constipation yet continues a high carb diet and low water intake, their constipation problem can become severe.
Resultantly, acute constipation may lead to hemorrhoids though such instances are pretty rare.
Does creatine make you constipated?
Yes, creatine can make you constipated.
It causes increased water absorption, resulting in hard stools that are difficult to pass out.
Why does creatine make me poop?
If you overdose on creatine, the number of your bathroom visits is likely to increase.
This is because creatine is an osmolyte that changes fluid distribution in the whole body. Moreover, it tends to burden the digestive system when you start supplementation.
Both of these effects lead to diarrhea, causing you to poop frequently.
Does creatine affect poop?
Yes, creatine intake affects your stools.
A common side effect of creatine is gastrointestinal distress which usually leads to diarrhea. In this case, you will pass loose stools and excrete a lot of water through feces.
In other cases, creatine intake results in higher water absorption in the large intestine, making stools harder and solidified.
How much water should I drink with creatine?
While using creatine, it is best to consume from 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
Creatine is the first choice of bodybuilders and strength trainers to increase muscle endurance and boost energy levels.
But as roses come with thorns, creatine has some side effects like most other fitness supplements.
These are usually seen during the initial creatine loading phase only and include symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, bloating, dehydration, and muscle cramps.
Using a trusted product like Ultimate CRN-5, taking small recommended doses, and modifying your diet plan according to the above-mentioned tips can help you prevent gut problems arising due to creatine.