Creatine Side Effects

Author: Craig Coghlin CPT (CanfitPro)
I am sure many of you have heard of the many side effects of supplementing with creatine, ranging from cramps, to severe kidney problems. Persky and Brazeau (2001) point out that claims of muscle cramps and kidney dysfunction have only been anecdotally reported. The only cases in which there were actual kidney problems occurred in subjects who had a pre-existing kidney disorder that was aggravated by creatine supplementation (due to the increased protein concentration in the blood). No studies have documented gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, or diarrhea. The only documented side effect is rapid weight gain; this is a subjective side effect as many welcome the added mass. But this is not to say that creatine supplementation is fine for everyone. If you’re 100% certain you have no family history or kidney disorders, you should still only experiment with small doses of creatine in your off-season and discontinue supplementation and consult a professional if any abnormalities are sensed.

The bottom line with creatine is that it has been proven to be beneficial under certain conditions, yet it is st
till a supplement that needs to be administered with caution and knowledge. The industry of sport supplements is a very poorly regulated one, thus competitive athletes need to research before they supplement with anything. Many compounds sold in stores can contain very little of what is actually claimed, and in many cases contain compounds not listed on the label. This occurs due to cross contamination of supplements during manufacturing. There have been occasions where athletes have been banned from competition after testing positive for a banned metabolite that they claim they have never taken. This could very well be true, yet this metabolite may have been present in an otherwise “safe” dietary supplement. If you are considering taking creatine, or you already are, you may wish to delve into the vast amount of research that exists on creatine to see if your supplementation goals are attainable. It may also be a good idea to research the company you are buying from and find out what procedures they follow, if any, to prevent cross contamination of their products. So in the words of Van Wilder, “it’s best to test the quality of the turf before you step out on to the field.”