Creatine Side Effects & How To Avoid/Minimize Them
They say that the truth of most arguments often lies somewhere in the middle of both extremes. In the case of creatine side effects, I’d say that was the case – sometimes. In this article I’ll explain to you the side effects of creatine some people may get, and why, and even go so far as to give possible solutions to allow you to avoid or minimize them. The hope is you can hop on the bandwagon of this excellent supplement and make great gains – without any nagging side effects.
Aside from all of the unfounded scare stories of creatine, which I’ve written about in my article is creatine safe? there are some legitimate and very real creatine side effects which you need to be aware of. Don’t be alarmed – they aren’t serious or lasting, and to be honest, they are rare. I’ll now take you through each possible side effect, explain why it may occur, and what you can do to ease or avoid it without stopping your creatine supplementation.
Dehydration & Dizziness:
Dehydration during workouts – and sometimes dizziness – is often blamed on creatine. The fact is, most people – sedentary or active – don’t drink nearly enough water and experience some effects of dehydration as a result, whether taking creatine or not. Creatine can exasperate this effect if you don’t know when to take creatine and take it at the wrong time.
The wrong time – which may surprise you – is before a workout. Taking creatine before a workout is a bad idea because creatine encourages the muscles to act like a sponge and soak up water – water which, if not from drink, can only come from the body, at the expense of other internal organs.
If you’ve ever experienced even mild dehydration before you will know how quickly it can appear to come on. Well, this can happen even quicker and the symptoms be even more severe if you have a huge shift in body fluids before a training session – a training session which, I might add, will only dehydrate you further.
You may think you can simply drink more water. True, you can, but since you have no clue as to the extent fluids will be taken from your body and pumped into your muscles, you may still succumb to dehydration.
Solution: Never take creatine before a training session. Take it afterwards. As for dehydration when you aren’t training – drink more water, of course!
One other complaint is that sometimes creatine can cause muscle cramps. Now, dehydration is a common cause of muscle cramps. We’ve covered that. But also, some may argue that creatine can allow a person to work their muscles to such an extent that these muscles develop DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
I disagree. I believe creatine can only allow your muscles to work to a capacity they are capable of – albeit slightly more than usual – and the only way DOMS (which really, is what the muscle cramps are) can happen is if you go overboard. Some people take the fact they are using creatine to put their muscles through a ridiculous workload, and when they experience DOMS and resulting cramps, blame the creatine.
The truth is, overtraining is overtraining, whether you are training without creatine, with creatine, with steroids, or steroids and creatine and every other supplement and/or performance enhancing drug under the sun.
Solution: If it’s cramps from dehydration, drink water. If it’s cramps from DOMS, you are overtraining.
Or in everyday terms: gut discomfort (i.e. infrequent bowel movements, constipation, diarrhoea, etc.)
Probably the most common of all reported creatine side effects is this one, to some degree or other. Some people just can’t tolerate creatine at all. Some are ok with some doses, and some are just fine no matter what. Some people naturally have a flimsy gastrointestinal setup and suffer with IBS and other complaints from below. Creatine may impact these people more, but, that’s mere speculation. Everyone is different.
You have to try it to find out how you react, end of story.
Solution: It’s worth noting that most of those who complain of issues are using a higher dose to ‘load’ (increase their creatine levels quicker). Loading is not absolutely necessary – it just saturates the muscles with creatine a little quicker – so if you experience issues when loading, simply skip a the load and take regular doses and that should help to some degree.
As you can see, creatine side effects really are minor, experienced by few, and, completely reversible upon suspending usage of creatine. I hope this article has been helpful to you, and I hope you give this excellent supplement a chance.
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