Worrying about it before taking any supplement or medicine is okay. Knowing and checking every possible side effect before taking any supplement, especially creatine, is best.
That brings us to the question of the day, does creatine dehydrate you?
Creatine does not dehydrate you. Instead, creatine improves the absorption of electrolytes, which are essential for proper hydration. A three years long study has proven creatine keeps athletes more hydrated. Of Course, lack of fluid intake might cause muscle cramps due to water retention.
Throughout the article, I will be describing if it’s a myth that Creatine dehydrates you or not. Let’s get started.
Is Dehydration a Myth or Reality with Creatine Use? A Case Study
Are you familiar with “ altering the body’s stored water” or “driving water into body cells”? Creatine exactly does that.
The funny thing is the water altering within our body is often considered dehydration. There was a 3-year study on college athletes to prove that wrong. They participated in the 1998-2000 football seasons.
Few were selected to take creatine-containing supplements, and a few were to take non-creatine-containing supplements. They were taken through some pre-programmed workouts or practices. These practices were the same for everyone.
This study has shown that the athletes who took the creatine-containing supplements were more secure from dehydration or injury, or missing training sessions. Instead, those not given these supplements couldn’t attend the training session.
Their training sessions were done when the temperature was 8-40 degrees C (mean 24.7 +/- 9 degrees C) and 19-98% relative humidity (49.3 +/- 17%). This was the perfect environment to cause dehydration, cramping, and other injuries.
But the athletes consuming this supplement were less prone to this situation. To be exact, it was 60% less.
Bottomline, Creatine supplementation does not increase the incidence of dehydration or cramping.
Is there any way dehydration can happen?
The studies show it doesn’t risk us to have any dehydration. But a few short-term experiments show dehydration can occur if improper procedures are not followed.
Should you drink more water when taking creatine?
When your body weight increases, your muscle tissue retains water. That can lead to muscle cramping. To avoid that, you have to drink enough water.
When taking creatine supplements, you must increase your daily water intake to at least 8-10 cups and the recommended 6-8 cups for proper hydration during exercise.
What happens if you don t drink enough water while on creatine?
However, while maintaining this, water intake can sometimes increase. If you drink more than the recommended amount, there is a high chance your body might take that extra water out.
Due to insufficient fluids, your body may pull water from other sources to meet its needs. That leads to dehydration and painful muscle cramps.
Other Foods That Might Trigger Dehydration
Being an athlete is totally about maintaining a proper diet. Pay attention to your diet and avoid foods that might trigger dehydration when taking creatine regularly. Here are some common foods that might trigger dehydration.
Consuming foods high in salt can lead to water retention and dehydration. While taking creatine regularly, your muscles naturally retain water. On top of that, if you’re not drinking enough fluids, the salt might get out of balance.
Spicy foods generally increase sweating. Your body uses extra fluids to cool your body down. That leads to dehydration if you’re not adequately hydrated. Again, if you drink too much fluid to cope with the spiciness, your body may take out extra water as waste.
Diets high in protein can increase urine output and lead to dehydration if you’re not drinking enough fluids to balance it out while on creatine. The consumption of dietary protein leads to an increase in serum creatinine levels, not due to decreased clearance but rather as a result of protein catabolism.
The Benefits of Creatine for Hydration
There are concerns about the impact on hydration. However, creatine can have many benefits for fluid balance in your body. Research has shown that creatine supplementation can help to increase total body water.
This benefits athletes and fitness enthusiasts who must maintain optimal hydration levels during training and competition. Creatine can also help to improve the efficiency of the body’s water-regulating mechanisms. That prevents dehydration.
Additionally, creatine has been shown to improve the absorption of electrolytes, which are essential for proper hydration. While using creatine, it is crucial to drink plenty of fluids to maintain adequate hydration levels.
How Can You Have It Safely?
Creatine is excellent and safe for you if you can consume it safely. You must keep a few “do’s and don’ts” in mind. Let’s check it out;
You can do it following the “Creatine Loading” method. You must take high doses of creatine for 5–7 days before moving on to lower doses. This is considered the quickest way to have the benefits of creatine.
If you are used to taking both plant and animal as your regular diet, you must take 4 to 5 grams (g) of creatine daily. That way, your muscle can store 60%–80% creatine.
After the loading phase, you can lower the dose from 3–5 g daily. You can also maintain this lower dose creatine intake from the top. The only difference is this it might take a bit longer, typically 28 days, to experience the same benefits. But it will keep your creatine-consuming consistency.
You might need to increase the load if you have a greater muscle mass.
Mixing Creatine Safely
You might find creatine a flavorless drink. I, myself, haven’t figured out what exactly creatine tastes like. So I prefer to take it with BCAA or mix it with a protein shake.
But there are some restrictions on drinks you must follow. I guess caffeine is at the top of this. Having them mixed can lead to an increased risk of dehydration. Worsened sleep might come as a bonus.
Next comes Alcohol. It’s just making the situation worse. Alcohol substances increase the risk of stroke. If you’re lucky, you will only be experiencing dehydration with an upset stomach.
Can dehydration affect the effectiveness of creatine?
Yes, dehydration can affect the effectiveness of creatine as it can lead to decreased muscle performance and reduced creatine uptake into the muscles. It’s essential to stay hydrated when taking creatine to maximize its benefits.
Can I take creatine if I have high blood pressure?
Creatine supplementation has been shown to have a minor effect on blood pressure in some individuals. So those with high blood pressure should consult their healthcare provider before taking creatine supplements.
Creatine is a great way to give your muscles the strength to go through extreme exercises and punishment to be fit.
You will only face any kind of dehydration only when you don’t let yourself have enough fluid when you are on creatine. Creatine helps to give your muscles a good profile. For that, it needs to retain enough water from the body.
So follow the simple rule of rehydrating yourself daily. And don’t forget to check our website for the latest creatine updates.
I am a health and wellness enthusiast working in a Pittsburgh-based wellness clinic. My primary role as a consultant is to tailor a balanced lifestyle for my patients, where positive steps and potent supplements play a synergistic role.