“Too much of anything is bad.”- That goes for creatine as well.
You’ll barely find athletes and fitness enthusiasts who don’t take creatine to increase muscle strength, power, and endurance. But it’s also vital for you to understand the potential risks that come with it.
Creatine is safe to intake as long as you maintain a proper dose. How much you should take is based on your age, exercise routine, weight, health condition, etc. But what happens if you take too much creatine?
If you overdose on creatine for the day, there’s nothing to fear. You may only experience a slight stomach ache. But if you keep overdosing with creatine regularly, you might face several side effects – muscle cramps, dehydration, upset liver & kidneys, possible hair loss, stomach discomfort, etc.
This article will discuss the potential side effects of taking too much creatine, the recommended dosage, and any potential benefits. So let’s get started.
What Happens If You Take Too Much Creatine?
Nothing severe will happen if you take too much creatine for a day. You may or may not notice a slight stomach ache. However, you face severe consequences if you continue overdosing on creatine daily. Overdosing on creatine can lead to several health issues, like stomach discomfort, bloating, muscle cramps, dehydration, kidney and liver issues, dry mouth, etc.
Taking creatine can improve your muscle energy, strength, and athletic performance by up to 15%. Overdosing on creatine will not benefit extra here. In fact, your body will discharge that extra creatine through urination, wasting your effort and money.
The recommended dose of 3-5 grams of creatine daily is enough to get that extra energy in your muscle. You don’t need to take too much creatine as it will not provide any extra benefit except for some unwanted side effects.
Creatine Overdose Side Effects!
Overdosing creatine for a long time can lead to several side effects.
Muscle Cramp And Dehydration
Taking too much creatine can potentially cause dehydration and muscle cramping if you neglect proper hydration. Several studies have shown that creatine does not increase the risk of dehydration. However, short-term experiments have shown that dehydration can occur if insufficient water intake.
When taking creatine supplements, increasing your daily water intake to at least 8-10 cups for proper hydration during exercise is important. However, excessive water intake can also lead to dehydration if the body takes it out as waste.
Therefore, it’s essential to stick to the recommended dosage guidelines. For that, consulting with a healthcare provider is prudent. By following proper procedures and staying within the recommended dosage, you can safely enjoy the potential benefits of creatine supplementation without risking dehydration or other negative side effects.
Too much creatine at once will surely result in stomach discomfort. You might face manifesting as nausea, diarrhea, or stomach cramps. There was one research on 59 top-level male soccer players. They all consumed 10 grams of creatine in a single serving daily for 28 days.
And guess what – they all experienced diarrhea, stomach upset, and belching. On the other hand, athletes who consumed a 2–5-gram single dose did not report any such discomfort.
Learn more about creatine and bloating.
Upset Liver & Kidneys
In some cases, taking high doses of creatine can lead to liver and kidney damage. Breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, also known as (Rhabdomyolysis) and sudden kidney failure was reported in the case of an athlete who consumed more than 10 grams of creatine for 6 weeks.
However, individuals with pre-existing kidney or liver conditions might suffer more. I would always recommend talking to your doctor before taking creatine.
Possible Hair Loss
There is an evident report of hair loss after taking creatine, especially during loading. It is more common among men than women. The main culprit is the excess DHT caused by creatine intake.
Hair growth phases have their resting phase. Hair tends to fall after those phases. It’s called the hair follicles’ life cycle. DHT can lead to briefer hair growth cycles, which leads to thinner and shorter hair.
One research on college-age rugby players in 2009 showed that the concentration of DHT increased by 56% after 7 days of creatine loading. However, more research is needed as the mentioned research was not solely intended to research hair fall due to consuming creatine.
The Recommended Creatine Dose
Creatine can and will vary according to the age, type, and intensity of exercise you are going through. A daily dose of 5 grams of creatine is sufficient for most people to achieve the desired benefits. To make it sound easier, let’s say you should consume 0.3 grams per kilogram of your body weight.
If you are engaging in high-intensity, short-duration activities such as weightlifting or sprinting, you may benefit from a loading phase in which you take 20 grams of creatine daily for the first 5-7 days, followed by a maintenance phase in which you take 5 grams per day.
For endurance athletes, such as long-distance runners or cyclists, a lower daily dose of 2-3 grams of creatine may be more appropriate to support performance and recovery. It is quite difficult to directly compare the efficacy of creatine between age groups due to different consuming techniques.
Are There Any Benefits or Only Side-effects?
The benefits of creatine intake are countless. Here are a few well-known benefits of creatine consumption.
- Muscle strength and power: Creatine supplementation can help increase muscle strength and power, which can improve athletic performance and help with activities of daily living.
- Muscle recovery: Creatine may also help improve muscle recovery after exercise by reducing muscle damage and inflammation.
- Muscle mass: Creatine supplementation can increase muscle mass, benefiting athletes and individuals looking to improve their body composition.
- Better brain function: Creatine has been shown to have neuroprotective effects and may also improve cognitive function, particularly in older adults.
- Reduced fatigue: Creatine may help reduce feelings of fatigue during exercise, allowing individuals to work out for longer periods.
- Improved bone health: Some research suggests that creatine supplementation may help improve bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Proper Hydration: creatine can benefit fluid balance in your body. Research has shown that creatine supplementation can help to increase total body water,
Click to learn about creatine’s pros and cons.
How much is too much creatine a day?
With the potential for creatine to cause uncomfortable side effects at high doses, you may be concerned about taking too much of the supplement. Taking in high amounts of creatine (more than 25 grams per day) is more likely to cause side effects like bloating and gastrointestinal distress.
When should I take creatine?
You can take creatine at any time of the day. But some research suggests that taking it immediately before or after exercise may be more effective for improving performance and muscle recovery.
I remember when my friend suffered from serious diarrhea after he consumed too much creatine. After two weeks, he was seeing better results and thought consuming a higher dose would not be a problem. But he was wrong.
It’s a supplement, and its function is similar to any medicine that has been prescribed. Taking too much creatine will only worsen if you are not required to take it. So, now that you know what happens if you take too much creatine, follow the proper procedure and the necessary dose to enjoy and see the promised result.
For more information about creatine and other supplements, explore our blogs.
I started my professional career as a sports medicine consultant in Rola, Missouri. My primary role was to suggest suitable supplements for my patients according to their pre-existing conditions and lifestyle goals. I believe a healthy lifestyle is the most important if you want to make your life really meaningfull.