Creatine is a popular sports supplement that is often used by bodybuilders and athletes to improve their performance. It is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body and is also found in food sources such as meat and fish.
Creatine can cause some people to experience gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea, bloating, and constipation. If you are considering taking creatine, then you should be aware of these potential side effects.
Creatine is thought to be safe for most people. There are some side effects of creatine that have been reported, one of the most common side effects is constipation. In this article, we will take a look at the science behind it to answer your question – does creatine cause constipation? Keep Reading.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a natural amino acid that helps to provide energy to muscles in the body. It is produced by the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and is also found in food sources such as red meat and fish.
Creatine is used by athletes for its potential to improve physical performance and gain muscle mass [1, 2]. It is one of the most popular sports supplements on the market and is widely used among professional athletes, bodybuilders, and others.
Does Creatine Cause Constipation?
While constipation is not a common side effect of creatine supplementation, some individuals may experience digestive discomfort or changes in bowel movements after taking creatine. It can often be managed with simple dietary and lifestyle changes, staying adequately hydrated and increasing fiber intake can help prevent constipation while taking creatine.
Research has shown that creatine is safe and well-tolerated in humans [1, 2]. However, some people may experience side effects when taking creatine supplements, including constipation. Although this is a rare side effect, it is important to be aware of the possibility.
Constipation occurs when the stool becomes hard and difficult to pass, and this is usually caused by a lack of fiber or water in the diet. Research has shown that creatine can cause water retention in the body [3, 4], and it can pull water from other parts of the body which can cause some stomach problems like bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
If you are dehydrated then creatine is most likely to pull water from other parts of the body resulting in constipation. That’s why we always recommend drinking more water when you are on creatine supplementation.
Another reason why you could encounter creatine constipation or diarrhea is taking high doses of creatine . Not only constipation but taking higher doses of creatine supplements can cause many other unwanted side effects as well.
However, most people who have experienced creatine-related stomach issues have shared that they had suffered diarrhea more often. This indicates that creatine constipation is rare but, creatine can still cause constipation and it is one of the side effects that should not be taken lightly.
Does Creatine Cause Bloating And Constipation?
Creatine is known to increase water retention in the body, meaning it can pull water from other parts of the body which can cause bloating and abdominal cramps.
This can lead to constipation and bloating as the digestion process is slowed down, leading to the buildup of waste in the intestines. The breakdown of the food is also slowed down.
Additionally, you need to make sure to consume creatine in controlled doses.
Bloating happens when your stomach is excessively full. It occurs when the organs of our digestive system are unduly stretched. Bloating can also happen along with some other stomach problems like constipation and diarrhea.
This can all lead to constipation and bloating, which is a common complaint amongst creatine users.
Ways to Avoid And Treat Creatine Constipation
If you are concerned about the potential ways to avoid constipation when taking a creatine supplement, then here are some ways to reduce your risk.
Make sure to stay hydrated, you can do so by drinking plenty of fluid throughout the day. Staying hydrated reduces the risk of constipation as it prevents dehydration. Evidence suggests that dehydration is most of the time found to be the culprit behind constipation .
It is recommended to increase your daily water intake. According to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a good daily intake of fluid for men is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters), and for women is about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters).
Drinking enough water and staying hydrated not only helps cure constipation but also helps with your various health and fitness goals. Staying hydrated will help you to stay healthy overall and also help you with muscle building.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Make sure to include plenty of dietary fiber in your diet. Eating a balanced diet helps to reduce constipation as it provides nutrients to your body and can help in loosening and softening the stool, which can increase the frequency of stool [7, 8]. Increasing your fiber intake can also help you with weight loss [9, 10].
Increasing your fiber intake not just aids with constipation and weight loss but can provide many other benefits as well like lower cholesterol levels, helping in managing blood glucose levels, and maintaining bowel health.
There are mainly two types of dietary fibers – Insoluble and Soluble Fibers. It’s important to consume both insoluble and soluble fibers to help with constipation.
Lower Your Doses
Most of the time, if experiencing side effects caused by creatine then lowering your doses works out. If you are experiencing constipation caused by creatine supplementation lowering your doses is a sensible choice.
You can avoid most of the side effects of creatine by not overdosing on it. Overdosing on any supplement can have harsh effects on your body.
Timing of Taking Creatine
When you take creatine can also affect how your body reacts to it. For example, taking creatine on an empty stomach is generally not recommended. The timing of taking creatine supplements can be really important.
You can take creatine before working out either alone or even with pre workout, after working out and you can even divide the dosage throughout the day. Just make sure to not take it on an empty stomach if you are prone to stomach issues.
Drinking caffeinated coffee has been shown to help with constipation. Caffeine included in coffee is a stimulant that can help you to stimulate your bowel, which is then helpful for constipation.
A 1988 study states that caffeinated coffee can stimulate the bowel the same way as a meal, 60 percent stronger than water and 23 percent stronger than decaffeinated coffee .
Thus, if you are struggling with constipation having a good cup of caffeinated coffee could help.
Other Side Effects of Creatine
Aside from constipation, creatine supplements can also cause some other side effects. As mentioned, creatine can make you poop more (diarrhea) in some rare cases. It can also cause other conditions like nausea, cramping, and diarrhea.
Some people may also experience an increase in blood pressure, so if you are hypertensive it is important to talk to your doctor before taking creatine.
Creatine can cause dehydration, so it is important to drink plenty of water when using this supplement. It can also cause weight gain due to increased water retention in the muscles.
There is also evidence to suggest that creatine can cause kidney and liver damage if taken in large doses , so if you have any pre-existing kidney or liver problems then it is advised to talk to a healthcare professional before taking the supplement.
Benefits of creatine
Creatine is a widespread supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Creatine supplementation has been shown to have numerous benefits, here are some of the benefits of creatine supplements.
- Improved athletic performance: Creatine supplementation has been shown to increase strength, power, and endurance, making it a popular choice among athletes.
- Increased muscle mass: Creatine can help increase muscle mass by promoting muscle growth and reducing muscle breakdown.
- Improved brain function: Creatine has been shown to improve cognitive function, memory, and mental performance, particularly in vegetarians and vegans who consume lower levels of creatine.
- Reduced fatigue: Creatine can help reduce fatigue and improve recovery time, making it ideal for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who engage in intense workouts.
It can also provide some further benefits like enhancing post-workout recovery, improving overall strength, and lowering blood sugar levels.
Creatine is a popular sports and fitness supplement that is used to improve physical performance. While it is generally safe and well tolerated, some people may experience side effects including constipation. The two main reasons creatine can cause constipation includes dehydration and overdosing.
Creatine can pull water from other parts of the body and if you are dehydrated it can lead to constipation. Moreover, overdosing on creatine can also cause constipation, not only it but overdosing on creatine supplements can also cause some other gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea, bloating, etc.
To reduce your risk of constipation, make sure to stay hydrated, include plenty of fiber in your diet, lower your doses, do not take creatine on an empty stomach, and try caffeinated coffee. If you experience discomfort for a longer period of time, then you can stop taking creatine supplements and talk to your doctor.
More Creatine Guides
- Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jul 20;9(1):33. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-33. PMID: 22817979; PMCID: PMC3407788.
- Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
- Powers ME, Arnold BL, Weltman AL, Perrin DH, Mistry D, Kahler DM, Kraemer W, Volek J. Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution. J Athl Train. 2003 Mar;38(1):44-50. PMID: 12937471; PMCID: PMC155510.
- Antonio, J., Candow, D.G., Forbes, S.C. et al. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 18, 13 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w
- Ostojic SM, Ahmetovic Z. Gastrointestinal distress after creatine supplementation in athletes: are side effects dose dependent? Res Sports Med. 2008;16(1):15-22. doi: 10.1080/15438620701693280. PMID: 18373286.
- Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug;68(8):439-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x. PMID: 20646222; PMCID: PMC2908954.
- Anti M, Pignataro G, Armuzzi A, Valenti A, Iascone E, Marmo R, Lamazza A, Pretaroli AR, Pace V, Leo P, Castelli A, Gasbarrini G. Water supplementation enhances the effect of high-fiber diet on stool frequency and laxative consumption in adult patients with functional constipation. Hepatogastroenterology. 1998 May-Jun;45(21):727-32. PMID: 9684123.
- Yang J, Wang HP, Zhou L, Xu CF. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Dec 28;18(48):7378-83. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i48.7378. PMID: 23326148; PMCID: PMC3544045.
- Miketinas DC, Bray GA, Beyl RA, Ryan DH, Sacks FM, Champagne CM. Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. J Nutr. 2019 Oct 1;149(10):1742-1748. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz117. PMID: 31174214; PMCID: PMC6768815.
- Slavin JL. Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition. 2005 Mar;21(3):411-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2004.08.018. PMID: 15797686.
- Rao SS, Welcher K, Zimmerman B, Stumbo P. Is coffee a colonic stimulant? Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1998 Feb;10(2):113-8. doi: 10.1097/00042737-199802000-00003. PMID: 9581985.
- Souza RA, Miranda H, Xavier M, Lazo-Osorio RA, Gouvea HA, Cogo JC, Vieira RP, Ribeiro W. Effects of high-dose creatine supplementation on kidney and liver responses in sedentary and exercised rats. J Sports Sci Med. 2009 Dec 1;8(4):672-81. PMID: 24149610; PMCID: PMC3761536.
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