Last updated on November 10th, 2022 at 05:25 pm
It’s one of the most commonly asked supplementation questions, “What Happens if You Don’t Drink Enough Water With Creatine?”
You’ll typically always hear a vast array of do’s and don’t about creatine.
But, one thing is for sure, you know you should definitely be drinking plenty of water.
However, it’s difficult to know whether you’re drinking enough water, and what can potentially happen if you don’t.
So, allow me to explain everything you need to know about creatine and water intake.
What Happens if You Don’t Drink Enough Water With Creatine?
If you don’t adjust your water intake in line with your creatine supplementation it can lead to an increased risk of dehydration. Creatine draws water from your blood and directs this into the muscle cells. This will increase the ATP energy in your muscles. However, this also means there is less water for the vital organs, the heart, brain, liver and kidneys, to function. So, in effect, if you are taking creatine you should increase your daily water intake accordingly.
1. Creatine and Dehydration
Creatine is one of the most commonly taken supplements.
But, it is also the one supplement that has a vast array of conflicting views when it comes to consumption.
This can stem from when you should take it, how much you should take, and of course how much water you should drink with creatine.
You’ll also likely hear about the effects of dehydration from creatine and the impact it can have on your kidneys (more on this in a moment).
You’ll hear so many horror stories that it’s a wonder that anyone ever takes creatine.
Okay, firstly I should state that creatine does not cause dehydration.
In fact, it almost does the opposite inside the body.
Creatine will draw water from the blood and literally flood the muscles.
This will increase ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which in turn releases energy into the muscle cells.
And it is this process that provides you with more energy, strength and power output in the gym.
However, as creatine is drawing water from within the body it makes sense that you should replace this “lost” water.
In effect, you still have plenty of water inside the body, but much of it is now being directed towards the muscles.
This means that water is being drawn away from other parts of the body.
And it is this that can cause an increased risk of dehydration.
So, it’s not the fact that you have less water in the body, it’s more that the water is being used for other purposes.
This can cause issues with the vital organs, i.e. heart, brain, liver, kidneys, which all require water to function.
2. Creatine and the Kidneys
There’s been a lot said over the years about creatine use and its effect on the kidneys.
However, just to set the record straight, creatine does not cause kidney damage.
With that being said, if you don’t take the necessary steps when supplementing with creatine then you may be at a higher risk of renal problems.
There are various studies that state that creatine use can worsen kidney dysfunction in people with kidney disorders.
But, this has more to do with the kidneys not functioning at optimum levels in order to rid the body (through urination) of the waste product of creatine, namely creatinine.
However, if you are healthy and your kidneys function perfectly normally, there is absolutely no evidence that creatine will cause any issues.
Nevertheless, this is yet another reason that you should increase your water intake when supplementing with creatine.
So, creatine is pulling water from the body to the muscles.
This ensures that your muscles are flooded with both water and creatine.
However, this will also create the waste product creatinine.
Creatinine will then travel to the kidneys and then needs to be excreted from the body through urination.
However, if you’re not taking on enough water, you will less likely need to pee.
Conversely, I have previously spoken about why creatine seems to make you pee so much.
This creates an excess of the waste product creatinine in the body, which is usually an indication that the kidneys aren’t doing their job properly.
So, once again, to help this overall process along it makes sense to consume more water than you were before you started supplementing with creatine.
3. Creatine and Caffeine
There has been a lot said and written about the effects of creatine and caffeine together.
Individually, they can both help to enhance athletic performance, typically because of their energy-boosting effects.
However, you’ll often hear that it’s a terrible idea to mix them.
So, in other words, no putting creatine in your pre-workout, coffee, or tea.
In truth, there is very little evidence to suggest that mixing creatine and caffeine will affect your athletic performance.
It is simply the fact that caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, but only if taken in excessive volumes.
Basically, if you drink a lot of caffeine you’ll have a greater need to pee.
If we take coffee as an example, you would need to drink 5 or more cups of coffee at once to have any type of significant dehydrating effect.
So, something like pre-workout has the caffeine equivalent of around 3 cups of coffee at most.
Therefore, you’re going to have to severely overdo the coffee, or pre-workout, before it starts having a dehydrating impact when mixed with creatine.
With that being said, yet again, it makes a great deal of sense to increase your water intake if you’re regularly consuming creatine and caffeine separately or together.
Should You Worry About Caffeine Dehydrating You?
4. How Much Water Should You Drink With Creatine?
Clearly if you’re taking creatine you need to increase your water intake.
So, how much water is enough?
As it turns out, how much water you should drink a day with or without creatine supplementation is very easy to calculate.
I’ll use an example of a 180lb person to explain.
Firstly, take your weight in pounds and then half this.
So, this gives us 90.
If you multiply this figure by 3 you’ll get the amount of centilitres required.
Therefore, 90 x 3 = 270.
Then to convert centilitres into litres simply divide by 100.
So, 270/100 = 2.7 litres.
This means that a 180lb person should consume 2.7 litres of water a day.
However, once you add creatine into the mix you will need to increase your water intake by 0.5 litres per 5g of creatine.
So, as the normal creatine maintenance supplementation is 5g a day, our 180lb person will need to consume an extra 0.5 litres of water, i.e. 3.2 litres in total.
Obviously, if you are taking less creatine or more creatine, i.e. less required for maintenance, more required during a loading phase, then readjust your water intake accordingly.
I hope you have a better idea of what happens if you don’t drink enough water with creatine.
In the main, there is an increased chance of dehydration.
This is caused by creatine taking water from the blood and directing it towards the muscles.
Therefore, you should increase your water intake in line with your creatine supplementation.
This will involve drinking an extra 0.5 litres of water for every 5g of creatine you take.
If you don’t take on extra water this means that there is less water available for your vital organs to function.
So, not only can this impact on your athletic performance, but it can also affect your overall health.
In other words, don’t take any chances, and make sure you increase your water intake if you are supplementing with creatine.
While I’m on the subject of water, I have recently discussed the interesting phenomenon of guys at the gym carrying gallons of water around with them.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.