Last updated on November 1st, 2022 at 04:00 pm
Who else wants to know, “Why Does Creatine Make Me Feel Sick?”
Creatine is probably one of the most used supplements out there.
We know that it typically helps the muscles to recover more quickly.
And this of course can lead to improved strength and increased lean muscle mass.
However, many of us tend to feel sick whenever we take creatine.
So, what exactly is going on here?
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Why Does Creatine Make Me Feel Sick?
There are various reasons why creatine may make you feel sick. Firstly, creatine draws water into the muscles’ cells, so you need to ensure that you’re drinking enough water. Secondly, many people choose to mix creatine with some type of juice, which may give you an initial spike in sugars, and the nauseous feeling you have is “coming down” from your sugar high. In reality, it’s best to take creatine monohydrate with a drink or meal that contains insulinogenic ingredients. You should also consider whether you’re ingesting too much creatine and whether you really need to front load your intake.
1. Are You Drinking Enough Water?
You’ll hear people stating that creatine causes dehydration.
And the reason you’re feeling sick and nauseous is because you are dehydrated.
Now, this isn’t strictly true.
In fact, I would go as far to say that creatine actually protects against dehydration, and even muscle cramping.
I think where the confusion lies is because of how creatine works.
Creatine actually draws water from the body into the cells, and it is this process that helps to build up muscle.
The muscles in turn will hold onto this water.
This is actually why you may feel bloated or look puffy after taking creatine.
And I’m sure many people have felt that any weight gain they have achieved is purely water weight.
You may even have noticed that your muscles almost immediately appear bigger, even though you’ve just started taking creatine.
All of this occurs because creatine is pulling in water towards the muscles.
With that being said, the main purpose of creatine is to provide the body with more energy.
And this can of course promote muscle growth and lead to weight loss.
So, if creatine is making use of water to help you achieve your body composition goals, then it makes perfect sense that you should supply the body with more water.
Creatine actually improves cell hydration, so you can’t exactly accuse it of causing dehydration.
However, you need to ensure that you’re taking on plenty of fluids, especially water, to allow creatine to do its job effectively.
And if you don’t drink enough water, you may well “feel dehydrated” and sick.
2. What Are You Mixing Your Creatine With?
Let’s face facts, creatine isn’t exactly the most wonderful tasting ingredient.
And depending on the variety you choose to consume, it can actually taste pretty disgusting.
So, more often than not, you may take creatine with a liquid to mask the taste.
Plus, the vast majority of creatine manufacturers will even state that you can take creatine with juice.
I know of many people who have consumed creatine with orange juice, apple juice, or even Gatorade.
This is all well-and-good in terms of taste, but it could also be what’s making you feel sick.
And it may even impact the effectiveness of your workout.
This is especially true if you choose to take creatine, mixed with juice or an isotonic drink, prior to your workout.
Basically, what is happening here is that you are literally going through a sugar rush, immediately followed by a drop in blood sugar levels.
This typically occurs mid-workout, and no doubt leaves you feeling lethargic and sick.
There has been an on-going debate about when you should take creatine, i.e. before or after your workout.
So, in reality, even if you mix creatine with juice, you probably wouldn’t feel quite as nauseous if you consumed this after your workout.
You’re no longer exerting a lot of effort and the body is at rest.
I don’t really wish to get involved in the “creatine – before or after a workout” debate.
In my mind there is no conclusive proof that one way is better than the other.
In fact, there are equally as many scientific studies supporting both corners.
For me, it always comes down to taking creatine whenever it feels best for you.
However, what I will say is that it’s best to consume creatine mixed with insulinogenic ingredients.
By this I mean either ingredients that stabilize your blood sugar levels or have no impact on it at all.
I have always taken creatine with water.
I either do this simply by mixing it with water, or adding it to my protein shake, which I once again mix with water.
Granted, it may taste awful just with water, and it may even make my protein shake taste chalky.
But, creatine is certainly one ingredient I’m not overly bothered about “tasting good”.
I am not taking it for pleasure, but simply due to the effect it has on muscle growth and recovery.
8 Questions About Creatine Answered
3. Do You Really Need to Load Creatine?
You’ll generally be told that you need to go through a loading phase when you first start taking creatine.
This is usually to acclimatize your muscles to the effects of creatine.
However, in truth, you don’t really need to load creatine at all.
Many people are convinced that they get an immediate benefit from taking creatine.
However, I believe this is simply the placebo effect.
It takes a while for creatine to filter through to the muscles, which is typically why you’re told to front load it.
With that being said, I see nothing wrong with just sticking to the standard dose of 5g a day from the very start.
Okay, it may take longer for creatine to “take effect” without the loading phase, but this could also ensure that you don’t have to go through the “feeling sick” stage either.
So, just take steady doses from the very beginning for an extended period and the muscles will eventually become “saturated”.
4. Are You Taking Too Much Creatine?
This leads on nicely from what I’ve just mentioned.
Many of us are of the thinking “more is better”.
In fact, some people apply this rule to everything in life.
However, this isn’t always true.
I would actually say that even when it comes to working out, more often than not, less is better.
Your body has adequate time to recover.
You’re not increasing your levels of cortisol by constantly stressing the body.
Plus, your muscles will probably react better to this.
And the same can be said for creatine.
Realistically, you probably don’t even need to be consuming 5g of creatine per day either.
I’m sure that 2-3g will suffice for most of us.
Basically, once creatine has started to do it’s thing, your muscles will react in the way they should.
So, if you are overdoing it on the creatine consumption this could well be why it makes you feel sick.
The most common reason that creatine makes you feel sick is because you’re not drinking enough water. Creatine draws water into the muscles, so once you start taking it you should increase your water intake to help the process along. Furthermore, you should be wary of what you’re mixing creatine with, and indeed how much of it you are consuming.
I’ve recently written about something that many of us never consider, namely why do you have to be 18 to buy creatine.
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.