I received a couple of great questions recently on creatine supplements and potential side effects of creatine that I’d like to cover in a bit more detail in this article:
Question on potential side effects of creatine:
‘Why does creatine make you thirsty? Also, why does it make you really angry?!’
My fairly brief answers were:
Re making him thirsty:
‘In a nutshell, it allows your muscles to absorb a lot more water and nutrients, so you need to drink a lot more water when on a creatine cycle. At the very minimum, a couple of litres per day’.
Re making him angry:
‘It could be the increased conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT); or it could be a shift in neurotransmitter balance towards dopamine; or it could be something else entirely. Everyone’s slightly different’.
So, is creatine bad for everyone?
In short, no! Creatine monohydrate is a supplement that I’d recommend to almost everyone, be they man or woman.
Despite making a small number of people angry, creatine monohydrate improves the majority of people’s moods.
In fact, 5 grams of creatine has recently been shown to improve the effectiveness of anti-depressant medication for women:
Hormonal/ neurotransmitter effects:
Creatine has been shown to naturally raise levels of the active form of testosterone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) and to slightly lower estrogen, cortisol and prolactin levels. It also slightly increases dopamine and correspondingly decreases serotonin.
The above is a good thing for most people and goes a long way to explaining why creatine is generally energising and mood boosting.
However, if you naturally have high DHT (as young men should), further increased DHT could make you experience side effects of creatine such as feeling slightly angry and a little more aggressive.
Similarly, if you have low brain serotonin and/or gaba levels, creatine boosting your dopamine levels may not enhance your mood and could indeed worsen it.
In addition to the above, if you have adrenal problems and are struggling with low cortisol levels, creatine lowering your cortisol levels even further may end up making feel slightly more tired than usual.
Again, please note that this slight cortisol lowering effect will be of benefit to the majority of people and will make them feel more relaxed and happier.
Side note: How to boost cortisol if your levels are low?
I’m not going to go into detail here but two effective ways for people to boost their cortisol levels are to:
– Eat more high potassium foods. Marginal potassium deficiency may be a wide-spread cause of people experiencing low cortisol.
– Get early morning sunlight exposure each day or use a dawn simulator/ SAD light upon waking. Early morning light hitting your eyes triggers an appropriate spike in cortisol that helps to get you going for the day.
(Email me if you would like further information.).
Generally, Creatine monohydrate is a supplement that I highly recommend that you try out. It improves training performance, makes it easier to gain muscle and lose fat and also enhances most people’s moods. Most people do not experienced these discussed possible side effects of creatine.
But if it doesn’t work for you, don’t blindly persevere and keep taking it! No one supplement works for everyone!
Dehydration can make you angry and depressed so make sure to drink at least 2 liters of water per day whilst taking creatine (some people need even more).
If you’ve upped your water intake but are still experiencing side effects of creatine, try Kre-Alkalyn. This modified version of creatine tends not to cause side effects of creatine such as water retention and bloating that certain people find that regular creatine monohydrate does.
If you still feel bad on creatine, STOP TAKING IT! Creatine’s a great supplement but it’s still possible to make solid gains in the gym without using it.
Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post or by contacting me here:
Click below to read more on which are the best supplements to take to build muscle, burn off body-fat and feel great.
All the best,
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