Inside Fitness Special Report -



Creatine is one of the most popular and widely researched nutritional ergogenic aids available to athletes (and the general public) today. A staple for competitive weightlifters and powerlifters, creatine is also widely consumed in supplemental form by fitness athletes and those who train at a more recreational level.

The widespread usage of creatine came into vogue in the mid-1990s, but its continued lasting power – not to mention all the athletes and other individuals who rely on it daily – is testimony to its safety and effectiveness.

Sport studies show repeatedly that supplemental creatine:

  • Increases intramuscular creatine concentrations
  • Improves exercise performance
  • Improves training adaptations
  • Enhances post-exercise recovery
  • Helps prevent injuries
  • Influences thermoregulation
  • Protects against concussive injuries
  • Provides spinal cord neuroprotection[1]

Outside of sport, creatine supplementation has also been studied extensively for its therapeutic use in neurodegenerative diseases such as Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), Huntington’s, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, creatine has been indicated in the treatment of diabetes, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, aging, brain and heart ischemia, stroke, cystic fibrosis and adolescent depression.[1, 2, 3]

In spite of this wealth of research supporting the safety, effectiveness and versatility of creatine, many current users (and would-be users) still harbour skepticism about creatine usage, or subscribe to certain popular myths which have been debunked by the scientific community repeatedly.

10 of the most widespread myths surrounding creatine can be shattered thus:

Myth #1: Creatine is an anabolic steroid
False. Creatine and anabolic steroids are completely different in terms of their chemical structure and function. Creatine is also legal, whereas anabolic steroids are not. According to the journal American Family Physician, anabolic steroids “have life-threatening adverse effects” while creatine is one of many safe supplements “shown to enhance performance in certain contexts and have few adverse effects”.[4]

Myth #2: Creatine leads to water retention
This was one of the most common concerns about creatine use in its early days as a leading supplement. Although creatine increases your strength by drawing water into your muscle cells, recent research demonstrates that it does not influence total body water (inside or outside your cells). It can therefore be concluded that supplementation is not likely to cause water retention at the standard recommended safe dosages.

Myth #3: Creatine leads to dehydration and muscle cramping
The notion behind this was simply comprised of an assumption that because creatine affects water location, it must make you dehydrated – this is false. In a three-year study published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, NCAA football players consumed creatine regularly and the results demonstrated that creatine was not responsible for any dehydration, cramping or injury.[5]

Myth #4: Creatine causes kidney damage/renal dysfunction
Your kidneys play a vital role in the processing of fluids including creatine. Supplementation of creatine necessitates the consuming of additional water, so naturally your kidneys are involved. However, at recommended dosages, both controlled and experimental research demonstrates that creatine is not responsible for kidney damage nor renal dysfunction in healthy people.

Myth #5: A “loading phase” is required
In the early days of widespread creatine supplementation, consumers were advised to take five servings of five grams of creatine monohydrate for five days. This would “load” your body to a preferred level, after which a daily “maintenance” dose of five grams was all that was required. However, recent studies have shown that you do not have to “load” creatine. In a report from the Journal of Applied Physiology, subjects who consumed just three grams of creatine for 28 days showed similar increases in muscle total creatine concentration as those who “loaded” with 20 grams daily.[6] Daily non-loading doses of creatine have proved effective for muscle growth, strength, endurance and recovery.

Myth #6: Creatine is harmful to children and adolescents
Certain pharmaceuticals are more suitably prescribed to adults, while being restricted in application for children and adolescents. Creatine does not fall into this category. The limited research available on this matter shows that supplementation with creatine appears safe (and possibly beneficial) to the younger age cohort.

Myth #7: Creatine causes hair loss/baldness
The scientific consensus regarding this issue reveals a myth. Creatine is widely shown not to affect hair loss/baldness, nor does it affect total and free testosterone (which do influence hair loss). In a recent study, creatine was found not to alter hormonal response (testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone) to resistance training in the short-term.[7]

Myth #8: Creatine increases fat stores
Creatine supplementation is simply not responsible for increases in the volume of fat cells. Investigations have shown this fact to be substantial throughout many different demographic representations.

Myth #9: Creatine is only for resistance/strength activities
There are a variety of athletic events (not exclusive to resistance/strength activities) which may benefit from creatine supplementation. Studies have shown that runners have benefited from improved performance thanks to creatine. Supplementation has also been significant for vegetarians, who typically have low creatine stores.[8]

Myth #10: Creatine is effective for males only
False. Females benefit significantly from creatine consumption as well. Studies have shown that women can make use of creatine for a variety of activities and health conditions. According to the journal Nutrients, while there has been less research on creatine for female consumption than male, the results indicate safe increases in athletic performance for women too.[9]

Important Note

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a kidney disease/disorder, consult a medical practitioner/provider prior to use.


[1] Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, et al. Position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:18.

[2] Smith RN, Agharkar AS, Gonzales EB. A review of creatine supplementation in age-related diseases: more than a supplement for athletes. F1000Res. 2014;3:222.

[3] Braegger CP, Schlattner U, Wallimann T, et al. Effects of creatine supplementation in cystic fibrosis: results of a pilot study. J Cyst Fibros. 2003;2(4):177-182.

[4] Jenkinson DM and Harbert AJ. Supplements and sports. Am Fam Physician. 2008;78(9):1039-1046.

[5] Greenwood M, Kreider RB, Melton C et al. Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):83-8.

[6] Hultman E, Soderlund K, Timmons JA et al. Muscle creatine loading in men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1996 Jul;81(1):232-237.

[7] Eijnde BO and Hespel P. Short-term creatine supplementation does not alter the hormonal response to resistance training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2001 Mar;33(3): 449-453.

[8] Kaviani M, Shaw K and Chilibeck PD. Benefits of creatine supplementation for vegetarians compared to omnivorous athletes: a systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 Apr 27;17(9): 3041.

[9] Smith-Ryan AE, Cabre HE, Eckerson JM et al. Creatine supplementation in women’s health: a lifespan perspective. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 8; 13(3): 877.

CreatineIfmMythbustingMythsPvlSpecial reportTruth

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published