Creatine Makes Me Feel Sick: Why & How To Fix?

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In the pursuit of increasing strength, muscle, and exercise performance with the support of creatine, some users have reported feeling sick; nausea, stomach discomfort, and even throwing up.  Here’s everything you need to know about why and how to fix it.

Key Takeaways

  • Creatine supplements rely on you mixing the correct dosage with the right liquids. If you’re feeling sick, one of these things is likely incorrectly applied when taking creatine.
  • You may also be taking other medications or supplements that, together with creatine, are making you feel sick. So, evaluating your complete supplement and medication routine with your doctor is essential.

Want to know all the known side effects of creatine? Check out our guide on Are There Risks of Taking Creatine?

Medical Disclaimer: The material presented in this article aims to offer informational insights. It should not be perceived as medical guidance. The views and writings are not designed for diagnosing, preventing, or treating health issues. Always consult with your physician prior to starting any new dietary or supplement routine.

5 Reasons Why You Feel Sick After Taking Creatine

5 reasons why you feel sick after taking creatine

Certain side effects can occur if you’re misusing creatine.   Here, I’ll explain why you might be sick using creatine and share some tips on how to help.

1. Excessive Creatine Consumption

Excessive creatine consumption has been shown to have an impact on your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, with an upset stomach and diarrhea being associated side effects of this. 

The same study found that dosing greater than 10 grams of creatine in a single-serve was more likely to impact your GI tract than if you were to split it into two 5g serves across a day. 

The general consensus seems such that if you’re overconsuming creatine, you are more likely to experience an unsettled feeling in your stomach, possibly nausea and also diarrhea.

Typically, overconsumption of creatine can occur in the loading phase that some creatine brands recommend. 

This is where a creatine provider suggests something like a 5-7 day loading phase of 20g of creatine per day (to build creatine saturation in the muscles) followed by a maintenance phase of 2-5g of creatine daily.

If you opt to follow this recommendation, you may feel sick.  However, as an option, you can split the loading amount in various servings throughout your day.

If that doesn’t help, it is important to know research has shown that this approach to creatine supplementation is also not necessary. 

Studies overwhelmingly suggest that creatine is best consumed within the recommended dosage ranges of 3-5g daily. Staying within these guidelines will still provide you with all the benefits of creatine supplementation. 

  • If you want to know exactly how much creatine to take for your body weight and goals, use our Creatine Calculator

2. Mixing Creatine With Sugars

Mixing creatine in things with high refined sugar content became popular because it was thought it would create an insulin spike, assist in absorption, and give a better pump. Mixing creatine in energy drinks and juices is a good example of this. 

That approach may make you sick because energy drinks and juices are examples of carbohydrates high in refined sugar, which means sugar is released quickly into the bloodstream following consumption. 

This creates an insulin spike, causing big shifts in your blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling sick. After a big sugar high, we have a comedown; a nauseous feeling is a possible indicator of this. 

Research has shown that ingesting carbohydrates with creatine can increase creatine retention. However, that doesn’t mean you need to reach for foods or drinks high in refined sugar as your pre-training carb, particularly if you feel unwell. 

A serving of creatine when eating a starchy or whole-grain pre-workout snack will serve you just as well.

You get the carbohydrate benefit, but you also get a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream – try a whole-grain piece of toast with peanut butter and see if you feel any better. And yes, you still get a great pump this way, too. 

3. Low Water Intake

When you supplement with creatine, you have more available energy in your muscles to help you push harder during your workouts or training sessions. 

As a result, you want to ensure you are hydrating appropriately to ensure enough water to moderate your body temperature when exercising. 

Failure to do so could cause dehydration, making you sick or lightheaded. 

The most effective way to combat this is to ensure you get enough water throughout your day and during your training. 

4. Electrolyte Imbalances

Our kidneys are critical in regulating fluid and electrolyte balance in our bodies and blood. 

We can experience an electrolyte imbalance if there is a decline in our kidney function. This can leave us feeling sick and will require medical intervention to both treat an electrolyte imbalance and diagnose why it has occurred. 

Creatine itself has not been shown to cause kidney disease or problems in healthy adults; however, if you’re using creatine and have an underlying medical issue impacting the renal system, you may be at risk of causing yourself harm. 

It is important to consult your doctor to discuss whether creatine is appropriate and safe for you to use. 

This is also connected to my next point.

5. Medications Interacting With Creatine

While creatine has been shown through studies to be a remarkably safe supplement that doesn’t cause kidney problems, where you are taking medication that impacts kidney or liver function, it is recommended you consult your doctor to ensure it is safe for you to be using creatine at the same time. 

This is important because taking creatine could put added pressure on your kidneys or liver, which may already be working hard or fighting illness. 

A medical professional is best placed to make a judgment around this. 

Are Certain Creatine Brands Better Than Others For Not Getting Sick?

Several creatine supplements are available for people, so knowing which ones are better than others can be a challenge, especially because fancy marketing is distracting. 

Creatine monohydrate is the safest, most well-studied, and readily available creatine supplement on the market, so that is the best place to start. 

You might come across other available types of creatine, combining creatine with other popular supplements like BCAAs, magnesium, sodium varieties or protein. 

However, if you haven’t tried creatine or you have stomach sensitivities, keep it simple in the first instance and go with a pure creatine monohydrate supplement. 

what should you do to avoid getting sick taking creatine

In terms of what creatine brand is best when considering whether or not it is going to make you sick, focus less on the brand and instead consider the following:

  • The ingredients panel – you want your creatine to have one ingredient – creatine – or better yet, what you’re looking for on the ingredient panel is ‘creatine monohydrate.’ 
  • Flavor – it is also best to start with something unflavoured because your creatine supplement will be less likely to have flavor additives or sugars that could cause stomach discomfort.
  • NSF certification guarantees that a trusted independent organization has tested a product and will be free from harmful contaminants and substances that are banned for athletes competing in tested sports. Essentially, it ensures the purity of the product. 
  • Micronization – micronized creatine monohydrate is creatine that has been broken down into smaller particles, making it more soluble and therefore easier to digest. This can sometimes help some users feeling sick or experiencing stomach discomfort. 

If you’re looking for a creatine monohydrate supplement to benchmark yours against or looking for one try, this one is a good reputable option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Be Creatine Intolerant?

Creatine is a safe and effective supplement for sports performance. Creatine is also naturally produced in our bodies and found in animal proteins.

We’re less likely to be intolerant to it, but we can potentially feel sick because of the type we are using or how we are using it.

Dehydration, poor mixers, overdosing, or other medications we’re on can sometimes cause us to feel sick when using creatine. 

Can Creatine Loading Cause Nausea?

Creatine loading is a short period of increased creatine intake to saturate the muscles with creatine.

Studies have shown that excessive amounts of creatine, which is up to 20g in a day during a loading phase, can impact your GI tract, causing symptoms of bloating, nausea and diarrhea. 

Does Taking Creatine On An Empty Stomach Make You Sick?

Taking creatine on an empty stomach could leave you feeling sick and nauseous. Research has indicated some users of creatine have experienced stomach discomfort.

The best way to minimize this is to ingest creatine on a partially full stomach, so it is still readily absorbed but with less impact on your stomach.

Creatine Resources

Final Thoughts 

Creatine has an excellent safety profile and has been used for decades by athletes and avid gym-goers alike. There is a small possibility that few users may feel sick using creatine. However, greater awareness of the type of creatine being consumed and how it is being consumed will likely assist the majority of people feeling that way.


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About The Author

Steph Catalucci

Steph Catalucci is an online nutrition coach from Australia, working with clients all over the world. Her passion for nutrition was born through wanting to treat her body better, for health and performance. She is a strong advocate for understanding nutrition to develop informed nutritional habits that go beyond just food.  Steph leverages a decade of her own nutritional experience to help people make sense of the noise and carve a path forward with their nutrition, supporting clients with whatever body composition goal they have. When not coaching or writing, you’ll find her training for her next powerlifting competition.

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