Is Creatine Bad For You? Is it a Steroid?

Is creatine bad for you? Is it a steroid?

You may have heard of creatine. A supplement that is supposed to massively increase your gains in the gym. This is not just a scam either, it has plenty of research to back up its effectiveness. But for the average gym goer, you may not know exactly what it is or maybe you think it’s a performance enhancer? So what is creatine, and is it a steroid? 

We’ll answer both of those questions as well as what it’s best used for, the negative effects and the potential benefits of creatine supplementation.

If you are looking to add creatine to your diet, What is Creatine and is it a steroid?

First of all, no it is not a steroid. In fact when most people have this misconception they are thinking of anabolic steroids. These drugs are synthetic versions of testosterone that help boost muscle growth significantly. 

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that boosts your muscles ability to recover faster during exercise. 

This is how it works:

During exercise, your body will first use ATP for energy, this method typically lasts around 10-15 seconds. 

When ATP is used it gives up a phosphate group and becomes ADP, waiting to turn back to ATP. 

This is where creatine comes in, in the body it is converted to Phosphocreatine, and this phosphate group can be transferred to the ADP to create new ATP for energy. 

Complicated? A little, but that simplifies the process. 

What is Creatine best used for?

Creatine is becoming a more common staple in supplement tool kits. This is because it has many health benefits to different types of populations. 

A lot of the research is new, so the main use of creatine is for improved performance and muscle growth. 

Like mentioned before, creatine helps create ATP, a key energy source during short bursts of exercise. 

But it also helps build muscle through a few key areas:

More work volume

Because creatine helps your body create more energy, you will be able to pump out a couple more reps in each workout. In the long run, that extra difference is massive. 

Increased water in muscles

It increases the amount of water content in muscles. This results in an increase in the creation of new proteins and muscle. 

And for those who love aesthetics, this extra water increases your muscle pump and makes them look fuller.  


Muscle loss has been shown to decrease when using this supplement.

Health Benefits of Creatine

We already went over how beneficial it is to those looking to get stronger in the gym. 

But with creatine becoming so popular and the number of studies increasing, new benefits are being discovered outside of just lifting weights. 

Improves memory and mental performance.

Creatine has been gaining significant traction as a tool to improve mental performance and perhaps help diseases like Alzheimers. 

Although this topic is still being researched extensively, there has been strong evidence in several studies to show that it has a very positive impact on cognitive performance among very different populations. 

An early article by the Royal Society dating all the way back to 2003, tested 2 groups of vegetarians/ vegans. 

They were tested in memory and intelligence. 

One group was given creatine while the other had a placebo, this was then swapped after 4 weeks. 

The tests revealed that after the real supplementation, the subject’s ability to remember was increased while their mental fatigue decreased. 

This was a significant finding, but now nearly 20 years later, the benefits continue to reveal themselves. 

In a research review by Nutrition Journal, various studies and their results were analyzed regarding the effects of creatine supplementation.

In the review they have a table showing the results, there are too many to name here, but out of 16 different test groups from the different studies, only 2 showed no change after being given the supplement.

On the other hand, the groups that showed change demonstrated increased performance in the various different brain tests used. 

With the continued research and positive results, there is strong hope that creatine will play an important role in battling various age related diseases like Alzheimers. 

Negative health effects of creatine

On the other hand, there has to have some kind of downside? Right ?

Well, like mentioned before, the research is continuing so new discoveries could always potentially be around the corner. 

But for now, the negative effects seem to be very minimal.

Weight Gain

You might notice that the number on your weight scale goes up after using creatine. 

Don’t worry, this is most likely just water weight. 

As mentioned before, the amount of water in your muscles will increase and thus you probably will be a little heavier.

Digestion and bloating

Some individuals report digestion issues when taking creatine, such as diarrhea. 

These effects are highly individualized, and you should consult with your doctor. They might ask you to discontinue your creatine use, or they could discover a different underlying issue that is creating the discomfort.  

Kidney issues

Lastly, there is a strong belief that creatine will negatively impact your kidneys. 

There is little support for this claim however, and for now it is just a myth. 

But if you have any concerns, again be sure to consult with your doctor as they can provide you with advice that is more personalized to you and your situation. 


So, is creatine bad for you?

No, there is little support to show that it will cause bad health effects in most individuals.

Is creatine a steroid?

No, in fact it naturally occurs in our body and our normal diets. Supplementation just further increases the effects. 

Hopefully, you have your concerns answered. If you are looking for creatine to add to your diet, get started here.