What Is Creatine—And Does it Actually Work?

Creatine is naturally found in muscles and the brain. It's made from amino acids, protein building blocks, and is crucial to cell energy generation.

Creatine provides energy for intense physical activity like sprinting and weightlifting, helping your muscles finish reps or run extra yards. Many sportsmen and fitness enthusiasts utilize creatine to improve performance and muscle building during brief bursts of high-intensity activity.

Creatine is mostly used for short bursts of vigorous exertion. If you're into explosive exercises like sprinting or weightlifting, creatine may help you squeeze out those last reps, run faster, or jump higher.

Creatine is known for helping strength trainers grow muscle. Creatine strengthened women's upper bodies in a 2021 Nutrients study. An older 2012 study found that 12 weeks of creatine supplementation increased strength by 8% over a placebo group.

Creatine is typically safe, however some users complain bloating, diarrhea, or cramping. During a “loading phase,” 20 to 25 grams of creatine are taken daily for the first week, followed by 3 to 5 grams daily.

The loading period of consuming more than 10 grams daily may cause gastrointestinal irritation, according to research.

If you have diabetes and take blood sugar-lowering drugs, creatine may lower your blood sugar too low since it stimulates muscle glucose uptake, warns Kunik.

If you have diabetes or low blood sugar, you should closely check your blood sugar levels while using creatine and see your doctor before trying anything new.