Let’s talk about creatine. It’s a health supplement that’s supposed to work wonders for building lean muscle. But it’s not an “all gain, no pain” miracle. Creatine helps our cells operate more efficiently - so we can work out longer, do more reps, and increase muscle mass more quickly. But what about safety? Here’s what you need to know: 

  • First: Creatine increases water weight. That’s because it increases the amount of water each cell holds. According to dietician Christine Rosenbloom, most people gain anywhere from 2 to 6 pounds of water weight in the first few days of taking it.

  • Another fact about the health supplement creatine: It can upset your digestive system. McMasters University medical professor Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky says that about 6% of users experience stomachaches or diarrhea.

  • Also: Creatine can make you stronger, which will help your softball swing. But it WON’T help you run faster – so, don’t expect a better time in your next 10-K. Dr. Tony Wanich specializes in sports medicine. And he says that creatine is good for what doctors call fast-twitch muscle fibers - like the ones used to swing a bat. But, it doesn’t do much for the slow-twitch muscles used to run long distances. 

  • And the last creatine fact is the most important: You can overdose. Creatine is a combination of amino acids produced by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. So, we all naturally have some of it in our blood streams. But taking too much can damage your kidneys and cause a painful blood vessel condition called, "compartment syndrome" - which can lead to nerve and muscle damage. 

So, like with any other drug or supplement, don’t take creatine until you’ve discussed it with your doctor.