- Creatine, found in foods like meat and fish, powers cells during intense physical efforts. Athletes opt for creatine supplements to enhance energy levels and excel in high-intensity exercises.
- While creatine can lead to a slight increase in certain urine components, its impact on kidney stones is secondary. Factors like genetics, diet, and hydration play more significant roles in stone formation.
- Health experts generally agree that responsible creatine use, within recommended doses, poses minimal kidney stone risks. Proper hydration is crucial for kidney health and helps manage any potential water retention from creatine.
- While concerns about creatine and kidney stones persist, it is suggested that combining responsible creatine usage with hydration and professional advice can mitigate potential risks.
- Both chanca piedra and potassium citrate can be used as supporting supplements while drinking creatine to potentially aid kidney health and prevent kidney stone formation.
In the fitness and athletic performance world, creatine has become a widely used supplement. It's valued for its potential to enhance muscle strength, power, and overall exercise performance. However, concerns have arisen regarding the relationship between creatine consumption and kidney stones. In this article, we'll dive into the topic to provide you with a clear understanding of whether creatine can cause kidney stones and how you can take preventive measures.
What Is Creatine and Why Do Athletes Use It?
Creatine, a naturally occurring compound found in select foods like meat and fish, also takes shape within the body. While these natural sources contribute modestly to our creatine reserves, they often need to meet the demands of intense physical activities.
When athletes dream of their peak performance, creatine is their secret ingredient aside from protein shakes. By cranking up their creatine levels, they aim for turbocharged energy during high-intensity exercises and lightning-fast energy release – ideal for those bursts of power we all love.1
Common Forms of Creatine Supplements
Among the creatine supplement options, creatine monohydrate takes center stage with a standing ovation. It's not just a supplement; it's a trusted ally.
- Creatine Monohydrate: This is the OG choice endorsed by research for boosting muscle strength, power, and all-around performance. It's like the tried-and-true best friend you can always rely on.
- Creatine Hydrochloride: This fancy option boasts better solubility, making it a contender for its digestion-friendly perks.
- Creatine Ethyl Ester: Known for its improved absorption potential, it's the new kid on the block. However, it's yet to prove its supremacy over creatine monohydrate.
In essence, creatine is a natural powerhouse that propels us during intense physical exertion. Athletes harness its potency through supplements, predominantly creatine monohydrate, to elevate their performance.
As we navigate the realm of creatine, we'll also address a critical query: Can creatine contribute to kidney stones? Let's uncover the truth and empower you with insights to make informed choices on your fitness journey.
How Does Creatine Affect Your Kidneys?
Before delving into the potential link between creatine and kidney stones, it's essential to understand how creatine may impact the kidneys. When you consume creatine, your body breaks it down into creatinine, a waste product filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted in urine.
Some studies2 suggest that creatine might slightly elevate the levels of certain substances like calcium and oxalate in your urine. When super concentrated, these components can play a role in kidney stone formation. But wait, before you get alarmed, it's usually not a significant cause for concern.
Can Creatine Cause Kidney Stones?
One concern raised by some individuals is whether creatine supplementation can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Kidney stones are crystalline structures that can develop when certain substances in urine become highly concentrated. It's like this: while creatine might play a tiny role in the concentration of stone-forming substances, it's not the sole villain in the kidney stone saga.3 Kidney stones usually come to life due to a mix of factors, including genetics, diet, and hydration habits.
Creatine and Kidney Stones: What Do Health Experts Say?
Health experts acknowledge that while creatine might contribute slightly to the levels of substances like calcium and oxalate in urine2 – components of kidney stones – it's generally not a major concern for most individuals.
Numerous studies have been conducted, with organizations like the International Society of Sports Nutrition4 and the National Collegiate Athletic Association5 reviewing the data. Their consensus is that responsible creatine use, within recommended dosages, is generally safe and doesn't significantly increase the risk of kidney stones for most people.
Can You Use Creatine if I've Had Kidney Stones Before?
If you have a history of kidney stones or are concerned about their formation, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional before beginning any supplement regimen. Your doctor can evaluate your medical history, perform necessary tests, and provide personalized guidance based on your individual health status.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Creatine Supplementation?
Research on the long-term effects of creatine supplementation is ongoing. Many studies suggest that creatine is safe when used within recommended dosages.3 However, concerns related to kidney health persist in certain circles.
It's crucial to note that individuals with preexisting kidney conditions or other medical concerns should exercise caution and seek professional medical advice.
Dosage Matters: How Much Creatine Is Safe?
When reaping the benefits of creatine while ensuring your well-being, the golden rule is moderation.
The general consensus is that a daily intake of 3 to 5 grams6 of creatine monohydrate is safe and effective. This amount has been widely studied and shown to enhance exercise performance, muscle strength, and power without posing significant health risks.
Factors like body weight, muscle mass, and metabolism can influence how your body interacts with creatine. It's a trial-and-error process, and tuning in to your body's signals is key.
Balancing Creatine Intake with Proper Hydration
You've heard it before, and it's worth repeating: hydration is non-negotiable. Creatine and hydration go hand in hand, and here's why.
Creatine has a bit of a flirtatious relationship with water. It loves to pull water into muscle cells, potentially contributing to the fuller and more pumped feeling some users experience. But here's the catch: this flirtation could lead to muscle cramps and discomfort if you're not staying hydrated.
Staying well-hydrated helps your kidneys effectively process and filter out creatinine, that waste product generated from creatine breakdown. Adequate hydration prevents creatinine from hanging around, possibly contributing to kidney stone formation.
Supporting Supplements: Chanca Piedra
Chanca piedra, an herb known for its traditional use in kidney health, has gained attention for its potential to support kidney function and reduce the risk of stone formation. Some studies suggest that chanca piedra might help break down certain types of kidney stones and promote overall kidney health.7 However, scientific evidence is still evolving, and it's important to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating any supplements into your routine.
Potassium Citrate: A Stone Prevention Ally
Potassium citrate, a citric acid salt, is commonly used to prevent kidney stone formation. It works by increasing urine pH and reducing the risk of crystal formation.8 Some individuals, under medical supervision, may be prescribed potassium citrate supplements to prevent stone recurrence. If you're considering such supplements, a doctor's guidance is essential, as improper use can lead to side effects.
When it comes to creatine, finding that sweet spot in dosages and coupling it with proper hydration and the right kidney health supplements is your winning combo. Follow expert recommendations for creatine dosages, and pay attention to how your body responds.
In the realm of health and fitness, it's natural for questions to arise when considering new supplements. When it comes to creatine and kidney stones, available evidence suggests that creatine supplementation, when used responsibly and within recommended dosages, is unlikely to cause kidney stone formation directly.
It is important to note that individual responses can vary, and if you have any concerns or a history of kidney stones, consulting a healthcare professional is the best course of action.
Remember that a balanced approach, including proper hydration and a well-rounded diet, is essential for overall well-being.
Kidney Stones and Creatine: FAQs
Does creatine supplement cause kidney problems?
No, creatine supplements, when taken within recommended dosages, are generally not known to cause kidney problems. While there have been concerns about creatine's impact on the kidneys, research suggests that responsible use is unlikely to pose significant risks to kidney health for most individuals.
Can workout supplements cause kidney stones?
While there is no direct link between most workout supplements and kidney stones, certain factors can contribute to stone formation. Hydration, diet, genetics, and overall kidney health play roles in kidney stone development. Staying well-hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can help reduce the risk.
Are bodybuilders at risk of kidney stones?
Bodybuilders, like anyone else, can develop kidney stones, but their risk isn't inherently higher due to their fitness pursuits. Factors like dehydration, diet, and genetics are more significant contributors to kidney stone formation. Responsible supplement use, proper hydration, and regular medical check-ups are important for everyone, including bodybuilders.
Why do athletes get kidney stones?
Athletes, like the general population, can develop kidney stones. Factors that contribute to kidney stone formation include dehydration, diet (high in salt and animal protein), certain medical conditions, and genetic predisposition. Athletes who engage in intense training might have increased sweat and fluid losses, potentially impacting hydration levels and stone formation risk.
The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary supplement, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking other medications. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
- Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jul 20;9(1):33. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-33. PMID: 22817979; PMCID: PMC3407788. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/
- Hashmi SB, Jafri L, Majid H, Talati J, Aziz W, Khan AH. Relationship of spot urine oxalate to creatinine ratio and 24 hours urinary oxalate excretion in patients with urolithiasis. Ann Med Surg (Lond). 2020 Nov 7;60:330-333. doi: 10.1016/j.amsu.2020.11.002. PMID: 33224485; PMCID: PMC7666312. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7666312/
- Akbari HA, Ghram A, Knechtle B, Weiss K, Ben Saad H. Effect of creatine supplementation on kidney stones recurrence in an athlete: a case report. Tunis Med. 2022 juin;100(6):477-480. PMID: 36206067; PMCID: PMC9585689.
- Buford, T.W., Kreider, R.B., Stout, J.R. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 4, 6 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-6
- Green GA, Uryasz FD, Petr TA, Bray CD. NCAA study of substance use and abuse habits of college student-athletes. Clin J Sport Med. 2001 Jan;11(1):51-6. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200101000-00009. PMID: 11176146. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11176146/
- Antonio J, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Gualano B, Jagim AR, Kreider RB, Rawson ES, Smith-Ryan AE, VanDusseldorp TA, Willoughby DS, Ziegenfuss TN. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021 Feb 8;18(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w. PMID: 33557850; PMCID: PMC7871530. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33557850/
- Pucci ND, Marchini GS, Mazzucchi E, Reis ST, Srougi M, Evazian D, Nahas WC. Effect of phyllanthus niruri on metabolic parameters of patients with kidney stone: a perspective for disease prevention. Int Braz J Urol. 2018 Jul-Aug;44(4):758-764. doi: 10.1590/S1677-5538.IBJU.2017.0521. PMID: 29617079; PMCID: PMC6092661. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6092661/
- Krieger NS, Asplin JR, Frick KK, Granja I, Culbertson CD, Ng A, Grynpas MD, Bushinsky DA. Effect of Potassium Citrate on Calcium Phosphate Stones in a Model of Hypercalciuria. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015 Dec;26(12):3001-8. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2014121223. Epub 2015 Apr 8. PMID: 25855777; PMCID: PMC4657843. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657843/#:~:text=In patients%2C the addition of,to decrease recurrent stone formation