Debunking common myths about using creatine for your gym workout

The starting point is recognizing your fitness goals. Picture: Jonathan Borba /Pexels

The starting point is recognizing your fitness goals. Picture: Jonathan Borba /Pexels

Published Jun 5, 2024


Embarking on a gym lifestyle can be exhilarating yet daunting. Amid the sheer diversity of routines and supplements, knowing what to incorporate to maximise your gains can be challenging.

This guide helps demystify the journey, offering a clear roadmap to harmonise your workouts with the right supplements for optimal benefits.

Understand your fitness goals

The starting point is recognizing your fitness goals. Are you focusing on muscle gain, weight loss, enhancing endurance, or holistic health? Your objectives will direct your supplement choices and workout regimen for a streamlined experience.

Do you want muscle gain? Proteins like whey and casein are critical. Whey protein aids muscle recovery post-exercise, absorbing quickly into the body. Casein, a slower-digesting protein, is suitable for sustained protein release, especially useful at night.

Creatine for example is a staple for those looking to increase strength and muscle mass. It fuels muscles with additional energy, particularly useful during high-intensity workouts.

Fitness trends and supplement shelves can be confusing but one supplement has stood out over the years: Creatine Monohydrate.

This compound has been both praised and criticized, often surrounded by myths and misinformation. Despite the buzz, scientific research keeps revealing the truth about its benefits and safety.

Jason Dunning from Nutritional Performance Labs. Picture: Supplied

Jason Dunning from Nutritional Performance Labs (NPL), a top name in sports nutrition, is here to clear things up.

He will guide us through the myths of creatine, showing us how to use it safely and effectively. He'll also teach us how to read supplement labels to match our fitness goals.

Dunning is the Head of Research and Development at NPL and has a Master of Science in Medicine, specialising in Exercise Physiology.

With his deep knowledge of human performance and a passion for fitness and health, he is dedicated to creating cutting-edge solutions to boost athletic performance and well-being.

Dispelling myths and maximising benefits

Myth: Creatine is a steroid

One of the biggest misunderstandings about creatine is that it's often confused with anabolic steroids.

Let’s set the record straight: creatine is not an anabolic steroid. It’s a natural substance found in foods like meat and fish, and is vital for energy production in the body.

Unlike steroids, which boost muscle growth by mimicking testosterone, creatine works differently. It helps refill ATP, the body’s energy source, making it easier to power through short, intense workouts.

So, while steroids alter your body chemistry, creatine just supports your natural energy systems.

Myth: Creatine causes kidney damage

This myth has plagued creatine for years, leading to unwarranted fear among fitness enthusiasts according to Dunning.

The truth is that numerous studies have debunked this claim, showing that creatine supplementation in recommended doses poses no significant risk to kidney function in healthy individuals.

Myth: Creatine leads to excessive water retention

Many people think creatine makes you look bloated and puffy. While creatine does increase the water content in your muscles, it's important to know this happens inside the cells.

This process helps to actually make your muscles look fuller and doesn't cause the bloating you might expect.

The extra water weight from creatine is usually small and goes away once you stop taking the supplement, leaving you with lean muscle gains. So, the fear of looking puffy is mostly a myth.

How to use creatine safely and effectively

Choose quality

When selecting a creatine supplement, opt for reputable brands that offer pure creatine monohydrate. Avoid products loaded with unnecessary additives and fillers.


To get the most out of creatine, it's recommended to take 3-5 grams daily. This helps keep your muscle creatine levels at their best. You don’t need to worry about loading phases or taking breaks, as using creatine for up to 5 years is safe and effective.

You can take creatine any time of the day, but some studies suggest that taking it after a workout might improve its benefits. The most important thing is to take it consistently.


To avoid any potential dehydration from increased intracellular water retention, ensure adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Combine with exercise

Creatine works best when combined with strength training to maximize muscle gains. Adding strength exercises to your routine can help you get the most out of creatine.

The confusion around creatine monohydrate is clearing up, showing it to be a safe and effective supplement supported by science.

By debunking myths and learning how to use creatine properly, fitness fans can tap into its full benefits for better performance, strength, and muscle growth, highlighted Dunning.