Does Creatine Cause Acne? – Answers That You Need To Know About Its Effects
When you’re working on improving your body’s strength, muscle mass, and overall physique, you don’t want to have to worry about your clear skin ending up covered in frustrating acne spots.
Unfortunately, navigating which supplements and vitamins can be used without having causing your skin to be overcome with acne out can be difficult. A popular supplement that will boost your body’s performance is creatine, but creatine has a bad reputation for causing acne for bodybuilders and fitness lovers everywhere.
Even though it can make the hours you spent at the gym more rewarding, is it worth the resulting acne? Is there any truth to these acne rumors? Should you avoid creatine at all cost to avoid getting acne?
The answer is simple. No; you should not avoid using this power product.
What you should do is understand what factors can cause acne when you are using creatine. You don’t have to give up this useful supplement to solve your acne, but you’ll need to get a full understanding about the real cause of the acne.
You know that athletes and bodybuilders use creatine as a supplement to gain muscle mass. Some do so without knowing what creatine is. To understand creatine’s effects, let’s first run through what creatine is.
Creatine is a nitrogen-based organic acid that is found in all humans. It helps muscle and brain cells recycle energy in the body. It is produced in the liver and kidneys, and humans also ingest about 1 gram of creatine a day when eating an omnivorous diet.
While creatine is not an acid that we often study when we talk about food and food groups, it’s an essential part of getting big muscles and having the best workout you can!
Why take creatine?
When there is more creatine in the body, it is more able to create leaner mass. Users (and data!) says that creatine can help boost maximum performance during workouts.
You should take creatine if you want to increases both your abilities and the results you see in sports or bodybuilding.
Creatine aids water retention in the body. When muscles fill up with extra water, their volume gets larger. Muscles can be up to 80% water when an athlete is using creatine, which helps them be more swole.
Remember that all supplements must be taken in moderation, but small amounts of creatine can be taken in many forms. There are powders or capsules as well as bodybuilding drinks, energy bars, and snacks.
Now that you understand what positive effects creatine can have on your body, let’s talk about the negative ones.
Many creatine users have reported that when they added creatine as a supplement during their workout periods, they saw an increase in acne.
However, there is no scientific evidence that supports this correlation. There have been a number of studies done about the effects that creatine can have on the liver, kidneys, muscles and more, none of these studies ever mention acne as a potential side effect.
There was one study that mentioned acne alongside creatine use, and guess what? It showed that with short-term usage, there is no direct correlation between creatine use and acne formation.
Chances are, there haven’t been any studied on this specifically because creatine itself ends up being trapped in muscle tissue because that is where it does its work.
How would something that is trapped in your muscle tissue, have a direct effect on acne or your skin? The answer is simple: It won’t!
Because even if creatine does not cause acne, its use can still contribute to other factors that might, in turn, cause acne.
Confused? Don’t worry.
Let’s break down other conditions often experienced by those who are taking creatine in addition to working out. These acne-forming habits are not a direct result of the creatine but may be why you are seeing acne alongside your workout and supplement routine.
By overworking! When taking creatine, it’s likely that you will also be working out harder than usual because you are trying to build a certain type of mass. After all, you’re working hard to get bigger.
Remember to make sure that you are drinking at least one gallon of water a day to keep hydrated.
Creatine also causes muscle cells to hold onto more water than usual. This may not require you to drink more water, but it’s not a bad idea. Hydration has always been a great solution for acne, and the same solution can work for those visiting the gym for hours a day.
2. High Sugar Diet
Are you mixing your creatine powder into sugary drinks like juice, or taking an energy drink with added creatine that is, coincidentally, high in sugar?
This might be why you’re seeing acne. It’s not the creatine; it’s the sugar.
High sugar diets can affect your hormone levels. Even if you’re not eating a high-sugar diet because of the creatine, the two are often coupled together which leads people to incorrectly assume that the creatine is causing the acne.
The buildup of insulin and insulin-like growth hormones can actually cause your skin to produce more sebum which will lead to greasy skin and acne.
When taking on any specific diet, be sure to watch how much sugar you are taking in on a daily basis to prevent additional breakouts.
3. Taking Too Much Creatine
Taking more creatine to increase your results more rapidly might seem like a good idea, but taking too much creatine can rapidly lead to hormone imbalances.
Hormones affect many things in our body, and the amount of oil our skin creates is one of them. Most acne is, at its root, related to hormonal changes.
If you take too much creatine, you can cause a hormonal imbalance in your body which leads to acne
Always make sure to begin supplements in moderation and to adjust how much you use if you see adverse side effects like acne becoming a problem.
4. “New” Products
When you walk into the health store or gym, you are probably assaulted with advertisements for new creatine blends or super-powered creatine formulas.
Depending on the product, these may contain artificial flavorings, colors, sweeteners, sugar and more. Just as eating foods with artificial products in them can cause breakouts, so can supplements that contain artificial ingredients.
If you’re going to take a creatine supplement, make sure you check the ingredients carefully. Take a straight creatine monohydrate, if possible.
If you want to avoid supplements altogether, eat more red meat to get your creatine instead.
5. Increases Androgens
Androgens are a type of male hormones that have recently be discovered to be a potential cause of acne.
The basic problem with androgens is that they might cause your glands to misjudge your needs and cause the overproduction of acne-causing oils, sebum, and more.
Creatine supplements can increase the amount of androgens. These already increase during a workout, and increase even more when you workout while using creatine.
Long-term use of creatine puts users at risk of higher levels of other male hormones as well, and all together, these changes can cause horrible acne breakouts.
6. Natural Disposition
Many people are simply more likely to have acne breakouts. Their hormones may be more sensitive to changes, or they may simply have skin that is naturally oily.
If you have sensitive skin, small hormonal fluctuations caused by taking a supplement, changing your diet, or increasing the frequency your workout plan can cause serious breakouts.
An IGF-1 is an insulin-like growth factor that your body naturally regulates to make sure your hormones stay balanced. Creatine taken in drink form or with sugary drinks can cause an increase in IGF-1s. This will cause your hormones to changes and can cause acne.
Excess IGF-1 causes a number of skin related issues:
- Produces excess oil
- Skin cells form too quickly, causing more dead skin cells to exist
- Pores clog more easily
If you specifically want to increase the amount of creatine in your diet but aren’t responding well to a supplement, try adding it to your diet naturally.
Red meat contains naturally occurring creatine, among other great acids for your muscles. Adding extra red meat to your diet can increase your creatine intake in a small but effective way without many of the side effects listed above.
Red meat is also known to increase your iron levels which naturally helps your maximum strength increase.
Are There Any Other Options?
There are vegan alternatives like hemp that also contain creatine. Look for a plant-based creatin source that you can naturally add to your diet. These won’t cause breakouts and help build muscle mass.
Some bodybuilders and athletes even go as far as eating a strictly paleo diet because it gives them the energy and nutrients they need, while also solving many skincare problems! If you’re ready to go all-in, you could even try a paleo diet to solve your acne problem.
Is creatine causing your acne? No, probably not. Creatine on its own will not cause you to develop acne.
There are certainly many anecdotal stories that point in this direction, but many hormonal factors fluctuate during workouts and while taking supplements, and these fluctuations are more likely to be the cause of your acne.
If you like creatine, keep using it. Remember to keep a close eye on your dosage. Manage the level of sugar in your diet, and increase your water intake to prevent acne from forming. Now, let’s stop worrying about acne and get back to the gym!