Can Creatine Cause Headaches?

Wondering if Creatine causes headaches? Don’t worry, we have done the research and will present our findings to you in this article! Let’s go! Creatine Is Popular Over the years, Creatine has become one of …

This post contatins affliliate links. If you click on one of these links and then make a purchase from the linked advertiser, I'll make a commission at no extra cost to you. Click Here to read my Privacy Policy and Affiliate Disclosure.

Wondering if Creatine causes headaches? Don't worry, we have done the research and will present our findings to you in this article! Let's go!

Creatine Is Popular

Over the years, Creatine has become one of the top-selling sports supplements across the world. (1) Various studies have proved that it is highly beneficial for improving athletic performance and building muscle mass. (2

Plus, it is also readily available as an overall health supplement, the sale of which is regulated by the USFDA. (3) The International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) too allow the use of creatine by athletes. (4)

The International Society of Sports Nutrition supports the use of creatine for enhancing athletic performance and claims that when used in regulated amounts, it is one of the safest sports supplements sold so far. (5)

Creatine Side Effects?

When used in more than the recommended quality, you might suffer from kidney damage, kidney stones, liver damage, weight gain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, etc. 

As mentioned, these harsh effects are seen only in people who consume creatine in an excessive quantity for a prolonged period. 

Please note: Creatine is not recommended for people suffering from kidney or liver problems and diabetes. It is also not recommended for pregnant women and children below 18 years. 

Creatine Headaches: Myth or Fact?

Headaches are not a direct side effect of creatine. 

Rather, a few studies have indicated that this organic compound can alleviate the symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) most of which are headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. (6)

Yet, thousands of people have complained that they suddenly started experiencing mild to severe headaches after starting creatine supplements. The symptoms subside within a few days of creatine withdrawal. 

The studies contradict the experiences of the users. But, don’t worry; both of them are right. People do get creatine headaches but this natural chemical is not directly responsible for it, just the way it is not responsible for bloating or dehydration. 

Researchers are yet to clinically figure out the exact reason behind creatine headaches but here are a few things that pretty well explain it. 

💡 Quick Tip: Sometimes the quality of the creatine you use can have a big impact on the side effects. This is why we love this creatine from naked nutrition as it's nothing but just straight and pure creatine.

Pure Creatine Monohydrate from Naked Nutrition

Dehydration Is Probably the Most Common Factor That Triggers Creatine Headaches 

signs of dehydration that could trigger creatine headaches

Dehydration is the most common side effect of creatine supplements. All other side effects are correlated to it.

For example; if you are severely dehydrated, you are most likely going to suffer from muscle cramps, dizziness, digestive problems, etc. 

Please note that not everyone suffers from creatine headaches. 

Why creatine may help contribute to dehydration

Wondering why creatine makes you feel dehydrated?

Well, there are quite a few reasons. The major one is that creatine creates a kind-of osmosis effect which makes water pass into the muscle tissues.

This is exactly the reason why you tend to gain some weight when you start taking creatine supplements. The osmosis effect also makes you feel bloated all the time. Since most of the water you consume gets drawn into your muscle tissues, you tend to get dehydrated. 

Almost all of us are familiar with dehydration headaches. (7) That hangover headache you get in the morning is due to dehydration.

So yes, creatine may cause dehydration, which may eventually lead to creatine headaches. 

Creatine Headaches May Also Get Triggered Due to Overexertion 

Overexertion headaches that could be confused with creatine headaches

Working out too hard can also trigger headaches.

Partially this may be caused by you actually being more likely to get dehydrated.

But it also can be because working out gets the blood pumping and that can cause blood vessel dilation. In come people this can lead to what is called exertional headaches.

Heat Exhaustion May Also Trigger Headaches 

Summer headaches

Doing high-performance activities during hot weather can cause headaches, whether you are taking creatine supplements or not. That's why you should take up lighter but challenging workouts during summer. 

What we meant here is that instead of box squats, you should try sissy squats. And, instead of weight training, you may want to try resistance training. Here is an information guide on how you can build a full-fledged home gym using only resistance bands

To prevent overheating, you should try to workout in a cool and well-ventilated space. If you have a garage gym, you can use Commercial Electric 16 Inch Turbo Floor Fan or Black and Decker 14000 BTU portable AC, if that suits your budget. For non-humid areas, desert coolers such as the Hessaire Portable Evaporative Cooler are a good option. 

If possible, do not start creatine supplements during peak summer. Wait until the weather becomes a bit favorable. Plus, during winter, make sure you wear light and breathable clothes to prevent overheating. 

PS: Here is an informational article on ‘What Temperature is Too Cold to Workout in Your Garage or Outside Gym’.

How to Prevent Creatine Headaches?

We have already told you the reasons why you could suffer from creatine headaches. You just need to address them. Here is how you can do that. 

1. Drink more water

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that if you are taking any medicine or supplement that tends to dehydrate the body, you must drink more water than you normally do. (8

All you need to do is to drink more water or any fluid you like (except the ones that cause dehydration).

An extra liter of water should be enough but feel free to drink as much as you can throughout the day.

Do not wait until you feel thirsty because thirst isn’t really an indicator of dehydration.

💡 Quick Tip: Many people seem to love using these gallon water jugs to ensure that they get the recommended amount of water they need throughout the day

AQUAFIT 1 Gallon Water Bottle

2. Reduce Your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake 

Sounds obvious but we thought we should mention it here. 

Caffeine and alcohol are known to cause dehydration.

When you are taking creatine, the last thing you want to have is something that can make you even more dehydrated.

So, consider trading off your morning and afternoon coffees and sodas with herbal teas and hydrating juices. 

3. Get your electrolytes

water is not the only thing you lose when you sweat. You also lose salt and other important minerals that your body needs.

If you do not replace these also then it can cause issues like muscle cramps and headaches.

This is why we highly recommend you find and use a good electrolyte replacement supplement.

💡 Quick Tip: We love these Nuun tablets because they have very little sugar and are incredibly simple to use.

Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets

4. If you are trying to increase the intensity of your workouts, go slow

This will help prevent overexertion. 

Start increasing your reps and intensity gradually and be mindful of how you feel when you try to do so.

At any point in time, you feel overexerted or if you get a headache, treat this as a warning and try something softer the next day.

Ensure that you are well-rested before your workouts and do not forget to give yourself a day off.  

5. Keep cool while exercising 

Overheating headaches are pretty common during summer or when you are exercising outdoors.

But, if you have suddenly started a rigorous workout routine, you could feel dizzy even during winter, which happens mostly due to overheating. 

That's why you should always exercise in a cool place and drink plenty of water, irrespective of the weather. Also, make sure you don’t overdress yourself during workouts. 

Wrap up 

As obvious from the above information, creatine headaches are nothing but dehydration headaches. By keeping yourself hydrated and well-rested, you should be able to avoid or treat them. 

But, do not hesitate to see a doctor if the headache becomes persistent or if it starts to get worse no matter what you do.

Also, if the headache is accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, fainting, etc. seek medical help immediately. Such incidents are rare but you should know when to seek medical help. 

References and citations: 

  1. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations–
  2. 10 Health and Performance Benefits of Creatine– Healthline
  3. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise- National Library of Medicine 
  4. Creatine – Uses, Side Effects, and More– Webmd
  5. Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes– National Library of Medicine 
  6. Prevention of traumatic headache, dizziness and fatigue with creatine administration. A pilot study– National Library of Medicine 
  7. Dehydration– American Academy of Family Physicians
  8. Staying Hydrated – Staying Healthy– American Heart Association