Studies on long-term side effects of creatine use have been able to produce only minor negative effects, such as a slight weight gain from water retention. The most dramatic negative side effects come when you decide to discontinue your use of creatine after extended use. In comparison, the positive side effects of creatine use are well known among fitness and sports enthusiasts.
Creatine is mixed with a high carbohydrate drink and consumed 30 to 45 minutes prior to your workout. Creatine will enhance your workout by providing increased energy that will help you to lift a few extra pounds or add that extra repetition to your weight lifting routine. This increase in your workout performance will help to accelerate your muscle growth.
The most common negative side effect from creatine use is increased water weight. Within the first 10 days of use, you may gain 2 to 4 pounds of water weight, which could make you look as if you are slightly bloated. Because creatine increases your level of energy, once you discontinue use you will experience a decrease in your energy level. You may also see a decrease in muscle size due to the decrease in workout performance.
Water weight increase will reduce the visible muscle definition that you may be searching for in your fitness routine. Although both long-term and short-term controlled studies have shown minimal negative side effects related to the use of creatine, supplement usage of any kind should be discussed with a qualified physician.
There are claims that long-term use of creatine results in increased vulnerability to torn or pulled muscles, muscle cramps and muscle spasms. However, long-term research studies do not support these claims. Comparison studies over a four-year period reported by the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" have shown no increase in cramps or pulled muscles by creatine users over non-creatine users participating in the same sport.
Experts do not recommend the use of creatine outside of a good fitness program or regular physical activity. Your results would not be much more than a gain in water weight due to water retention. Since a known side effect of creatine use is an increased level of energy, take advantage of this increase in energy by participating in a healthy fitness program and improving your health.