Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Creatine?

Creatine supplements may help increase your lean muscle mass, but alcohol may hinder your results. While the two substances may be safe to consume concurrently, the negative effects of alcohol related to muscle growth virtually diminishes the anabolic effects associated with creatine supplementation, according to Dr. Alfredo Franco-Obregon of Bodybuilding.com. So, it's clear that consuming alcohol while taking creatine supplements isn't a good idea. Consult your doctor before starting a creatine regimen.

Close-up of shots being poured by bartender. (Image: Bogdanhoda/iStock/Getty Images)

Creatine

Your body makes its own creatine, which is adequate for most people. However, strength-training athletes may benefit from creatine supplements. Your muscle tissue stores creatine as phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine synthesizes during high-intensity exercise, such as lifting weights, to provide your muscles with extra energy. Alcohol doesn't directly interfere with this process; however, it does affect your body's ability to build new muscle.

Effects of Alcohol

According to Damien Mase of MuscleandStrength.com, alcohol interferes with protein synthesis, growth hormone, GH, and insulin release. Insulin and GH are necessary for protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process by which your body builds new muscle. Creatine actually helps break down muscle during exercise, but it's the hours following exercise when your muscles actually grow. Alcohol affects the post-workout part of the muscle-building process and mitigates the effects of creatine, according to Franco-Obregon.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Dr. Franco-Obregon is quick to point out that moderate consumption of alcohol has health benefits, such as an occasional glass of red wine with your dinner. He states that serious bodybuilders may benefit most by completely eliminating alcohol, but recreational weightlifters are most likely fine having an occasional drink. He suggests avoiding alcohol right before bedtime and immediately following exercise.

Safety

Consumed in excess, both alcohol and creatine pose potential health risks. Alcoholism not only hinders your body's ability to build muscle and oxidize fat, but it also increases the risk of damage to bodily organs, such as your liver and kidneys. Creatine is "likely safe" for most people at the recommended dosage, according to MedlinePlus – an information service of the National Institutes of Health. The recommended dosage is up to 20 g per day consumed in 5 g increments for up to five consecutive days followed by a dosage of 2 g or more during the maintenance phase. Creatine shouldn't be taken with caffeine or be used by people with kidney disease, diabetes or who may be pregnant.

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