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Creatine is an incredibly popular supplement, especially among athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts.
Research has shown that it can boost exercise performance, strength, and muscle growth, as well as offer other potential health benefits, such as protection against various neurological diseases (
Though it’s considered safe to consume, you may wonder whether creatine expires and is usable beyond its expiration date.
This article explains how creatine works, if it expires, and whether consuming expired creatine can make you sick.
How does creatine work?
Creatine supplements work by increasing your body’s muscle phosphocreatine stores — the storage form of creatine (
When your main source of energy — your adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stores — are exhausted, your body uses its phosphocreatine stores to make more ATP. This helps athletes train harder for longer, raises anabolic hormones, and aids cell signaling, among other benefits (
Many types of creatine are available, including:
- creatine monohydrate
- creatine ethyl ester
- creatine hydrochloride (HCL)
- creatine gluconate
- buffered creatine
- liquid creatine
However, the most common and well-researched form is creatine monohydrate.
Creatine helps improve performance, aids muscle growth, and offers several other benefits. It works by increasing your body’s phosphocreatine stores, which help make ATP — your body’s main source of energy.
How long does creatine last?
Though most creatine supplements list an expiration date that’s within 2–3 years of the product’s production, studies show that they can last much longer than that (
In particular, creatine monohydrate powder is very stable and unlikely to breakdown into its waste product — creatinine — over time, even at high temperatures.
For example, a review of studies found that creatine monohydrate powder only showed noticeable signs of breakdown after nearly 4 years — even when stored at a high temperature of 140°F (60°C) (
Thus, your creatine monohydrate supplement should last at least 1–2 years beyond its expiration date if it’s stored in cool, dry conditions.
Compared with creatine monohydrate, other forms of this supplement, such as creatine ethyl ester and especially liquid creatines, are less stable and likely to breakdown more quickly into creatinine after their expiration dates (
When stored in cool, dry conditions, creatine monohydrate supplements should last at least 1–2 years beyond their expiration date. Other forms of creatine, such as liquid creatines, won’t last too long beyond their expiration dates.
Can expired creatine make you sick?
Given that creatine monohydrate is very stable, it’s likely to last several years beyond its expiration date and should not cause any uncomfortable side effects.
Also, it’s important to note that creatine that has become clumpy is not expired. While it likely has been exposed to some moisture, it’s generally fine to consume. It should be potent and is unlikely to make you sick.
That said, if your tub of creatine has been left open for a few days at room temperature or exposed to a fair amount of liquid, it may lose potency (
In addition, though clumpy creatine is fine to consume, if you notice that your creatine has either changed color, developed a strong odor, or tastes unusual, it’s best to stop taking it.
Changes like these may indicate the presence of bacteria but are very unlikely to occur normally, unless the supplement has been left open for many days at room temperature.
Given that creatine is relatively inexpensive, if you have any concerns about taking expired creatine, you can purchase a new tub for peace of mind.
Creatine that is past its expiration date is unlikely to make you sick. Because it’s relatively inexpensive, if you have any concerns, you can purchase a new tub for peace of mind.
The bottom line
Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements worldwide.
The most common type of creatine — creatine monohydrate — is particularly stable and can last for several years beyond its expiration date without losing potency.
Additionally, creatine that is past its expiration date is safe to consume and shouldn’t cause any unwanted side effects if it has been stored properly in cool, dry conditions.
If you’re interested in trying creatine or need to replenish your stores, you can easily find various types in specialty stores and online.