If you're taking creatine supplements to increase muscle mass and overall muscle growth, you might wonder,

"How long does creatine stay in your system?"

Here, we'll provide you with everything you need to know about how long it stays in your system. We'll also touch on factors that could influence that, how to flush it out of your system, and how it affects your body.

Creatine can stay in your system for weeks. This is the simple answer; however, when wondering how long does creatine stay in your system, you have to remember that it’s dependent on a number of factors, including dosage.

When you ingest creatine, it's broken down into two molecules - phosphocreatine and creatine. While the first one is stored in muscles, the second one takes time to be eliminated from the body.

Here’s how it all works.

When you consume creatine monohydrate, it takes about an hour to reach your bloodstream and then your muscles.

50% of your creatine dosage will then be cleared from your plasma 3 hours after you've ingested it.

That means that 100% of the creatine supplements should be out of your system within 16.5 hours of your dose.

Remember we mentioned that creatine is broken down into two molecules?

Well, this is specifically in reference to phosphocreatine.

For creatine, it'll take a bit longer. It exhibits a half-life of around 3.85 hours in healthy adults, but both molecules should be out of the plasma within a day of consumption.

Complete excretion of creatine via the kidneys, however, will take longer than 24 hours.

According to research, creatine levels may deplete within two weeks after you've stopped taking it, but it'll take about a month to six weeks to completely eradicate the extra creatine.

Factors That Affect How Quickly Creatine Leaves Your System

There are a plethora of factors that affect how quickly creatine leaves your system.

Dosage

If you are concerned about how long creatine remains within the plasma, it's important to note that dosage influences how much creatine remains in the plasma.

If you're in the maintenance phase and are just taking creatine to aid in athletic performance - say a dosage of 5 grams or so, you'll retain creatine within the muscle cells for a shorter period in comparison to someone taking a larger dose.

If you're considering the half-life mentioned earlier, a 5-gram dose would be only 2.5 grams in 3 hours, while a 20-gram dose would be down to 10 grams in 3 hours.

Learn More - How Much Creatine Should I Take? | Garage Gym Pro

With higher doses - especially in the creatine loading phase, you're not only looking at a greater amount of creatine circulating within the body but also reduced efficiency when it comes to metabolism and excretion.

Regarding how much creatine to take, it's recommended to take 3-5 grams daily.

Taking high doses of creatine can actually negatively affect your hepatic and renal function.

Man Holding A Tub Of Ryse Creatine Monohydrate

Activity Level

The type of workout you do, along with the intensity and duration, can affect how long creatine remains in your body.

For example, if you were engaging in a really strenuous workout and took the regular creatine dosage, it'll actually remain in the body for less time.

If you were doing a less strenuous workout, however, such as a leisurely walk, creatine will remain in the body for longer.

Learn More - Can You Take Creatine Without Working Out? (Pros & Cons)

Loading vs Maintenance Phase

In the maintenance phase, you'll be consuming about 5 - 10 grams of creatine. In contrast, however, you'll be consuming about 20 grams of creatine in the loading phase.

When you're taking lower doses, your body's creatine levels will peak within its intramuscular tissue.

In contrast, during the loading phase, your body hasn't yet hit the highest creatine concentration within your skeletal muscle tissue.

If you discontinue creatine supplementation earlier when doing the loading phase (say, within the first few days), creatine excretion will take less time.

If you choose to go ahead and consume extra creatine in the loading phase, however, it can take up to a month to eliminate all of the exogenous creatine stores.

So, in a nutshell, in your loading phase, since you're taking a higher amount of creatine supplements, you'll have more creatine within the blood. In addition, it's also excreted at a lower rate than if you consumed less creatine.

Learn More - How Long Does Creatine Take To Kick In And Work?

Creatine Schedule

When you are consuming creatine will also affect creatine stores and how quickly creatine leaves your system.

Once you stop taking creatine supplements, the creatine levels within your muscles will start to deplete within two weeks.

After four to six weeks, the extra creatine will be completely eliminated, and you'll be back to producing your regular creatine dose of 1-2 grams a day.

Related Article - When Should You Take Creatine? (Before Or After Workouts)

Individual Factors

Individual attributes such as body mass, health conditions, and age can also influence how long creatine remains within your system. Here are a few to consider:

BMI

Individuals with a higher body mass index may have less water reserve due to lower muscle tissue, so the body is less likely to store creatine.

With a low BMI, there's more water within the body and a higher creatine distribution, hence a longer creatine retention period.

Health Conditions

Those with hepatic impairment will have compromised creatine metabolism efficiency. The extent will depend on how bad the hepatic impairment is. Those with severe forms may have elevated concentrations of exogenous creatine.

Similarly, for those with renal impairment, all the creatine will remain within the body for a longer than average term as it takes longer to excrete the exogenous creatine stores.

Age

Research has suggested that eliminating the half-life of creatine takes longer in elderly individuals over the age of 65 due to decreased hepatic and renal function.[1]

Man Doing Arm Workout In Gym

How To Flush Creatine Out Of Your System (Expert Tips)

If you’re looking to flush creatine out of your system due to negative side effects, here are a few tips:

1. Take Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal could assist with eliminating creatine from your body. It can actually help with the absorption of creatine along with uric acid and other toxins.

2. Take Calcium-d-glucarate

Another supplement, calcium-d-glucarate, can assist with excreting toxins that may have accumulated in the renal pathways.

This particular supplement can not only assist with faster elimination of creatine, but it's also an effective supplement for those with varying forms of renal impairment.

How Does Creatine Affect Your Body?

Creatine is an amino acid and essential nutrient naturally found in the body. Creatine synthesis requires three amino acids - methionine, glycine, and arginine, along with two enzymes.

In recent years, creatine has also become a popular supplement, and an increasing number of individuals are ingesting creatine as part of their supplement regimen.

It works because creatine provides phosphate molecules that can be used for ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production.

This, in turn, helps to increase muscle mass and assist with muscle fatigue and cognitive performance.

Here, we'll discuss both the benefits and side effects of creatine and how it affects your body.

Key Benefits Of Creatine

  • Creatine supplements assist with new muscle growth while also helping you to both grow and maintain your muscle - even if you’ve got a sedentary life.[2]
  • Taking creatine supplements has been shown to improve brain function as well as cognitive abilities.
  • Aside from building muscle tissues, taking creatine can also help provide energy for high-intensity training and improve overall athletic performance.
  • Taking creatine can also help with preventing injury - such as tears to tendons and bones.
  • Creatine helps with increasing lean muscle mass and helping muscles recover more quickly.

Creatine supplementation is generally safe, but there can be some unwanted side effects when too much creatine is consumed.

Side Effects Of Creatine Ingestion

  • Weight gain: Due to water retention, taking a creatine supplement could lead to weight gain.[3]
  • Intestinal bloating: In some instances, taking creatine can affect the gastrointestinal tract and cause individuals to have bloating.
  • Muscle cramps: When exceeding the recommended dose, individuals have mentioned dealing with muscle cramps.

Some other potential side effects include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Dizziness

If you experience any of the above, it’s best to speak with a health professional. There’s a high chance that they will adjust your daily dosage as you are likely taking large amounts of creatine.

If you’re not sure how much creatine to take, you can always check the creatine calculator to determine how much creatine is appropriate for you.

Creatine Retention In The Body FAQs

Can creatine cause you to fail a drug test?

No, creatine supplementation does not affect your drug test in a negative way, as creatine is a part of the amino acids family and your body needs it to function normally.

What happens to excess creatine in the body?

Excess creatine will be passed out in the body through urine. This is because taking more than the maintenance dose required will result in creatine saturation, as only a certain amount of creatine can stay in your system.

Can creatine cause hair loss until it is eliminated from the body?

There is no research that creatine will directly cause hair loss, though some studies have indicated that creatine could increase the male hormone levels in the blood - which could trigger hair loss.[4]

Conclusion

Creatine is a great supplement that provides so many benefits, from improving athletic performance to increasing muscle tissue and improving overall muscle contraction.

When it comes to answering "how long does creatine stay in your system?" it's really dependent on the amount you're consuming and other individual factors such as age and activity level.

If you take creatine and notice adverse effects, however, it's best to wean off the supplements, as you could be consuming excessive amounts.

References: 

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/8/4/488
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine
  3. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w
  4. https://journals.lww.com/cjsportsmed/Abstract/2009/09000/Three_Weeks_of_Creatine_Monohydrate.9.aspx
Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Meet Miloš, a certified sports nutritionist and self-taught supplement expert whose pharmacological background and nearly a decade of gym experience make him the perfect guide for optimizing your health and athletic performance through supplement reviews and practical advice rooted in factual, science-backed information.