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Can Creatine Cause You to Fail a Drug Test? (The Answer)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 21, 2022

I’ve been taking creatine supplements for many years, and it’s one ingredient I always recommend that my clients and readers look for when trying to choose a pre-workout supplement.

But a client contacted me a while back all concerned about a mandatory drug test. He had read somewhere that a typical drug test always checks for creatine, and he was worried that he might fail the test.

So, our team at TotalShape did some research to find out whether there was any truth to it. We also talked to a lab technician at one of the testing facilities nearby.

Let’s see if a natural supplement that enhances muscle mass can trigger a failed drug urine test.

Quick Summary

  • Creatine supplements are one of the most commonly used by bodybuilders to build muscle effectively without resorting to anabolic steroids and other illegal supplements.
  • There are many drug test types that check for illegal recreational drugs and performance enhancers.
  • Many people have a misunderstanding about what a drug test checks for, and creatine is one common thing that people misunderstand.

Can Creatine Cause You to Fail a Drug Test?

A creatine powder with supplement pills

No, creatine supplements don’t affect a drug test in a negative way.

Creatine is an amino acid that the human body needs to function normally, and it’s predominantly used by muscles and the brain [1].

Certain foods like herring and red meat will give you a completely natural boost, but supplements are a better way to get a creatine boost just before you hit the gym.

Having more creatine in your body when you submit a urine sample is not going to show up on the drug test results.

How Does It Impact Your Urine?

Creatine has a very limited impact on your urine and kidneys. Many studies have looked at the effect of creatine supplementation on the kidneys and liver, including long-term use in athletes.

But those studies have revealed no link to reduced organ functions [2].

What people commonly mistake here is that the body breaks down creatine into creatinine. But those elevated creatinine levels are not necessarily toxic or an indication of a health problem.

And in case you’re wondering, a higher creatinine level won’t cause a failed drug test either.

However, if your doctor is doing some urine tests for regular check-ups, then make sure you tell them that you’re taking a supplement to build muscle so that they don’t misinterpret a test result.

And here’s why that’s important.

Difference Between Creatine And Creatinine

Two different supplement powders

The main difference is that creatine is used in muscles to produce energy, and creatinine is the by-product of that process.

While they do sound similar, they are two very different things.

Creatinine levels fluctuate throughout the day, but there is always some in your urine.

The reason a urine drug test checks for it is to make sure that you haven’t submitted diluted urine [3].

This can also happen after drinking lots of water just before a test and thereby lowering the concentration of creatinine in your urine.

Drug tests check whether there are average levels of creatinine to ensure that people aren’t trying to cheat and water down the traces of drugs in their system as well.

However, if someone has naturally low creatinine levels, then this can be an indication of kidney problems. Because the body naturally produces creatinine in muscles, the kidneys should always excrete a certain normal amount. Otherwise, there could be a problem with kidney function [4].

Related Article: Creatine vs Creatinine

Is Creatine Considered A Drug?

Creatine is not considered a drug, and typical drug urine tests won’t check for it.

It’s also not something that a blood test will pick up as it’s not banned by any of the major sporting committees [5].

Creatine supplementation does have a positive impact on muscle size and performance, but it’s not a large enough enhancement for it to make a difference in sporting events.

However, studies have shown consistent results during training, which is why it’s one of the ingredients that you’ll most often find in pre-workout supplements [6].

Related Article: Is Creatine A Steroid?

“Creatine stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine. These phosphate groups are donated to ADP to regenerate it to ATP, the primary energy carrier in the body.”

- Antonis Damianou, personal trainer, online coach, and fitness writer at Examine.com.

Do You Have To Be Careful With The Dose?

A line of supplement pills with scoop of powder supplement

Yes, you have to be careful with the creatine dose, but not in order to pass a drug test.

Studies have shown that creatine loading can lead to bloating and water retention in muscles [7].

But even this is not something that happens when you take so much creatine in one dose. It’s a lot more dependent on how much creatine you take every day for several weeks that you have to be careful about.

Taking up to 10 grams per day is generally classed as safe, and you’ll find that most supplements have considerably less creatine [8].

This can also happen after drinking lots of water just before a test and thereby lowering the concentration of creatinine in your urine.

Drug tests check whether there are average levels of creatinine to ensure that people aren’t trying to cheat and water down the traces of drugs in their system as well.

However, if someone has naturally low creatinine levels, then this can be an indication of kidney problems. Because the body naturally produces creatinine in muscles, the kidneys should always excrete a certain normal amount. Otherwise, there could be a problem with kidney function [4].

Related Articles:

FAQs

What Happens If You Don’t Drink Enough Water with Creatine?

When you don’t drink enough water while taking creatine, you can increase your risk of dehydration. Creatine can affect how much water your muscles retain, which can lead to a lack of water in other parts of your body.

Why Is Creatinine Tested in a Drug Test?

Creatinine levels are tested for a drug test because it indicates if a urine sample has been diluted or not. When creatinine is too low, then you won’t pass a drug test, as the sample might also have diluted any traces of illegal drugs.

Don’t Worry About A Drug Test As A Creatine User

If you regularly need to submit a drug test for work or as an athlete, you don’t need to worry about taking a creatine supplement. It will have no impact on whether you fail or not, and the benefits for your workout performance are definitely worth it.

We tested dozens of pre-workout products to determine which ones work best. And the ones we’ve had the best results with all tend to provide a good dose of creatine.

Give your exercises a boost and see how much of a difference this simple amino acid can make.


References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12500988/
  3. https://www.testing.com/tests/creatinine/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/creatinine-test
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5753968
  6. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155510/
  8. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-873/creatine

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