Mixing Creatine and Alcohol - What Are The Side Effects?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
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Mixing creatine and alcohol is generally deemed safe in moderation, but excessive alcohol intake may negate the potential benefits of creatine for muscle growth and performance.

Knowing that creatine and alcohol can lead to dehydration, I often advise clients to maintain proper hydration when considering this combination. Also, I've shared insights with fellow trainers to optimize the efficacy of creatine supplementation for fitness goals.

This article will explore the effects of concurrently taking creatine and alcohol, offering tips to minimize the potential drawbacks of this combination.

Quick Summary

  • Combining creatine with alcohol may not harm overall health but can compromise muscle growth and overall fitness efforts.
  • Chronic alcohol intake, as highlighted in a study from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, can lead to a reduction in muscle mass.
  • Maintaining proper hydration and incorporating 1-3 grams of creatine into the daily routine helps optimize muscle-building goals.
  • In my opinion, reducing alcohol consumption and choosing a high-quality creatine supplement can expedite progress towards fitness goals.

Is It Safe to Mix Creatine and Alcohol?

woman smelling and mixing an alcohol drink

Mixing creatine and alcohol is generally considered safe, but it may impact your fitness goals and muscle-building progress.

According to a study from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, chronic alcohol intake can result in a reduction in muscle mass [1].

Furthermore, research from the National Institute for Health indicates that drinking alcohol may slow down the muscle-building process and could affect recovery [2].

I often advise my clients to balance lifestyle choices and fitness objectives so they can speed up their goals of building their desired physique.

If you want to know what to mix creatine with, check out our article on that topic.

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Effects of Creatine and Alcohol on Muscles

man flexing his bicep muscles

Creatine and alcohol have distinct effects on muscles. While taking alcohol with creatine may not be harmful to your health, it may not align well with your muscle-building goals for taking creatine.

Let's explore how creatine and alcohol individually impact your muscles.

Effects of Creatine on the Muscle Gain

Creatine can help muscle building by drawing water into muscles, slowing muscle tissue breakdown, and facilitating muscle fiber growth.

According to National Institute of Health, the body's natural creatine supply is limited, lasting only a few seconds during vigorous exercises, leading to muscle fatigue [3].

Supplementing creatine becomes crucial in such situations, replenishing stored energy for additional repetitions and better results in workouts.

Over the years, I've learned that keeping creatine levels in check and making up for losses during workouts means incorporating 1-3 grams of creatine into your daily routine.

Effects of Alcohol on Muscle Gain

buff man showing of his big biceps in a gym

Alcohol can impede the essential movement of nutrients and metabolism, which is crucial for fueling the body during and after workouts.

According to data from the National Institute of Health, alcohol consumption hinders protein synthesis during muscle recovery, even with optimal nutrient intake. This makes muscles more susceptible to injury and requires an extended recovery time [4].

Additionally, research from the same health institute suggests that alcohol's influence on nutrient metabolism slows down post-workout recovery and may have implications for bone health [5].

How Does Alcohol Counteract Creatine

man doing an ab workout inside a gym

Creatine boosts exercise performance, but effective muscle recovery, supported by protein synthesis, is essential when taking a creatine supplement to promote muscle fiber growth.

Conversely, alcohol inhibits protein synthesis, negating the positive effects of creatine on muscle cells.

A medical review from Biomedcentral reveals drinking alcohol can directly affect building muscles by disrupting protein synthesis and muscle growth [6].

Furthermore, research from the National Institute of Health suggests that alcohol acts as a diuretic, leading to dehydration. Without sufficient water, the full benefits of your creatine supplement may not be realized [7].

Another study from Cleveland Clinical indicates that alcohol consumption can impact liver and kidney functions—organs crucial for the production and utilization of creatine [8].

Creatine and Alcohol Benefits for Workouts

man holding his painful forearm

Creatine Benefits

Bodybuilders and athletes take creatine supplements to boost creatine levels, assist in protein synthesis, and prevent muscle degeneration.

The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition highlights the benefits of creatine during high-intensity training, promoting faster recovery, improved stamina, and increased strength [9].

Additionally, the research suggests potential health advantages, including enhanced brain functions, a stronger immune system, and prevention of age-related muscle mass loss.

Alcohol Benefits

woman outdoors tired and dehydrated

Despite the persistent belief that even a single glass of wine harms muscles, the extent of the impact relies on the quantity of alcohol consumed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, light to moderate alcohol consumption, such as having a glass or two of dry red wine weekly, may result in improved insulin sensitivity, better blood sugar control, and reduced fatty acids [10].

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and heart health supports sustained energy, improved endurance, efficient recovery, and overall well-being during workouts.

Minimizing Negative Effects of Alcohol and Creatine

hand view of a man checking his sugar level

To minimize the negative effects of mixing alcohol and creatine, follow these guidelines to ensure a balanced approach:

Start your day right

Start your day by drinking water, and if you're consuming alcohol later, replenish your body's water supply after a few drinks to stay hydrated.

Eat healthy foods

Counteract the negative effects of alcohol by consuming fatty, protein-rich snacks such as BBQ chicken, steak, or beef.

Time your creatine intake

Optimal creatine intake is in the morning to align with your body's natural rhythms.

Avoid overindulging

Drinking excessively nullifies health benefits and increases the risk of dehydration when creatine levels are elevated.

Maintain proper hydration

Consume at least 4 liters of water throughout the day if you plan to consume alcohol later in the evening.

FAQs

How Often Can You Drink Alcohol?

You can drink alcohol moderately and infrequently if you’re incorporating creatine supplements into your workout routine. Aim for no more than one to two drinks per occasion, as excessive alcohol consumption can compromise the benefits of creatine and hinder overall fitness progress.

Is Alcohol Bad for Muscle Healing?

Excessive alcohol consumption can be bad for muscle healing because alcohol can hinder protein synthesis and nutrient delivery, delaying post-workout recovery. To support muscle healing, limit alcohol intake and prioritize proper nutrition, hydration, and rest.


References:

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/10/3/441
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3922864/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1324108/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7739274/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513692/
  6. https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-11-26
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC543875/
  8. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-alcohol-affects-your-kidney-health/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/
  10. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol/art-20044551
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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