When I’m buying creatine, I’m usually going to be doing so in bulk. I can be scooping out of the same tub for months, and sometimes, somewhere down the line, I find myself wondering, “when did I even buy this creatine?”

A lot of creatine products get shipped without an expiration date, which can leave you wondering when it does expire, or if it expires at all.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the science behind it all and answer that question for you.

How Does Creatine Work?

Creatine is one of the amino acids that the body naturally produces.

The best creatine supplements aim to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your body [1], which is what we use to create more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) when we’ve depleted it through exercise.

Taking a creatine supplement can help athletes to train longer and harder, raises anabolic states, and improves cell signaling, amongst other benefits. [2]

Some people use supplements with creatine with beta-alanine to experience optimum gains.

white powder

...Creatine supplementation increases intramuscular creatine concentrations which may help explain the observed improvements in high intensity exercise performance leading to greater training adaptations.
- Kreider,  RB et al, Researcher, Texas A & M University

There are lots of different types of creatine supplement, but the most common and popular is creatine monohydrate, and most of the research and science that we discuss in this article will be relating to that.

Other product types include creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride (HCL), creatine gluconate, buffered creatine, and liquid creatine.

Does Creatine Expire?

spoonful of powder

Creatine products can last much longer than the expected expiration dates on most products, which are usually 2-3 years after its production compared to whey, for example, which goes bad in as little as 6 months. [3]

Creatine monohydrate powder supplement is very stable and is unlikely to break down into creatinine, its waste product. Even time and poor storage do little to impact the product and cause the breakdown.

One study shows that the supplement hadn’t begun to break down even after 4 years stored at a high temperature of 140°F (60°C).

Other forms such as creatine ethyl ester and liquid creatine are less stable and will breakdown more quickly into creatinine after their expiration dates.  [4

Should You Take Creatine That Has Expired?

You can still use creatine that has expired. Studies show that the breakdown into creatinine is unlikely to occur for several years after production and usually for a fair while after the expiration date.

This means that expired creatine, especially creatine monohydrate, should be fine to use. There should be no adverse side effects in taking it. 

Creatine is relatively inexpensive, so if yours has been left out, stored incorrectly, or is past the expiration date and you have concerns, replace it.

expired creatine

Once the supplement has broken down into creatinine, it is much less potent and will not work as intended. [5]

Click here to learn about when to take creatine.

Can Expired Creatine Make You Sick?

sick man

No, generally, expired creatine will not make you sick. Its effects on the body have been well studied and documented, and it’s generally considered safe to consume. [4]  

Given the stable nature of creatine monohydrate, it’s likely to last well beyond its expiration date, and even when it does begin to break down, it will primarily lose potency, not become in any way harmful. 

The only way that creatine may become dangerous to consume is if bacteria are introduced through moisture or being left out. You will notice a change in the powders color, aroma, consistency, and taste if this happens and if it does stop taking that powder immediately.

How Should You Store Creatine?

You should store your creatine in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. You should store your creatine away from sunlight as it may speed up the breakdown process. [6

By keeping your creatine stored correctly and ensuring the powder isn’t introduced to moisture, you are significantly improving its shelf life, and it should be fine to use for years after its expiration date.

Moisture is the big problem, though, as with it can come bacteria, which is the only way your creatine might truly go bad. [7]

medicine container

How Long Can You Keep Creatine?

You can keep creatine supplements for about 2-3 years from production as long as they are stored properly. That answer depends on which form of creatine you are using, though. Creatine monohydrate is more stable and could last past that estimated expiration date.

Use the expiration as a guide, store your creatine supplements properly, and stop using them if they don’t seem to be working as well as they used to.

What Does Expired Creatine Look Like?

expired powder

Expired creatine looks much the same as regular creatine. The act of it breaking down doesn’t affect much of a physical change. 

You might have experienced clumpy creatine or expect to see that past expiration date, but that is usually caused by moisture in some way getting into the powder.

As mentioned before, there may also be some discoloration or strange smells from older creatine powders, but this typically indicates bacteria is present, and it should be thrown out.

Conclusion

So, does creatine expire? In particular, creatine monohydrate is incredibly stable and has a long life that could well last even past the expiration dates given on the packaging.

By storing it properly and using common sense, you should be able to continue to enjoy the supplement and benefit from buying in bulk. 

scoop with powder

Signs that moisture or bacteria have been introduced to the powder are the only real warning signs you should be looking at for, and they are easily spotted in most situations. The powder may become clumpy, change color, or give off a funny smell in these instances.

Creatine will become less potent when it begins to breakdown but is not technically harmful. While it won’t work as well as it once did, it’s unlikely to make you sick.

If you do experience any new side effects or problems from taking your creatine powder, you should seek medical advice.

For a list of our recommended vegan creatines, hop on to this page.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22297802
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22817979
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16721796
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21424716
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10893433
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12701816
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512480/
3 Shares