As a personal trainer, I sometimes get to work with policemen, military personnel, or people who have jobs that require regular drug testing. And one of the most common questions I get from them is: can creatine cause you to fail a drug test?
No, creatine doesn't negatively influence drug tests. Since it is an amino acid naturally found in the skeletal muscles of your body, as well as in fish and red meat, creatine will be detected by tests. However, creatine is neither illegal, nor banned by any sports associations.
Therefore, creatine won't cause you to fail a drug test, whether for recreational drugs or banned substances.
This is the answer in a nutshell.
Keep reading if you want to get a more in-depth answer about:
And more. Let's get started.
Can creatine cause you to fail a drug test?
As I said above, creatine can't cause you to fail a drug test.
There are two reasons:
Creatine is naturally found in your body
Your body holds around 95% of its creatine in your skeletal muscles and 5% in your brain and liver.
At any given point in time, your muscles are 60-80% filled with creatine. Most of it comes from consuming seafood and/or red meat, but your kidneys, liver, and pancreas also produce around 1g of creatine per day.
The only effect of creatine supplements is filling the remaining 20-40% of your muscle capacity to hold creatine.
Since this amino acid is already found in your body in fairly high quantities…
Enter your text here...Even though it will show up on tests, even having elevated levels won't cause you to fail a drug test.
Creatine is not banned by any athletic organization
Some people fear creatine can be regarded as an unfair advantage in athletic competitions.
Fortunately, this is not the case.
This fear is usually common among amateur athletes. Every professional athlete takes creatine, as it does offer an advantage. And since it is not banned, not taking it would mean giving your competitors an edge over you.
There is one small caveat though.
Even though creatine is not illegal, the NCAA doesn't allow institutions to provide their athletes any muscle building supplements, including protein powder, creatine, amino acids, etc.
That is not to say they don't allow the use of these supplements.
However, athletes who want to use supplements have to purchase them on their own.
Can creatine actually impact a drug test?
In the last few years, you might have noticed an increase in drug detox kits.
Their name is pretty self explanatory: you purchase one of those kits and, presumably, through the mix of ingredients and supplements they provide, you can pass a recreational drugs test.
One of the supplements they use is creatine.
In a drug test, the amount of drug metabolites for any given drug is closely measured. And the best way to bring the number of metabolites down is by having a more diluted urine - i.e. drinking more water.
And that used to work back in the day. Chugging a large quantity of water would usually dilute the urine to the point where you could pass a drug test.
But as tests have become more advanced, they also started to test for creatinine. If you are not within the normal range for creatinine, the test results may be regarded as inconclusive and you may be asked to take the test once more.
And here's where creatine comes into play.
Over the course of 24-36 hours after ingesting creatine, it turns into creatinine. Therefore, the thought process goes that if you consume enough creatine, to the point where it metabolizes into a lot of creatinine, you can then drink a lot of water. This dilutes your urine, potentially helping you to pass the test, without triggering any alarms.
In a nutshell, creatine doesn't remove any illegal substance from your body. It only helps your urine look normal, even though it may be highly diluted.
The difference between creatine and creatinine
Now you may be confused with the terms creatine and creatinine.
They sound similar but are they actually the same? And if not, what is the difference between them and why should you care in the context of failing or passing a drug test?
At any point during the day, there will be a certain amount of creatinine in your urine.
Even though the levels of creatinine in your urine fluctuate, there is a general range that most adults fall within. Hence, in order to assure that there is no cheating by submitting diluted urine, your levels of creatinine will usually be tested as well.
Therefore, if you expect to be tested and you know you haven't taken any illegal substances, your best bet is to just not drink water the day of.
Ideally, prior to taking the test inform the nurse that you are taking a creatine supplement.
Should you take creatine?
From what you may know up until this point, creatine is a presumably great supplement. But is it worth taking, since there are so many questions and possible hassles that arise with taking it?
I am talking about things like:
And questions upon questions about safety, risks, the true nature of the benefits, and so on.
To all these questions the answer is very simple and can be summed up in a single paragraph.
Creatine monohydrate is the most researched supplement on the market. There are no reported short or long term side effects. Everybody, including beginners, can benefit from creatine in terms of strength, power, and muscle mass. The easiest way to start taking creatine is by ingesting 5g per day for as long as you want, with no research backing up the claim that you should cycle the intake.
The bottom line
Can creatine cause you to fail a drug test?
Certainly not. Aside from the fact that it is a naturally occuring amino acid in your body, as well as present in some of the foods you consume, creatine is also 100% legal. It is not banned by any sports association and it is not considered doping.
So if you are an amateur athlete, you don't have to worry about any repercussions for taking creatine.
If anything, you will only get to experience benefits from taking this supplement.
Over to you.