Creatine monohydrate is an extremely popular dietary supplement amongst bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts. As with most consumables, there are questions such as whether creatine monohydrate does expire and its shelf life. This post will discuss whether creatine monohydrate expires, how often it should be consumed, and other aspects to consider.
Does Creatine Monohydrate Expire?
Creatine monohydrate typically has an expiration date; however, it’s proven to retain its effectiveness for an extended time past its listed date, making it safe for consumption without any uncomfortable side effects. Compared to other forms of creatine, creatine monohydrate is extremely stable and has a longer shelf life than other types of creatine.
It can be consumed for several years beyond its expiration date. However, it is important to note that the supplement may lose potency over time after its expiration date or if it’s left unsealed or exposed to extreme heat. It is important to understand what these terms mean and what creatine does specifically.
What Is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate powder is a popular dietary supplement renowned for its function in muscle growth, performance enhancement, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. It’s made by combining one molecule of creatine and one water molecule. While creatine does expire, it is important to note that the chemical structure remains stable. Therefore, expiration only results in a loss of potency over time.
Although creatine monohydrate doesn’t participate in protein formation, it contributes significantly to energy production and enhances exercise performance, among other health benefits. The body naturally produces creatine from amino acids, with over 95% stored in muscle cells and 5% stored in the testes and brain.
It is also found in small quantities in red meat and certain fish. By consuming this muscle repair and building supplement, people can increase their muscle creatine stores, enhancing power, strength, and bodybuilding performance. And since it has a very long shelf life, you do not need to worry about creatine that has been stored sealed at moderate temperatures even if it is past its expiration date.
Types of Creatine
There are seven popular types of creatine; however, creatine monohydrate is considered the most beneficial and widely used. It is also the most studied and researched and has the longest shelf life. The powder creatine varieties are also chemically stable after expiration and only lose potency, unlike the liquid variant, which can actually expire. Let’s take a look at the types of creatine on the market.
- Creatine monohydrate: Creatine with one molecule of water added.
- Creatine ethyl ester: Creatine monohydrate with an ester added.
- Creatine citrate: Creatine bound to citrate acid.
- Liquid creatine: Liquid form of creatine.
- Buffered creatine: Creatine with added alkaline powder.
- Creatine hydrochloride or creatine HCL: Creatine with hydrochloride molecule added.
- Creatine magnesium citrate: Creatine magnesium chelate.
Liquid Creatine vs Powdered Creatine
Liquid creatine is essentially a pre-dissolved liquified form of creatine. It’s a common version of creatine available on the market as an alternative to creatine powder. It may contain other components, such as stabilizers and flavoring, that dilute the core creatine concentration.
It is marketed as a practical form of creatine since it does not require mixing. There are also unsubstantiated claims of a higher absorption rate than its powdered counterpart version. However, this version is more susceptible to degradation and loses its potency much more rapidly than powdered creatine, meaning it has a much shorter shelf life than powdered form.
On the other hand, creatine powder, particularly creatine monohydrate powder, has a longer shelf life and overall stability when stored properly away from extreme heat.
Shelf Life vs Expiration Date vs Sell-by Date
Understanding specific terms is critical for preserving your creatine for the maximum shelf life. You should avoid contamination, and keep your creatine sealed and at moderate room temperatures. Despite their apparent similarity, let’s make sure you understand the different terms used regarding creatine expiration dates.
The shelf life of a product, in this case a nutritional supplement, refers to the time it can be stored before it begins to deteriorate and lose its potency. Regular perishable foods, such as tomatoes, meat, and eggs, may have a shelf life of only three to five days.
For this supplement, the shelf life primarily refers to how long it can retain its overall effectiveness and quality after manufacture. Once your creatine supplement is past its shelf life, it begins to lose potency and undergo degradation. You may detect an unusual odor, an odd taste, or a strange discoloration.
At this stage, creatine degrades into creatinine, its waste product; that also results from your muscles’ normal wear and tear during daily activity. Despite this, your supplement’s shelf life is merely an estimate. A particular product may last months after its listed expiration date; however, this does not necessarily indicate that it becomes harmful or hazardous.
The manufacturer specifies the expiration date on how long the product can remain at optimal quality and effectiveness. It serves as a guide for consumers by indicating the date after which the product is no longer suitable to achieve maximum benefits. With certain consumables, ingesting after the expiration date may pose a health risk, but is that the case with creatine monohydrate?
Consuming expired creatine monohydrate has no negative side effects if kept dry and away from extreme heat. With creatine, consuming past the expiration date only decreases powdered supplements’ efficacy and effectiveness. However, if you use creatine that’s expired, you may not receive all it’s benefits or attain your bodybuilding goals due to loss in potency.
Manufacturers and retailers are primarily concerned with the sell-by date, as it informs them of the optimal time to sell a product to ensure its quality and freshness. This is not particularly relevant to you as a consumer.
You can still carry out creatine supplementation after the sell-by date if it exhibits all indications of freshness and no spoilage.
How Should You Take Creatine to Beat the Expiry Date?
You can take 5 grams (5000mg) of creatine daily. The standard recommended dosage is 3-5 grams daily. There are two phases in making creatine supplements work (though a loading phase is not required);
- The Loading Phase: The loading phase involves taking 20 grams for 5 to 7 days, divided into four 5 grams serving per scoop, to immediately fill your creatine stores for optimal benefits.
- The Maintenance Phase: Following completion of the loading stage, the maintenance phase begins, requiring 3-5 grams of creatine powder to achieve muscle creatine saturation and maintain full levels.
Ensure you consult a healthcare professional or strictly follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer on your creatine plastic.
What Are the Signs of Expired Creatine?
It can be challenging to tell when your creatine supplement has expired since it only loses its potency and doesn’t become harmful or pose adverse risks under most circumstances. Regardless, it’s important to be informed of when it expires. Here are some signs to watch out for in creatine that’s expired.
Change in Appearance
It is likely expired if you have caked or clumpy creatine. Also, when the powder is not stored in a dry environment or kept away from moisture, it may become clumpy creatine. While the clustering may diminish the supplement’s potency, it is still consumable and does not render it toxic or expired.
Other indicators of creatine degradation may include the presence of visible hardened mass. To avoid this, make sure to store creatine far away from water.
Creatine that’s expired may exhibit unusual discoloration. Although this is uncommon, off-color, brownish, or darkened appearances frequently indicate that the creatine is defective. If any of these colors are observed, it is best to discard your powder.
Unpleasant Taste or Odor
If your creatine monohydrate supplement gives off a rancid smell or tastes unusual, that may suggest it’s past its expiration date.
Exceeding Expiration Date
As expected, this is the most telling sign of creatine that’s expired. While the expiration of creation does not affect your health, and you can consume beyond its expiration date it loses its efficacy and eventually becomes useless after enough time (varies by brand but past one year of expiration generally means total loss of potency).
Unless you are unconcerned with its health benefits, which is uncommon among people, let alone fitness enthusiasts, an expired creatine is useless after a year past its expiration date. You may discontinue the use after the recommended year.
Can You Take Expired Creatine?
Yes, you can take expired creatine. As highlighted earlier, taking expired creatine will not harm you or pose health risks. A creatine supplement can expire 2 to 3 years from production. However, it can remain stable and consumable for over a year.
The only disadvantage of using creatine that’s expired is that it is ineffective. Consequently, you may not achieve your ideal bodybuilding and fitness goals. The potency of the supplement may progressively deteriorate with time.
However, the length relies on factors such as shelf life, storage circumstances, manufacturer’s recommendations, and routine inspections for deterioration.
When to Toss Your Creatine
Although expired creatine doesn’t have to go in the trash, and you can still consume it beyond its expiration date, consuming a fresh and well-stored supplement maximizes the potential health benefit and safeguards your health. If you notice any sign of spoilage, such as the aforementioned signs including mold, it’s best to throw out the creatine immediately.
Additionally, improper storage can diminish the quality of creatine. If you have doubts about where and how it was stored, such as in direct sunlight or under other unfavorable conditions, you should dispose of it.
Does Creatine Powder Expire After Opening?
Not immediately, but eventually creatine does expire after opening, and this may be 2 to 3 years after opening. However, the powdered version may remain stable for 1 to 2 years after opening it. On the other hand, other versions, such as the liquid variant, would not last very long after their expiry date.
Does Creatine Have an Expiration Date?
Yes, creatine has an expiration date of 2 to 3 years. Generally, supplements have a long expiration and can be used for a long time, especially if you store creatine well. You can take up to 25 grams daily for two weeks or 10 grams daily for a duration of 5 years.
How Long Can You Use Creatine Monohydrate?
You can use creatine for as long as you want, you do not need to cycle off creatine or stop creatine supplementation. Creatine supplements may be used continuously, without interruption, without negative side effects. Cycling off will likely cause you to lose your significant gym gains. If you’re in doubt, try to consult a doctor.
Creatine monohydrate is a stable supplement that can help you quickly increase muscle performance and adenosine triphosphate production. Its long storage life ensures you can use it for over 2 years. However, if not properly preserved, it can rapidly lose its potency, so check for all signs of deterioration to avoid ingesting contaminated supplements.