Stupid Human Creatine Myth #71 : Elevated Creatinine Levels

Fri, Sep 2, 2011

NEW Creatine Delivery Forms are all the rage!

Doctors… Gotta love ‘em in the same breath I spit in their general direction.

At times they remind me of the over-protective mother who doesn’t let her son get grass stains on his knees for fear they’ll never come off.

It happened again today.

Got another… yes, another comment/question from another well intended guy who just wanted to enjoy a little more muscle and strength in this lifetime.

Seems his doctor eliminated the option of creatine for him years ago because he was concerned about his elevated creatinine levels.

Yes, again…for the millionth time the ignorance of a Dr. scares an innocent, well intended person away—planting the seed that creatine is some scary, dangerous compound that may permanently injure them. And the seeds grow and the myths abound.

A doctor reacting to elevated creatinine levels, treating it as a potential sign of disease in a person who strength trains and/or taking creatine, is like a doctor freaking out about an elevated heart rate after just running a 100 meter sprint.

Sure, if you were sitting on your butt for 10 minutes and your heart rate were 140 bpm, that’d be weird. But when it’s clear, and you both know you just sprinted a race, that heart rate would be expected.

Similarly, if a doctor knows your taking creatine (which converts to creatinine) and strength training (which in itself elevates creatinine levels) then elevated creatinine levels are to be expected.

The confusion really comes down to a breakdown of “cause and effect.” In an “average” sedentary person, elevated creatinine can be an indicator of (important point here) a body’s inability to clear creatinine. Namely, the kidneys. But “normally elevated” creatinine levels, as described, are not a sign of kidney malfunction–nor is the creatinine levels themselves the cause of the kidney disease in the first place. It’s in indicator of—not the cause of.

What is This Frightening Creatinine?

Creatinine is a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism. It’s produced from creatine, a molecule of major importance for energy production in muscles. (amen to that) Approximately 2% of the body’s creatine is converted to creatinine every day. Creatinine is transported through the bloodstream to the kidneys where the kidneys filter out most of the creatinine.

Because the muscle mass in the body is relatively constant (big mistake in assumption here, right?) from day to day, the creatinine level in the blood normally remains essentially unchanged on a daily basis. (Oops! can you see the major flaw on this thinking?)

Why is it important to check blood creatinine levels?

The kidneys maintain the blood creatinine in a normal range. Creatinine has been found to be a fairly reliable indicator of kidney function.**

     (** In “normal” people who are active like a tree stump and who’s muscle are wasting at a fairly normal state, right?)

As the kidneys become impaired for any reason, the creatinine level in the blood will rise due to poor clearance by the kidneys. Abnormally high levels of creatinine thus warn of possible malfunction or failure of the kidneys. It is for this reason that standard blood tests routinely check the amount of creatinine in the blood. A more precise measure of the kidney function can be estimated by calculating how much creatinine is cleared from the body by the kidneys and it is referred to creatinine clearance.

In Summary

Did you note the “calculating how much creatinine is cleared from the body..”? Assuming it’s a pretty steady amount, when you add more creatinine through added creatine intake and/or added strength training (which breaks down muscle) you can–and a doctor should know to–expect the levels of creatinine in a blood test to rise.

Big freakin’ deal! Let’s alert the media and tell your mom! Right.

Now, of course I’m sane enough to know there are not absolutes and even taking aspirin kills tens of thousands of people each year. Thus, we know that everything we do, from brushing your teeth to making toast comes with a risk and these days a disclaimer, “Make this toast at your own risk. Accidental death and worse has been known to occur.”

Thus, you know I’m not suggesting that creatine is safe like water… well, wait, that’s not safe. I mean safe like air… wait, that’s not safe. Well, safe like whatever it is you still have fantasy is safe. But when it comes to supplements that work— and even those that don’t— creatine is more heavily researched, commonly used than most all the others combined.

I think I can safely suggest that creatine (monohydrate, that is–the only sort a reasonable, wise person should/would use) has been used nearly as often and more safely than Twinkies.

So, if your Doctor has scared you away, or someone convinced you Creatine was responsible for the crash of the Hindenburg, time to open your eyes and take a fresh, clear look at the most successful, most effective strength and muscle building supplement in the history of humanity.

Yes, that would be Creatine Monohydrate or as it was Originally known, Phosphagen.

Watch this short show, Creatine-101!

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This post was written by:

- who has written 190 posts on Shawn Phillips | Start Strong Monday.

Author, speaker, sprinter, trainer, fitness guru and Integral philosopher...Shawn Phillips

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17 Responses to “Stupid Human Creatine Myth #71 : Elevated Creatinine Levels”

  1. Kevin T Says:

    Shawn…outstanding! (clearly it is information that the medical community should already know and relatively understand)

    But, like a relative told me a few years ago, who happens to be a 20 year-plus RN…”Kevin, I know you don’t like your kids to have soda, so we brought some (sugar loaded)Kool-Aid instead!” I repeat…20 year RN. I turned my head while allowing my eyes not just to roll, but do a complete 360 orbit. Well, like the big red jug man said himself…”Oh yeaaaaaaah.”

    Reply

    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Oh that’s classic! That’s a story…

      Probably have a 100 similar. People trying to do their best, trying to be aware and helpful… which is what makes it even more sad if not humorous.

      It’s sort of a, “I know you don’t like eating rat poison, so I wrapped this poison in bacon and put some whipped cream on it. There you go!”

      Ha!

      Reply

  2. Fred Frazao Says:

    As a brazilian med school professor of Physiology I’d like to congratulate Mr. Phillips for the article about creatine.I use this product in my train and fell each more in good shape. Hope to read more articles in nutrition and fitness. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Thanks Fred… and thanks for sharing your wisdom.

      I bash on the people who should know, now and then, and it’s never wholesale–as in ALL–but the wise one’s know what I’m saying. The guilty get defensive.

      Shawn

      Reply

  3. Jonas "Honey Badger" Deffes Says:

    Hey Shawn..awesome blog post…
    Today I was visiting my friend who manages a “Vitamin Shoppe”
    That store has a huge inventory of supplements…So i went over to the creatine section just out of curiosity to see if any of the 20 brands they were carrying used Creapure. I was pretty shocked that NONE had creapure and most were manufactured in China or Canada…kinda sad right?

    Jonas Honey Badger Deffes

    Reply

    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Jonas, yeah, there’s no telling.

      It’s not that there are no decent brands or effective products, but it is that HOW THE HELL does anyone know? Who do you trust?

      Who’s been in this business for the duration and is beyond just trying to “make a buck?” That’s hard to find, if not impossible.

      Rock on,
      Shawn

      Reply

  4. Patrick Says:

    This reminds me of the guys who almost didn’t get into the military because their BMI was “unhealthy” because they were so muscled!

    For some reason, when I supplement with creatine (yes it was Phosphagen), my gout (or so the doctor and I believe), which is normally not acting up, goes into overdrive. I’ve not been able to take it as a result, but I’m not sure of the link either. Oh, and building muscle mass without it doesn’t seem to affect the gout.

    Reply

  5. Robbo Says:

    Shawn,

    Can’t thank you enough for all you do! Met you years ago at a signing in the “Valley”. Lucky for us everyone was in line to see Bill and my buddy and I got to bother you for most of the signing time. I always tell people Bill is the face and you are the Brains, us older brothers gotta stick together! I doubt you remember us but just wanted to say thanks for a memorable day. I did BFL and my buddy saw the results. He started using the myoplex phosphagen betagen shake combo 3x a day. Soon after he ran his PR in the San Diego marathon and finished his own BFL transformation. Now he is a certified personal trainer and helping many people. The biggest thing is he is enjoying life. You change peoples lives everyday and many of us are much happier and healthier because of your efforts but mostly example. Now if I could get my wife to stop lusting after your abs………Dude you’re killing me!

    Thank you,

    Robbo

    I was lost after you sold EAS. Glad to see you and Bill are back!
    How did you recover from injury without blowing up? I had knee surgery and then tore a bicep soon after. Along with that I have lumbar spine injuries. I finally realized I’m never going to be injury free-no one gets out alive. I am back at it. I’m 46 so it isn’t easy anymore- I am sure you can relate. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply

    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Robbo…

      Great share. Thanks… great to connect.

      And NICE to “be back!” Have joking… half serious for I feel like I’m getting back in the game, stronger.

      And yes, I get the 46… so well and the changing needs, demands, opportunities. Hence the reason for Full Strength and the change in focus on my seasonal cycling addiction… Love the bike!

      To Your Full Strength,
      Shawn

      Reply

  6. Mary Says:

    Thanks for this!!! No one wants to harm themself trying to be more fit. As a nurse docs I can say docs can scare the heck out of folks. It is nice to see this out there and that creatine taken correctly is safe. Kudos to you for getting this out there

    Reply

  7. Shan Says:

    Hi husband’s creatinine level is 660 and his statin is stopped today. This results is 3 times high than normal range. They have stopped his cholesterol drugs for 3 months.
    How to clear this naturally.

    Reply

    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Good… stop the statin madness… you can find a better, healthier way.

      And creatinine… what about it? It’s a marker of protein use (muscle building / breakdown / training) and a downstream by product of creatine… so if you train and take creatine it may be high but its NOT the sign of kidney damage.. that’s a misunderstanding of a read. Misapplication of..

      S

      Reply

  8. Ed Says:

    I was google searching for info on con-cret creatine suppliment and gout because when I take it, my gout flares up. I feel pretty certain it’s the creatine suppliment because I can stop taking it and be fine, take it and have gout. Of course foods play a roll in this too, but my gout is pretty early in and doesn’t flare up much. I already know what foods to avoid and can easily go months without a flare up, unless I take creatine. I’m not trying to rebuttal the OP, but just want to put this information out there. Another person commented earlier about the same situation. Of course I also realize everyone is different and just because me and him are being affected, doesn’t mean everyone with gout will be affected by taking creatine. Personally I think there is a definite correlation here. I also think people in their 20’s and 30’s taking creatine may be subjecting themselves to future gout related issues, especially given their high protein diets.

    Reply

  9. Shawn Phillips Says:

    Gotta love the PHOSPHA-GEN!!!

    Reply

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