Creatine is without a doubt one of the most-used supplements in sports nutrition.
While you can obtain it naturally in your body, an extra dose can greatly impact your performance or muscle mass.
There are several health benefits you can obtain from taking creatine long-term.
However, there are some cases where people take breaks.
When this happens, you might wonder if that jar of creatine you have stored is still functional.
Does creatine expire?
In this article, I’ll explore everything related to creatine and its expiration date. Keep reading to find out if you can still consume that leftover creatine.
Does creatine expire?
Related: Can Your Dry Scoop Creatine?
Creatine monohydrate is the most stable type of creatine available on the market.
When stored in a dry, cool place, your creatine can last four years. This means it can last one to two years past the expiration date.
However, this applies only to the powdered form since the liquid form tends to be more unstable.
What does creatine do?
Your body stores creatine in the form of phosphocreatine, mainly in your muscles (although you can find some in your brain).
There are three main energy pathways in your body.
- Phosphagen. It uses phosphocreatine as its main energy source and provides you with immediate energy. One example is when you sprint or lift weights.
- Anaerobic Glycolysis. Its main energy source is carbs, which have a longer energy duration than phosphagen. It typically lasts a couple of minutes. For example, medium-length sprints.
- Aerobic Glycolysis. Aerobic glycolysis uses carbs and fats as energy and has a slow energy release. For example, marathon runners.
I always like to explain the types of energetic pathways so you can understand the importance of creatine supplementation.
Your cells have a reserve of phosphocreatine. However, when you give an extra dosage to your body, the cells become more saturated.
This means they have more energy reserved for quick and fast movements.
Different Types of Creatine
You can obtain creatine from natural sources such as meat, seafood, eggs, and milk. However, some people might need a large dosage you can’t cover with food.
That’s when supplementing comes in handy!
There are different types of creatine available on the market.
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Creatine Ethyl Ester
- Creatine HCL
- Buffered creatine
- Liquid creatine
- Creatine Magnesium Chelate
While there are several options for creatine, the one with the most research benefits is creatine monohydrate.
How does creatine work?
There are several ways that creatine can improve your performance.
As I previously mentioned, the primary role of creatine is to increase phosphocreatine stores, which ultimately means you’re increasing your energy stores.
There are several benefits of having an increase in your energy stores:
- More power. By increasing your energy, you have more fast-acting energy available. This means you can increase the volume in your training sessions or the weights.
- Muscle repair. It can also increase the signaling in the cells responsible for muscle repair. Better muscle repair means a better chance of muscle growth.
- Cell hydration. Creatine can help retain water, which helps with the cell’s hydration levels.
Besides having performance and muscle benefits, research shows that creatine supplementation can also help cognitive function.
A study showed that people who supplemented creatine with a dosage of 5g for six weeks saw an improvement of 50% in their memory levels compared to the beginning of the study.
Does creatine expire?
Like any other supplement, creatine does expire.
On average, creatine supplements have an expiration date of two to three years. This is a long shelf life compared to other supplements like protein shakes or mass gainers.
Thanks to being a highly stable molecule, creatine can last several years past the expiration date (as long as it’s in powdered form).
When it’s in solid form, research shows that it can withstand high temperatures (60°C or 140°F) for up to three years without showing any large signs of creatinine. Creatinine is how creatine downgrades and is a substance your body cannot use.
This means that if stored correctly, it can last several years without expiring. I’ll tell you more about how to store it later in the article.
How long does creatine last?
Since powdered creatine is very stable, it has a long shelf life.
Thus, the shelf life of creatine can be three to four years.
If you don’t take creatine regularly (although it’s a good idea), you don’t have to worry that it will go bad soon.
On the other hand, liquid creatine tends to be less stable than powdered. It’s better to replace it every two years to ensure you are still getting high-quality creatine.
Other options like creatine HCL can expire in months, making it a less stable molecule with a shorter shelf life.
What are the characteristics of expired creatine?
So, how do you know if the creatine you have has expired?
Molecularly speaking, creatine turns into creatinine when it’s breaking down. While this is something you might not notice, it won’t give you the same effect as working creatine.
For physical characteristics of expired creatine (while uncommon), you can see a different coloring in the product, a different smell, flavor, or texture.
Remember that when your creatine clumps, it doesn’t mean it has expired. It means that several creatine molecules are retaining some water molecules.
Can expired creatine make you sick?
As mentioned before, it’s very hard to get expired creatine. Since it takes several years to go bad, you probably would have consumed it by then.
However, what happens if you find a three or four-year-old jar of creatine you forgot you had?
Is it safe to have?
Is expired creatine safe?
Consuming expired creatine is safe. However, depending on how long it expires, it won’t have the same effect as new creatine, since some turn into creatinine.
While it is uncommon to get any side effects, you might have stomach problems consuming expired creatine.
Some of the most common gastrointestinal issues are bloating, stomach cramps, and nausea.
How to Store Creatine Safely and Correctly
To ensure your creatine lasts for a very long time, you must store it correctly.
Keep your creatine in a dark and cool environment. For example, keep it in your pantry. This prevents sunlight exposure or any possible contamination from any other products.
Also, avoid storing it in a transparent container. It’s better when it cannot receive any light through its jar.
If you can find an air-tight container, it can make it last longer than in a plastic container.
Does creatine go bad?
It’s very hard for creatine to go bad. However, it is possible.
If you keep the jar open or drop some liquid into it, bacteria can get into the supplement and spoil it.
If you see that your creatine has a different color, texture, or that it has a foul smell, get rid of it immediately and buy a new one.
Frequently Asked Questions
When does creatine expire?
It can take three to four years for creatine to expire.
On the supplement label, it might say two to three years, but if you store it properly (air-tight container, no sunlight, no moisture, and in a cool place), it can last up to four years.
How long is creatine good after the expiration date?
You can still consume creatine one to two years after it has expired. Always check for any different colors, smells, or textures to determine if it’s okay for you to take the supplement.
How long does it take for creatine to expire?
It takes four years for creatine to expire. Store it in a dark and cool room to make sure it lasts this long.
Can I use expired creatine?
Yes, you can use it up to one year after expiration. However, make sure to check for any abnormalities and err on the safe side if you suspect it isn’t any good.
Creatine is one of the most used supplements in sports nutrition. It has a lot of benefits when it comes to performance, strength, muscle growth, and cognitive functions.
Plus, creatine monohydrate in powdered form is easy to find and well-researched. It has the most stable molecule, meaning it has a long shelf life.
The shelf life of creatine is typically about two years. However, this supplement can last three to four years if you store it in the right conditions (dark, cool, and airtight container).
So, are you going to give that old jar of creatine another go? What’s your favorite brand? Let me know in the comments, and share this article with anyone you know who might have this question.