As someone who likes to go to the gym, you may have started taking creatine at some point then stopped for a while. Or it’s possible you bought a pouch or a tub of creatine, but never opened it.
You’re now wanting to know if creatine expires and goes out of date or if it’s still ok to take? How long will it last you for?
The short answer is this:
As a food supplement, creatine will have an expiry date on the packet set by the manufacturer. But the truth is that creatine is likely to last well beyond this. Creatine monohydrate is a stable compound that will last for years and stay good when stored in a cool, dry and dark place.
However, creatine will go bad eventually and there are always a few things to look out for to make sure it doesn’t get to this point. Let’s find out the details.
Can creatine go out of date?
As it’s classed as a food supplement, a creatine product will have an expiry date. This will be printed on the packet as it’s come off the production line in the factory.
The expiry date of creatine is likely to be around 1-3 years from when you buy it.
For example, on the image above – I bought this in August 2022 and it has an expiry date of July 2024.
So yes, creatine can go out of date but this is more to do with the manufacturer guarantees rather than the actual product going bad.
However, don’t be alarmed if your creatine is about to expire. It’s been shown that creatine can remain good even 1-2 years over its expiry date.
This all depends on if creatine is stored correctly. Powdered creatine monohydrate will come either in a pouch or screw-top tub. As long as you seal the package properly after each use and store the creatine in a cool, dry place (e.g. a cupboard), your creatine should be absolutely fine for a number of years.
Can creatine go bad?
I’ve been taking creatine monohydrate for around 15 years. Over that time I’ve tried both tablets and powder – and found both to be effective.
I’ve now settled for creatine powder that I take various ways. Sometimes with water, as part of my pre-workout, post-workout, before bed or even dry scooping creatine.
As I take this supplement almost every day, including creatine on rest days, I haven’t had creatine go bad on me before.
The only issues I’ve ever faced with creatine is that it has sometimes gone clumpy. This is undoubtedly because I stored it incorrectly and moisture entered the bag. It’s fine to take clumpy creatine. Once broken up in the packet and added to water, it’ll be good to go.
This is also helped by the fact that creatine shouldn’t go bad if you’re taking it within a few years of it being produced. For example, this 2011 review found creatine monohydrate powder still to be good after 4 years of being stored at high temperatures.
Creatine monohydrate is unlikely to go bad as it has a stable chemical structure. It’s formed from three amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine.
Here’s an informative video from Myprotein explaining how creatine powder is made. I’ve been to the Myprotein factory in Cheshire and it was very impressive.
However, if creatine isn’t stored properly it can go bad. For example, if you leave the tub open, in direct sunlight or in a high moisture environment, it probably won’t be good for very long.
What about other forms of creatine – can they go bad?
It’s fair to say that the powdered version of creatine monohydrate is the most stable.
This type of creatine will last longer than tablets and liquid versions of the product.
You can also get different forms of creatine as you probably already know. Other creatine versions include:
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Creatine gluconate
- Creatine malate
There’s less research into these other creatine products and formats. However, because many of these other forms are compounds, they’re unlikely to be as stable as creatine monohydrate.
For example, some are coupled with carbohydrates to help creatine enter the bloodstream quicker and give you even more energy. This may be beneficial for using creatine to gain weight and muscle, but this also means they won’t be as chemically stable and won’t last as long..
As mentioned, powdered forms of creatine will last for the longest. Tablets probably not as long, and liquid even less.
A liquid form of creatine will have a much shorter shelf life. This is because it will be temperature and pH dependent. Liquid creatine will probably need to be stored in the fridge.
Is it OK to take expired creatine?
Ok, so you have some creatine that is out of date – but still looks and smells fine – and you take a scoop. Will anything bad happen?
The general consensus is that you will be fine if you take expired creatine that still looks and smells normal.
Once creatine passes its expiry date it may start to degrade. This sees it break down into creatinine.
It may sound similar but creatinine is a waste product produced through the metabolism of creatine and is excreted through urine. Creatinine will not give you any benefits during your workout and is largely ‘physiologically ineffective’ but not dangerous to health.
Everyone has creatinine in their blood that is waiting to be excreted. Although this is different to consuming it, there are no adverse effects associated with creatinine ingestion.
If the powder still looks like creatine, is white and doesn’t have a funny smell, you should be absolutely fine. The worst that might happen is that the pure creatine content may have diminished and its potency will have reduced meaning you won’t get as much to your muscles.
If this is the case, it will largely be a waste of time rather than causing any health issues. Other than that there are no major risks associated with taking expired creatine.
It almost goes without saying, but if your expired creatine has changed colour or has an unusual smell, don’t consume it. It would only do this if some form of bacteria is present.
Creatine shelf life once opened?
Once you have broken the seal on a creatine product, what’s the shelf life then?
Once opened, powdered creatine should last for 1-2 years when stored properly in a cool, dry place.
How to store creatine properly?
Creatine should always be stored in a cool, dry place that’s out of direct sunlight. If possible, you want to keep the container air-tight too.
There’s nothing more to it than this.
Good places to store your creatine tub or pouch include:
- Store room or pantry
- Desk drawer
You might even have it stored in some form of tupperware or concealed container upstairs if you like to take creatine before bed, which is perfectly fine.
Wrap up on creatine expiry
Hope that blog post helps you out when it comes to taking creatine and if it goes out of date.
Like any food supplement, creatine will eventually go out of date and expire.
In the vast majority of circumstances, it should be fine to take creatine that has gone past its expiry date. This is because it’s a very stable compound.
As long as your creatine tub or pouch is stored in a cool, dark and dry place, and doesn’t have a strange smell or colour, it will be fine. Creatine is one of the safest supplements out there with a fantastic track record when it comes to reactions and adverse impacts, which makes it a more than worth it supplement.
If you really are not sure if you should take it, the best advice would be to just throw the creatine away and buy some new creatine as it is one of the most affordable gym supplements.
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