Being a vegan athlete definitely has its challenges, especially because of the lack of meat. While I’m not a vegan myself, I wondered, should vegans be using creatine?
Most vegans should take creatine. Creatine is an important nutrient for the metabolic system that most people get by consuming meat. When you’re not eating meat, you aren’t getting creatine, which makes it important for vegans to use it as a supplement.
While creatine is usually a good idea for vegans to use, it’s not for everyone. Below, I’ll go over some caveats you should know about before you use it.
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Yes, Vegans Should Use Creatine as a Supplement
Right off the bat, you should know that while creatine is a good supplement for most people, it’s definitely not for everyone. Some people may experience side effects, though not many. Before you take any supplement, talk to your doctor and make sure it’s a good idea for you.
With that out of the way, I can talk about why vegans should be taking creatine. While there are many reasons anybody should take it, there are two main reasons why vegans themselves should.
The first is that vegans are already low on creatine. Yes, our body produces some of its own creatine, but the majority of our creatine comes from animal meat. Since vegans inherently don’t eat meat, this leads to a problem.
Without consuming meat, most vegans have very low creatine levels. Pescetarians are usually okay because they eat fish, which contain creatine, but vegans and vegetarians are lacking it.
Not having enough creatine can cause issues like low energy, difficulty building muscle, and getting fatigued too quickly. Because of issues like these, it’s a good idea for vegans to supplement with creatine.
The second is that vegans who are also athletes or lifters can benefit greatly from creatine supplementation. You already know about the lack of creatine that vegans have, and why that’s bad, but it’s even worse for vegan lifters.
Because you already have lower creatine levels as a vegan, you’re at a severe disadvantage compared with other lifters. Many people who lift weights supplement with creatine, putting their creatine levels above normal levels.
As a vegan, you have creatine levels below average.
Because of this, it’ll be much harder for you to build muscle, and if you’re a competitive lifter, you’ll have a pretty bad disadvantage. So, if you’re a vegan, and you’re a lifter, it makes a lot of sense for you to start supplementing with creatine.
This being said, the question of whether or not you should take creatine doesn’t have a black and white answer. Below, I’ll go over some caveats and more information that you should know about.
With all the different types of creatine out there, some are vegan and some are not. If you want to learn about the different types of creatine, read my article on every type of creatine available on the market!
Not Every Vegan Needs Creatine
While creatine is important for vegans, athletes, lifters, and everyone else, not everybody needs to use it as a supplement. It definitely helps if you’re a lifter or athlete, especially if you’re also a vegan, but that doesn’t mean it’s a necessary supplement.
For example, if you’re a pescatarian but you eat a lot of fish/salmon, you may not need creatine supplementation.
You also don’t need creatine to build muscle. While it definitely helps, it’s not needed to get stronger and build muscle. Personally, I think almost every lifter and athlete should take creatine, but at the end of the day, it’s not completely necessary.
Along with this, people react differently to creatine. Some people may face side effects like stomach issues or even dizziness, but you won’t know until you try it for yourself.
The vast majority of people don’t have any side effects at all, but some people do. Along with testing side effects out for yourself, you should talk to a doctor before you take any type of supplement.
If you decide that creatine isn’t for you, don’t worry. Most vegans, and most people for that matter, don’t supplement with creatine. After all, the body produces it naturally, and you can build muscle just fine without it.
How Creatine Helps Vegan Athletes
Creatine supplementation can help vegan lifters and athletes in many ways. First of all, it gives your body an important nutrient that most people get from animal meat, as I’ve already explained.
Because vegans lack creatine from food, it’s good to use it as a supplement, so your metabolic system is running the way that it should. More importantly for lifters, creatine will help you build muscle.
Creatine helps to give your muscle cells more energy, so you can finish more sets and reps than you were able to before, therefore building strength.
Another bonus is more short-term endurance. In your metabolic system, your creatine reserves are one of the first things used to produce energy. If you have more creatine in your body, you’ll have more energy for things like sprints, explosive lifts, and other short-term exercises.
Is Creatine Actually Vegan?
Yes, creatine is vegan. While most people get creatine from consuming animal meat, creatine supplements are almost always synthetic. This means, that instead of getting creatine from animals, creatine is made in laboratories without using any animal products.
Because of this, creatine is completely fine for vegans and vegetarians to use as a supplement. Many things in today’s world are made with animal products, including food, supplements, clothes, and many other things you may use on a daily basis.
For most lifters, it’s almost impossible to avoid animal products in their food, supplements, gear, and other objects. Creatine, however, is an exception to this. If you’re vegan, you can rest assured that the creatine you’re taking is free from animal products.
This being said, you still want to make sure that your brand of creatine is actually vegan. Most brands of creatine are vegan, but this doesn’t mean that every single one is. There’s a small chance that some manufacturers do use animal products, so you should check, in order to be completely sure that your supplement is safe for vegans.
Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Have Creatine
I mentioned this before, but creatine is used in the body to give your muscles more energy, as well as making it easier to build more muscle. While most people get their creatine from consuming animal meat, vegans rarely get any creatine at all.
The body may make some of its own, but the majority comes from meat. When you don’t have enough creatine, as most vegans don’t, you may find it hard to complete short, endurance activities, such as lifting weights, as well as activities like sprinting. You may also find it harder to build muscle.
While creatine isn’t needed to build muscle, it definitely gives you an edge. Just because you aren’t taking creatine doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to build muscle, it just means that you’ll be at a disadvantage to other lifters, especially as a vegan.
Along with boosting muscles and endurance, creatine also works in the brain, mostly for memory. In fact, it’s also used as a supplement for people with Parkinson’s Disease. While you won’t experience memory loss if you don’t have creatine, your brain won’t be working as it should.
Creatine is good for everybody to take, not just vegans, for muscle growth, endurance, and brain health. But for vegans especially, it’s important to take creatine, to make sure your body and brain are healthy.
Do Vegan Athletes Need Creatine? Vegan athletes don’t necessarily need creatine, but it’s a good idea. If you’re a competitive lifter, you’re at a disadvantage to other lifters and may find it difficult to build muscle.
Is Creatine Bad for You? While creatine does have its side effects, it’s safe and healthy to take overall. In fact, it’s “likely safe” to consume for up to 5 years. This being said, some people do experience side effects. Unfortunately, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Is Creatine Plant-Based? Creatine is safe for vegans to take, but it’s not plant-based. Creatine is naturally found in animal meat, and creatine supplements are synthetically made.