In general, the combination of alcohol and creatine my not be innately harmful, but it is not typically recommended. Creatine is a nutritional supplement that is often used by athletes and bodybuilders; it is also produced naturally by the human body, and can be used as a short-term energy source. In powder form, creatine is often mixed with water or juice when it is taken as a sports aid. While small amounts of alcoholic beverages can be consumed along with creatine, the use of alcohol and creatine can counteract the muscle-building advantages of this supplement.
The scientific name for creatine is “methylguanido-acetic acid.” It consists of several different amino acids that are interlinked that all play an important role in replenishing the energy stores that are used during an intense muscle contraction. People can naturally boost their creatine levels through the consumption of foods such as fish and red meat. By consistently taking creatine in supplement form, individuals can load or “saturate” their muscles with key amino acids that are useful for intense physical activity.
Most supplements come in a condensed form, and must be combined with a beverage. Creatine is most effective when it is mixed with carbohydrates, such as those found in a sugar-rich beverage. High levels of carbs cause the body’s insulin levels to rise, which increases the uptake of amino acids into the muscle cells. Some supplement powders come pre-mixed with carbohydrates and creatine to take advantage of this nutritional fact. Substances such as dextrose or simple sugar can also be consumed at the same time as creatine in order to maximize its effectiveness.
Despite the presence of carbohydrates within alcohol, beverages such as wine and beer are usually not recommended alongside creatine. Research indicates that the combination of alcohol and creatine will not immediately cause harmful effects, but can hinder athletic performance. Several scientific studies show that alcohol decreases the level of testosterone within the body. Low levels of testosterone means that less muscle can be maintained. Additionally, alcohol often has a negative effect on motivation and response time, and can significantly impede athletic performance.
Hydration is very important for proper muscle function. When the body is dehydrated, creatine cannot be properly converted into energy. Alcoholic drinks are natural diuretics. This means that beer or liquor will draw water away from the muscles, and cause the body to excrete a large amount of fluid in the urine. The frequent combination of alcohol and creatine can lead to muscle cramps, stomach discomfort, and other dehydration symptoms.