Does Creatine Expire? How Long Does It Last?

does creatine expire?

According to a study from Connecticut, creatine supplementation can increase muscle performance and aids cell signaling during a high-intensity exercise.

But, do the effects stay the same when these supplements are taken after the expiration date?

In this article, we will have an overview of creating supplements, what shelf-life is, the lifespan of different types of creatine, how to properly store them, and what happens when one takes creatine after the expiration date.

Creatine Supplements: An Overview

Many fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and athletes in the fitness industry are fans of creatine supplements.

According to a study from Colorado, aside from muscle function enhancement, this powdered creatine offers many health benefits such as cognitive support.

Your body naturally produces this organic compound in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. It results from the combination of amino acids arginine and glycine. 

How Creatine Works

In a clinical review from Italy, it was stated that creatine supplements work by increasing your body’s muscle phosphocreatine stores and raising anabolic states. 

To understand better how creatine supplements work, phosphocreatine stores serve as your energy storage.

Generally, phosphocreatine stores maintain your adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to produce regular muscle contractions whenever you exercise.

Eventually, this can lead to an increased lean body mass and the prevention of tissue damage.

Understanding Shelf-life

In the pharmaceutical industry, this is the duration of time in which a drug is considered safe to consume.

The lifespan of a drug is usually determined using product labels.

For bottled supplements, shelf-life is termed as:

  • Expiration date or EXP
  • Expiry date or ED
  • Use before
  • Consume by

Generally, manufacturers base the expiration dates of drugs and supplements on the date of manufacture. 

For example, some antibiotics come with a 2-year lifespan while antihistamines come with a long shelf-life, around 5 years.

For supplements, it is worth mentioning that most of them are suitable to consume for 2-3 years. 

Furthermore, you should not mistake the best before dates with expiration dates.

The former tells you when the supplement or medication is no longer that fully effective after that specific date while expiration dates tell you the last day when the medication is safe to be consumed.

Lifespan of Creatine

The shelf-life or expiration date of creatine depends on the type.

Generally, there are many types of creatine such as creatine monohydrate, ethyl ester, hydrochloride, gluconate, buffered creatine, and liquid creatine.

The most common ones are the first three, and in this section, we will determine their respective lifespan.

1) Creatine monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate powder is the most popular, extremely stable, and safe form of creatine compared to other forms. 

Many manufacturers prefer to produce creatine monohydrate supplements using creatine powder as this form is well-supported by research.

However, the expiry date or lifespan of a creatine monohydrate supplement is astounding, unlike other medications.

When stored correctly, in a cool, dry place, a creatine monohydrate powder can last for up to 2 years after its expiration date.

Based on a clinical review from Wisconsin, even poor storage gives little impact on a creatine monohydrate supplement.

In this study, at a high temperature, the signs of breakdown for creatine monohydrate were only noticed after 4 years.

Furthermore, according to a study from Switzerland, at a high temperature, creatine monohydrate can be converted into creatinine.

Although considered safe to consume, the benefits creatine offers can become less. 

2) Creatine hydrochloride

Creatine HCl is another form that can increase creatine stores, provide more ATP, and aids cell signaling in your body. 

In terms of solubility, creatine HCl is superior to creatine monohydrate.

This means that creatine hydrochloride is better absorbed by the body.

However, in terms of the expiration date, the hydrochloride form can only be consumed up to 90 days past the expiration date.

Additionally, at high temperatures, degradation can be accelerated.

At high temperatures, creatine HCl can be consumed up to 15 days past the expiration date.

3) Creatine ethyl ester

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, aside from not being as effective as the monohydrate form in providing health benefits such as increasing muscle mass, strength, and power, creatine ethyl ester is also relatively less stable.

This means that this form of creatine is not safe to be consumed after the expiry date. Generally, creatine ethyl ester can improve muscle recovery time. 

But, after this form of creatine expires and you still take it, it can only produce certain side effects which will be discussed in the next section.

How to Store Creatine Properly

If you want to keep your creatine or other dietary supplements safe to consume, they need to be stored properly.

Aside from making them useful even after expiration, side effects can also be prevented.

According to a study from Turkey, even if a certain supplement, for example, creatine supplement, is not yet expired, it can produce unwanted side effects.

Some of the effects of improper medication storage include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Reduced potency
  • Increased risk of poisoning

Thus, to avoid these, it is recommended to keep your medications, and supplements, or not, stored properly.

For general information, the storage technique for creatine and other supplements includes the following:

a) Follow the label

The FDA requires supplement manufacturers to complete their product information on the labels. 

This means that proper storage conditions should be indicated to prevent the breakdown process of a certain medication.

Usually, you will see the instruction “store in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight”.

b) Avoid moisture

Keeping your supplement away from moisture is more important than considering the temperature. 

To prevent moisture from entering your supplement, you should seal your bottle properly.

Remember that regularly opening and closing the same tub increases the risk of moisture.

You can also consider an airtight container when storing your powdered supplements or use a day-by-day pill box to reduce the risk of degradation.

c) Use medication bags

When traveling, it is recommended to take cool, dry, medication bags with you to store your supplement.

In case you have observed discoloration or odor changes, better not to use it as it can already be considered a waste product.

What Happens When You Take Expired Creatine

According to a study from Tennessee, knowing that it is safe to take creatine past its expiration date, it is also necessary to learn what may happen after consuming them. 

In this study, the only thing that may happen past the expiration date is that these supplements can primarily lose potency

Signs of Expired Creatine

Some people may consider clumpy creatine powder as a waste product but this is not true.

Moisture can make clumpy creatine, but, because the powdered form is incredibly stable, the potency of the supplement is not altered.

Some signs of expired supplemental creatine include unpleasant aroma, discoloration, and unusual taste. 

Final Thoughts

Indeed, supplements with creatine work by helping your body produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The more ATP you have, the more phosphocreatine stores, and higher muscle function await you.

Aside from the powder form, there are other forms of creatine such as micronized and liquid creatine, and users of these supplements may ask, how long does creatine expire?

The answer would be it depends on the form and storage conditions.

Although expired supplemental creatine looks similar to regular creatine, once signs of degradation are observed, the supplement should be avoided.

To avoid your supplements from deteriorating, it is highly advised to store them properly.