It’s thought that supplementing with creatine is able to enhance physical performance. Will sweating in the sauna after a workout limit the gains creatine is supposed to provide?
Multiple studies show that it’s safe to use the sauna when taking creatine. Sweating may reduce the “muscle bulking” appearance caused by the water retention side effect of creatine; however, the change in concentration does not directly result in dehydration. Overall, combining the sauna with creatine consumption may lead to greater muscle gains.
Keep reading to learn if it’s okay to use the sauna when taking creatine, how creatine works, and which type of sauna is the safest to pair with creatine supplementation.
Is it okay to use the sauna when taking creatine?
Multiple studies have shown that taking creatine will help your body hold onto water, thus resulting in “bloated” or larger-looking muscles. Does this mean that sauna bathing will reverse these effects?
It’s generally safe to use the sauna when taking creatine, as long as you’re drinking enough water. It’s important to note that creatine modifies your body’s water reservoir by rerouting more water into your muscle cells. However, the change in concentration is statistically insignificant and does not result in increased chances of dehydration.
In fact, there is an abundance of scientific literature that actually contradicts the theory that creatine can dehydrate you. In a 2001 study, no adverse effects, such as muscle cramping, were documented following creatine supplementation and 30 minutes of HITT (high-intensity interval training) exercise.
In a 2003 study, researchers found that heat exhaustion was lower in NCAA Division IA college football athletes taking creatine versus those who did not. Therefore, it may even be responsible for helping to prevent some of the symptoms associated with being dehydrated.
These findings allow us to deduce that it is perfectly okay to use the sauna while taking creatine. That being said, make sure to hydrate as you normally would. The less water biologically available, the less creatine will be able to drive it into your muscle’s cells and make them appear more substantial.
How does creatine work in the body?
It’s important to understand how creatine works. There are some controversial opinions around this topic, so let’s see what the science says.
Research shows that 95% of creatine is naturally found in our muscle cells (as phosphocreatine) and helps to produce energy during exercise. Taking creatine as a supplement increases phosphocreatine storage and helps your body create more adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Ultimately, this enhances strength, physical performance, and muscle size.
Some other ways taking creatine may improve your gym outcomes include its ability to raise anabolic hormones, reduce muscle protein breakdown, and lower myostatin, which inhibits muscle growth.
Also of note: traditional dry saunas, in particular, have the ability to produce 16-fold increases in hGH levels. Human growth hormone is pivotal in building, maintaining, and repairing our muscles. Pairing sauna bathing with creatine is a great way to see tangible results from your workouts.
Sauna use also inadvertently helps to boost testosterone by lowering cortisol and insulin levels that interfere with its production.
Does the sauna affect creatine?
Through increased sweating, saunas do reduce our overall water retention levels. Will this impact how creatine works?
Overall the sauna doesn’t affect how creatine contributes to regenerating ATP. Although, it will reduce the amount of water in your cells. This is why you may notice a reduction in the size of your muscles when you visit the sauna.
Fear not; this is merely a temporary aesthetic setback and has nothing to do with your energy levels or long-term muscle mechanical gains.
Does sweating affect creatine?
Sweating helps your body rid itself of dangerous toxins; does it dispel creatine as well?
Sweating only impacts the amount of water your body retains, not the phosphocreatine storage itself. However, because your time-to-failure increases while on creatine and you’re able to work out harder, and for longer, you may notice yourself sweating a bit more than usual.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about “sweating out” all of the creatine you took, as it is intended to be used during high-intensity training.
Is it okay to use a steam room when taking creatine?
Are steam rooms just as acceptable as traditional dry sauna exposure?
It’s perfectly okay to use a steam room when taking creatine. Important tips for safely using a steam room when taking creatine include:
- Stay hydrated
- Monitor your energy levels to prevent overexertion
- Spend no more than 15 minutes inside, 3x per week
Be sure to drink water while you’re exercising and at least 2 glasses (16 oz.) of water both before and after a sauna session.
Is it okay to use an infrared sauna when taking creatine?
What about infrared saunas?
Infrared saunas are also suitable for use. Important tips for safely using an infrared sauna when taking creatine include:
- Stay hydrated
- Monitor your energy levels to prevent heat exhaustion
- Spend now more than 10 minutes inside, 3x per week
Drink plenty of water when combining exercise and sauna use of any kind. Drink at least 2 glasses (16 oz.) of water both before and after a sauna session. Also, reduce the time spent inside to 10 minutes due to hotter temperatures.
To sum it up, research shows that sweating in the sauna doesn’t have any adverse effects related to creatine. Just be sure to stay hydrated and take creatine responsibly!