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Does Creatine Expire? How Long Is It Safe to Use?

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 17, 2022

Have you found a supplement containing creatine in the back of your pantry and didn’t know if it’s safe to use because they seemed to have not printed an expiration date on it? You’re not alone because a lot of creatine products seem to be distributed without an expiration date.

Let’s explore what vegan creatine is, how it expires, and if it’s safe to use after you unearth it in an archeological quest. Before we get started, here’s a tip and a reminder: when buying creatine supplements, check if they’re missing the expiration date, and if not - mark them with the purchase date or bring them back to the store if you don’t feel safe doing that.

After all - if you don’t see the expiration date, neither does the distributor, meaning they can’t really control how long it’s been sitting on their shelves!

What Is Creatine and What Are Its Benefits?

Creatine is thought by many to be the absolute number one when it comes to helping your workout performance.

Creatine is the energy builder found in your muscles - it’s what makes you go and is very similar to amino acids in structure. Your muscles store it not in a pure creatine form but as phosphocreatine. When you take creatine supplements, they are actually stored in your body as phosphocreatine - mostly in your muscles, but some also in your liver and your brain (about 5%).

Your phosphocreatine stores help your body produce a high-energy particle called ATP. If you’ve been researching how to get the maximum performance out of your gym workout, you’re most likely familiar with ATP.

If not, here’s a hint: pretend like you’re playing a video game, and ATP are your energy points. The more you have, the better you perform.

  • You will be able to lift more and accomplish a longer workout when you have more ATP.
  • Helps your muscle cells to be better hydrated.
  • Aids muscle repair and growth.

What Is Vegan Creatine and Does It Go Bad?

Vegan creatine is made when sarcosine and cyanamide are synthesized. The original products don’t contain any animal by-products and are safe to use by vegans.

In our bodies, creatine is made by the liver and then distributed in the muscles. Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can have a noticeable effect post-workout.

There are a few ways to administer creatine - there are dry powders used in “classic” post-workout drinks, and there are ready-made liquid drinks that are sold completely ready for consumption.

The powdered form of creatine lasts for up to two years beyond the expiration date if stored in a cool, dry place. This is the same as most medications (although we can’t prove this claim). Companies know it’s much safer to put the expiration of products like this before they actually expire to minimize the chance of anyone slipping up and ingesting it beyond its expiration date. You can easily say that most creatine packages don’t have an expiration date per se but a “best by” date.

Are there other uses for expired creatine?

There are a lot of sources that say that you can go ahead and consume creatine well beyond its expiration date - even several years, instead of the safe one or two. As long as it’s kept at a warm (yes, warm!) temperature and dry, it should be good to go, not cause harmful effects or lose its power.

Remember, this isn't exactly “food” - it’s a chemical compound, which means the storage rules might differ slightly from, let’s say - storing beans or rice. Speaking of storage…

What should you be worried about? It’s more about storage than expiration time. Sometimes, you will notice that your creatine has gone “clumpy” and is stuck together. This means that moisture has gotten into your bottle and caused it to clump. This alone doesn’t mean that your creatine has gone bad, but be wary:

Prolonged exposure to too much moisture or air (if you leave your bottle open for long periods of time) will definitely cause your creatine to lose potency. It might not actually make you sick - this product is pretty stable. But it will be pointless to take it, as its active ingredients will have oxidized and deteriorated to a point where they will no longer affect how well your workout goes.

Another problem that you may notice happening in your creatine bottle is when the powder has gone off - perhaps it changed colors or started to smell funky. This is a tell-tale sign of bacteria or molds getting in. Perhaps due to excessive moisture and an unsealed or cracked container.

If you notice this, it’s best to stop taking it because this is where you might actually develop poisoning or other health problems due to the ingestion of mold and bacteria. Always check if your creatine bottle has been sealed when in storage, right after purchase - especially if you order it online and it has been through quite a ride with your local FedEx or UPS. You never know how it was treated or where it landed!

So, are there uses for expired creatine? Yes - you can go on using it well past the “best by” date.

Final Thoughts

Creatine is safe, even when it’s past its “best by” date - often by even a few years! The catch here is storage. You have to store it in a tightly sealed container, away from moisture, air, or sunlight.

Remember that it’s not the creatine itself that goes bad - creatine goes bad when it gets infected by organisms like mold and bacteria due to exposure to air and water. Studies show that keeping it in a warm place might actually extend its shelf life! So don’t put it in the fridge - it won’t work!

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