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Whey Protein Products Containing Creatine Side Effects

By Joe King, M.S.

Whey protein is a dairy-based nutritional supplement that is used by athletes as a high-protein meal replacement to help stimulate muscle growth, repair, and recovery following exercise. Creatine is a nutritional supplement that may increase muscle strength, growth, and performance during bouts of intense exercise, which is why it is sometimes combined with whey protein powder and marketed to athletes as a performance enhancing growth stimulator. Whey protein and creatine both have potential side effects, therefore it is recommended that you consult your physician before using these two products.

Nitrates in Whey Protein

Whey protein supplementation increases the amount of nitrogen in your body, because the amino acids that make up protein molecules are nitrogen-based. An increase in nitrogen may place excess stress on your liver. High amounts of nitrates over a long period of time may cause liver damage, especially if you have a weak or compromised liver due to illness or disease. High amounts of nitrates circulating throughout your bloodstream may also lower blood pressure, which can cause your blood pressure to drop to potentially dangerous levels if you are taking blood pressure medication, causing fatigue, dizziness and mental confusion.

Whey Protein and Kidneys

Whey protein supplementation increases the amount of substrates and minerals that are filtered through your kidneys and removed from your body through your urine. Calcium, a mineral abundantly found in many whey protein products, may crystallize with other compounds in your kidneys, resulting in kidney stones, which can be exceptionally painful and may require surgery to treat. Whey protein may increase the stress placed on your kidneys and can cause damage if you suffer from weak or diseased kidneys. Staying properly hydrated may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones while taking whey protein.

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Creatine and Dehydration

Creatine may cause dehydration, due to its ability to hydrate your skeletal muscles as a result of a process called myofibril hydration. By pulling water into your muscles from the rest of your body, less water is available to other body tissues and cells to perform their normal processes, causing dehydration. Effects of dehydration include dry mouth, fatigue, body cramps, mental confusion, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in seizures and even death. Drinking plenty of water may reduce the risk of dehydration due to creatine supplementation.

Creatine and Kidneys

Like whey protein, creatine can also place excess stress on your kidneys by forcing them to process a greater number of metabolites. Creatine and whey protein, when taken together, may place significant stress on your kidneys and hinder their ability to effectively filter out potentially harmful toxins and free radicals from your body. Drinking large amounts of water can help maintain normal blood plasma volume, which will make it easier for your kidneys to filter and process your blood.

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