Imagine opening up your tub of creatine and getting a whiff of the local fish market. What is that all about?
Cracking open a tub of creatine only to get hit with an intense fishy odour can be unpleasant and concerning. You’ll be wondering if your creatine has gone bad or if taking it could make you sick.
But before you toss out your foul-smelling creatine, read on to understand what causes that fishy funk and whether it’s still safe to use. This article will also provide tips on proper storage to keep your creatine fresh.
Unflavoured creatine has no real smell or taste. You shouldn’t be able to taste anything when mixed in water. Unfortunately, some people have opened their tubs and been taken aback by a weird smell. The most common smell reported appears to be a fishy odour. If this is the case, you need to be returning or disposing of the tub. Make sure you’re storing in a cool, dark place as heat and moisture can cause creatine to degrade which can lead to the funky smell you’re getting. There’s also a chance you might experience your own body odours that might feel linked to creatine. In fact, there are probably underlying health conditions that may need consultation with a doctor or other health professional.
Table of Contents
10 Things Nobody Tells You About Creatine
Why Does My Creatine Smell Like Fish?
I get it. Your creatine stinks! Let’s understand what’s going on shall we?
1. Creatine Shouldn’t Smell
When you first open a new container of creatine powder, it should have little to no odour.
Some people have mentioned that their creatine smells a little ‘chalky’. The fact that it looks like chalk dust might be influencing you to ‘think’ it smells like chalk. Who knows? The one thing I do know is that it shouldn’t smell funky or like fish!
Personally, the creatine I use has never had any sort of smell at all. Even the tubs I’ve had for a while still don’t smell of anything.
I even asked my wife to test my open creatine tub for a smell and she couldn’t smell a thing either. Trust me, she’s got the nose of a bloodhound so if there was some sort of smell, she’d know!
If your creatine starts to kick out a stink, then it might be time to bin it or if it’s a new tub, send it back for a replacement.
2. My Creatine Smells Like Fish! Help!
There are plenty of people all over the internet complaining of smelly creatine supplements. Search on any bodybuilding or fitness forum and you’ll see that the most common complaint is that it smells like fish!
This is then usually followed by ‘Should I throw it out?’.
Erm, yes you should! You wouldn’t drink sour-smelling milk (or maybe you would, I won’t judge!), so why would you scoop this disgusting smelling powder into your food and drink?
The fact that your creatine smells like fish can be down to a few factors.
If you’ve opened a new tub and get that pungent fish smell, it’s likely that your batch has been contaminated during the manufacturing process, usually with moisture. Even a small amount of water introduced during production can cause the creatine to degrade.
The other issue you might have is that your creatine has not or is not being stored correctly either by you, the manufacturer or the retailer.
In any case, you shouldn’t be using it. I’d be sending it back for a replacement ASAP!
3. Poor Storage Could Be Your Problem
As I’ve touched on above, creatine needs to be stored correctly. And by correctly, this means it needs to be stored in a cool, dry place.
If you’ve had your tub open for a few weeks, you need to understand that creatine degrades faster when exposed to heat and moisture.
When creatine is exposed to moisture, it becomes less stable and starts to degrade. The same is true when exposed to high temperatures too. It’s best to store at around room temperature, between 15–25°C (59–77°F).
It is best to store creatine powders away from heat sources like a cooker or toaster. It’s also a good idea to keep it away from any sources of moisture or steam like a kettle or sink.
Creatine would be best kept in a sealed tub, in a cupboard or pantry where it’s not likely to be exposed to heat or humidity. So no sun-drenched window ledges above your sink!
4. Check Your Expiry Date
There’s a good chance that this shouldn’t be an issue for most people.
Most creatine supplements have an expiry date of around 2 years after production. Healthline.com says that creatine supplements can actually last much longer than that.
If you’re taking 5g of creatine per day as recommended, a 300g tub will last 60 days which is well within the 2 year expiry.
However, it’s still worth checking your expiry date as you might have been sent a tub from an older batch. Some suppliers regularly discount their short-dated stock so I’d recommend having a scan at the manufacturing or expiry date if you’ve bought at a discount to make sure you’re getting the most from your creatine.
5. Does Creatine Make YOU Smell?
It might sound like a stupid question but it’s actually not as weird as you’d think.
But, creatine alone DOES NOT make you smell.
However, there are a few other conditions which might make you start to smell a bit odd that people link to creatine use.
First of all, you need to consider your diet. For example, are you on Keto?
When your body is in ketosis, it produces ketones. Any excess ketones are removed from the body in your breath and through sweat. One of the ketones is actually acetone, the same stuff that makes nail polish remover smell so bad!
I’m speaking from experience when I say, this is not pleasant! My wife hated me being on keto as she used to say I had an ‘aura’. A nice way of saying I stank I guess!
Another potential cause of body odour, other than you haven’t had a wash, is a disorder called Trimethylaminuria. This is a condition where the sweat and breath of those affected has a foul-smelling, fishy odour.
Without fully going into the science, the smell is caused by an enzyme deficiency in the gut which breaks down triethylamine (TMA), a chemical found in certain foods, into an odourless compound trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO).
It is commonly known as ‘fish odour syndrome’, and could account for some people reporting a strange body odour.
More On ‘Fish Odour Syndrome’
The other potential issue could be a kidney infection. The kidneys filter out creatinine, the waste product of creatine, and it si removed from the body through urine.
If you’re experiencing foul-smelling urine, this could be a result of high creatinine levels caused by a kidney infection.
It could be worth a trip to the doctor if this is one of your symptoms but ultimately, creatine will not make you smell.
6. What Type Of Creatine Are You Using?
Probably the most commonly used form of creatine is monohydrate. Not only is it one of the cheapest forms of creatine, it is widely studied to be the most effective form of creatine.
You might have been put off your creatine due to the smell and have considered switching to capsule or liquid form instead. However, monohydrate powder is the most stable form of creatine.
Creatine begins to degrade when mixed with a liquid and has a much shorter expiry date then monohydrate powder. Plus, with creatine in pill form, you’re less likely to know if there is an issue as any smell will be trapped inside the capsule.
At the end of the day, the choice between powder or capsule comes down to personal preference. They’re both creatine and will do the same job overall.
My personal preference is powder as it’s less expensive and more stable than other forms of creatine
The Bottom Line on Smelly Creatine
When that newly opened tub of creatine powder assaults your nose with a funky odour, it unfortunately means it’s gone bad. You need to be sending that back for a refund or replacement.
For any tubs that have been open for a while, you need to make sure you’re storing your creatine in a cool, dry place to prevent it from degrading and going bad.
Also, check the expiry date on your tubs and try to use them within 2 years of manufacture.
If you do experience any personal odour issues, they are very unlikely to be linked to creatine use. It’s more likely that you may have an underlying health condition or simply your diet may be causing the problem. My advice here is to seek medical guidance.