Steroids vs Creatine: Differences, Uses, And Side Effects

Creatine and steroids are two terms that get thrown around frequently in bodybuilding circles. However, can they be compared? Which one of them is better? Do they have the same effects? Or do they act completely differently on the body?

You’ll learn about the differences between creatine and steroids in this article, helping you decide which one is best for you.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid made in the kidneys and pancreas and is mostly present in the brain and body’s muscles. You can also acquire them by consuming red meat and seafood. 

Although, getting them from food sources is remarkably low compared to artificially made creatine supplements. Creatine is stored in the muscles as phosphocreatine where it is readily converted into energy. 

Furthermore, they are mostly used by athletes or bodybuilders who take them orally in order to boost their body mass and athletic performance.

It can also serve as a treatment for numerous medical conditions such as depression, fatigue, muscle cramps, and multiple sclerosis among others. Creatine also works in the treatment of advanced conditions like heart failure, brain disorders, and neuromuscular diseases.

However, the most common use of creatine is to boost performance in exercises and build muscle mass. You can also use tropical creatine to prevent rapid skin aging.

SEE: Is Red Meat Harder To Digest? See How Long It Takes

Are creatine steroids? 

No, creatine is in no way a steroid and should not be mistaken as a form of anabolic steroid. Creatine is a substance produced in our bodies naturally. 

steroids and creatine (steroids vs creatine) - cheffist

It has proven to be effective for people who are looking to gain weight, improve their strength and endurance, as well as recover better after a workout.

For various bodybuilders, athletes, and those who seek to improve the outlook of their bodies, creatine serves as a dietary supplement. Creatine, however, is also shunned and avoided by some. 

That is because some belief it to be responsible for digestive issues, abnormal weight gain, cramping, and kidney and liver problems. However, numerous studies support its safety and usefulness

What are steroids?

Steroids or corticosteroids are chemically and artificially made replicas of hormones found in the human body. Their main purpose is to act just like hormones do in combatting inflammation in the body. 

Note that steroids (corticosteroids) should in no way be mistaken for the anabolic steroids commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders to boost their performance. 

While these artificially made hormone replicas do not necessarily solve hormonal issues, they are exceptionally useful in reducing inflammations. They also serve as medications for treating symptoms like stiffness, swelling, and body pain. 

Also, these steroids should not be mistaken for the steroids used by athletes for bodybuilding and do not offer muscle-building capabilities.

Steroids used by athletes in muscle building are called anabolic steroids and similar to corticosteroids, are also artificial hormones.

Read more about anabolic steroids and how they influence athletic performance in the section below.

Anabolic steroids

Commonly known as AAS or anabolic-androgenic steroids, anabolic steroids are artificial sex hormones that consist of synthetic hormones and natural sex hormones like testosterone. 

These group of sex hormones (androgens) are similar in structure and possess almost identical abilities to testosterone. Furthermore, they boost the number of proteins in cells and muscles and offer various masculinization effects. 

These effects can range from the maintenance of some masculine sexual traits like the growth of the body and facial hair or the building and development of masculine body attributes like muscle mass.

While some athletes build their muscles the organic way through a strict bodybuilding regimen and diet, others take the shortcut by illegally making use of anabolic steroids.

Anabolic steroids can sometimes be prescribed by health practitioners to treat people dealing with medical conditions like the inability to sufficiently produce enough testosterone or some forms of anemia. 

Unlike corticosteroids which help in reducing inflammation, anabolic steroids mostly serve as a masculinity boost. Also, corticosteroids and anabolic steroids do not share the same side effects.

SEE: See If Almond Milk Truly Contains Estrogen

Steroids vs creatine: What are the differences?

While creatine and anabolic steroids help in bodybuilding, they possess certain differences that set them apart. The following are some of the differences between creatine and steroids;

Origin and sources 

Creatine is organically present in fish, red meat, and the human muscle while anabolic steroids are artificially created forms of the male sexual hormone, testosterone.

Effects on bodybuilding

Anabolic steroids are known to improve athletic performance and boost muscle size even when you don’t undergo exercise. However, optimum results are achieved when you use a dedicated workout plan. 

Creatine on the other hand does not guarantee the same results when used alone. To notice the effects of creatine on bodybuilding, you must perform weight exercises to build your muscle. It mostly serves as an energy supplement to help you undergo very intense training. 

Also, note that an overweight person won’t lose the extra fat when using anabolic steroids during their workout or muscle-building training. These steroids will however promote the production of more complex molecules like fats. 

For the best body-building results when using anabolic steroids, combine the use of the supplements with intense workouts. 

Health Concerns

In terms of side effects to your health and general well-being, creatine barely possesses harmful side effects when used by healthy individuals. However, common side effects you may experience when using them include stomach aches, muscle cramps, and nausea. 

These side effects disappear as soon as you stop using the supplement and have no lasting negative effect on the body. Prolonged usage of anabolic steroids can affect your testicles’ ability to produce testosterone. 

Also, the inability of your testicles to produce testosterone even after you quit the use of these steroids will persist. They also worsen the conditions of people with an enlarged prostrate or heart-related issues. Hence, it is inadvisable to use them if you have these conditions.

Note that the inability to produce testosterone leads to a lower sex drive and infertility in men.

Drug usage

Creatine is mostly offered in powdered form making it dilutable in drinks or water while anabolic steroids can either be taken through subcutaneous injections or orally via pills. 

There is a general misconception that the use of anabolic steroids orally is safer. This is untrue as oral medications have to go through the liver. Also, prolonged use of AAS can result in liver damage. Subcutaneous injections are a much safer means as they do not go through the liver.

Why do steroids make you fat?

Anabolic steroids tend to increase your appetite, affecting your body’s metabolism and how it accumulates fat. An increase in your appetite and body’s metabolic rate will lead to rapid weight gain and fat deposits in your abdomen.

SEE: Does Brown Rice Make You Gain Weight?

How do steroids work in bodybuilding?

Steroids work in bodybuilding by stimulating your muscles to grow and get bulkier. This is achieved by replicating the effects of the testosterone naturally produced in your body. They stimulate the body’s testosterone receptor since they possess a similar composition. 

Once stimulated, the testosterone receptors promote a series of metabolic reactions which force the body to boost muscle tissue production. 

Note that it can take up to a year for anabolic steroids to completely leave the body system.

Is it safe to take creatine on steroids?

Yes, as long as you do not have heart-related or testicular enlargement issues, the use of creatine on a steroid cycle is relatively safe. However, avoid taking over 10 milligrams per day and take enough water to avoid dehydration.


What are the side effects of steroids?

Common side effects associated with using steroids include; swelling in the lower parts of your legs, stomach upset, confusion, weight gain, and fat accumulation in your face, abdomen, and at the back of your neck. It can also cause high blood pressure and infertility.

What are the side effects of creatine?

Common side effects you may experience when using creatine include stomach pain, muscle cramps, and dehydration. When topically applied to the skin, it may result in itching, swelling, and redness. 

Why are anabolic steroids illegal?

Anabolic steroids are illegal in the world of sports because they help the body rapidly achieve what should take dedicated hard work in a short period. Also, doctors rarely prescribe them to healthy and young people for the purpose of muscle building.


So, given all of the information we’ve covered, which option do you think is better for building muscle? If you chose creatine, you’re absolutely right. Creatine has a vast array of benefits which make it a much better option than steroids. 

In addition to the differences between the effects of the two substances on your body and lifespan, there’s also a major difference when it comes to legalities. Steroids are drugs that have been proven to have harmful side effects and are illegal in many states and countries. 

Why take an illegal substance with possibly harmful consequences when all you really need is creatine paired with a healthy diet? Here are the top benefits of gluten-free diets and why you need them for your body-building journey.

I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.