CREATINE PAUSE PHASE
Do I need to stop taking creatine? Some may perhaps be a little apprehensive about taking a break. Creatine is working miracles: you’re getting stronger, putting on lean muscle, so why would you stop?
There is however a very good reason to stop. Taking creatine for prolonged periods of time, in this case for more than 8 weeks at a time, diminishes the positive effects that creatine has on you. Effectively your body gets used to it and will no longer see any benefits from it.
If you take creatine for an 8-week period, it will remain in your system while you give your body a break and will possibly lead to even better results as a consequence. But if you continue to take it your body will no longer react to it in the same manner.
IS IT NECESSARY TO CYCLE CREATINE?
Simply put, no, you do not need to cycle creatine.
There are many benefits to be seen from the loading phase, however, there are alternate ways to increase overall creatine levels.
One such way, that can be similarly effective, is to take lower doses of creatine daily. This can take a little longer but leads to the same desired outcome of increased creatine stored in your muscles.
This route might take a little longer to maximize muscle stores versus creatine loading but it ultimately can lead to the same outcome.
There are however pros and cons to cycling creatine:
Pros: You may reap the benefits faster if you load creatine.
Cons: High doses of creatine can have adverse side effects such as cramping and discomfort. One way of trying to skirt this is to split the creatine up into smaller doses taken throughout the day.
If you choose not to load creatine, and consistently take a dose that is greater than your body is using, you will ultimately achieve the same results.
WHEN TO TAKE CREATINE SUPPLEMENTS
Creatine is not a stimulant (it is important to time stimulant usage), it works on saturation. As long as your body is saturated you can take creatine whenever it is convenient for you. So, creatine timing is not as important as say a traditional pre-workout supplement with stimulants.
Taking creatine with food might reduce the chance of an upset stomach for those who suffer from sensitive stomachs.
When loading creatine, it is advised to space it out throughout the day.
For more on creatine's athletic benefits, see our blog post "Creatine: The Athletic Supplement".
WHAT HAPPENS IF I STOP TAKING CREATINE?
When you stop supplementing on creatine, your muscles levels of creatine will start to diminish within two weeks. Within four to six weeks the creatine levels in your body will normalize to pre-supplementation levels, and your body will be back at its baseline of producing about 2 grams a day of creatine. Studies have not shown there to be any ‘down’ period following the termination of creatine. When you stop supplementing there will be a loss of water, but there will be no loss of muscle.
SAFETY AND SIDE EFFECTS