If you're familiar with creatine, you probably first heard about it from that guy at the gym who's always hogging the dumbbells. Or maybe you saw an ad for it in a muscle magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store. Whatever the case, you're probably wondering what the deal is with this whole creatine craze.
Creatine is a supplement that has been touted for its ability to help people gain muscle mass and increase their strength. It does this by helping your muscles produce more energy. In turn, this allows you to work out harder and for longer periods of time.
Great! But what about withdrawal? How does the body react when creatine dosage is stopped? That's a long discussion, so without further adieu, let's dig deeper into how creatine works.
Here we go:
What is Creatine, and How Does It Work?
Creatine is an amino acid supplement used by bodybuilders and other athletes for years. It's rumored to help with everything from increasing muscle mass to improving athletic performance. But how does creatine actually work?
Creatine is a naturally found compound in the body, primarily skeletal muscle. It's also found in small amounts in the brain, heart, and testes. When taken artificially as a supplement, creatine is typically synthesized in the liver and then transported to muscle cells, where it's stored.
During exercise, creatine is used as an energy source. When levels of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in muscles drop, creatine is converted to phosphocreatine, which helps replenish ATP levels. This results in improved muscular energy and endurance.
It has also been shown to increase muscle mass by promoting the synthesis of new proteins. Additionally, it may help reduce inflammation and promote recovery from exercise.
Creatine is a safe and effective way to improve exercise performance and promote muscle growth.
What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine?
We gather from the discussion above that creatine supplements are a great way to improve and enhance performance at the gym. The energy given by creatine helps you work out harder and prevents laziness and lack of focus during training. But it's an artificial energy source, and obviously, it's not something you can consume daily!
Right? So, how would your body react when its dosage is halted?
The simple answer is that your body will go back to producing energy the way it did before you started supplementing with creatine. However, your body's creatine stores will be depleted, especially in muscle and the brain. Creatine withdrawal can cause lethargy and tiredness, lasting anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.
The good thing is you won't necessarily feel the energy loss too bad. In time, your body's natural recovery processes will begin to come up to normal levels, sustainable levels.
Side Effects of Stopping Creatine Dosage
When you stop your creatine dosage, you can expect to feel different. Here are some side effects you should be mentally prepared to handle:
When you quit taking creatine, your muscles are less likely to retain as much water as they would when you were taking creatine. So, you can expect some weight loss and muscle mass as you stop your regular creatine dosage. However, it's nothing drastic and definitely not something to be scared of.
Creatine is an energy-enhancing supplement. So, it makes simple sense that upon stopping its dosage, you won't be as energetic as you used to be with the supplements.
Let me break it down: Creatine's recommended dosage is 5 grams daily. Your body naturally produces 1-2 grams daily. With more creatine, you feel energetic because of ATP increase. With 5 grams taken away from your daily creatine stores, you will likely struggle with your workout routine.
It will be worse initially, but it is supposed to get better with time.
Loss of Muscle Mass and Muscle Weakness
You may also, along with fatigue, discover that diminished creatine synthesis causes you to struggle with your exercises, particularly strength training.
It might be more difficult to lift a greater weight or do as many reps because your body produces less ATP energy; it tires faster. Without creatine supplements, your muscles may not be able to keep up with what you're doing.
You'll lose muscle mass when you stop creatine supplements. However, you need to know that creatine neither directly adds to muscle mass nor its loss when stopped. Its dosage increases energy, and you can work out for longer with more enthusiasm.
With creatine gone, your energy levels deplete, and you may not be able to keep up with the same routine as before, leading to muscle mass.
The Best Way to Stop Creatine Dosage
Of course, you need to stop it one day when your fitness goals are achieved, and you don't need that extra dose of energy running in your veins.
Experts say it's generally not a good idea to stop taking creatine abruptly. Instead, it's best to slowly wean yourself off of it by reducing your dosage over time. This will help minimize potential side effects and allow your body to adjust to its normal state gradually.
The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Creatine
Here’s a quick look at creatine:
The Good: More Money in Your Pocket
Creatine is not cheap. If you're on a budget, quitting creatine can free up some extra cash that you can put towards other things, like new workout clothes or healthy snacks to fuel your workouts.
The Bad: Loss of Muscle Mass
One of the main benefits of taking creatine is that it helps build muscle mass. So, if you stop taking it, you may start to see a loss in muscle mass. This is especially true if you don't change your workout routine or diet when you stop taking creatine.
The Ugly: Withdrawal Symptoms?
No evidence suggests that stopping creatine use will cause any drastic withdrawal symptoms. However, some people report feeling tired, irritable, or depressed when they stop taking creatine. If you experience any negative side effects after quitting creatine, they should go away within a few days or weeks.
1. Does taking creatine cause water weight gain?
Because creatine draws water into your muscle cells, it may induce rapid water weight. Your muscles will retain this water, causing bloating or puffiness in your arms, legs, or stomach.
Even if you've just started training, your muscles might appear larger. Because it gives quick results, creatine is one of the most highly esteemed supplements.
2. Do you lose the benefits of creatine when you stop taking it?
The answer is not necessarily! Your creatine supplements never affected muscle mass directly. It means it does not add to muscle mass in any direct way. It is an energy supplement that increases ATP energy in the body. With increased ATP, your muscles can work and endure much more and work out for longer.
The increased endurance and energy help you work out longer and harder, increasing lean muscle mass. When creatine dosage is stopped, you lose that extra energy, which means you won't be able to exercise like when you took creatine.
With reduced energy, your performance will decrease, and you'll work out less, so, obviously, you won't be able to keep up with the speed of muscle gains any longer. You may even lose some of that gained mass with reduced strength training. The obvious loss comes from the loss of water weight that you gain with creatine.
So, with creatine disruption, you don't reverse your gains but don't add muscle at the same speed and lose some pounds in water weight loss.
3. How long can you safely take creatine?
Creatine is a safe supplement to take long-term, with doses of up to 10 grams per day for 5 years having been safely consumed. Lower doses of 4-5 grams daily for 18 months have also been shown to be safe. The largest amount reported as being safely consumed is 25 grams daily for 14 days.
4. How much creatine do you need for results?
A typical dose is 3–5 grams daily; most supplements stick with this dosage. Some people take 20 grams for 5 days consecutively for faster results.
If you're thinking about trying creatine, you should know a few things first. Creatine is a supplement that can help you gain muscle mass and increase your strength by allowing your muscles to produce more energy.
However, if you stop taking creatine suddenly, you may experience side effects like fatigue and reduced energy levels during your workouts. It's best to gradually wean yourself off of creatine by reducing your dosage over time. This will help minimize potential side effects and allow your body to adjust to its normal state gradually.
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- Kurosawa, Yuko, et al. ‘Creatine Supplementation Enhances Anaerobic ATP Synthesis during a Single 10 Sec Maximal Handgrip Exercise’. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, vol. 244, no. 1–2, Feb. 2003, pp. 105–12.
- Naderi, Alireza, et al. ‘Timing, Optimal Dose and Intake Duration of Dietary Supplements with Evidence-Based Use in Sports Nutrition’. Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, vol. 20, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 1–12. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.20463/jenb.2016.0031.
- Wu, Shih-Hao, et al. ‘Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021’. Nutrients, vol. 14, no. 6, Mar. 2022, p. 1255. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14061255.