When it comes to creatine, there are a lot of myths and rumors, such as the ones that say you have to load and cycle creatine while you take it. Do you really need to cycle creatine?
The short answer is no, you don’t need to cycle creatine. Even after prolonged use of creatine, your body will be able to produce it naturally, and there are no proven benefits to cycling the supplement.
While it’s easy enough to just say that you don’t need to cycle creatine, there are a few caveats that I want to warn you about. Below, I’ll start with the basics.
Do You Need to Cycle Creatine?
As I mentioned earlier, no, you don’t need to cycle creatine. This myth came around for two reasons. The first being that some people think that if they take creatine for too long, your body won’t be able to produce it naturally anymore.
Therefore, you have to give your body a break from supplementing with creatine. While this sounds good, it’s not true. When you stop taking creatine, it may take a few weeks, but your body will begin to produce creatine naturally once again.
In fact, if you get the right creatine, your body will have an even better reaction to it. I’ve been taking creatine for years and picked out my favorite brand. Check out my recommendation for the best creatine, and you can be sure that you get a safe, effective supplement. Use my code “GET15” for 15% off!
The second reason for this myth is that creatine manufacturers want to make more money. When you start to take creatine, it’s recommended that you go through a loading phase, where you take lot’s more creatine than you normally would, to fill up the reserves in your body.
When you load creatine, you use more of the supplement, which means that you’ll run out of it faster. If you cycle creatine, you’ll go through more loading phases, which means that you’ll use more product, which means that supplement companies make more money. These companies push this myth in order to sell more of their supplements.
While it may sound good to cycle creatine and give your body a break, there are no proven benefits of doing so. On top of this, there are many studies that show there are no harmful side effects of taking creatine even for years at a time.
In fact, I wrote an article about what happens when you stop taking creatine, and I go over all of this more in-depth. Read that one next!
Instead of cycling creatine, here’s what you should do. When you start taking creatine, take about 20 grams every day, for one week. After this week is up, take 5 grams of creatine per day, without stopping. You can stop whenever you want, with limited side effects, and then start again. This being said, again, you don’t need to cycle creatine at all, and there are no benefits of doing so.
Many brands claim that you need to cycle their creatine in order for it to work properly, but that’s usually a myth used to sell more creatine. If you want to learn more about all the different types of creatine, check out my article on every type of creatine available on the market!
How Long It’s Safe to Take Creatine Without Cycling
For most people, it’s safe to take creatine non-stop for up to 5 years. Taking creatine for longer than this hasn’t been studied, and it may not be safe to do. Because of this, there’s really no need to cycle creatine, unless you personally experience side effects of creatine.
Even though taking creatine for long periods of time may not be harmful, creatine in large amounts may actually be dangerous for your body. In particular, it could be harmful to your liver, kidneys, and heart. For this reason, you should be careful if you decide to do a loading phase when you start taking creatine.
If you experience any side effects, during your loading phase or any other time, you should stop taking creatine right away. Creatine has many benefits, but if it compromises your health, it’s not worth it. In the end, for most people, it’s safe to take creatine for years at a time.
Even taking it longer than 5 years, while there are no studies proving this, creatine is most likely still safe to take. Once again, cycling creatine isn’t necessary, and your body most likely won’t notice the difference if you do or don’t cycle it. Even taking it for years at a time, your body will most likely be just fine.
How You Should Take Creatine
When you start taking creatine, you should do a loading phase. I’ll go over loading phases more in-depth under the next heading, but for now, just know that you should do it. After your loading phase is done, you go into what is called a maintenance phase.
This is where you take a lower dose of creatine, about 5 grams every day. If you’re a very small person, take fewer grams than that, and if you’re big, think about taking a few more. You can do this maintenance phase pretty much indefinitely because again, it isn’t necessary to cycle your creatine.
It also doesn’t matter very much when you take your creatine, just as long as it’s a consistent time every day. Creatine comes in either pills or powder form, and you can mix this powder with any drink, even water.
This being said, creatine is absorbed into your muscles faster if you take it with a carbohydrate, like fruit juice for example. I’ll say this just to reiterate, but you really don’t need to cycle creatine. It’s not necessary and only wastes your creatine and money in the long run.
Do You Need to Load Creatine?
If you don’t know, a loading phase is when you start taking creatine, and you take a lot more than you usually would, commonly about 20 grams per day. This is done to fill up the creatine reserves in your body faster, so you get results more quickly.
All this being said, do you actually need a loading phase with creatine? The answer is that you don’t need a loading phase, but it will definitely help you if you do one. If you skip the loading phase and go right to the maintenance phase, which is about 5 grams per day, it’ll take a few extra weeks to see results, but you’ll still see results in the long run.
If you do do a loading phase, you can expect to see results from creatine in about 2-3 weeks. If you’re on a tight budget, or forget to take supplements easily, it might be better if you skipped the loading phase altogether.
Loading phases use more of your supplements and spend a lot more of your money in the long run. Once again, while loading phases aren’t necessary, they can be very helpful in seeing results from your creatine much faster.
4 Quick Tips for Taking Creatine
Take Creatine with Carbohydrates:
I’ve mentioned this before, but if you take creatine with carbohydrates, it’ll be absorbed into your muscles faster. This doesn’t mean that you need to take it with carbs, but if you do, you’ll see results faster. If it’s more convenient for you, you can take your creatine with water, milk, or any other drink that you could think of.
Skip the Creatine Cycle:
I’ve mentioned this many times before, and it’s the point of this whole article, so I’ll keep it short. Creatine cycles aren’t necessary, and in the long run, they’ll only waste your money. Creatine is safe to take for years at a time, so cycling isn’t necessary at all.
Use a Loading Phase for Faster Results:
If you take 20 grams per day for a week, before doing 5 grams a day, your muscles will become saturated with creatine much faster. This means that you’ll see results faster, and in turn, you’ll build muscle and build strength much sooner.
Taking More Than 5 Grams/Day Is a Waste:
While loading phases with 20 grams of creatine is great, once your muscles are saturated, taking any more than 5 grams a day is a waste. This is because once your muscles are saturated, they can’t take any more creatine. Your body gets rid of around 5 grams a day, so you take 5 grams a day to refill what your body lost. Any more than 5 grams a day will just be lost and is a waste of your money.
What Happens When I Stop Taking Creatine? As I mentioned before, your body will still be able to produce its own creatine once you stop taking it. Aside from this, you might lose some of the gains that you made while you were on creatine, but besides that, there aren’t many side effects.
How Do I Take Creatine? Instead of cycling creatine, you should take about 5 grams every day. You can mix it with water, but if you mix it with a carbohydrate like fruit juice, your muscles will absorb your creatine even faster.
How Long Is It Safe to Take Creatine? I mentioned this earlier, but there are no harmful side effects of taking creatine, even for years at a time. Creatine is one of the safest and most studied supplements out there, and for most people, there are no side effects at all.