What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine

What happens when you stop taking creatine? Well, this is the question we all come across everyday. Almost every physically active individual or a sportsperson consumes creatine who likes to keep themselves fit.

But, again, there are rumours, there are questions which we face in everyday life. This happened with me too when I started taking creatine. I faced a lot of doubts like : what does creatine do? what happens when we stop taking creatine? Can you safely stop taking creatine? Do you lose any muscle when you stop taking creatine?

So,
What happens when we stop taking creatine? You can experience fatigue during your intensive workouts, strength provided by creatine supplementation can go down, your body’s water levels can go down.

These all can be managed when creatine is stopped mindfully. Let’s dive in and discuss every step in detail.

Table of Contents

Is Creatine Good? What does Creatine do?

Creatine is a chemical compound naturally occurring in our body. Athletes and bodybuilders prefer creatine supplements due to its ability to provide strength during workouts.

Creatine plays a vital role in providing energy for high-intensity workouts. The creatine stored in your muscles gets depleted when you exercise and this can make you feel fatigue. Thus, taking creatine supplement can improve your performance during workouts by providing you more energy.

Our human body also produces 1-2 grams of creatine on a daily basis. People take creatine for the strength it provides mainly, then it speeds up the muscle growth as well, making creatine a healthy supplement.

There is nothing to be fearful about creatine as long as you are taking the recommended doses and not overdosing with creatine.

What Are The Reasons To Stop Taking Creatine?

One of the main reasons people consider discontinuing creatine is water retention. Creatine supplementation causes an increase in the water content in your body, adding to the body mass which is not preferred by athletes.

A study over the use of creatine finds very minimal to no side effects when you take creatine in dosages of 0.5-3 g per kilogram of body weight daily. It is a natural supplement which is even produced by human body, so there’s no need to be fearful to be honest.

Again, why do you need to stop taking creatine? Many studies suggest that creatine consumption for a period longer than 8 months can gradually decrease creatine benefits.

This is common because your body has been habitual to creatine supplementation. That’s why people cycle creatine to optimize its effectiveness.

Few people have experience discomfort in their digestive systems on using creatine. This could be a potential reason of stopping creatine. Otherwise, if you are stopping your exercise routine, creatine should stop as well.

Do I Really Need To Cycle Creatine?

As we stated before that you might feel creatine is getting ineffective after using it for longer periods. That’s why the concept of cycling creatine came into existence.

Cycling creatine is the best way to optimise its effectiveness. This prevents your body to have the habit of creatine supplements and also allows you to keep your creatine levels balanced. This maximizes your muscle growth and reduces the recovery time between workouts.

Can You Build Muscle Without Creatine?

Yes, you can build muscle without creatine. Creatine is an additional supplement to increase strength and improving performance, but it’s not the only way to achieve your body goals.

Along with creatine, it’s very important to have proper nutrition, adequate recovery time between workouts and exercise routine.

Even, there are studies which show that regularly working out and strength training can help you gain significant muscle mass without any supplementation.

Can You Take Creatine Supplements Forever?

It’s a common misconception that when you experience muscle and weight gain, it’s mostly water weight. It’s not 100% true. Creatine has a natural tendency to draw water into the muscle cells.

Yes, you can take creatine supplements forever. But, it’s always recommended to cycle creatine for efficient consumption rather than using it consistently.

Plus, a study found that participants gained 0.9 liters of total body water when measured before and after the use of creatine. But when both loading and maintenance phase were over, participants showed significant increases in their body mass.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine

Practically speaking, all the benefits that you were enjoying due to creatine will come to an end. When you stop taking creatine, your body starts getting back at normal levels of creatine production.

It’s normal to understand that when we increase our daily calorie intake by 200 grams, that will slowly end up increasing our weight due to excessive calories. Similarly when you stop the excessive calorie intake, your weight will slowly start decreasing since you’re taking less calories.

The same theory applies with the supplements. When we take supplements optimally, we enjoy benefits, when we stop, the benefits tend to cease.

Here are some of the common things faced by people who stop taking creatine:

1. Reduction In Water Content

Loss of water weight is the first thing you notice when you stop taking creatine. Why? Because, essentially, creatine increases the water holding capacity of your body, but when you stop taking creatine, your body starts flushing excess water.

This added water weight can give you inflated figures when you measure your actual body weight along with muscle mass. So, this exactly happens because for every creatine molecule in your skeletal muscles, you get a number of water molecules in the muscles along with it.

When you stop taking creatine, there’s a great chance you might lose that excess water, making you lose a total of 5-7 pounds in the initial few days.

Just one thing to note that, this weight loss might not be any fat loss or muscle loss, just elimination of excess water. So, make sure you are hydrating yourself optimally and keeping a balanced diet.

2. Fatigue And Low Energy Levels

You might experience a certain decrease in energy levels when you stop taking creatine initially. Creatine, as a health supplement, provides a substantial amount of energy for high-intensity exercises.

This decline in energy levels is majorly because your body has become habitual of the elevated energy levels, and since creatine isn’t there anymore in the body, feeling of fatigue is normal.

Now, once you have stopped the supplementation, the body will take its due time to adjust to the new routine and you might experience some fatigue or some decline in energy levels. Make sure you are staying hydrated, having a nutritious balanced diet and keeping yourself physically fit.

Your body will start adapting to the new lifestyle, will find new sources of energy and ultimately restoring your energy levels. Stay patient, optimistic and allow your body to have its time and recover once you drop creatine.

Well, you can also take BCAAs, another healthy supplement like creatine to increase stamina and strength for workouts.

3. Muscle Size and Strength

It’s very likely to experience a decrease in muscle size and strength when you stop taking creatine. While we take creatine to improve our muscle performance and boost muscle growth, it won’t happen when stop creatine.

Creatine is essential for providing energy during strenuous and explosive workouts. You might experience a reduction in both muscle mass and strength since creatine won’t be there.

On the contrary, it becomes very important for you to adjust your training routine and nutritional intake according to your performance and muscle gains.

Incorporating other strength-building exercises, maintaining a balanced diet, and considering alternative supplements may help mitigate the potential loss of muscle size and strength when discontinuing creatine use.

4. Decrease In Protein Synthesis

Creatine intake has shown positive impact on muscle growth and repair. Stopping creatine supplementation can impact your protein synthesis.

But again, this can be countered with proper nutrition and continuous resistance training. It will help you maintain and build muscle mass.

It’s very important to maintain an adequate amount of protein intake throughout the day by incorporating a variety of protein sources. This helps your body with building necessary muscle mass and helps growth.

Consistency and Progressive overload in your workouts remain key factors in supporting muscle development, even without creatine supplementation.

5. Decrease in Urine Creatine Levels

It’s very common and easy to understand that when you stop taking creatine, creatine levels in urine will decrease as well. This is due to the fact that your body doesn’t have excess creatine to eliminate.

Creatine levels in urine in no way indicate your performance or muscle creatine stores. Less creatine in urine doesn’t necessarily mean full depletion of your body’s creatine stores.

It’s recommended to visit your doctor or a healthcare professional to properly assess you. It’s not advised to solely depend on creatine levels in urine.

Keeping your focus on maintaining a balanced diet and working out regularly will do a great deal.

6. Low Creatine Levels

Let’s understand this on a practical level. Initially when you didn’t used to take creatine, you were living on the creatine your body produces right?

Then, you started using creatine supplements, you experience the benefits of increased creatine levels. Now, when you stop taking creatine supplements, it’s natural for your body to have low creatine levels.

Now, you might experience lack of strength or energy in your high-intensity activities, because your body was relying on the extra supply of creatine. You may also notice a decrease in your overall performance and endurance in the workouts.

Of course, there is nothing to be fearful of or getting scared, your body creates creatine itself but on a lower rate. Having well-balanced diet, creatine sources such as fish, red meat help you maintain creatine content in your body.

7. Experiencing Muscle Cramps

You might get some muscle cramps for a day or two when you discontinue your creatine supplementation. This can be majorly due to drop in cellular hydration levels because of low creatine levels.

They might give discomfort for few days but you can always lower their intensity with proper hydration and nutrient rich diet. Also, you could try decreasing creatine supplementation gradually, rather than dropping it abruptly.

Having a well-balanced nutrient-rich diet with proper hydration is the key for optimal performance of your body. Supplements help improving your workout performance, but you can’t rely solely on supplements for every nutrient intake.

We believe at this point you have a better idea about what happens when you stop taking creatine. You can make your decision keeping these things in mind.

Again, a key point to consider is that everyone’s body is different, and what works for me might not work for you. Listen to your body and see what helps you the most in terms of nutrition and performance.

It’s always recommended to gradually decrease your supplement intake rather than dropping it altogether. This helps your body adjust to the lower levels of creatine.

If you face any kind of negative side effects, it’s always better to consult your healthcare professional.

When Will I Return To Normal After Stopping Creatine?

Again, it’s common with every supplement you use. Your body will take its own time between when you stop taking creatine and when you get back to your original body levels.

Everyone has a different body but on an average, it takes around four to six weeks to get to normal levels. You might notice your creatine levels changing in every two weeks.

And it’s very common for some to not experience any changes when they stop creatine. According to a study, participants report a reduction in muscle endurance significantly after 12 weeks of stopping creatine.

How Can You Stop Using Creatine Smoothly Without Any Side Effects?

There might be multiple reasons you will want to stop creatine. It’s very necessary to consider your body and fitness goals when doing such changes.

Let’s see how you can stop your creatine supplement smoothly and mindfully without any side effects:

1. Your Body Needs High Protein Intake For Better Muscles

You need to understand that protein is the basic building block of your muscles. Yes, creatine gives you a performance boost in the form of energy and strength, but you can’t compromise on protein.

When you stop creatine, giving your body adequate quantity of protein is the best thing you can do. Protein helps your muscle fibres grow and repair efficiently. This will make sure that you are not losing gains you had during creatine phase.

2. Proper Hydration Is The Key

As you already know, creatine increases the water-holding capacity of the body and you can lose some weight in the form of water upon stopping creatine. So, it’s always good to keep yourself hydrated and not lose much water.

Hydration, other than storing water in muscles, also works as the transport of nutrients throughout the body. This in turn gives boost to your post workout recovery.

3. Reducing The Creatine Content Gradually

You don’t want to give your body a shock by immediately stopping creatine altogether. Your body might not adjust to this difference smoothly.

It is generally advised to gradually decrease the creatine intake by reducing a dose over the initial few weeks. You can start by cutting down on the quantity per dose and then skipping the full doses gradually.

This will help your body to adapt to the lower creatine levels without any significant impact on performance or energy.

4. Listen To Your Body

Your body gives you constant feedback on the kind of food you eat and the environmental conditions you are in. If you eat a low protein diet, your muscle growth will be slow and your body will take longer recovery time than when you are on a protein-rich diet.

Reducing creatine might make you feel like weights are heavier or high intensity cardio can feel exhausting. This will help you evaluate your real strength without creatine, and you can push yourself for better.

5. Supplements Like Creatine

Creatine is not the only supplement that gives you a performance boost. Here are some supplements other than creatine that you can consider:

  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): BCAAs comprise the three essential amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. They have a vital role in improving your muscle recovery and key to increasing your endurance.
  • Beta-Alanine: This amino acid has been the talk of gym-goers because of its ability to lower the muscle fatigue during workouts.
  • Non-Stimulant Pre-Workouts: You don’t want your pre-workout to play with your sleep schedule, at least I won’t. That’s where they come into the picture without overstimulating your body while giving you an adequate performance boost in your sessions.

Nonetheless, these supplements are very helpful. And it’s always a good choice to see your healthcare professional before starting supplementation.

Can You Stop Taking Creatine Supplements Forever?

Yes, you can stop taking creatine supplements forever as and when you wish. When you stop, your body will resort back to its normal creatine production.

Of course, the performance peaks and strength you experience due to creatine intake might start diminishing. But the changes won’t be very immediate. Again, these can be balanced with proper nutrition and workout routine.

Can you Safely Stop Taking Creatine?

There’s nothing wrong with stopping creatine supplementation when you feel the need to. Since, our own body produces creatine, so there’s nothing wrong in taking it in supplement form.

And you can safely stop taking creatine. Your body will start returning back to its original levels of creatine.

Should You Adjust Your Training When You Stop Taking Creatine

Creatine is just a supplement providing you better strength, better performance, and muscle mass. It basically helps you to do better in workouts. Even when you stop creatine, you should keep doing your max effort so that you can get maximum benefit out of it. There’s nothing like changing your workout routine that you need to do.

Key Takeaways

Creatine Monohydrate is a very safe supplement that you can use in your daily routine. Creatine supplementation helps gaining muscle mass and improves workout performance. When you stop taking creatine, you might experience light consequences such as decreasing muscle mass, low strength and fatigue during workouts, but this will be alright once your body adjusts to the new creatine levels.

Creatine levels in your body might also reduce, and will get back to normal state after 4-6 weeks of stopping creatine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the proper creatine dosage? And how often should you take creatine?

There are two phases of creatine dosage : loading and maintenance. According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, you take 20 grams of creatine daily in the loading phase. This is spread into 4 to 5 doses of creatine for 4 to 7 days. After the loading phase, you take 3 to 5 grams of creatine daily.

Another study in September 2015 suggests taking 3 to 5 grams of creatine daily without any loading or maintenance phase.

‌Will I lose muscle if I stop taking creatine? Is creatine weight gain permanent?‌

Well, you were the one building your muscles in the gym working out. If you stop creatine, your gains won’t disappear immediately. But as we said above, you might lose water weight due to less creatine levels. This can affect your muscles “full” look and you may notice a change in the size.

‌How long should you take creatine for? Do I need to take a break from creatine?‌

Professionals suggest cycling creatine, which means that you should stop creatine supplementation after taking them for maximum of 8 weeks. This helps your body to regulate your natural creatine production.

You won’t drastically lose muscle gains as long as you are working out regularly. You can take a 2-4 week break and then continue supplementation.

How quickly does the body’s creatine levels return to normal after stopping supplementation?

Everyone has a different body with their respective diet, workout routine, and metabolism. On an average, it is found that body returns to normal within 4-6 weeks. You can face muscle loss and decrease in performance within the first 12 weeks.

Stopping creatine doesn’t mean that creatine levels will go to zero immediately since our human body also produces creatine on its own.

Are there any potential side effects or withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing creatine use?

There is not much evidence/research which states any side effects or withdrawal symptoms upon stopping creatine. Many might experience slight reduction in energy levels, strength, muscle mass and water retention. But, these are mostly temporary effects due to change in creatine levels.

Does stopping creatine supplementation lead to a decrease in muscle mass or strength?

Yes, you can experience a slight decrease in muscle mass and strength. This is because of the reduced creatine levels in the body. These aren’t long-term effects and are easily reversible.

Can stopping creatine usage cause any changes in energy levels or athletic performance?

Yes, stopping creatine supplementation can impact your energy levels and athletic performance. Creatine, increases the availability of ATP(adenosine triphosphate) which provides energy for muscle contractions.

When you stop creatine, this ATP production reduces, which further decreases energy levels and performance. This also depends on an individual’s health, diet, and exercise routine.

Are there any long-term effects or consequences of stopping creatine supplementation?

No, as per the studies and researches publicly available, there aren’t any consequences of stopping creatine usage. Yes, you might experience decrease in the benefits you got from creatine supplementation. However, it’s recommended to cycle creatine for optimising its benefits.

Does creatine increase testosterone?

You might notice that both creatine and testosterone give similar benefits. But there’s no study which states that consumption of creatine increases testosterone or vice versa.

Does Taking Creatine Help With Fat Loss?

There are a number of fat burning supplements available in the market, but creatine isn’t doing that directly. While it gives performance boost, you workout with massive strength and tend to lose fat as a result of intense training.

That’s why it is recommended to take creatine during cutting because of its increased work output and well-balanced diet.

Will Stopping Creatine Cause Me To Lose My Gains?

No, stopping creatine won’t make you lose your gains. You might lose the water that creatine got in your muscles, but these are your actual gains, for which you worked hard.

You won’t lose them given you are taking well-balanced protein-rich diet and working out regularly.

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