Creatine cycling – 6 Things Beginners Need to Know

Introduction

Creatine has been one of the most well-researched supplements that have been consumed by a wide variety of professional athletes. 

It has been known for its incredible anabolic and performance-enhancing effects. 

Some studies (1) lasting up to four years observed no negative effects. Researchers found no evidence of any harmful consequences of creatine on the liver or kidney in healthy people (13).  

International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sports, and medicine. More than 1000 studies on the creatine found it to be the most effective sports supplements. 

Since you are reading about creatine cycling I am assuming that you already know the basics of creatine. If not then click the link below.

Read more: Creatine for muscle building and recovery

Despite thousands of studies on this supplement, there is a lot of confusion about this supplement. Today we are going to talk about creatine cycling and other related factors. Let’s dig deep into the discussion. 


What is creatine cycling? 

 Creatine cycling refers to the process of taking creatine for a period of a few weeks, then pausing the consumption to provide rest to the body, and then restarting again.

A typical cycle of creatine looks something like this-

  • Loading phase: 15-20 grams of creatine for a week. 
  • Maintaining phase: 5-7 grams for 7-8 weeks. 
  • Pause phase: Pausing the creatine supplementation for 2-4 weeks. 

Creatine cycling is said to reduce the dependence on the supplementation and maintains the body’s ability to produce its own creatine production. 

Additionally, Cycling of creatine is also said to prevent a plateau. Effectiveness of creatine cycling is not backed by clinical studies.


Is creatine cycling necessary?

NO, it’s not necessary. Although there is no drawback of doing it either.  

Let’s start the description with a study (3), researchers at the Department of Human Movement Sciences and Education, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA conducted a result on long term effects of creatine. 

Researchers concluded- “Your natural creatine stores do not decrease or compensate in any way from long term supplementation of creatine”. Research is loud and clear, “there is no need to cycle the creating”

Then why do people have differences in opinions on the issue? It’s because of the myths prevailing in the market. Let’s go through some common myths about creating cycling- 

Myth: You need to cycle it to avoid a shutdown of natural production.

Creatine is not a steroid, and long-term consumption will not have any negative effects on your body’s ability to produce it. If you are not sure then go through the study

Myth: Just like pre-workouts, creatine words better after a break

Yes, it’s true, our body seems to stop responding to some supplements like pre-workouts, caffeine, etc. 

But creating is not a stimulant that stops to work after a few weeks of consumption. Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is naturally produced and available in the body.

Human body doesn’t build a tolerance to creatine.   

Myth: Cycle the creatine because the manufacturers are saying it. 

It’s really silly to see people cycling creating just because the manufacturing companies are saying that. They are saying it because they want to increase consumption and sales. 

Transitioning into the loading and off-loading phase increases the overall consumption of creating which obviously benefits their finances. 

In the end, I would like to say, there is no issue in cycling creating or taking it for the long term, both the ways are healthy and does not possess any risk to your health. 

If creatine cycling works for you then go for it. 


Other FAQ 

Best time to take creatine?

When you take creatine? Does it make a difference?

Yes, it does matter. 

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared the effectiveness of post-workout and pre-workout creatine ingestion. Post-workout ingestion of creation was found to be slightly better than consuming it before the workout. 

Adding a serving of creatine to your large high protein will work more efficiently for greater gains. 

This study has been more helpful for guys who have been using creatine as a pre-workout supplement. 


Loading creatine necessary?

So now you have two options while starting supplementing with creatine. 

LoadingNo Loading
Taking 15-20 grams of creating for first 6-7 daysTakes a normal serving size of 3-5 grams.
Reduces the serving to 5 grams after a week of loading. No change is serving size
Known to be essential for creating cyclingFollowed for long term supplementation

Do you really need to loading phase when you first start supplementing with creatine? 

A study (6) published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that both the protocols have helped in raising the muscle creatine levels but the loading phase was proven to have faster results. 

Loading creatine helps in elevating the muscle creatine levels within just a week, on the other hand, “No Loading” protocol can take up to 2-3 weeks to see the same results. 

“No loading” protocol also helps in easing the transition period.


Best type of creatine? 

Creatine is available in many different forms.   Some of the most common types are: 

  1. Creatine Monohydrate
  2. Creatine Ethyl Ester
  3. Creatine Hydrochloride
  4. Buffered Creatine
  5. Liquid Creatine
  6. Creatine Magnesium Chelate

Despite the large variety of creatine supplementations we advise you to not fall for the marketing gimmick. 

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most well-researched forms of creatine. Some of the scientific studies (4) have proven it to be the better choice.


How to take it?

Did your trainer said, “it doesn’t matter how and what you take with your creatine supplement”? He is wrong! 

The effectiveness of creatine responds differently depending on how you take it. 

A study (5) published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found the importance of insulin in better ingestion of creatine. Creatine ingested more efficiently when it is consumed with carbohydrates or protein. 

In short, add your daily dose of creatine with smoothie, juice or shake instead of taking it with just water.