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Is A “Creatine Cycle” Necessary?
“What Happens When I Stop Taking Creatine?”
Creatine benefits your muscle building program in two main ways. The first is by increasing the efficiency of your body’s use of the energy molecule ATP, and the second is by increasing intramuscular water retention to give you a fuller, harder appearance.
But what happens when you stop using creatine? Does going off creatine cause you to lose all of your gains, or are creatine gains permanent?
Let’s look at each individual benefit…
The first is the additional water retention that is held inside of the muscle cell. After stopping creatine for around 2 or 3 weeks, this particular benefit will in fact be lost. Creatine requires additional water in order to be stored inside of your muscle cells, and when you stop using creatine, those extra water stores will flush out along with the creatine itself.
The second is the increased strength and gym performance. This one will vary quite a bit from person to person and it depends on how well you responded to creatine supplementation in the first place. Assuming you do respond well, you might notice a slight reduction in gym performance after cycling off creatine. However, it shouldn’t be too significant, and whatever additional muscle you originally gained from the creatine use should remain intact.
So, to sum it up, when you discontinue creatine use, you will lose the additional creatine water weight and you may experience a slight reduction in strength, but you likely won’t lose any actual lean muscle tissue that you gained.
The real question though, is why stop using creatine in the first place? There is no benefit to creatine cycling (going off creatine for a month, for example, isn’t going to give you any added benefits)… it is completely safe to use over the long term… and it’s also very inexpensive.
Assuming you are someone who benefits from this supplement, my advice is to just use it continuously, as I can’t see any reason why going off creatine would be beneficial.