Whether it’s to put on muscle, gain strength or even to improve brain health, many people are taking creatine nowadays.
It’s one of my favorite supplements as it’s safe, cheap and effective.
But what would happen if you stopped taking creatine?
Let’s take a look at some helpful answers around stopping creatine.
Do You Lose Gains When You Stop Taking Creatine?
No – you do not lose muscle when you stop taking creatine.
Creatine helps you gain more muscle by making your workouts more intense.
So when you stop taking creatine, your gains don’t just disappear.
As long as you eat enough protein and keep hitting the gym, you can keep hold of those hard-earned gains for as long as you want!
Do You Lose Strength When You Stop Taking Creatine?
Well, it depends.
Creatine works by fuelling your muscles with extra ATP.
(ATP is what our cells use for energy.)
So when you stop taking creatine, it’s true that your muscles will have less ATP available, and therefore less energy.
For some, this could result in losing strength if you can no longer lift as much as you used to.
But others may feel even more motivated and determined to lift as much as before.
Lifting is just as much a mental activity as it is physical.
So if you’re willing to push yourself just as hard without creatine, then there’s no reason why you’d lose strength.
Do You Look More Cut When You Stop Taking Creatine?
Some people get bloated after taking creatine.
Well, creatine increases water retention in your muscles which can make you look “puffy”.
If you do experience bloating after taking creatine, then yes, you may look more cut when you stop taking it.
This is because you lose the extra water your muscles were holding onto, which can make you look leaner.
(While I wouldn’t recommend it, many bodybuilders dehydrate themselves before competitions to look extra shredded.)
(Related Reading: 5 Best Supplements For Getting Cut)
Do You Get Fat When You Stop Taking Creatine?
No – stopping creatine won’t directly make you fat although there are few things to consider.
First, for some people, creatine can suppress your appetite. So when you stop taking it, it’s possible that you start eating more food which could lead to weight gain.
Second, you may not be able to squeeze out as many reps when you stop taking creatine, which would lead to less calories being burned.
So while stopping creatine doesn’t make you fat, it may result in you gaining weight if you eat more and train less.
Do You Need To Load Again When You Stop Taking Creatine?
The answer to this depends on how long you stop taking creatine for.
When you stop taking creatine, your muscles slowly deplete their creatine stores. After a few weeks, your creatine stores will return to a baseline level.
So if you stop taking creatine for only a week, your muscle creatine stores will still be fairly saturated so there’ll be no need to load again.
Whereas if you stop taking creatine for more than a month or so, your creatine stores will be fully depleted, so it would make sense to load again to help replenish them quicker.
Can You Stop Taking Creatine Anytime?
Yes – you can stop taking creatine anytime you want.
If you’ve been taking it for just 2 weeks and you’re experiencing side effects, then there’s no issue stopping it there and then.
Likewise, if you’ve been taking it every day for a year and you’ve finally ran out of your 5kg supply, then there’s no problem stopping then.
Why Do You Lose Weight When You Stop Taking Creatine?
Creatine increases water retention.
So when you start taking creatine, your muscles hold a lot more water.
The result of this is you gaining quite a bit of weight in a short amount of time.
But it’s important to remember that this is ‘water weight’ – not fat or muscle.
So, when you stop taking creatine, your muscles’ creatine levels deplete which results in you losing a lot of this ‘water weight’.
This is nothing to worry about and happens to most people when they stop taking creatine.
Can You Skip A Day Of Taking Creatine?
In short, yes.
If you forget to take it, or can’t take it that day for whatever reason, there’s nothing to worry about.
It takes a few weeks for your muscles’ creatine stores to deplete to baseline, so missing a day’s worth of creatine will have minimal effects on your work out and physique.
What Should You Do If You Forget To Take Creatine?
Skip the gym.
Because if you stop taking it, your muscles will freak out the next time you lift weights.
But seriously, if you forget to take creatine, you should just work out normally with the peace of mind that it takes a few weeks for your body to deplete its creatine stores.
Also, there’s no point ‘double dosing’ the next time you take creatine, as your muscles’ creatine stores will still be pretty saturated.
Can You Get Withdrawals When You Stop Taking Creatine?
No – you shouldn’t experience withdrawals when you stop taking creatine.
Well, creatine isn’t a physiological drug.
This means that you don’t build a tolerance to it or suffer withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking.
(Pre workout, on the other hand, often includes caffeine which is a drug. This explains why many people suffer from pre workout withdrawal symptoms.)
The only ‘symptom’ you may experience is needing to go to the toilet frequently, since you’ll be peeing out all that water weight!
But again, this is nothing to worry about and is a natural process.
Should You Stop Taking Creatine?
In my opinion, there are only 4 instances in which you should stop taking creatine:
You can no longer afford it
This shouldn’t be a problem for most people as creatine is one of the cheapest supplements on the planet.
You experience side effects
Again, this shouldn’t affect most people as creatine is one of the safest supplements out there.
You want to become leaner
This mainly applies to bodybuilders who want to look super shredded, or to pro fighters who need to lose weight to be able to fight in their weight division.
You want to cycle creatine
Personally, I like to cycle creatine as I think it’s best to give your body a break from supplements every now and then. It isn’t necessary however.
How Often Should You Stop Taking Creatine?
Well, this depends on your circumstances.
If you’re only stopping creatine to give your body a break (i.e., you want to cycle it), then I’d recommend taking creatine for 12 weeks and then taking a 6-week break.
This has been super effective for me and many others.