What is creatine cycling?
When people talk about a creatine cycle they are referring to a three phase cycle. First there is a a high dose loading phase, followed by a lower dose maintenance phase, and finally a period of taking no creatine at all.
What is creatine loading?
Creatine loading is the first phase of the creatine cycle. It refers to a short period of time where you take a high dose of creatine to achieve maximum creatine storage in your muscles as quickly as possible.
A standard creatine loading stage recommends that 0.3g of creatine per kilogram of body weight is consumed each day for 5-7 days. For example, if you weigh 70kg, this would be calculated as follows: 0.3 x 70 = 21g per day.
This load phase daily dose is usually split over 3 or 4 doses in a day. This helps ensure that no digestive discomfort is experienced during the loading phase.
What is the creatine maintenance phase?
After creatine loading is completed, we move on the to maintenance phase.
A standard maintenance phase recommends that 0.03g of creatine per kilogram of body weight is consumed every day. For example, if you weigh 70kg, this would be calculated as follows: 0.03 x 70 = 2.1g per day.
As daily supplementation does not cause side effects or impact negatively on health, many people choose to round this up to a flat 5g of creatine per day. This can be taken at any time, as long as it is taken every day.
Do you need to cycle off creatine?
The short answer to this is no, you do not need to stop taking creatine for any period of time. Cycling off creatine would result in nothing more than the loss of potential gains. There are three enduring myths fuelling the bro-science behind the idea that creatine needs to be cycled. Lets look at each of these myths now.
Myth 1: Creatine is hard on the kidneys and liver.
There are no negative side effects of creatine use on your liver or kidneys. The scientific literature is full of studies showing creatine to be completely safe for both short term and long-term use.
Myth 2: You need to cycle so you don’t build a tolerance to it.
Your body doesn’t build up a tolerance to creatine. It is possible that you may no longer consciously register the boost it provides, but this is simply because you are now operating optimally at each session. Just because you don’t notice the impact of creatine supplementation, doesn’t mean you aren’t benefiting. Any plateaus to hypertrophy or strength can more than likely be put down to training or a sad farewell to newbie gains.
Myth 3: You need to cycle off creatine to keep your body’s natural production high.
There are no scientific studies that suggest your body will stop producing creatine when an external creatine source is supplied for long periods of time. The system that uses creatine in your body is very adaptable and will take any creatine it can when required for explosive movement.
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So there you have it. Everything you need to know about creatine cycling and why it is unnecessary. The key points about supplementing with creatine are that it should be taken every day to keep your muscle stores up, regardless of whether you are training or not.