Whether you have been appending your fitness program with creatine supplement for quite some time now, or just contemplating beginning to begin taking them, you are wondering what happens when you stop taking creatine, Right?
First of all, why do you want to stop taking it in the first place? Not only is it one of the most scientifically supported sports supplements out there, it is also one of the safest, cheapest and most accessible. In fact, creatine is one of the few supplements formally allowed for athletes’ use by various prestigious sports governing bodies in the US and in the world such as the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The highly successful professional and amateur athletes known to be creatine users include San Francisco 49ers’ star quarterback and 2x WAC Offensive Player of the Year awardee Colin Kaepernick, UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, and various Olympics and World Championship track and field gold medalists in the 90’s such as Linford Christie and Sally GunnelI.
How Does Creatine Work?
Before finding out what happens when you stop taking creatine supplement, let us know its physiological effects when you start taking them in the first place.
Creatine is basically a muscular ergogenic, as proven by the fact that over 90% of it inside the body can be found in the skeletal muscles. Although said nitrogenous organic acid is produced by your liver and can likewise be obtained from dietary sources such as meat and fish, you can also obtain higher amounts from clinically made supplements. As early as the early 20th century, scientists have discovered that creatine supplementation is highly beneficial for bodybuilding and athletic training.
Creatine per se does not really build your muscles. Rather, it provides extra muscular strength and stamina to enable you to train harder and longer that results in a mass gain. It also causes muscular hydration and water retention, which makes your biceps, pecs, glutes and everything else look and feel fuller. One downside to this process is creatine draws the water from the rest of your body, making you susceptible to hasty dehydration while doing your workout. You can easily make up for it, though, by drinking water repeatedly.
Another major function of creatine is aiding in the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main energy fuel for doing normal to extreme muscle movements and contractions.
How Much Creatine Supplement Should You Take?
Recommended maintenance dosage for normal adults living an active lifestyle is about 5 grams a day. There are some fitness instructors that advocate “loading” to new users wherein you will take up to 20 grams daily for 5 days before easing yourself into the 5 grams a day dosing.
Continuous creatine supplementation is deemed safe for approximately 5 years in controlled doses. However, there are still lots of concerns within the medical community that the abuse or overly prolonged use of creatine supplement could be potentially harmful to kidney, liver, and heart. With regards to possible short-term side effects, there were reported cases of nausea, diarrhea and stomach discomfort among first-time users and for those who take unusually high doses. Cases of muscle cramps due to dehydration are also observed, which can be addressed by drinking plenty of water.
What will happen then if you suddenly stop taking creatine supplement?
You can practically glean from what we earlier discussed what to expect once you turn over the table:
1. A noticeable decrease of energy – Since a profuse amount of creatine leads to increased production of ATP, your muscles’ main energy fuel, you can expect a conspicuous drop of energy level once you stop supplementing. You may also experience temporary weakening of muscles, as you were probably accustomed already to their inflated state caused by creatine saturation.
2. Weight loss due to the cessation of water retention in your muscles – You might shed a few pounds and even notice a sudden decrease in muscle heft. Don’t worry, you are only losing stored water in your flesh cells and tissues, and not the lean muscle mass you gained from creatine-enabled intensive training sessions in the past.
3. Sporadic muscle fatigue – With lesser hydration and ATP production, your muscles may seem to be lethargic every now and then during a workout. You will probably get used to your new energy level norm after quite some time.
4. A transitory decline of natural creatine production – Since your internal organs got used to detecting a high level of creatine in your system when you were supplementing, they have gotten used to lower production of the substance. It will take quite some time before your body starts synthesizing creatine again within its former normal rate.
Now that you have enough information on the physiological effects of starting and stopping creatine supplementation, you can decide for yourself whether you should start taking it and for how long. In my opinion though, the potential benefits of controlled creatine dosing are greater than both the possible side effects on the outset and the potential consequences once you quit. It is definitely worth the try if you are truly serious in your fitness goals.