Here's What Really Happens if You Stop Taking Creatine | (2024)

Here's What Really Happens if You Stop Taking Creatine | (1)

Many athletes supplement with creatine monohydrate to increase muscle growth and performance.

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Creatine monohydrate is a nutritional supplement, available either as powder or creatine pills, used by many athletes in an effort to boost performance and muscle growth. But it's also produced naturally by your body in various organs, including your pancreas and kidneys.


While you're supplementing with creatine, your total serum creatine levels and the amount of creatine stored in your muscles increase, according to WebMD. But what happens if you stop taking creatine? These levels drop, which might cause some side effects, including fatigue, muscle weakness, weight loss or increased bloating and decreased natural creatine production.

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When you stop taking creatine monohydrate, you may experience temporary side effects, including water weight loss, decreased creatine production in the body, fatigue and muscle weakness.

1. Feeling of Fatigue

Stopping creatine supplementation might cause fatigue, and if you have chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, stopping creatine might make your symptoms worse.


To understand this better, it's important to know what creatine does and how creatine gives you energy. About 5 percent of the creatine in your body is stored in your brain to assist with the energy-producing process involved in the production of brain hormones and neurotransmitters.

However, when total body creatine levels are reduced after you stop creatine supplementation, your brain might have a temporary lapse in the production of these compounds, leaving you fatigued.


2. Muscle Loss or Weakness

Most of the creatine in your body is stored in your skeletal muscles and used in the energy-producing metabolic pathways involved in movement and muscle contraction, according to

Among the benefits of creatine, it increases your muscles' ability to produce large amounts of energy rapidly, which can increase your muscle strength and workout intensity.

When creatine levels in your muscles drop, so does your ability to produce energy, especially during exercise. This might leave your muscles feeling weak and might decrease muscle strength and exercise intensity.

3. Water Weight Loss

With every molecule of creatine that's stored in your skeletal muscles, several molecules of water are stored with it, a process known as muscle hydration. Muscle hydration results in your muscles feeling and looking more full and also can make you gain weight. The water weight gain you might experience while supplementing with creatine is sometimes falsely attributed to muscle gain.



When you stop supplementing with creatine, your muscles will not hold as much water, making you lose weight, sometimes up to 5 to 7 pounds, in the first several days to a week after stopping creatine.

4. Decreased Creatine Production

One of the possible effects of creatine supplementation — particularly taking too much creatine — is the overdependence on external sources of creatine, according to an August 2017 study in International Immunopharmacology.


When your body detects large amounts of creatine in your system, it might signal your organs to slow or stop production because your body is tricked into thinking it is overproducing creatine.

Once you stop creatine supplementation, your body might not be able to begin synthesizing creatine immediately. Although there is no evidence that suggests creatine supplementation will cause permanent damage to the organs that synthesize creatine, a short-term decrease in production following creatine supplementation has been observed.


Common creatine side effects may include nausea, diarrhea and weight gain. You should stop taking creatine immediately if you experience more severe side effects such as rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, confusion or lightheadedness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Creatine for Workouts

What's the proper creatine dosage? And how often you should take creatine?

Traditional recommendations involve two phases of creatine supplementation: loading and maintenance. Loading involves taking 20 grams of creatine daily, split into about 4 or 5 doses, for 4 to 7 days, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. After the loading phase, you take between 3 and 5 grams daily.

However, a September 2015 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition outlines this dosing method, which does away with the loading phase and maintains a daily dose of between 3 and 5 grams of creatine.

Will I lose muscle if I stop taking creatine? Is creatine weight gain permanent?

Creatine didn't build your muscles — you did! Though hard work in the gym and proper recovery in between lifting sessions. So when you stop taking creatine (assuming that's the only major change you've made), your gains won't disappear overnight.

However, as mentioned above, you may lose water weight when you stop taking creatine. As a result, your muscles may not look as "full" and you may notice the number on the scale drop. But as long as you're maintaining a healthy body weight, this drop shouldn't be a cause for concern.

How long should you take creatine for? Do I need to take a break from creatine?

Experts recommend creatine cycling: After taking creatine for a maximum of 8 weeks, you should stop, allowing your body to self-regulate its normal production. As long as you keep working out, you won't lose your muscle gains. Take a 2-week break, and if you'd like, you can continue supplementation.

Does creatine increase testosterone?

No. Though the benefits of of creatine and testosterone are similar, the intake or increase of one doesn't affect the other.



Here's What Really Happens if You Stop Taking Creatine | (2024)


Here's What Really Happens if You Stop Taking Creatine | ›

However, once you stop taking it, it takes 4 to 6 weeks for your muscle creatine levels to return to their baseline. This can lead to changes such as reduced water retention, a potential decline in performance and slight fluctuations in strength. Dietary choices play a role in these effects for vegans and vegetarians.

What happens if you completely stop taking creatine? ›

Effects Of Stopping Creatine. Some people who stop taking creatine may experience effects such as loss of muscle mass, strength, or endurance; on the other hand, some people report no side effects. More research is being done on the subject. Your results will likely be unique to you and your body.

Are creatine gains permanent? ›

The muscle gains from creatine can be both temporary or for the long term, depending on a variety of factors like consistency with training and nutrition over time. But the initial gain in weight during the first couple weeks of creatine supplementation are usually temporary.

What happens if you don't drink enough creatine? ›

Creatine itself doesn't cause dehydration, but not drinking enough water while you're taking creatine can result in changes to total body water and hydration status. Signs you're not getting enough water include increased dry mouth, thirst, muscle cramps, headache, and dark colored urine.

Do bodybuilders stop taking creatine? ›

Typically, it's recommended to discontinue creatine intake a few days before a competition due to its mechanism, which involves retaining water within muscle cells.

What are the benefits of stopping creatine? ›

By stopping your body will drop all the water weight down which the creatine helped to carry and you will experience deviated stamina but not on a big scale. The pros of stopping creatine are that you won't have to worry about any potential side effects, such as stomach upset or water retention.

Is creatine pointless if you don't take it everyday? ›

The supplement works best when it's a regular habit, but there's no advantage to taking it at a precise time each day. "Taking creatine regularly — multiple times per week — is essential to increase creatine stores within the muscle," he adds.

Will I lose muscle if I stop creatine? ›

Stopping creatine can lead to short-term water weight loss and reduced muscle fullness, but true muscle fiber loss isn't significant if you maintain your workouts and nutrition.

Do I really need creatine? ›

It depends. Studies show that regularly taking creatine, weightlifting and exercising can help increase muscle growth in people 18 to 30 years old. However, there isn't enough research to say that creatine helps develop muscle growth in people older than 65 or people with diseases that affect their muscles.

What happens after 5 years of creatine? ›

There is no evidence to support any significantly detrimental side effects in people who consume high doses of creatine (30 grams/day) for up to 5 years ( 2 ). In fact, research has shown positive health benefits in athletes who took daily supplements of creatine for long periods of time ( 2 ).

How much water should I drink with creatine? ›

One gram of creatine monohydrate requires 75 mL of water (at room temperature or slightly colder) to dissolve fully [5]. Hence, the amount of water you should drink with 5 grams of creatine is no less than 375 mL (or about 12 fl. oz).

Can you drink milk instead of water on creatine? ›

It is typically used in powder form but can also be mixed into drinks or added to other foods. Milk contains protein and carbohydrates, making it a great way to get a quick energy boost. However, mixing creatine with milk isn't recommended because it can lead to stomach upset.

Why should you not take creatine with caffeine? ›

Although scarce, research has suggested that caffeine ingestion may blunt the ergogenic effect of creatine.

How long can you last without creatine? ›

After about a month you will lose the effects of creatine as your level in muscle return to normal. You will be slightly smaller, slightly weaker and a little lighter than you would have been if you'd stayed on creatine.

How long can your body go without creatine? ›

After two weeks, the muscle creatine content had decreased by 5%. So they where still up about 15% from start. After a full month without creatine, they were pretty much back to baseline. So, the wash-out period for creatine, if you've taken it regularly, is about a month.

How long should you go without creatine? ›

You should pause your creatine supplementation for anywhere between 7 to 14 days (preferably 2 weeks), before beginning again to take creatine.

What happens if I stop taking creatine after 3 months? ›

Potential decrease in muscle mass and strength: Some individuals may experience a gradual decrease in muscle mass and strength after stopping creatine supplementation. This is primarily due to the loss of water weight rather than actual muscle loss. However, it is still possible to maintain muscle mass through p.


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