Creatine is one of the most popular and widely researched fitness supplements on the market. Research shows that taking a creatine supplement helps with muscle and strength building, and may also give you more energy during intense workouts. Creatine also helps with the recovery process, decreasing your risk for injury.
Creatine is a compound that can be created in the body from amino acids consumed in the diet, where it’s stored in the muscle. When you exercise, the muscles use that stored creatine for bursts of energy.
People take a creatine supplement to increase the amount stored in the muscle. When more creatine is stored, the muscles can convert more to energy to use for power and to prevent fatigue.
However, the most effective way to do this is through something called a creatine cycle. This article will discuss the benefits of a creatine cycle, and how to cycle creatine properly.
What is a Creatine Cycle?
A creatine cycle is a method many athletes use to saturate creatine storage in the muscles. Doing this speeds up the beneficial effects of creatine for muscle building and exercise performance.
The cycle consists of a loading phase and then a maintenance phase to maximize creatine stores and then give the muscles a brief resting period.
Benefits of a Creatine Cycle
Usually, only up to 80% of creatine stores can be reached through diet alone. However, utilizing a creatine cycle can increase the amount of creatine stored in the muscle to 100%. That makes more creatine available to use during intense workouts to produce more energy and slow the onset of fatigue.
Although it’s possible to maximize creatine stores without doing a cycle of loading and maintenance, it can take a lot longer. Studies show that while a creatine loading cycle can saturate muscle stores within one or two weeks, taking a creatine supplement without a loading phase can take closer to a month.
When you can maximize creatine storage more quickly, you can expedite the results from creatine supplementation like muscle and strength building, better performance, and decreased risk for injury.
Creatine Loading Phase
During the loading phase, the most popular strategy is to take 20 grams of creatine per day for about a week. It’s common to divide this amount into anywhere between two and four servings per day, before and after workouts.
It might sound counterintuitive, but a maintenance phase where the daily dose of creatine decreases to around 5 to 10 grams per day actually helps your muscles maintain their levels of stored creatine. If you stop taking creatine completely, muscle stores will slowly return to normal.
How to Cycle Creatine Properly
A creatine cycle (or any kind of creatine supplementation) won’t be as effective without consistent and appropriate nutrition and exercise. In other words, your body needs plenty of other nutrients to fuel your workouts and build muscle. Likewise, an effective training regimen is necessary to build muscle and strength.
Your target dose for creatine loading might also vary a little, depending on your weight. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), the best way to calculate your dose of creatine for a loading phase is to multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.3.
Is it Possible to Take Too Much Creatine?
In the past, there was some concern about the potential side effects of long-term creatine supplementation. Since creatine is metabolized in the kidneys, experts warned that long term creatine use could cause damage or poor side effects.
However, several studies show that taking up to 30 grams of creatine per day for up to 5 years is safe for people in generally good health. The ISSN’s stance on creatine supplementation also supports the safety of long-term creatine use.
Although taking a high dose of creatine is safe, people could experience uncomfortable side effects if they take more than the recommended dose. Some report side effects like weight gain, water retention, and gastrointestinal issues. However, these issues are fairly uncommon.
Creatine is made in the kidneys and liver and stored in the muscle, and it can help you build muscle, increase strength and power during workouts, as well as with recovery, and injury prevention.
A well thought out creatine cycling strategy will ensure that your body always has adequate creatine to perform at a high level.
Whether you’re in the loading phase of the maintenance phase, our fastest dissolving, and rapidly absorbed creatine monohydrate supplement can help you reach your fitness goals.