Why do I Need to Cycle Creatine?
Creatine loading is something that is done at the beginning of a cycle of creatine. Creatine needs to be cycled because having high levels of creatine in your body for an extended period of time is unnatural and can have adverse effects on your body. Anything that you put into your body need to be filtered through your kidneys and liver and creatine is no different. Having high levels of creatine in your body makes your kidneys and liver work extra hard to remove the byproduct that is a result of creatine. The byproduct of creatine is creatinine. A good portion of the creatine you put into your body will not be absorbed by your muscles, but rather will be converted into creatinine. Creatinine naturally exists in your body and is normally excreted, but when you take in large amounts of creatine your body has to work extra hard to get rid of the extra creatinine. The purpose of the creatine cycle is to give your body a break so it can “reset,” so to speak, before your next cycle. Usually a cycle is either 1 or 2 months. I would not recommend staying on creatine for more than 2 months at a time.
Creatine Loading Phase
Creatine Loading means taking a large amount of creatine at the beginning of your cycle for the first week, and then taking a much smaller dose for the next three weeks. The idea is that your muscles will be quickly saturated with creatine and this creatine, for the most part, will stay in your body for an extended period of time. The remaining three weeks of dosing are just to keep the creatine levels up.
Creatine Monohydrate Loading
Creatine monohydrate is really the only creatine that has well-known, specific loading and cycling instructions. It’s the oldest, most widely used and most studied form of creatine. There are many newer types of creatine with claims that they don’t need to be cycled at all. This article is only referring to creatine monohydrate, as other types of creatine can have different usage instructions.
Is Creatine Loading Necessary?
Most creatine users will agree that creatine loading is not necessary. You can get the same results by keeping a steady dose throughout your cycle as opposed to loading in the first week then taking a substantially smaller dose for the remainder of the cycle. I have used creatine in both ways and did not see much difference in the results. I also did not want to put that large of a dose of creatine in my body all at once. I personally prefer not to use a loading phase. I will give some generally dosing schedules for loading and non-loading cycles below.
Creatine Loading Dose
Keep in mind that body weight plays a factor in your personal dosage. These are just sample dosages, so you may want to use more or less depending on your size. This chart is a general starting point/guideline for most people.
1 month cycle with loading phase 1 month cycle no loading phase
week 1: 20-30 grams per day weeks 1-4: 5-10 grams per day
weeks 2-4: 2-5 grams per day