Creatine Monohydrate is a widely researched and used supplement for athletes looking to improve their athletic performance.
Although unnecessary, creatine supplementation is typically split into two phases:
1) A loading phase which increases creatine stores within the muscle by ~20-40%.
2) A maintenance phase which maintains this elevation in muscle creatine content.
It’s advised after a short period of time (typically 4 weeks) to stop creatine supplementation for a week prior to reloading the muscle. i.e. cycling creatine.
First and foremost, this is pointless. Upon cessation of supplementation, it takes approx. 4-6 weeks for muscle creatine content to fall back to baseline. Therefore, the one-week of zero supplementation does not impact muscle creatine content to a great extent.
Secondly, is long term supplementation safe? Well, in both the healthy and individuals with clinical conditions (neurodegenerative diseases), consuming 30g/day for 5 years is safe and well tolerated (six-times the suggested maintenance dose). Or in relative terms, 0.3-0.8g/kg/day (Kreider et al, 2017)
What about athletes undergoing intense training?
Kreider et al (2003) recruited Division IA college football players to supplement with creatine monohydrate for 0-6 months, 7-12 months or 12-21 months.
The supplementation protocol followed a loading phase of 15.75g/day followed by a maintenance dose averaging 5g per day. I.e. if they missed a day of supplementing, they doubled up the following day (10g).
During the testing period, they performed in-depth analysis on the athlete’s clinical health (69- item panel of serum, whole blood, and urinary markers). Pretty thorough.
As expected, creatine supplementation did not negatively impact any marker of health irrespective of duration.
Ultimately, creatine supplementation positively impacts your physical and mental performance. It is safe, it is cheap.
Therefore, I recommend all athletes to continuously supplement with creatine without the need to cycle it.
The only consideration would be for weight making athletes classified as ‘responders’ around competition as supplementation has osmotic properties that promotes water retention and an increase in body mass.
This increase in body mass may also be undesirable for endurance athletes looking to improve power-weight ratio (depending on level of responsiveness).
Otherwise, there’s no need to cycle it. Crack on…
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