The Withdrawal Symptoms of Creatine – Side Effects

Using creatine as a supplement can have its advantages, such as increasing muscle mass, improving athletic performance, and boosting energy levels. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects that can occur when you stop taking creatine. In this article, we’ll explore what might happen if you suddenly cease creatine supplementation and provide guidance on managing any withdrawal effects.

It’s worth noting that each individual reacts differently to creatine supplements. While some weightlifters experience significant gains from using creatine, others, roughly around 30 percent of the population, may not see noticeable results. These individuals are often referred to as “creatine non-responders.”

When it comes to discontinuing creatine supplementation, the effects you personally encounter will largely depend on how well you responded to it initially. In other words, the more significant the changes you experienced while using creatine, the more noticeable the changes may be once you stop. On the other hand, if you didn’t experience substantial benefits from creatine, the impact of discontinuation may be less noticeable.

Creatine Benefits Your Muscle Building Program in 2 Major Ways:

1. Increased Water Retention in Muscles

One effect of taking creatine is an increase in intracellular water retention. When you supplement with creatine, your muscle tissue requires extra water to facilitate its absorption. Typically, after about three weeks of daily 5-gram creatine supplementation, your muscles become fully saturated with creatine.

As a result, your muscles may appear slightly fuller due to the increased fluid content. However, once you stop taking creatine and the stored creatine leaves your body over a few weeks, the need for this additional water retention diminishes and it is cleared out as well.

For some weightlifters, discontinuing creatine can lead to a relatively quick loss of several pounds of water weight as the creatine levels in their system decrease. However, for others, the effects may not even be noticeable.

One thing is certain: any additional water weight gained from creatine supplementation will mostly be lost once you stop taking it.

2. By Increasing Your Strength and Power

The impact of stopping creatine usage varies from person to person. Creatine works by enhancing your body’s utilization of ATP, the energy molecule within your muscles. This improvement leads to better performance at the gym, increased overall strength, and greater power output.

When you discontinue creatine, the extra phosphate group that was previously providing enhanced strength to your muscle cells will diminish as well. If you respond well to creatine supplementation, you may experience a slight decrease in overall strength after a few weeks of stopping. However, this decrease is unlikely to be significant as long as you maintain your regular training program.

Regarding muscle gain, it’s highly unlikely that you will notice any noticeable decrease as long as you continue with your training and eating plan as before.

The question is why stop taking creatine at all?

If you don’t see any real results from using creatine in performance, then there’s no need for you to continue.

Perhaps your just tired of having to take it every day, maybe your really dislike the taste or texture. In that case you can just take creatine pills or if you travel frequently and don’t won’t to take it everywhere you go.

Are there any side effects to suddenly stopping creatine use?

Creatine is the most widely research supplementation in the world and it’s never been shown to be harmful in anyway when used within the recommended daily dosage of about 3 grams.

This includes periods of cycling on and off. Your body does adjust it’s own natural production of creatine in response to external supplementation but this system is extremely sensitive and it adapts virtually instantly. Once you stop taking creatine your natural production will fall back into the proper range.

There’s no evidence to suggest that creatine supplementation over the long term is dangerous to your health in anyway.

In 2004 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a record which stated that oral long-term intake of 3g pure creatine per day is risk-free. The reports of damage to the kidneys by creatine supplementation have been scientifically refuted.

Digestive Issues

However, there has been reports that abruptly discontinuing creatine use can cause digestive issues for some such as nausea, cramping, constipation, and changes in bowel movements.

These side effects may be the result of your body adjusting to a lack of creatine or due to the sudden decrease in water retention associated with creatine supplementation. If you experience any lingering digestive disturbances, speak with your health care provider for advice on how to manage them.

Mental Fatigue and Brain Fog.

People who have stopped creatine use may also experience sudden mental fatigue and cognitive decline, known as “brain fog”. This feeling of mental exhaustion can occur due to the lack of energy created by creatine in the brain. This can lead to feelings of confusion, lack of focus, and difficulty remembering things. For most people, these side effects will subside with time and some restful sleep.


If you been supplementing with creatine to a point of full saturation and then you decided to discontinue this is what’s going to happen in a few weeks.

1) You will lose the additional water rettention that your body was using to stored the creatine.
2) You may notice a slight reduction in your overall strength level but not likely to a significant degree.
3) You will likely retain all your gains and actual muscle mass.
4) You’re not going experience any side effects from creatine.


Keep in mind that this all depends on the individual and how well they respond to creatine in the first place. If your considering stop using creatine use but not quite sure, your best bet is to simply is discontinue for 2-3 weeks and then see what happens.

If you do experience a drop in your overall muscle fullness and strength that your not happy with then you could always go back on.

Or if you don’t notice any significant changes at all then you can just stop altogether.


Meurer F, Do HT, Sadowski G, Held C. Standard Gibbs energy of metabolic reactions: II. Glucose-6-phosphatase reaction and ATP hydrolysis. Biophys Chem. 2017 Apr;223:30-38.

Beis I, Newsholme EA. The contents of adenine nucleotides, phosphagens and some glycolytic intermediates in resting muscles from vertebrates and invertebrates. Biochem J. 1975 Oct;152(1):23-32.

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