If you work out or are into fitness and wellness, you've probably heard about creatine and its ability to boost muscle growth and strength.
Though it might be a staple in your pre or post-workout stack, you could be asking yourself the question "should I take creatine on rest days?"
A lot of people have this question. They wonder whether taking creatine is necessary, or even beneficial, on rest days. And while creatine is often associated with high-intensity workouts, it can also enhance recovery, reduce muscle breakdown, and promote overall health.
Let's explore the benefits of taking creatine on rest days and how to incorporate it into your routine for the best results.
Should I Take Creatine Every Day?
If you're considering taking creatine, you may wonder whether you really need it everyday, and if so, is it safe and effective?
The short answer is yes, there's no harm in taking creatine daily, even on non-training days.
Creatine is a naturally occurring molecule in our body, and supplementing with it can help you build muscle mass and strength while improving exercise performance.
You might hear people chatting about a "loading" or maintenance phase when it comes to creatine - more on that later.
However, as with any supplement, it's important to follow the instructions on the label and chat with your doctor if you have questions before starting a new supplement.
Is it OK to Take Creatine on Rest Days?
You might be thinking, "Why bother? I'm not doing anything strenuous except maybe binging on Netflix and eating some protein bars."
But here's the thing: taking creatine on rest days can help you come back stronger to your workouts. Who doesn't want that?
By supplementing with creatine on rest days, you can enhance muscle recovery, reduce muscle breakdown and promote overall health.
This can also help keep your creatine stores topped up, so you have enough creatine to produce power for your muscle cells the next time you go to the gym.
So go ahead, take your creatine, and let it work its magic, even on those rest days when all you do is relax.
Can I Skip a Day of Creatine?
We are all human and can accidentally forget to take our creatine occasionally. Don't worry; the good news is that you won't suddenly lose all your gains.
Creatine builds up in your muscles over time, so missing a day won't make a significant difference in the long run.
However, if you're consistently missing doses, you may miss out on the full benefits of creatine. Like anything else we do in life, it's important to be consistent - the same goes with your creatine intake if you want to get all the benefits, such as increased muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance.
If you accidentally miss a day, pick back up with your regular dose the following day, and you'll be back on track.
What are the Benefits of Taking Creatine?
In the fitness industry, creatine is a popular supplement for a good reason- its benefits are backed by science. One of the primary benefits of creatine is its ability to increase muscle mass and strength in people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels(1).
By helping muscles produce more energy during high-intensity exercise, creatine allows you to lift heavier weights and perform more reps. You might even see a performance improvement, especially during high-intensity and short-duration activities like weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping.
Creatine also has enhanced recovery properties, reducing muscle damage and inflammation, which leads to faster recovery and less soreness after workouts.
There are even studies showing potential neuroprotective benefits, which could help people with neurological conditions(2).
When is the Best Time to Take Creatine?
You can really take creatine any time of the day, but it's best if around exercise. Taking creatine before exercise with protein can help increase energy and improve performance during your workout; after exercise can help with muscle growth and recovery.
However, research suggests that taking creatine at any time of the day can be beneficial as long as you're consistent with your dosage.
Ultimately, it's up to personal preference and convenience to decide when to take creatine. Just make it work for you and your lifestyle.
Best Way to Supplement With Creatine
So you've decided to dive in and supplement with creatine - congrats! Now, you have to figure out the best way to use it.
First and foremost, consistency is a must. Taking 3-5 grams of creatine daily is the sweet spot for most people. You can take it before or after exercise for optimal benefits - and, yes, you can even take creatine on rest days.
Be sure to mix your creatine powder with water or a flavored beverage, as it sometimes tastes better mixed with something else.
What is the Creatine Loading Phase?
The creatine loading phase involves taking a higher dosage of creatine for 5-7 days to help saturate your muscles with the supplement more quickly.
The idea is to boost your creatine stores, to where your body constantly has creatine ready to work its benefits.
Research has shown that taking 5 grams of creatine, 4 times daily, for 5-7 days for the first week can help increase muscle creatine levels by up to 40%(2).
After the loading phase, you'll typically drop down to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams daily to maintain optimal muscle creatine levels, although this can also depend on how much you weigh.
Will Creatine Make You Gain Weight?
You might see an initial uptick in your weight, but don't worry - it's not the kind of weight you're thinking of. Creatine helps increase water retention in the muscles, which can cause a slight increase in body weight.
This isn't fat weight - it's simply an increase in muscle hydration. So don't be afraid of creatine; research has shown that creatine supplementation can lead to a significant increase in lean body mass and muscle strength (3,4).
Best Form of Creatine Supplement for Muscle Mass
Creatine Monohydrate has been studied extensively since the 1900s - it's pretty fascinating to see all the research backing claims we see on products.
Taking creatine supplements during training (5-25 grams a day for 4-12 weeks) has also been shown to promote gains in muscle mass, strength, and exercise capacity(1).
Creatine Monohydrate vs. Hcl
As you keep reading about creatine, you'll start noticing different types of creatine supplements.
Two common ones are Creatine Monohydrate and Hcl. Despite creatine monohydrate's effectiveness, safety and low cost, some other forms, like Creatine Hcl, have been marketed as more effective or safer, but that's not true!
Understanding the science behind creatine monohydrate and current supplementation literature shows that it's a highly effective and safe way to improve your fitness (1).
What Should I Do Next?
Is it a good idea to take creatine on rest days? The research (and there's a lot of it, when it comes to creatine) says yes.
Creatine can benefit you any day of the week - yes, that even includes a rest day. So, you should find a creatine supplement that will be best for you and develop a protocol that helps you meet your goals.
Be patient - it takes a few weeks to build up the creatine in your muscles and allow it to start working its magic. Once it does, you may see huge benefits for muscle growth, muscle recovery, power, performance and more. So sip on that creatine, hit the gym, and get ready to crush your goals!