Creatine is one of the most widely studied and popular supplements as it can improve muscle growth, improve exercise performance, and speed muscle recovery.
Many people wonder how much creatine they should take, if they should take creatine every day, if they should take creatine on rest days, or if there is such thing as too much creatine.
This article will explain the benefits of taking creatine supplements and ultimately answer the question if you should be taking creatine supplements every day.
Key Takeaways About Taking Creatine Every Day
Creatine supplements can increase muscle strength, muscle mass, and speed up recovery after exercise, especially when paired with resistance training.
Research has shown that taking creatine on both workout days and rest days can be beneficial to help optimize the body's stores of creatine.
Studies suggest that it likely does not make a difference if you take creatine before or after exercise, and specific timing comes down to personal preference.
When taken in the recommended amounts of 3-5 grams per day, taking creatine everyday is both safe and effective.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is made from amino acids and is found in your muscles and brain. The body produces some creatine on its own from the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, but it's also important to get creatine from food sources as well from foods like red meat and seafood. Foods with the highest creatine content include beef, shellfish, pork, tuna, and salmon.
Creatine provides energy to muscle cells, helps muscles contract during high intensity exercise, and helps to build muscle, which is why it's a popular supplement among the fitness community. Creatine helps athletes have energy and overall improve athletic performance.
In addition to boosting athletic performance and building muscle, research suggests that taking creatine supplements can improve brain health, too.
The Purpose of Taking Creatine
Creatine has been widely studied and here are the top benefits that creatine supplementation can bring.
Many people take creatine to boost their body's creatine stores to ultimately improve athletic performance and increase lean muscle mass. With more energy at the gym, individuals will be able to lift more weight and ultimately increase muscle mass.
The combination of taking a creatine monohydrate supplement and engaging in resistance training is the key to reaping the benefits that creatine can offer.
A 2010 study found that after 8 weeks of resistance training and creatine consumption, bench press strength improved and myostatin, a protein that inhibits muscle cell growth, was reduced.
Creatine supplementation has the ability to improve recovery after intense training and can reduce muscle damage.
A 2017 article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that taking a creatine supplement containing 5 grams of creatine, along with carbohydrates and protein, helped boost muscle stores of creatine and led to a more efficient recovery.
Many sports nutrition experts consistently encourage athletes to consume creatine along with carbohydrates to to boost glycogen stores, which is an important aspect of recovery after intense resistance exercise.
Research also suggests that creatine supplementation can reduce inflammation and muscle soreness in endurance athletes, meaning a quicker turnaround time to getting back to training and working towards fitness goals.
Athletes should focus on exercise recovery just as much as they do on performance, as effective recovery is key for the overall health of the human body. Plus, effective recovery after workout days is a necessary component of increase muscle mass.
Boosting Brain Function
In addition to providing benefits to performance and recovery, many also take creatine for other health benefits such as improving brain function.
Although more research is needed, a 2018 review took a comprehensive look at the current research on creatine supplementation and brain function.
It has been found that creatine is particularly helpful in situations when cognition is stressed, or where more brain power is needed. For example, after a night of poor sleep or during more cognitively demanding tasks, the brain will utilized more creatine.
Additionally, after traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, creatine supplementation can be helpful to reduce symptoms and speed recovery.
Other studies have shown that creatine supplementation can boost memory, too. One study gave participants a backward digit span test in which they had to repeat random number sequences back in re reverse order. The study found that those who received creatine supplements were better at remembering the sequences compared to those who did not receive the supplement.
Should You Take Creatine Every Day?
Taking creatine every day offers many benefits. Research has shown that taking creatine on both workout days and rest days can be beneficial.
Taking creatine supplements will help boost the body's stores of creatine, and taking creatine daily will only maximize these results.
Even on rest days, taking creatine can offer health benefits. The next section will further explain why you should take creatine on rest days.
Should You Take Creatine on Rest Days?
Supplementing with creatine on rest days helps boost your muscle stores of creatine.
While taking creatine supplements might pose the most benefit on workout days, supplementing when your body is in active recovery can help reduce soreness and heal muscles more quickly.
So yes, if you are serious about improving your performance and recovery you should absolutely ensure you're getting enough creatine on rest days, too.
Should You Take Creatine Before or After Exercise?
Although research historically has been mixed on the best time to take creatine, it is becoming more evident that taking creatine before or after exercise provides the same benefits.
One study investigated when to take creatine and provided participants with 5 grams of creatine either directly before or after exercise for 4 weeks. The results indicated more significant benefits when the creatine was taken before exercise, however, many studies since then have not found consistent results on creatine timing.
When taken as a pre-workout, some research finds that individuals have improved energy and an increased capacity for high intensity bursts during a workout. However, some individuals report stomach discomfort if they take creatine too close to exercise.
When taken after a workout, creatine can help repair damaged muscle tissue and speed recovery.
Because everyone is different, it's important to explore what works best for you or consult with a sports nutritionist for more individualized recommendations.
Is It Safe to Take Creatine Every Day?
Mayo Clinic states that the use of creatine, when taken in appropriate doses, is likely safe to take up to five years.
As long as individuals are following the recommended dosage of 3-5 grams per day, creatine is safe to consume, with few reported side effects.
There are certain individuals who should exercise caution with creatine supplements, such as those with kidney disease, as these individuals can experience negative health effects or even kidney damage from too much creatine.
As with any new supplement or change to your wellness routine, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider before taking creatine or any other supplement.
Are There Side Effects to Taking Creatine Every Day?
There is no issue with taking creatine every day. In fact, many athletes have noticed significant benefits from incorporating creatine into their daily wellness routine.
Be sure when you take your creatine supplement that you're following the recommendations for how much to take. If you take too much creatine, you may experience stomach discomfort or even increases in body weight caused from water retention.
What's the Best Way to Take Creatine?
Creatine supplementation can be easily implemented into your daily routine.
Whether you choose to take creatine before or after exercise depends on personal preference and what makes you feel best.
As with any new supplement or addition to your routine, consistency is key if you want to see results. Be sure to take creatine daily, ideally in powder form, if you want to reap all the benefits including stronger muscles, an increase in muscle size, and improved brain health.
It's easy to mix creatine with your favorite protein shake or smoothie. Simply blend creatine powder with your favorite protein, fruit, and non-dairy milk for a quick and easy shake.
What is a Creatine Loading Phase?
Some studies suggest a creatine loading phase in which a higher amount of creatine is taken for the first few days before tapering down to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams daily. A study from 2007 study found that taking 0.3 grams of creatine per kilogram of body weight for at 3 days was helpful to quickly boost the body's creatine stores.
However, a creatine loading phase is not necessary to reap the benefits of creatine, and it is possible to maximize creatine stores without a loading phase.
What Should I Look For When Choosing a Creatine Supplement?
It's important to find a good quality supplement such as Naked Creatine which contains 100% creatine monohydrate, with no added ingredients. Since this product is flavor-free and dissolves quickly, it's easy to mix into a variety of foods and beverages.