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“Should I take creatine on rest days?” is a common question from people who are new to supplements. Even if you’ve been taking creatine for years, you still may not know whether or not you should take creatine on days off from the gym.
So, should you take creatine on off days? Yes, you should take creatine on off days. To reap the benefits of creatine, you need to take it consistently so your body has enough creatine stores to use during exercise. Not taking it on your rest days reduces the amount of creatine in your cells, and your body won’t have as much to utilize at your next workout.
Creatine is the most widely researched supplement, but there is still some confusion on the best times to take it. If you’re asking yourself, “Should I drink creatine on rest days?” this article will help you understand why you need to take creatine on non-workout days.
In this article, I’ll discuss:
- The benefits of taking creatine
- The best ways to take creatine
- The answer to the question, Should I take creatine on off days?
- The best time to take creatine
- Whether or not you can overdose on creatine
- Other things to do on your rest days
Table of Contents
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Benefits of Taking Creatine
The main reason athletes and gym-goers take creatine is that it improves strength and power output. In a study by researchers at Penn State University, individuals who took creatine showed greater improvements in bench press strength and squat jump performance than those who did not take creatine.
One of Our Favorite Creatine Brands:
Furthermore, creatine helps with muscle mass. Studies show that consistent creatine supplementation combined with a resistance training routine promotes more muscle growth than resistance training alone.
Consistent creatine supplementation is also known to enhance recovery. Researchers from Taiwan discovered that athletes who took a creatine supplement experienced less muscle damage during training than those who did not take creatine.
Contrary to popular belief, creatine is not a performance-enhancing drug. However, some low-quality creatine supplements can be contaminated with banned substances. This is something to be mindful of if you compete in a drug-tested powerlifting federation.
How Should You Take Creatine?
If you’re new to supplementing with creatine, below are some recommendations on the best ways to take it.
Creatine loading is a common strategy many people use when they first start taking creatine. The idea is to saturate your creatine stores more quickly so your body can realize its effects sooner.
A loading phase isn’t necessary, however. If you take creatine every day, your body will have enough of it to utilize during exercise after about 28 days.
If you do want to implement a loading phase to shorten this process, start with 20g of creatine per day for 5-7 days.
The recommended dose for creatine (after a loading phase, if you choose to take one) is 3-5g daily.
You can take more than this if you want to, but it’s a waste of money since research proves that 5g per day is sufficient. Why take more than that if you can get the same benefits with a smaller dose and thus make your creatine supplement last longer?
How To Consume Creatine
Creatine users most commonly consume it in either pill or powder form.
If you take it in pill form, take it the same way you would take any other pill (i.e., swallowing it with water or any other beverage you enjoy).
If you take powdered creatine, you may find it easiest to mix it with a pre- or post-workout protein shake. On days off from the gym, you can mix it into a cup of coffee or another beverage you drink regularly.
Our Favorite Creatine + Protein Shake:
Many people find that their creatine doesn’t mix well in cold liquids. If your creatine gets clumpy when you add it to a cold drink, you may want to dissolve it in about ¼ cup of hot water first.
I know some people who dry scoop their creatine, so that’s another option. However, be careful if you go this route to ensure you don’t choke, cough it up, or get it stuck to your teeth. Getting it stuck to your teeth frequently can ruin your enamel over time.
If you’re a female powerlifter, check out our article on the optimal female powerlifting diet. We discuss important nutritional information (including what supplements are best to take along with creatine) to help fuel your workouts.
Should You Take Creatine On Rest Days?
Are you supposed to take creatine on off days? The answer is yes. If you’re not doing so already, you should get into the habit of taking creatine on off days.
Taking creatine on rest days is important because it allows you to maintain the creatine reserves in your system.
It’s even more essential to take creatine on rest days when you first start taking it. Missing just one day, in the beginning, can delay how long your creatine stores can become fully saturated.
Once your creatine stores are saturated, missing one day every so often isn’t a big deal. It takes around two weeks of missing creatine before your creatine stores start depleting.
Still, even after taking it every day for about a month, you should remember to take it on rest days. This ensures you have enough creatine in your system for your body to utilize the next time you work out.
When Is the Best Time To Take Creatine?
When taking creatine on off days, you can take it whenever is most convenient. You may choose to take it when you have your first cup of coffee in the morning or right before you brush your teeth when getting ready for bed.
But what about taking creatine on training days?
Research on the ideal timing of creatine supplementation on workout days is conflicting.
Some studies suggest that taking it about 30-60 minutes before a workout gives your body enough time to digest and utilize it during training. Other studies show that taking creatine immediately after a workout can enhance muscle recovery, especially when combined with a high-protein or high-protein and high-carb meal.
However, one common denominator of these studies is that the participants all took creatine daily. The findings from these studies suggest that when you take creatine isn’t as important as taking it consistently – even on your rest days.
Competitive powerlifters can even take creatine with a protein shake, pre-workout supplement, or another meal they may want to eat during a powerlifting meet. If you compete in a drug-tested federation, ensure your creatine supplement (and any other supplement you take) is third-party verified, so you don’t risk failing a drug test.
Is It Possible To Overdose on Creatine?
It is possible to overdose on creatine, but it is rare to experience major complications from too much creatine. In most cases, too much creatine (more than 20-25g per day) or taking too much at one time (10g in one sitting) causes relatively minor side effects such as stomach cramps, bloating, and gas.
Some people believe taking creatine in high doses can cause significant health issues like kidney damage. There isn’t much evidence to back this up, though. Most research has found that healthy individuals without any previous kidney issues can safely handle daily, long-term creatine supplementation.
Still, as I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to take high amounts of creatine to realize its benefits. Small doses of 3-5g per day are sufficient.
What Else Should You Do on Rest Days?
You now know the answer to the question, “Should I take creatine every day or just on workout days?” You can also do plenty of other things on rest days to maximize your recovery and prepare your body for your next workout.
Here are some other important habits to make a part of your rest days:
Stretching is a low-impact activity that won’t affect your ability to perform well during your next workout. It’s also a great way to relieve sore muscles.
Plus, it can help improve your mobility so you can perform your lifts (especially the big compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses) with proper form.
If you’re unsure how to start a stretching routine, we have a great resource on yoga for powerlifting.
Walk or Do Some Light Cardio
Walking and other low-impact cardio activities like riding a bike or using the elliptical machine are also great things to do on a rest day. They help promote blood flow and reduce inflammation, which can help ease sore muscles.
Low-impact activities also won’t cause additional muscular fatigue that could negatively impact your next day’s workout.
Continue to Eat and Drink Enough
Some people like to reduce calories on rest days since they’re not as active. Others like to keep their caloric intake the same on rest days as it is on training days because it makes meal prep easier. Either option is fine as long as you eat enough in general to support your goals and have enough energy for your next workout.
Drinking enough water (about 3 to 4 liters per day, especially when supplementing with creatine) is also essential to prevent dehydration so you can continue to perform your best in the gym.
Read more: How Much Water To Drink With Creatine?
One of the best ways to maximize your recovery is to get enough high-quality sleep. Sleeping well on your rest days will ensure you have enough energy to tackle your next workout.
I recommend at least seven hours of sleep, though you may want to get more if you have a particularly challenging workout scheduled for the next day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Take Creatine on a Rest Week?
Yes, you should take creatine during a rest week. It takes up to two weeks for the body’s creatine stores to start depleting, but you should still take creatine even if you only take one week off from the gym. It will keep your creatine stores high so your body can utilize the creatine when you resume your workouts.
Do I Need to Take Creatine Every Day?
It is best to take creatine every day. Missing one day every so often won’t impact you much, but not taking it every day over a long period can affect how saturated your creatine stores are. Taking creatine every day is especially important in the beginning so your creatine stores can become saturated more quickly.
How Fast Do You See Results From Creatine?
Taking 3-5g of creatine daily can realize its benefits after about 28 days. You can speed up the process by utilizing a loading phase and taking 20-25g daily for 5-7 days. After that, you need just 3-5g of creatine daily to maintain your creatine stores.
If you’re new to the world of supplements, you may wonder, “Should I take creatine on rest days?”
Yes, you should drink creatine on days off to maintain your body’s creatine stores, so you have enough of it to use during your next workout. This is especially important in the beginning to saturate your creatine stores as quickly as possible.
About The Author
Amanda is a writer and editor in the fitness and nutrition industries. Growing up in a family that loved sports, she learned the importance of staying active from a young age. She started CrossFit in 2015, which led to her interest in powerlifting and weightlifting. She's passionate about helping women overcome their fear of lifting weights and teaching them how to fuel their bodies properly. When she's not training in her garage gym or working, you can find her drinking coffee, walking her dog, or indulging in one too many pieces of chocolate.