Creatine is a fantastic muscle-building supplement that has exploded in popularity recently.

However, it's normal for people to have questions about how to use creatine supplements most effectively.

You may wonder if you should take creatine on rest days, too. If you're looking for some certainty when starting out, we're here to help.

Yes, you can take creatine on rest days. That is, if you're serious about muscle growth or boosting athletic performance.

Many have the misconception that creatine supplements are like a kind of pre-workout.

Wrong.

Instead, consider it to be more like a daily dietary supplement.

Timing is nowhere near as important with creatine as with whey protein powder, pre-workouts, and most other products in the supplement industry.

Relaxing on a Hammock

Your Body Already Creates Creatine Content

The average person only consumes about 60 to 80 percent of their daily creatine requirements through food.[1]

Keep your creatine levels up by supplementing on a daily basis, whether it’s on off days or on days with intense workouts.

The idea is to keep the creatine concentration level of your muscles elevated. Not only that, but as creatine helps with faster recovery, taking it on rest days is perfect. 

You want there to be a reserve for your body to have to facilitate that recovery and get ready for your next workout. 

When Should You Take Creatine? (Training Vs Rest Days)

As creatine is the most heavily-studied muscle-building supplement in the sports nutrition industry, you can imagine the quantity of studies related to the timing of creatine intake.

Time after time, these studies show that you’ll reap performance benefits and aesthetic benefits no matter what time of day you take it.

However, for a slight edge, try taking it within an hour or so before or after your workout.[2]

On off days, timing doesn't really matter as much. If you feel sensitive to the effects of creatine and experience side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, you may want to break up the dosage into two different times per day.

This can be particularly helpful if you're going through a loading phase, where you'll take 20g of the creatine supplement per day before dropping it to a maintenance dose.

Again, this is every day, whether or not it's a training day or a rest day.

Related Article - When Should You Take Creatine? (Before Or After Workouts)

Opening A Canister Of Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Pairing Creatine Close With Food

In addition, we know that creatine absorption is increased if taken while consuming carbs. So if you're wondering if you should take your daily dose on an empty stomach, the answer is "no."

Eat food not far off from the time you take your creatine supplement. That’s not to say you should eat more carbs than what your current goals allow for, though.

Protein and amino acids also help as the body retains creatine better with them.

If you're looking to build muscle mass or boost your intense workout routines, you'll do well to have a well-rounded meal of carbs and protein around the time you take creatine. 

Learn More - What Foods Have Creatine? (Where To Find The Best Sources)

Why Should You Consider Creatine? (Discover The Benefits)

There are so many benefits to using creatine, being one of the best supplements (if not the best) in enhancing physical activity performance, adding muscle mass, or boosting energy levels.

Creatine is a naturally-occurring, non-essential amino acid in our body and can also be found in foods like red meat and seafood.

Our bodies produce 1 to 2 g of creatine per day, but upping creatine stores through supplementation can help give us the amount we need.

Muscle Growth & Power

Creatine increases muscle growth and power, working as an extra energy reserve that can help you push out more reps, run longer, and recover more quickly.

Learn More - Does Creatine Help With Abs? (Guide From A Trainer)

Taking creatine on rest days can help keep those gains consistent, helping provide bursts of energy required for high-intensity training, resistance exercise, sports, and more.

Weight Loss

There’s a common misconception that creatine will make you bulk up like crazy. What if you’re looking to increase lean mass but lose body fat?

We think you’ll find creatine to be one of the most effective supplements in helping with that goal. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is essential in energy production and overall health. 

As creatine increases the muscles' phosphocreatine stores (which aid in the formation of ATP), you'll notice your training days are more productive, your muscles push you a bit further, etc.

Related Article - Does Creatine Help You Lose Weight? (Find Out The Truth)

Measuring Abdominal Fat

Brain Performance

It sounds too good to be true, but if you take creatine, you may notice that your mind is sharper and your thoughts are clearer. How much creatine do you need to take to see benefits like this?

Even just 5g can make an improvement, as your brain requires a good amount of ATP when working through difficult problems. That's all the more reason not to skip creatine on rest days!

Learn More - Creatine Brain Benefits (Does It Help Brain Function?)

What Else Should You Do On Rest Days?

Light Activity And Rest For Body & Mind

Rest days are perfect for, well, resting. Get plenty of sleep, watch that show or read some extra chapters in your book.

Some light activity like riding a bike, taking a walk, stretching, foam rolling, etc., is a good idea to get that lactic acid moving.

Fuel Up On Protein

Getting in enough protein can help support lean muscle growth. If you’re trying to really pack on muscle mass, getting enough protein and calories overall is really crucial.

Learn More - Whey Protein Vs Creatine: Which Is Better For Building Mass?

If you’re trying to lose weight, off days are still great for getting your diet dialed in and making sure you’re on the mark for your goals.

different kinds of high protein meat

Replenish Fluids

Rest days are perfect for ensuring you stay hydrated, which is also essential when taking creatine supplementation.

If you're someone who meal plans, non-training days can allow you the time and peace you need to cook for the week.

See More - How Much Water Should I Drink On Creatine? (Find Out Here!)

Common Questions About Creatine Consumption

Can you overdose on creatine?

First off, if you have diabetes or any type of kidney condition, you should ask your physician if it's okay to take creatine every day (if at all). Aside from that, consuming creatine is quite safe! It naturally converts to creatine phosphate where it's stored in the human body and used for energy. Even when taking higher doses of up to 20g per day, humans seem to do really well with it. However, taking more than this - especially over long periods of time - could lead to potentially serious side effects like kidney damage.[3] Still, overdosing is very challenging to do. Taking creatine on rest days certainly isn't going to cause you many issues other than perhaps minor stomach upset or temporary weight gain.

Can I take creatine forever?

There’s no one answer for everybody, as every body and situation is different. Generally speaking, however, research suggests that you probably could take in a maintenance phase at 5g or so per day and be just fine. Some people drink creatine solely on workout days and skip taking it on rest days. Others may prefer to cycle on and off of it every couple of months. Taking creatine monohydrate powder (widely considered to be the safest form) has been shown to be safe to take every day for up to 5 years.[4] More research is needed in many aspects, but the studies that have come out this far have only confirmed why using creatine daily is a great idea for many athletes.

Do your muscles shrink when you stop taking creatine?

No, the muscle cells themselves will stay in place. What may appear to be a decrease in muscle size or fullness is simply reduced water retention. Creatine supplementation can trigger water retention. Additionally, you may experience reduced energy levels which could result in less of a pump or less intense resistance training sessions.

Conclusion

We hope things are a lot more clear now as to whether or not you should take creatine on rest days.

While pre-workout can offer a jolt of energy, creatine offers reliable differences in energy levels, whether on exercise days or off days.

References: 

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/873.html
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/8/2844
  3. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/creatine
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591
Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Miloš loves three things - science, sports, and simplicity. So, what do you get when you put the three together? A no-BS guy that's all about efficient workouts and research-backed supplements. But he also thinks LeBron's the greatest ever, so...