Should I Take Creatine on Off Days?

Should I Take Creatine on Off Days?

Creatine can benefit you any day of the week, including rest days. Depending on your goals, read this blog to maximize its benefits. 
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If you are an athlete or are into fitness and bodybuilding, you have likely heard about creatine and its ability to boost muscle and gain strength.

Whether you currently include it in your supplement stack or are considering adding it you likely wonder “should I take creatine on off days?”

Trust me, you are not alone in the quest. While creatine is often associated with high intensity workouts, it is also known to enhance recovery, reduce muscle breakdown, and promote overall health. You wonder if taking creatine on off days is necessary or beneficial.

We are breaking it down in this blog for you, so you know how to incorporate creatine in your regimen for best results. 

Understanding the basics of Supplementation

Before looking at whether we should take creatine on off days, we need to understand the foundational basics of this increasingly popular supplement. Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that is essential for supplying energy to muscle cells throughout the body.

There are two types of creatine: creatine monohydrate and creatine nitrate. One percent of the total volume of human blood is creatine, while 95 percent of creatine in the body can be found in skeletal muscle. Creatine can be found in small amounts in various foods, such as milk, fish, meat, and is also synthesized by the body.

The major role of creatine is to support the body during intense bursts of physical activity by providing rapid energy. Creatine is widely used to enhance athletic performance by increasing internal phosphate stores.(1) 

Benefits of creatine supplementation

Creatine is one of the most famous supplements in the market and unlike many others it is well researched. Here is a list of science backed creatine benefits: 

1. Energizes muscle cells

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), also known as “energy currency” of cells is the main source of energy during high intense exercise. Cells in our body uses ATP for energy by losing a high-energy phosphate and changes into Adenosine diphosphate (ADP).

In this dynamic process, creatine increases the overall pool of phosphocreatine for recycling ADP to ATP. Creatine supplementation results in more energy available for high intensity exercise in turn enhancing strength and power output.(2)

Helps fill your muscles: The main reason body increases weight using creatine is by water retention. Your muscles hold on to water making you feel bloated or puffed typically around your arms, legs, and stomach. You can gain about two to five pounds due to retention of water.

Although creatine can cause some water weight gain, research has found that creatine can effectively supplement for endurance and strength, and consequently, your body may increase in muscle strength and size.(2)

2. Enhanced athletic performance

Creatine has the potential to improve performance involving extreme and intense activity, particularly during repeated bursts. On top of that creatine could boost the effects of resistance training, on body mass and strength.(3)

3. Mitigates metabolism disorders

Children and young adults suffering from glycine aminotransferase (GAMT) deficiency or guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (AGAT) deficiency- disorders of creatine synthesis have been treated with creatine supplementation.

Creatine deficiency is also associated with conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), diabetes, fibromyalgia, muscle atrophy, multiple sclerosis (MS) and osteoarthritis.

Taking creatine supplements can mitigate the severity of creatine deficiency disorders. Taking creatine can also improve muscle condition and reduce fatigue in patients with muscular dystrophy.(4)

4. Enhances cognitive ability

While creatine’s influence on muscles is widely recognized, it has gaining prominence on impacting brain health and cognitive function. For the relentless energy demand of the brain, creatine acts as a supplier of quick and efficient energy for cognitive tasks.

Studies suggest that creatine supplementation might enhance working memory, information processing speed, and overall cognitive performance, making it a potential ally for anyone looking to boost mental acuity.(5)

5. Improves cell signalling

Creatine increases satellite cell signalling, aiding muscle repair and growth.(6)

6. Raises anabolic hormones

Creatine has been shown to increase anabolic hormone that aid in muscle growth. IGF-1 an anabolic hormone increases with creatine supplementation.(7)

7. Lowers myostatin levels

New muscle growth can be slowed or inhibited by elevated levels of the protein myostatin. Supplementing with creatine can reduce these levels, improving growth potential.(8) 

Should I Take Creatine Every Day?

Your body is unique, and how much creatine you take and how often you take it depends on many factors. Before you take creatine, talk to a healthcare provider. They can help determine if it’s safe for you to take creatine, as well as the appropriate dosage.

Generally, the exact timing for taking your creatine on exercise days is important in comparison to the off days; however, you still want to supplement on rest days to keep the creatine content of muscles elevated. Daily intake ensures maximum benefits of creatine supplementation.

As for the timing to take creatine on off days; you can really take creatine any time of the day.

Creatine supplementation is ideal for people looking to:

  • Increase muscle mass.
  • Increase muscle strength.
  • Increase muscle power.
  • Increase ATP levels in the body.
  • Accelerated recovery.

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.

Ultimately, you get to choose based on your lifestyle and goals when to take creatine.

Best way to include creatine supplements

Now that we have established the benefits of including creatine supplementation in your routine. We must stay consistent in its intake. Taking 3-5 grams of creatine daily is the sweet spot for most people. You can take it before workout or after workout for optimal benefits.

Be sure to buy your creatine powder after careful consideration of your taste. It is easier to drink your favorite flavored beverage than something that you have to force yourself to swallow.

Often you hear the phrase “loading phase” associated with creatine. This means 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 needs 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 20- 40%.(9)

After the loading phase, you'll typically drop down to a maintenance dose of 5 grams daily to maintain optimal muscle creatine levels. 

Is it OK to take creatine on off days?

The short answer is- Yes you can take creatine on off days. However, it all comes down to what works best for you as an individual and your goals. The reason behind creatine supplement on off days is to keep the creatine content of muscles elevated. The exact timing for taking your creatine on off days is not as important as timing on exercise days.

On rest days, any creatine you ingest is simply used to increase your body’s stores of creatine and not as an immediate fuel. You attain the maximum benefits from creatine supplementation when you allow time for the substance to build up in your muscles. 

What else to do on rest days?

While you need off days to rest up and repair muscles, you also want to continue nourishing your bodies to ensure you are ready to go for next week’s workouts. Here are a few things to do on an off day.

  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is nature’s way to enhance your overall health. It is important to catch up on sleep to help repair your body.

You should try to sleep getting extra sleep if you feel you need it, you can also fit in some naps as well. Proper sleep keeps you mentally well, as well as allows your muscles to repair, so you are at your best.

  • Listen to your body: If you’re unsure what you do on an off day, pay attention to your body. After all, our bodies are trained to tell us what we need to thrive.

Look for signs that indicate whether your body needs sleep, water, or food. Even a little activity like yoga can help you feel great. This will help you recover faster.

  • Drink enough water: Sometimes, you tend to go overboard by substituting water with beverages like soda and energy drinks on your off days.

While these are not harmful in moderation, you should ensure you do not replace water completely with these drinks. If you want to relax a little by drinking your favorite beverage, you should drink just as much, if not more, water to stay hydrated.

  • Eat nourishing food: Food provides you the nutrients you need to feel energized throughout your workouts. This acts as a fuel to maintain strong muscle and healthy weights apart from maintaining your body requirements.

Therefore, you should continue consuming right foods on your off days. While you can feel free to splurge a little, make sure to eat generally healthy food.

  • Try low-impact activities: An off day does not mean that you must avoid all forms of physical activity. It is helpful to keep your bodies moving during your off days.

You can always indulge in activities like yoga or jogging so you can remain active in a less intensive way.

  • Strech and relax: It is common to feel tired and sore after a workout. If you want to alleviate muscle soreness, look at proper stretching techniques.

Stretching improves flexibility and prevents injuries, so you can stay on top of your game. If you don’t feel like exercising, feel free to take a day to see a movie, play a video game or catch up with friends. 

Take away message

All said and done, creatine is an effective supplement with powerful benefits for both athletic performance and health. 

It may boost brain function, improve exercise performance, accelerate muscle growth, and increase lean muscle. 

“Good things come to those who wait”, so be patient and allow creatine to build up in your muscles allowing it to start working its magic- including taking it on an off day. 


  1. Kreider, R.B. (2003). Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. In: Clark, J.F. (eds) Guanidino Compounds in Biology and Medicine. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, vol 40. Springer, Boston, MA.
  2. Rae C, Digney AL, McEwan SR, Bates TC. Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Oct 22;270(1529):2147-50. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2003.2492. PMID: 14561278; PMCID: PMC1691485.
  3. Becque MD, Lochmann JD, Melrose DR. Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Mar;32(3):654-8. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200003000-00016. PMID: 10731009.
  4. Tarnopolsky, M.A. and Beal, M.F. (2001), Potential for creatine and other therapies targeting cellular energy dysfunction in neurological disorders. Ann Neurol., 49: 561-574.
  5. Konstantinos I. Avgerinos, Nikolaos Spyrou, Konstantinos I. Bougioukas, Dimitrios Kapogiannis, Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials, Experimental Gerontology, Volume 108,2018, Pages 166-173, ISSN 0531-5565,
  6. Dangott B, Schultz E, Mozdziak PE. Dietary creatine monohydrate supplementation increases satellite cell mitotic activity during compensatory hypertrophy. Int J Sports Med. 2000 Jan;21(1):13-6. doi: 10.1055/s-2000-8848. PMID: 10683092.
  7. Deldicque L, Louis M, Theisen D, Nielens H, Dehoux M, Thissen JP, Rennie MJ, Francaux M. Increased IGF mRNA in human skeletal muscle after creatine supplementation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 May;37(5):731-6. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000162690.39830.27. PMID: 15870625.
  8. Saremi A, Gharakhanloo R, Sharghi S, Gharaati MR, Larijani B, Omidfar K. Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on serum myostatin and GASP-1. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 Apr 12;317(1-2):25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2009.12.019. Epub 2009 Dec 22. PMID: 20026378.
  9. Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J. et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 18 (2017). 

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