Anyone interested in health and fitness goals is always looking at different ways to improve athletic performance. Dietary supplements are a great way to achieve this. If your main focus is muscle growth, there is one supplement that comes to mind which is creatine.
However, you may be wondering whether you can take creatine on rest days or if you can’t work out due to an injury. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of creatine and whether you can take it without working out or not.
You can take creatine without working out. Creatine is a molecule naturally produced in the body through the liver and kidney. It contains three amino acids: methionine, glycine, and arginine. Creatine plays a vital role in energy availability. Apart from helping build muscle mass, it has great benefits for overall physical and mental health.
Creatine is essential for maintaining your body’s energy reserves. It helps regenerate your body’s primary source of energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). So, is it beneficial to take creatine if you are on a break from strength or resistance training involving multiple muscle contractions? What about if you don’t work out at all?
In short, yes, it is. Creatine can still help you build muscle strength and muscle mass even if you don’t work out. Since it has numerous strength-boosting benefits, regular use of creatine can improve your overall physical and mental health.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine is one of the most widely researched ergogenic aids in the world, with the vast majority of scientific literature showing beneficial effects on health and performance.
In your body, creatine is naturally produced in your liver, pancreas, and kidneys and stored as phosphocreatine in your skeletal muscle. Each day your body produces around 1 gram of creatine from food sources such as red meat, eggs, and seafood containing small amounts.
Phosphocreatine is used to power the ATP/PC system, with Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) providing energy during high-intensity, short-duration exercise. ATP is similar to adenosine diphosphate but with an extra phosphate group. Therefore, supplementation leads to improvement in exercise performance. Alongside this, multiple other beneficial effects of creatine have been shown which include improved cognition, power output, and decreased incidence of some health conditions.
With this, is creatine supplementation warranted on rest days? What are the possible applications? First, let’s take a look at the benefits in more detail.
7 Benefits of Taking Creatine
Creatine is a natural substance that is produced by your body, and it is essential in ensuring energy availability. It helps in strength training and building muscle. It is good even if you don’t work out as it has its uses outside the gym too. Studies have shown that creatine improves neurological and cognitive function.
Let’s look at some other benefits of taking a creatine supplement on rest days or even if you don’t work out at all:
1. It benefits you on rest days
Contrary to popular belief, creatine isn’t a pre or post-workout supplement. Instead, you should take caffeine, tyrosine, nitric oxide supplements, etc., as pre and post-workout supplements. The effects of creatine are accumulative meaning that an acute dose doesnt matter, but rather the overall daily supplementation to maintain or increase the creatine saturation in the muscle cells. So, it makes sense for you to take it on your rest days as well as normal exercise days.
Creatine has to be taken daily for it to fill in your muscles. If you take creatine regularly for 5-7 days, even if you are not working out, you can expect:
- More muscle build-up
- At Least a 10% increase in overall strength
- Quicker muscle recovery between sets of intense exercises
If you take creatine only on days when you work out, you won’t be able to fill up your muscles and reap all the benefits.
2. It can help build muscle and strength
You will get better results if you take creatine during workout days. However, it doesn’t mean that it won’t still help you build muscle and strength without working out.
Studies on both men and women indicate that taking creatine even without working out can help build more strength and muscle mass. Men have actually been recorded with an increase of 4 pounds of muscle mass by simply taking a creatine dietary supplement regularly and without any workouts.
A related article is Best Muscle Gain Workouts For Skinny Guys (Ultimate Guide).
3. It can help maintain your strength and muscle mass
Let’s say you can’t work out for a few weeks due to being sick or having an injury. Or, maybe you cant find the best time to work out due to a recent routine change.
Taking creatine can help you maintain the strength and muscle mass you’ve built during this period. It helps prevent the loss of strength and muscle that can happen due to being inactive in the gym for weeks at a time.
you may also want to read 20 Different Push-Up Variations To Build Great Strength.
4. Your response time will increase when you start working out again
Creatine will help you maintain your muscle and strength when you can’t work out. It also allows you to rehabilitate faster once you return to the gym after an injury or a long break.
Your muscles will respond to your workouts better than if you weren’t taking any creatine.
5. It helps build overall stamina
We all know someone who can benefit from an energy boost that allows us to be more active. If you’ve lost muscle mass and strength due to age or a recent injury and cannot perform daily activities without getting tired, creatine might be a solution to your problem.
Creatine can help restore that lost energy and build your strength. Regularly taking a creatine supplement will strengthen your muscles and give you an energy boost for carrying out daily tasks easily.
you may also be interested in Best Treadmill Workout for Stamina.
6. It can help control your blood sugar
High blood sugar harms your well-being. It leads to an energy slump and a bad mood, among other side effects. Having stable blood sugar levels is good for your overall health and mood stability.
Creatine helps maintain stable blood sugar. Take creatine and pair it with a healthy diet, and you will see your energy levels improving significantly as a result.
Creatine enables cells to absorb the glucose you get from sugar and carbs instead of allowing them to float around in your bloodstream and affect your energy levels.
It also helps keep this sugar from depositing in your body as excess fat.
7. It can improve your focus
The best ways to eat food sources containing creatine are red meat and pork. If you’re vegetarian or don’t eat much meat, you can have below-average creatine levels.
Taking a creatine supplement regularly can restore these low levels in your body and help you focus more energy on thinking and problem-solving.
How to Take Creatine to Achieve Best Results
Any popular supplement must be taken properly for it to give you optimum results. The most famous form of this supplement is creatine monohydrate. Here is the proper way to take a creatine supplement to build up your creatine reserves:
Day 1-5 (Creatine Loading Phase)
Take 20 grams of the supplement in 4 doses of 5 grams spread evenly throughout the day. This allows you to saturate your creatine stores in a quicker amount of time compared to starting with a maintenance dose.
Figure out your exercise goals first before deciding if to start with a loading period or maintenance. A side effect of too much creatine may include bloating and GI distress so make sure to bare this in mind.
Day 6 and on
Take 3-5 grams or one spoonful of creatine daily. This will keep your muscles saturated with creatine and give you the continuous energy required to be active and robust even on a rest day.
Does Creatine Have Any Side Effects?
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition research, creatine is safe in amounts of up to 30 grams a day for five years. It can cause issues such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea in rare cases. It can also lead to weight gain and bloating as it causes water retention in the body.
Creatine is metabolized in the kidneys, and it can create issues for people with renal damage or disease. It is best to consult your physician before using the supplement to discuss the potential risks regarding renal impairment or disease.
In short, taking a high amount of creatine is safe to use for healthy individuals in controlled amounts, and it is always best to consult your physician before taking any supplements.
Interaction Effects Between Creatine and Caffeine
As two of the most well-researched ergogenic aids with proven performance benefits in thousands of research studies, creatine and caffeine are commonly taken together as part of a pre-workout or on their own as a powder of caffeine-containing beverages.
Despite this, confusion regarding potential interaction effects still exists due to their relevant mechanisms. Creatine increases the amount of phosphocreatine in our body. This then helps to power the ATP/PC system during high-intensity exercise. Caffeine acts on the central nervous system to improve our concentration and energy levels. Both compounds are highly effective at improving markers of performance.
Whilst previous research suggested that caffeine may lower the performance effects of creatine, current research now disproves this. With this, both compounds are safe to consume together even when resting on a day off or exercising vigorously.
One thing to bare in mind is both compounds effects on your dehydration status, even if you’re not exercising. Creatine supplementation leads to water retention in your muscles whilst caffeine acts as a diuretic meaning it promotes water loss from your body.
Combining both compounds may increase the risk of dehydration meaning care should be taken to monitor your hydration status on both rest and exercise days.
Tips for Choosing the Best Creatine Supplement
There are many creatine supplements on the market, and choosing one from these options can be overwhelming. Utilize the following tips to ensure you choose a good supplement for your needs:
- The supplement should be free of artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors.
- It should be tested and approved by a third party such as NSF.
- It should be available in dosage divisions of 5-7 grams which is the recommended daily dose.
- It should contain pure creatine monohydrate and be free of liquid creatine, creatine HCL, or creatine ethyl ester. These other creatine forms are safe to take but creatine is the most well-researched form with proven performance-enhancing effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you take creatine without water?
You can take creatine without water. However, it is recommended you take it with a liquid. You can probably take it with a protein shake. Taking creatine with a liquid will make it easier to digest.
2. Which creatine is best for first-time users?
Creatine monohydrate is the most widely tested formulation of creatine that has benefits for the body. It is recommended to take 5 grams of creatine monohydrate to achieve the best results.
3. Should I take creatine on rest days?
You should take creatine on rest days. Creatine takes time to fill in your muscles and show its results. Even if you don’t work out, it helps prevent muscle and strength loss and also adds to your overall strength.
Creatine is an excellent supplement choice even for people who do not work out regularly or are on a break from the gym due to an illness or an injury. It has a number of proven beneficial effects including increases in strength, muscle mass, brain function, and certain health conditions.
The effects of creatine are accumulative meaning that a single dose doesnt matter. If taken using the loading of maintenance protocols described above, it can help build overall physical and mental strength and prevent muscle and strength loss.