Should You Take Creatine On Rest Days?

September 18, 2023

Taking a day off from exercise is a vital part of a balanced fitness regimen, giving your body a chance to recuperate and adjust to a carefully planned training schedule. However, there can be some confusion regarding using supplements such as creatine and whether they should still be included on these rest days.

To reap the benefits of creatine, you need to be taking it every day, even on rest days.

Understanding how creatine functions in relation to recovery periods can help you make an informed choice that aligns with your fitness objectives.

Why You Should Take Creatine On Rest Days

Most of your body’s creatine is stored in the muscle – about 95%, of which 2/3 is stored as phosphocreatine (PCr) [1]. To understand how creatine works, think of your muscle creatine stores as a sponge (your muscle) that needs to be filled with water (creatine).

A typical diet provides about 1 to 2 grams of creatine per day, filling your muscle creatine stores to roughly 60 to 80% of their capacity (slightly less for vegetarians) [2].

When you supplement with creatine, you aim to ‘top up’ your muscle creatine stores to 100% – essentially adding an extra 20 to 40% [2][3][4][5][6].

This process is referred to as ‘saturating’ your creatine stores. Using the sponge analogy, it signifies that the sponge is entirely saturated with water to the point where it can’t absorb any more.

For your creatine stores to reach saturation, it’s crucial to take creatine daily, regardless of whether you’re exercising. The impact of creatine on performance is not a one-time occurrence but requires consistent intake for optimal effectiveness.

How Much Creatine To Take On Off Days?

Should You Take Creatine On Off Days

Your creatine intake on rest days should be the same as on workout days.

There are two dosing strategies to optimize muscle creatine stores: A creatine loading phase followed by a maintenance phase or a more conservative but consistent protocol [1][2][3].

The most efficient method for boosting muscle creatine stores will be a loading protocol [1][2][4]: consuming 5 grams of creatine monohydrate (or roughly 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight) four times a day over a span of 5 to 7 days.

Once the loading phase is complete and muscle creatine stores are completely saturated, they can be maintained at 3 – 5 grams per day [2][3][4][5][6].However, some research indicates that larger athletes might need more to maintain their creatine stores – as much as 5 – 10 grams per day [7].

Alternatively, you can opt for a more conservative approach, taking 3 grams of creatine monohydrate for 28 days [6]. However, this method may result in a slower and more gradual increase in muscle creatine stores, leading to fewer performance or training adaptation effects until the creatine stores are fully saturated.

What Happens If You Miss A Day Of Creatine?

If you missed a day of creatine intake, it will not ruin your progress!

Research indicates that after an increase in creatine stores within the muscle, it takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks for these stores to revert to their pre-supplementation levels [3][9][10].

This is also called a “wash-out” period. So, even if you did miss one day of creatine intake, you will still have plenty of reserve stores to work with. Just get up the next day and take your usual dose – there’s no need to take extra to make up for it.


Achieving progress in your health and fitness requires consistent effort, whether in the gym, your diet, or taking creatine. Make a daily habit of consuming creatine on your rest days to ensure you get the most out of your investment in your fitness.


  1. Kreider, R. B., & Jung, Y. P. (2011). Creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Exerc Nutr Biochem15(2), 53-69.
  2. Kerksick, C. M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B. J., Stout, J. R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C. D., … & Antonio, J. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the international society of sports nutrition14(1), 33.
  3. Hultman, E., Soderlund, K., Timmons, J. A., Cederblad, G., & Greenhaff, P. L. (1996). Muscle creatine loading in men. Journal of applied physiology81(1), 232-237.
  4. Mujika, I., & Padilla, S. (1997). Creatine supplementation as an ergogenic aid for sports performance in highly trained athletes: a critical review. International journal of sports medicine18(07), 491-496.
  5. Green, A. L., Hultman, E., Macdonald, I. A., Sewell, D. A., & Greenhaff, P. L. (1996). Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism271(5), E821-E826.
  6. Harris, R. C., Söderlund, K., & Hultman, E. (1992). Elevation of creatine in resting and exercised muscle of normal subjects by creatine supplementation. Clinical science83(3), 367-374.
  7. Kreider, R. B., Melton, C., Rasmussen, C. J., Greenwood, M., Lancaster, S., Cantler, E. C., … & Almada, A. L. (2003). Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Molecular and cellular biochemistry244, 95-104.
  8. Casey, A., Constantin-Teodosiu, D., Howell, S., Hultman, E. G. P. L., & Greenhaff, P. L. (1996). Creatine ingestion favorably affects performance and muscle metabolism during maximal exercise in humans. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism271(1), E31-E37.
  9. Greenhaff, P. L., Casey, A., Short, A. H., Harris, R., Soderlund, K., & Hultman, E. (1993). Influence of oral creatine supplementation of muscle torque during repeated bouts of maximal voluntary exercise in man. Clinical Science84(5), 565-571.
  10. Vandenberghe, K., Goris, M., Van Hecke, P., Van Leemputte, M., Vangerven, L., & Hespel, P. (1997). Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. Journal of applied physiology83(6), 2055-2063.
About the Author

Hanli is a Registered Dietitian with a special interest in sports nutrition. She has a Master's degree and is currently a PhD candidate focusing on adolescent athlete nutrition. She has published research in the Obesity Reviews journal and is a research coordinator at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa.

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