On your off-workout days, you can take creatine as usual. The purpose behind this is to keep your creatine levels elevated to delay soreness and increase muscle repair. Take 3-5 grams of creatine on your workout days if you’re on a maintenance dose. Continue taking it on your rest days to maintain a high level of creatine concentration in your muscles. As long as you don’t go above the recommended dosage, creatine supplements are considered safe without showing any side effects other than a boost in energy and strength.
When you start working out and look for a supplement, you’re bombarded with hundreds of varieties and brands. Some might work for you, some won’t, and some might even be harmful if you choose a cheaper product.
One of the supplements that most people who work out regularly lookout for is creatine. There is a reservoir of brands selling and marketing creatine products, but is it really good for you?
What is creatine?
Creatine is a chemical that is found naturally in our muscle cells. It helps our muscles increase energy and strength during heavy lifting or a high-intensity workout.
Several things affect your creatine level, like meat intake, amount of muscle mass, exercise, and levels of hormones like testosterone.
Animal protein, like red meat, and fish contain creatine, but you’d have to eat the almost inhuman amount of it to reach the level of creatine available in creatine supplements.
Taking creatine supplements is more prevalent among athletes and bodybuilders to increase muscle mass, improve exercise performance, and boost strength.
Around 95% of the body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The other 5% can be found in your brain, liver, and kidneys.
When you take creatine supplements, the creatine levels stored as phosphocreatine increase and aid your body yield more of a high-energy molecule called ATP.
Benefits of taking a creatine supplement
Creatine has many health benefits if it’s taken in the recommended dosage. Taking more than recommended can have adverse effects on your body.
The most important benefit of taking a creatine supplement is increasing muscle mass. It’s not a replacement nor a drug but a supplement that helps in muscle repair when taken with your protein.
- Athletic performance: Creatine is known to increase your endurance and strength. It enables more workout intensity and gives you a jump of energy to carry out high-intensity workouts and heavy lifting.
- Prevents age-related muscle loss: With aging, it’s common to lose our muscle mass over time. Taking creatine supplements has shown results in helping older people regain their muscle mass. It’s effective when people taking creatine supplements also work out and are active in their daily lives.
- Creatine helps people with specific diseases: Creatine is known to be helpful for people suffering from a disorder called guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency which stops the body from making creatine naturally. Research has also shown that creatine supplements might help people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, Ischemic stroke, brain or spinal injuries, and Huntington’s disease.
It’s easier to know if the creatine has become beneficial for you if you’re one of those people who work out regularly, and, i.e., if you’re able to lift more weight in the gym than before, your body would be able to create more muscle fiber tears that your body can then repair speedily and rebuild them stronger and more prominent after your workout.
Can you take creatine supplements on your off-workout days?
Just like you wouldn’t miss your regular meal or drink on your off days, you shouldn’t also miss out on taking a creatine supplement.
The primary purpose of taking creatine on your off days is to maintain the creatine level and keep it alleviated for recovery after the intense workout you did the previous day while conserving energy for the training for the next day.
Creatine supplement is helpful for the people who train specific muscles of the body at least 3 times a week and might take a day off in between. So, since this repeated training might cause muscle soreness, taking creatine supplements every day might help delay the onset of muscle soreness and boost improved muscle recovery.
Creatine isn’t a stimulant or a drug; it’s a supplement, and as I’ve already said, should be taken with protein, so that muscle fiber tears are repaired more quickly.
What is the best form of creatine to take?
Many brands might market ‘pre-workout’ drinks with creatine in them, but the amount would be way less than what you would get from a proper creatine supplement.
The best form of creatine supplement to take is in powder form. Add it to your protein shakes or fruit juices when mixed creatine powder in fruit juices or sports beverages, the sugar in the juice can increase your insulin level, helping to increase creatine uptake into the muscle.
It’s recommended to have about 70gms of sugar for every 5gms of creatine, and if the creatine supplement is hard to dissolve, then know for a fact that it might be of poor quality.
On the other hand, creatine pills would have less amount of creatine in them, and you’d need to eat a lot of them to get the desired amount of creatine.
What are the possible adverse effects of creatine?
If taken in large amounts, it can cause damage to your kidneys, liver, increase in weight, cause bloating, lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, and digestive problems.
How long should you take creatine?
While beginning, you can take 20 grams daily for 5-7 days and then take your maintenance dosage of 2-10 grams per day, or another approach is taking 3 grams of creatine supplement daily for 28 days.
Should I take creatine before or after a workout?
Bodybuilders often take creatine less than an hour before or immediately after a workout.
Can 16-year-olds take creatine?
Creatine supplements are not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.
Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). So, if taken in the recommended dosage, creatine can work wonders in increasing your muscle mass, endurance, and strength. Creatine can be taken every day and is considered safe to take even on your off days.
Make sure to follow the dosage instructions mentioned on the product, and don’t mix it with other supplements or medications.