While daily creatine supplementation has been well studied for its safety and efficacy, many people wonder whether they can take creatine using a “ one day on”, “one day off” approach. And if they do, how that may impact their results.
Can you take creatine every other day? You can supplement with creatine every other day providing the dose you’re consuming maintains full creatine stores in your muscles. This approach may require you to ingest higher amounts of creatine on the “other” days (up to 10g). However, high amounts of creatine dosing in a single-serve may lead to feeling unwell.
In this article, I’ll explore the merits and drawbacks to dosing creatine every other day and whether there is a preferred approach for maximizing benefits associated with creatine supplementation.
Creatine Every Other Day: Benefits & Drawbacks
Taking creatine every other day isn’t necessary or likely to lead to increased benefits vs taking creatine every day.
The effects of creatine use are not felt immediately, as you need to ingest creatine over time to build it up in the muscle.
Once creatine is built up and the muscle is full (i.e. saturated), surplus energy stores exist in the muscle allowing you to work harder during exercise and increase strength and performance.
With that said, let’s explore some potential benefits of taking creatine every other day.
- Learn more about creatine in the article Types of Creatine.
Benefits of Taking Creatine Every Other Day
Just as creatine doesn’t build up in your system immediately, it isn’t going to deplete immediately by opting for an ‘every other day’ approach to your intake.
Here are some benefits of taking creatine every other day:
- Studies have shown that a low dose of creatine can manage fatigue during higher intensity training. So consuming creatine on other days may be sufficient to support this type of activity.
- In instances where you aren’t in intense training periods focused on performance outcomes or muscle building, like an extended holiday or a training break, an ‘every other day’ approach to creatine may be suitable because the demands on your creatine stores are less.
Now onto some of the drawbacks.
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Drawbacks of Taking Creatine Every Other Day
A couple of the cons to using the “creatine every other day” approach are:
- Dosing creatine every other day could potentially diminish creatine stores (albeit, probably unlikely).
Using creatine daily means maintaining your creatine muscle saturation is guaranteed, so available energy is always ready to be used and provides you with a performance boost during training.
By moving to every other day your creatine stores could slowly decrease because you aren’t constantly replenishing what you are using. As a result, this could impact the benefits and sustained results many have come to enjoy through using creatine.
With that said, you can mitigate decreasing your creatine stores if you take creatine every other day if you are taking the proper dosing (explained later).
- You may feel sick or unwell using the “creatine every other day” approach
This is because of the dosing required when taking creatine on alternating days.
As I’ll discuss in the next section, if you want to maintain your creatine stores, you will need to take more creatine on the days that you do take it than you otherwise would if you were to take it every day.
The result is that some people experience sickness with higher serving amounts of creatine.
Let’s discuss creatine dosing now.
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Creatine Every Other Day vs Every Day: Are There Differences?
The biggest difference in using creatine every day versus every other day is how much you need to consume.
Whether you choose to take creatine every day or on alternating days, the amount you’re having should be at a level that maintains creatine saturation in your muscles otherwise you won’t be benefiting from its use.
Factors like training activity, training goals, and possible side effects will influence the amount of creatine you consume on a daily basis or on every other day.
Let’s take a quick look at how to dose your creatine intake.
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Training Activity And Goals Influence Daily Vs Every Other Day Creatine Servings
An average serving of creatine is 3-5g per day.
However, people lighter in body weight or with lower lean muscle usually consume 2-3g per day with some elite strength athletes consuming up to 10g per day.
When considering whether to take creatine every day or on ‘other’ days, know the purpose of creatine supplementation in the context of your training goals because dosing levels for creatine will be different for endurance goals compared with strength.
First, let’s take a look at a few studies:
Study #1: 2g Of Creatine Per Day Did Not Change Strength Or Fat-Free Mass
A study of adult men and women covering a 6 week period, indicated that low dosage levels of creatine, at around 2g per day, assisted in minimizing levels of fatigue during high-intensity efforts, however, strength and fat-free mass in participants were largely unchanged.
Study #2: 2g-3g Of Creatine Per Day Improved Muscle Power Output
Another study undertaken on soccer youth with an average age of 17 where creatine was dosed at 0.03g per kilo of body weight, showed positive impacts of muscle power output.
Muscle power was assessed through loaded and unloaded 30s cycling attempts.
The dosing scheme, when considering the average body weight of a 17-year-old youth, would be around 2-3g of creatine a day.
Study #3: 5g Daily Intake Of Creatine Showed Increases In Strength And Lean Muscle.
Research discussing creatine impacts on muscle mass showed using 20g of creatine daily during a loading phase for 5 to 7 days and then moving to a maintenance amount of 5g daily increased strength in max 1RM ranges by 8%.
Key Takeaways: How Much Creatine Should You Consume When Taking It Every Other Day?
- When you are training for strength and muscle improvements, evidence suggests around 5g per day is required to maintain creatine stores in the muscle and see results. If you take creatine on alternating days you will need to dose at a relative level, possibly up to 10g to ensure the same effect and outcome.
- When you are training for high intensity bursts of performance you’ll recover quickly and keep performing at a high capacity when taking 2-3g per day. However, when taking it every other day this would need to increase to 4-6g on those days. This intake of creatine is unlikely to support the development of lean muscle mass though.
With that said, there are some consequences that you need to consider if you are taking upwards of 10g of creatine every other day.
- Related Article: Do You Need to Cycle Creatine? (What The Science Says)
Feeling Unwell Using Higher Serves Of Creatine On ‘other’ Days
While studies of creatine confirm its high safety profile some people have anecdotally reported feeling unwell when consuming higher doses of creatine.
Taking a ‘one day on’ and ‘one day off’ approach to creatine supplementation may mean a higher consumption of creatine on the days you are consuming it. This high consumption could cause you to feel dizzy or result in stomach discomfort.
If you’re someone who has experienced these side effects before or with other supplements, consider whether isolating your creatine intake to certain days is going to be best for you.
Side effects that you may experience are individual so there is no ideal amount of creatine to take every day or every other day to stop side effects.
Having said that though, on the days you do take creatine you can split your serves across the day and ensure you are having them with food to minimize feeling unwell.
Recommendations For Using Creatine Every Other Day Use
If you are choosing to dose ‘every other day’ consider the following:
- If your goal is performance based (i.e. running longer in a soccer match), you could dose at a lower level every other day and still get results. This could be around 3-4g every other day.
- If your goal is strength based (increasing your 1 rep max), you may need a higher dose every other day to ensure you are getting enough creatine to support muscle development. This could range from 6-10g every other day.
- If higher amounts of creatine cause gastrointestinal issues, you may need to split your creatine serves across the day.
- Consider a loading phase of creatine before moving to an ‘every other day’ dosing approach.
Other Considerations For Taking Creatine Every Other Day
Another worthwhile consideration is taking your creatine close to your training times.
Studies have shown positive results in having your creatine very close to your training start or finish times.
By taking creatine every other day and consuming it close to your training time, this may assist in ensuring you are maintaining creatine stores in your muscles and able to benefit from its use.
Final Thoughts: What’s More Effective? Daily or Every Other Day Creatine Use?
Having creatine every other day or every day is going to come down to personal preference. Both approaches can be effective in delivering and maintaining full creatine stores in muscles providing you consume enough creatine on the days you do take it.
In terms of dosing every other day, there isn’t any weighted evidence suggesting this would better assist you in keeping your creatine stores full.
If you’re able to take your creatine in line with recommended and tested approaches, you’ll likely experience more of the associated strength and performance outcomes.
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About The Author
Steph Catalucci | Nutrition Coach
@macronutritionau | macro-nutrition.com.au
Steph Catalucci is an online nutrition coach from Australia, working with clients all over the world. Her passion for nutrition was born through wanting to treat her body better, for health and performance. She is a strong advocate for understanding nutrition to develop informed nutritional habits that go beyond just food. Steph leverages a decade of her own nutritional experience to help people make sense of the noise and carve a path forward with their nutrition, supporting clients with whatever body composition goal they have. When not coaching or writing, you’ll find her training for her next powerlifting competition.