Should I Take Creatine If I Can’t Work Out?

If you’re reading this article, you probably want to know whether you should take creatine when you can’t work out.

The simple answer to this question is yes, you should. It’s still very beneficial.  To your muscles, brain, and overall health. This article discusses each benefit in detail. 

For this article we’ll break not being able to train down into a few categories: missing a workout or two, not working out for weeks or months, and if you don’t work out at all. The benefits for each situation are covered in detail for you. 

Benefits Of Taking Creatine Even If You Can’t Work Out

1. It’s Not A Pre Or Post-Workout Supplement

Creatine isn’t something that you only take before and after you train. Caffeine, tyrosine, nitric oxide supplements, and BCAAs are. They’re actually best used infrequently and before you train for the best results.

Creatine is different. If you want to get the most from it you have to take it every day. Whether you’re lifting weights or not. First to fill your muscles. This is required for it to work. 

After the 5-7 days it takes to fill up your muscles with creatine is when its benefits will be noticeable. Expect to have put on muscle, be at least 10% stronger, and recover quicker between sets of intense exercise.

Once your muscles are ‘filled’ you need to keep taking it once a day to keep them that way. This way the benefits will continue…

If you take Creatine only on the days you work out you’ll never fully fill up your muscles. This means you won’t realized any of these benefits.

2. It Can Still Help You Build Muscle & Get Stronger

Granted, you’re not going to see the results you’d see when you’re lifting weights but creatine can still help you build muscle and get stronger..

Studies on older, sedentary women who took creatine for a month gained strength and lean mass. Without doing a single squat. 

Men taking creatine without working out benefit too. In one study guys increased their upper and lower body strength and gained muscle. After one week of supplementation. It wasn’t a small increase like a ¼ pound or so. Some of them actually gained more than 4 pounds of muscle!

3. It Can Keep You From Losing The Strength And Muscle You’ve Built

Let’s say that you’re not able to train at all for a few weeks. Maybe you’re sick or injured. Maybe you’ve had to work extra hours.

Even if you’re stuck in a cast, continuing to take creatine can help prevent the loss of muscle and strength that normally occurs when you take off extended periods of time. 

Check out the results from this study. A group of men had their arms placed in a cast for a week. Half took creatine, the others drank a placebo.

After one week, both groups had their casts removed. The guys taking creatine monohydrate lost less muscle mass and strength. Without doing any type of exercise. 

4. You’ll Respond Faster Once You’re Working Out Again

In addition to keeping your muscle and strength from dwindling away, taking creatine can help you make quicker progress post-injury too.

Studies find that people who load their muscles with creatine are able to rehabilitate themselves faster than if you didn’t. Subjects in one study had their legs placed in a cast. Their muscle mass and size was measured before and after casting. Tests were then performed again post-rehabilitation.  

The legs muscles in the creatine group responded faster, returning to their normal size before being put in a cast faster than the placebo. 

5. It’ll Help You With Daily Activities

Since most of our readers are men and ladies who lift weights and work out regularly, this benefit may not apply to you. I bet that it does apply to someone you know. Especially if you have older parents, relatives, or friends who live pretty sedentary lives

As you probably know, if you don’t do some type of resistance training as you get older you’re going to lose muscle mass and strength. The medical term for this is sarcopenia. 

When you lose too much muscle mass and strength, completing basic daily activities can become difficult, if not impossible. Imagine not being able to stand up from a chair without assistance. May seem hard to believe but lots of people cannot. All because they didn’t make sure to at least maintain their muscle later in life.

Fortunately, all hope isn’t lost when this happens. First of all, it’s never too late to start lifting weights and getting stronger. Even if you’re in your 80s.

You can also help yourself get stronger by taking creatine. Even if you’re not doing some type of strength training. 

Studies find that older people (60+ year old men and women) increased their strength and ability to sit up from a chair without help after 7 days of taking creatine. They also improved their muscular endurance and grip strength. None of them were doing any type of strength training either which, given their improvements, is kind of crazy.

6. Creatine Isn’t Just Good For Your Muscles

When you take creatine monohydrate, it doesn’t just benefit your muscles. Every few months another study is published that finds it can help us in other ways too. Like all the others in this article, these benefits are also contingent on you lifting weights too.

Check them out. I think you’ll be impressed.

Helps Control Your Blood Sugar

Stable blood sugar is key to being healthy and feeling good. If you don’t know what I mean go and eat a couple candy bars and wash it down with a soda.

Within minutes of eating these foods your blood sugar will rapidly increase. You’re also likely to feel pretty crappy shortly thereafter. We’re talking low energy, bad moods, and feeling as if you need a nap. 

While it’s best to avoid the aforementioned foods altogether for healthy blood sugar levels, taking creatine can help. Even if you eat a healthy diet, it’s still good to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your levels stable.

Creatine supplementation seems to help by making your cells more sensitive to the carbohydrates you eat. This means they’re better able to allow the glucose (from the carbs) into your cells instead of having it floating around your bloodstream and you feeling awful. It may also keep this sugar from being stored as excess body fat. 

It Can Help You Focus And Think Better

This benefit is most applicable if you’re a vegetarian or don’t eat red meat or pork, the foods that are highest in creatine. 

If you eat this way, you’re likely to have very low levels of creatine in your body. One study that used vegetarians finds that supplementing with creatine monohydrate helped improve scores that tested subjects’ ability to concentrate and perform tests of their mental fitness.

You can learn more about this and its other benefits to vegetarians by reading this article (link).

I think that we’ll see even more benefits that can be attributed to creatine monohydrate in the near future. Some of them are likely to be things like improving your mood, keeping your bones strong, and reducing fatigue if you’re sleep deprived. 

Make Sure You Take It The Right Way

If you want to see results from this or any supplement it must be taken properly. Fortunately, it’s easy to do right away. Just follow the steps below. It’s the same method that’s been proven to be safe and effective in dozens, if not hundreds of scientific studies and millions of people around the world. 

  • Days 1-5 – Take 20 grams of creatine monohydrate daily in 4 divided doses of 5 grams each. This is usually equal to one scoop or teaspoon. During this time is when you are filling your muscles up so its benefits can kick in as quickly as possible.
  • Days 6 and on – Take 5 grams of creatine (1 scoop/teaspoon) every day. Doing this will keep your muscles filled up and enough in your body for all of its benefits to continue. 
creatine monohydrate powder

Choosing The Best Creatine Supplement 

As with any supplement, make sure you only use the best. When it comes to this supplement you want to make sure you only use a supplement that contains nothing but pure creatine monohydrate. 

Don’t be fooled by the hype. Other types of creatine (liquid, creatine HCL, creatine ethyl ester) don’t work. Studies find they don’t even help you get any creatine into your muscles, let alone provide any benefits.

Here are some other things I always look for in a creatine supplement.

  • Make sure it’s made in the USA. Many products, especially from China are often found to be loaded with heavy metals, pharmaceutical drugs, and other potentially harmful things.
  • Check To Make Sure It Contains 5 Grams A Serving. This is the minimum amount required for you to see any benefits.
  • It Must Be Made In A GMP Certified Laboratory. So you know that all you’re getting is what’s on the label.

One product that meets all of these requirements is Creatine Edge. Every serving gives you nothing but pure creatine monohydrate. All at a great price. It’s the brand my wife and I take every day and we’ve experienced nothing but great results.

Conclusion

Now you know all the benefits of taking creatine monohydrate, even if you can’t work out. The next time life throws you a curveball and you cannot train, you’ll at least know you can maintain your gains by continuing to take this safe and effective supplement. 

Sources

Cañete S, San Juan AF, Pérez M, et al. Does creatine supplementation improve functional capacity in elderly women?. J Strength Cond Res. 2006;20(1):22‐28.

Gotshalk LA, Kraemer WJ, Mendonca MA, et al. Creatine supplementation improves muscular performance in older women. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008;102(2):223‐231.

Gotshalk LA, Volek JS, Staron RS, Denegar CR, Hagerman FC, Kraemer WJ. Creatine supplementation improves muscular performance in older men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(3):537‐543.

Hespel P, Op’t Eijnde B, Van Leemputte M, et al. Oral creatine supplementation facilitates the rehabilitation of disuse atrophy and alters the expression of muscle myogenic factors in humans. J Physiol. 2001;536(Pt 2):625‐633.

Johnston AP, Burke DG, MacNeil LG, Candow DG. Effect of creatine supplementation during cast-induced immobilization on the preservation of muscle mass, strength, and endurance. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(1):116‐120.

Op ‘t Eijnde B, Ursø B, Richter EA, Greenhaff PL, Hespel P. Effect of oral creatine supplementation on human muscle GLUT4 protein content after immobilization. Diabetes. 2001;50(1):18‐23.

Pinto CL, Botelho PB, Pimentel GD, Campos-Ferraz PL, Mota JF. Creatine supplementation and glycemic control: a systematic review. Amino Acids. 2016;48(9):2103‐2129.

Stout JR, Sue Graves B, Cramer JT, et al. Effects of creatine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue threshold and muscle strength in elderly men and women (64 – 86 years). J Nutr Health Aging. 2007;11(6):459‐464.

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