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Creatine, often associated with male-dominated fitness circles, has more recently begun gaining traction as a popular supplement among women seeking to enhance their physical performance and overall well-being. While traditionally marketed towards men for its muscle-building benefits, newer research sheds light on how creatine can positively impact women’s health and fitness goals.

From improving exercise endurance to enhancing cognitive function, creatine offers a multitude of benefits designed to fit the unique needs of any woman. For women looking to improve their fitness abilities, this article dives into the science behind the supplement’s benefits, optimal dosage, potential side effects, and the most effective form.

What is Creatine and What Does It Do?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found primarily in muscle cells, where it plays a crucial role in energy production during high-intensity activities. The compound is found in foods like red meat and seafood and also naturally in the human body, made by the liver, pancreas, and kidney, which transfer phosphate from adenosine triphosphate (ATP). 

“Creatine is crucial for regenerating ATP,” states Top Nutrition Coaching Dietitian Kat Garcia Benson. “Creatine helps make ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which lets muscles keep performing at high intensity for longer and enhances overall performance. This is why it’s used mainly for weight lifting and sprinting – for boosting strength and power in short bursts.” Essentially, creatine serves as a rapid energy reserve, enabling greater power output and delaying fatigue during strenuous exercise.

Benefits of Creatine For Women

Improves Exercise Endurance

One of the primary benefits of creatine supplementation is its scientifically proven ability to enhance exercise endurance, particularly during high-intensity, short-duration activities (i.e., HIIT). Extensive research suggests that creatine supplementation can lead to significant improvements in overall performance, including maximal strength, intensity, and time to exhaustion during high-intensity endurance activities due to increased anaerobic work capacity. Benson adds, “Some research suggests it may also help increase muscle recovery and muscle glycogen stores (glucogen resynthesis) when taken with carbohydrates. For endurance athletes, increased glycogen stores can mean longer lasting energy during extended workouts.”

Creatine for Women

Increases Strength and Muscle Growth

Despite common misconceptions, creatine is intended for more than just male athletes looking to bulk up. Women can also benefit from its muscle-building properties. Creatine increases the body’s phosphocreatine storage, which then helps the body produce more ATP during intense, repetitive exercises. These rounds of energy only last approximately five to eight seconds; therefore, the body then has to create more ATP for continuous energy. Creatine is a favorable supplement for women looking to sculpt their physiques, improve athletic performance, or increase functional strength.

Improves Mood and Cognition

Beyond its physical performance benefits, creatine has shown evidence of positive effects on mood and cognitive function. ATP is the primary energy source for your cells (including those in your brain). Increasing ATP with creatine supplementation can enhance cognitive performance, reduce metabolic stress, and improve memory (especially in aging adults). A 2020 study of female mice with Alzheimer’s were given creatine over the course of nine weeks and, as a result, showed decreased escape latency associated with increased spatial learning. (The male mice showed no benefits.)

Creatine is also said to potentially produce antidepressant effects by modulating neurotransmitter systems in our mood regulators, such as the serotonin and dopamine pathways. By communicating information through neurotransmitter function, creatine may help alleviate these symptoms.

Improves Post-Workout Recovery

Effective recovery is key for maximizing the benefits of a workout while minimizing the risk of injury, especially for women balancing fitness routines with other responsibilities. Creatine can rapidly regenerate ATP for quicker recovery times, reduced muscle soreness, and enhanced muscle repair following intense training sessions. It can also help your body promote glycogen resynthesis to replenish lost muscle glycogen. Once the muscle glycogen breaks down into glucose, it can then be created into ATP for new energy.

In conjunction with creatine supplementation, HUM’s Über Energy may positively impact athletic performance and recovery through adrenal function supplements. Adrenal support is essential for high-intensity workouts, as adrenal fatigue can come from stress, such as exercise or ‘over-training the body.’ Vitamin B5 supports energy production by aiding ATP regeneration, while ashwagandha has been seen to significantly increase muscle mass and strength. It also benefits post-workout recovery, with B6 focusing on muscle repair and Siberian Ginseng reducing fatigue and lactate buildup. 

Creatine for Women

Dosage and Best Time to Take Creatine

Determining the optimal dosage and timing for creatine supplementation is essential for maximizing its benefits while minimizing potential side effects. According to Benson, “The standard dosage of creatine is about 2-5 grams per day. For new users, the “loading phase” is roughly 20 grams per day (divided into 4 doses) for 5-7 days to quickly increase muscle creatine levels, followed by a “maintenance phase” of 2-5 grams per day. Most people notice results in roughly 1-2 weeks, however full benefits usually show in 4-6 weeks.” 

As for timing, there is no consensus on the ideal time to take creatine. “Some research suggests greater absorption and use when creatine is taken after training, however benefits can still be seen if taken before training or at other times in the day,” Benson adds.

Whatever you choose, taking your creatine consistently each day (regardless of timing) is more important for maintaining elevated creatine levels in the muscles over time. Ultimately, the goal is to find a routine that works best for you and your schedule.

Side Effects/Risks of Creatine For Women

While creatine is generally considered safe for most individuals when taken within recommended doses, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects and risks, particularly with prolonged or high-dose supplementation. Common side effects may include:

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Bloating/Water retention (temporary)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver or Kidney damage

Concerns have also been raised regarding potential kidney and liver damage associated with creatine use, particularly in individuals with pre-existing renal conditions. However, when used responsibly, extensive research hasn’t shown a definitive link between creatine supplementation and adverse effects on kidney or liver function in healthy individuals. Regardless, consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement is crucial, especially for those with underlying health concerns.

Which Form of Creatine is Most Effective?

Various forms of creatine supplements are available on the market, each claiming unique benefits in terms of absorption, solubility, and effectiveness. Among the most widely studied forms are creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride, and buffered creatine.

Benson, along with extensive science-backed research, agrees that creatine monohydrate remains the gold standard. It also remains cost-effective and proves efficacy in enhancing performance and muscle growth. Its high solubility and bioavailability make it an excellent choice for most individuals, including women looking to grow lean muscle and increase endurance during workouts.

The Creatine Takeaway…

Creatine holds immense potential as a safe and effective supplement for improving women’s health and fitness goals. From promoting the opportunity to grow in exercise performance and muscle growth to enhancing cognitive function and post-workout recovery, creatine offers a multifaceted approach to achieving optimal wellness. By understanding its mechanisms of action, dosing protocols, and potential risks, you can use creatine to unlock your full potential in the gym and beyond.

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