Creatine is one of the most extensively studied nutritional supplements available and offers anyone who is serious about their training and muscle gains – including women – a cost effective product relative to its many benefits.
While this product is traditionally associated with male bodybuilders and athletes in power sports like rugby and sprinting, creatine continues to gain popularity among women who are serious about performance and achieving their fitness goals.
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Women may benefit more
Numerous studies have confirmed that creatine is safe and well-tolerated by both men and women, with benefits reported in both sexes1.
There is also scientific evidence suggesting that it may actually offer more benefits for women because females exhibit 70–80% lower creatine stores in their bodies compared to men2.
According to one study2 a creatine supplement may be particularly important during menstruation, pregnancy, post-partum, and during and after menopause due to “hormone-related changes to creatine kinetics and phosphocreatine resynthesis.”
And contrary to common misconceptions, creatine isn’t just for bulking up. In fact, it offers a wide array of benefits that can significantly enhance your gym performance and help you achieve the lean, strong physique you desire.
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How creatine works
It’s a naturally occurring compound found in small quantities in foods like red meat and fish, with creatine supplements offering a convenient and effective option for anyone looking to boost their gym performance.
Our body uses the phospho-creatine (PCr) we get from food and supplements to support adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production – the body re-synthesises it by adding a creatine molecule to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) – to produce the energy needed to fuel short and intense muscle contractions.
With a limited amount of creatine stored in our muscle cells (the primary storage site in the body), boosting creatine stores with a supplement can deliver various physical and performance benefits.
And studies3 affirm that supplementing with creatine can increase the intra-cellular levels of creatine and PCr in muscles. Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine available today, and it is considered by many to be the most effective.
Various studies4 over the last three decades have shown that creatine monohydrate supplementation for 4–12 weeks increases muscle creatine and PCr content by 20–40%.
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5 reasons to consider creatine
Here are 5 reasons why every lady who trains in the gym should consider including a creatine supplement in their plan.
1. Creatine can help you build shapely muscle
Boosting creatine stores with a supplement enables you to sustain the intense short duration muscle contractions for longer during resistance training sessions.
By increasing strength, power and muscular endurance in this way, you can train harder for longer, which increases the stimulus muscle tissue needs to grow back stronger and bigger with the appropriate recovery and nutritional support.
This enhanced work capacity delivers creatine’s muscle-building benefits, rather than any direct effects on muscle protein synthesis, as is the case with supplemental protein or hormones.
2. Creatine helps you train harder for longer
In terms of muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity, creatine is possibly the most prolific performance-enhancing supplement at our disposal.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s position stand1, “creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”
By boosting your workout capacity through its ability to increase strength and endurance in both men and women2, creatine can help you lift heavier weights for an extra few reps every set.
3. Creatine can help improve body composition
While creatine itself doesn’t directly contribute to weight loss or fat loss, the increased work capacity it generates supports the muscle-building benefits already mentioned. These muscle-building effects can indirectly aid in achieving a healthier body composition.
Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest compared to fat, so as you gain lean muscle mass, your metabolism revs up, potentially making it easier to manage your weight. More intense training can also help you burn more calories at each weights session in the gym.
A landmark study2 on the benefits of creatine supplements throughout a woman’s lifecycle confirmed that, when combined with resistance training, “creatine further augments body composition and bone mineral density, particularly in post-menopausal females.”
4. Creatine may help to spare muscle tissue
Research by a team of Australian scientists has shown that creatine may, in fact, deliver a greater muscle sparing effect than whey protein.
In the study4 funded by AST Sports Science, researchers imposed controlled, chemically-induced damage to the skeletal muscle tissue of lab rats to test the myo-protective potential of supplemental creatine (CR) compared to that of whey protein (WP).
The study results showed that the creatine-supplemented muscles “displayed a greater proportion of non-damaged (intact) fibres and larger cross-sectional areas of regenerating and non-damaged fibres compared to CON (control) muscles at day 7 post-injury. At day 14 post-injury, CR-supplemented muscles generated higher absolute forces concomitant with greater contractile protein levels compared to CON and WP-supplemented muscles.”
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded: “Creatine supplementation appears to offer an element of myoprotection which was not observed following whey protein supplementation.”
5. Creatine may aid recovery
The findings from the study, which were published in the journal Nutrients, suggest that the ability of a creatine supplements to support muscle growth run deeper than its ability to generate functional strength.
According to the Australian researchers, observations from the study suggest that supplementing with creatine reduces the extent of muscle damage and/or enhances the growth of the regenerating fibres.
They suggest that the structural improvements are due to increased cell fluid volume that occurred in the earlier stages of the study, which may underpin the benefits observed in the later stages of recovery.
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To reap the benefits of creatine, it is best to use it consistently with a cycled protocol. Always follow label recommendations on your preferred brand around dosing, but most recommendations are a daily dose of up to 5 grams, taken with water or a carbohydrate-containing beverage.
Before starting any new supplement, including creatine, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or concerns about how it may interact with other medications or supplements you are taking.
- Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 13;14:18. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. PMID: 28615996; PMCID: PMC5469049.
- Smith-Ryan AE, Cabre HE, Eckerson JM, Candow DG. Creatine Supplementation in Women’s Health: A Lifespan Perspective. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 8;13(3):877. doi: 10.3390/nu13030877. PMID: 33800439; PMCID: PMC7998865.
- Creatine and Phosphocreatine: A Review of Their Use in Exercise and Sport. J Athl Train. 1997 Jan-Mar; 32(1): 45–51.
- Role of Creatine Supplementation in Conditions Involving Mitochondrial Dysfunction: A Narrative Review. Nutrients 2022, 14(3), 529; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030529.
- Myoprotective Potential of Creatine Is Greater than Whey Protein after Chemically-Induced Damage in Rat Skeletal Muscle. Nutrients. 2018 May; 10(5): 553. Published online 2018 Apr 30. doi: 10.3390/nu10050553