Should Women Take Creatine?

Creatine is backed by research and has proven to be a legit performance enhancing supplement for over 20 years, but many people, especially women, are hesitant about taking it. Despite what you may have heard, creatine is NOT a steroid, and it is not bad for your kidneys.

“To date, creatine is clearly the single most effective dietary supplement for enhancing gains in anaerobic performance as well as increasing lean body mass and muscle fiber size.” 
-Jose Antonio PhD

I think that one of the main reasons why women are fearful of supplementing with creatine is due to the fear of bloating and/or weight gain, or it could be simply a lack of understanding as to what creatine actually is and what it does in the body. The reality is, there is nothing to fear about creatine.

So what IS creatine? Creatine is made up of 3 amino acids, (L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine) and is naturally occurring in the body's skeletal muscle, as well as in certain foods. How does it work? To keep it very simple, creatine is a source of energy for your muscles during anaerobic exercise(think short burst, high intensity activities). By increasing your muscle's creatine phosphate stores, you will have more energy available for your muscles to use during your workouts. Layne Norton explains it more in depth in this article. Basically, taking creatine can help you push harder and squeeze out a few more reps in the gym. I'm in!

Will you gain weight taking creatine? Well, yes, you probably will. Creatine pulls water into the muscles, so the weight that you gain initially will probably be just water weight. Over time, you may begin building muscle as long as you are consuming enough calories and training hard in the gym, so the scale may go up.  If  you're worried about bloating, it will go away when you stop taking it, so no worries. I personally have been taking creatine for years and have had no major issues with bloating or water retention. To me, the benefits of supplementing with creatine outweigh the negatives.

Known benefits include:
-More energy for intense anaerobic workouts(HIIT workouts, sprints, weight training)
-Increased strength
-Increased muscle mass
-Better recovery(less soreness after workouts)

Some studies are also showing that creatine may do more than just increase athletic performance.
Other possible benefits include:
-Antidepressant(in women)
-Improved cognitive function(memory, etc,)
-Improved heart health
-Treatment of neurological disorders(Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease)
-Better blood sugar control

So, should women take creatine? My answer is YES. If you want to be stronger, have more muscle and perform better during your workouts, then you absolutely should give it a try! How much should you take? 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate  post workout and anytime on rest days. Just don't expect to see instant results-give it time to work, and you'll hopefully begin to see your performance and strength in the gym increase.

Here's what Tom Venuto has to say about women and creatine:

"Most women’s fears of using creatine are unwarranted. Just as diet and fitness myths lead people down the path of taking bogus supplements that don’t work, myths sometimes cause us to miss out on legitimate supplements that really DO work. Women who are interested in getting stronger and increasing performance in the gym or in anaerobic / power sports who avoid creatine because of these common myths may be missing out on one of the very few effective over-the-counter performance enhancers." 

Here are a few links you can read if I haven't yet convinced you:
http://www.burnthefatblog.com/archives/2013/04/women-and-creatine.php
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-creatine
http://www.elitefts.com/education/nutrition/the-creatine-facts-needs-formatted/
http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=3110923
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/creatine
http://www.just-fly-sports.com/creatine-and-the-female-athlete/

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