Do women need Creatine?

When you hear creatine, you probably think of male bodybuilders - which makes sense, since its one of the most popular muscle growth supplements in the fitness industry. However, creatine isn't just for men looking to build muscle. While women often have the same exercise goals (increasing strength, power and performance) some might worry and have a stereotype in their head and taking creatine supplements could make them look bulky or bloated (I thought that once too). On the flip side, creatine can be just as beneficial for reaching workout goals for women as it is for men.

How does creatine affect women?
Creatine has been shown to help women build lean muscle, since it can help sustain higher energy levels throughout intense workouts like high intensity interval training or sprints. For women who already do high intensity training, creatine is a no-brainer. While people exercising for a variety of different reasons (including to support overall health), many women exercise with the goal of losing weight. The stigma associated with creatine - that it is first and foremost a bulking supplement - ends up persuading against many women from incorporating creatine into their diets.

Creatine is used for much more than just younger people throwing weights arounds. It also has unique benefits for women over 50. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that, in addition to the cognitive benefits, creatine supplementation can help support healthy bones and skeletal muscle mass, which is a common concern that comes with aging. Many women over 50 also experience a loss in overall muscle mass due to age, which creatine, along with a consistent exercise routine, can help with.
The reality is more complicated. While creatine will not increase fat levels in a woman’s body (it’s actually calorie free), it can cause your muscles to store more water, which can lead to ‘water weight gain’. It may also contribute to weight gain due to increased muscle mass, but that again can be offset through the increased workout intensity and duration that creatine supports.

Safety and concerns of creatine for women
Creatine is one of the most researched supplements that continually shows beneficial effects with no safety concerns. Extensive study on the use of creatine has shown no health risks, little side effects, and many potential health benefits for healthy individuals who use it regularly as a supplement. Like any other supplements, please make sure that you contact your health professional before taking it. 
Can women take creatine even if they’re not working out?
Creatine is a unique substance in that while it’s most often used to support athletic performance, women who aren’t exercising regularly can still take creatine. And since creatine is naturally found in meat, vegetarians and vegans may want to consider supplementing with this amino acids each day. However, creatine monohydrate is reasonably priced, widely available, effective, and doesn’t come from actual animal flesh. Which is why it is safe for vegans and vegetarians to take it.

When should I take creatine?
You can take creatine at any time of day, mixed with a cold liquid like water or juice, even into your meals & snacks. Research on whether to take creatine before or after a workout is mixed, but the bottom line is that it’s best taken on the same day as your workout. Like other vitamins and supplements, creatine is also most helpful when part of a consistent routine, so you should aim to take it daily. Adding it to your morning smoothie, coffee, or protein recovery shake can help make that daily habit stick and there is no added flavor to it, it is tasteless so it can be added to anything.

Can you take creatine while pregnant?

Since creatine is considered a safe supplement for most individuals — some female athletes may already be taking it regularly when they become pregnant. Because of the beneficial and protective effects that creatine has on the body, there is some thought to a potential benefit of creatine supplementation during pregnancy.

Women’s bodies and their nutritional needs change (and increase) during pregnancy, especially in pregnant athletes. However, the impact of supplementation on a developing foetus is not well known. 

There is not much research done on creatine in pregnancy, so it’s best to speak with your doctor before taking any supplements if you suspect you’re pregnant. I cannot stress that enough that I am not a dietitian or doctor, so please contact your health professional before taking any added supplements.

Take home message

Creatine is a popular performance-enhancing supplement to benefit both male and female athletes. There’s no need to be concerned about getting too bulky or bloated as these myths have been disproven.

Creatine can help increase your workout performance and muscle tone. I am also not here to tell you that taking creatine will make you lose weight and get you toned, like any other supplements / lifestyles you need to have BALANCE. Having a healthy diet and regular exercise is where you will notice the differences. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t consider adding this powerful amino acid to their pre- and post-workout routine. 

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