More and more women are hitting the gym and choosing strength over cardio than ever before, and creatine supplements are considered perfectly safe for both men and women.
Key Takes on Safety of Creatine for Women
What Does Creatine Do For Women?
Creatine is considered to be one of the most popular dietary sports supplements but it may have different effects on women than on men. Despite the widespread research available on creatine, its effects on women are still not very well known .
Creatine supplementation is believed to boost creatine stores in muscle tissue. Higher levels of muscle creatine generate higher levels of the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which provides energy for muscle contraction. This increase in ATP can help to boost exercise performance and lead to more substantial muscle growth.
Women have 70-80% less creatine stores compared to men and also consume a significantly lower amount of dietary creatine on average. Because of this, women may benefit more from creatine supplementation. They may also need it at higher concentrations than men .
Additionally, the benefits of creatine in women may not be as widespread as men. For example, some studies have found that creatine supplementation does not improve protein breakdown following exercise in females as it has been reported in males .
Benefits of Creatine for Women?
Despite these differences in creatine’s effects on gender, it is still believed that creatine supplementation can provide many health benefits for women including muscle growth and improved post-exercise recovery, supporting a healthy pregnancy, reducing bone and muscle loss during menopause, and boosting brain health.
Muscle Growth and Improved Post-Exercise Recovery
Creatine supplementation is believed to help boost strength, power, and athletic performance, particularly for high-intensity, short duration activities for both men and women.
It is not associated with an increase in weight compared to men. While creatine associated weight gain in men is more attributed to fluid retention during the loading phase, this is not commonly seen in women .
Supporting a Healthy Pregnancy
Creatine supplementation may also be beneficial to women during pregnancy as creatine stores are reduced during this time.
Reducing Bone and Muscle Loss During Menopause
Women undergoing menopause may also find benefit from creatine supplementation.
A decrease in estrogen during this time can be attributed to a loss in muscle and bone mass and creatine supplementation may be able to help reduce these losses along with decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress while boosting bone formation.
Creatine supplementation may boost brain health in both women and men.
Is Creatine Safe for Women?
Creatine is believed to be safe for women for both short and long-term use with no adverse health effects or significant side effects reported when taken as directed .
What are the Risks of Side Effects of Creatine for Women?
Creatine is not associated with any known adverse side effects in women. In fact, any potential side effects that may be caused by creatine supplementation appear to be similar in both male and female populations.
Common side effects that some may experience with creatine supplementation include muscle cramps, upset stomach, diarrhea, dizziness, and temporary raises in blood pressure. Women with kidney or liver disease or who suffer from hypertension should avoid taking creatine supplements .
Some studies suggest taking creatine supplements could stop the body from making its own natural stores. It may also cause the development of an irregular heartbeat or a skin condition known as purpuric dermatosis in some but more research is still needed .
Always speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before adding creatine supplements to your routine.
Does Creatine Make You Bloated?
When taking creatine supplements, many fear potential bloating or weight gain however, this typically only occurs during the loading phase of creatine.
Creatine loading is when you take a higher dose of creatine (about 20-25 grams) per day for 5-7 days before returning to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day. This is done to help maximize creatine saturation of the muscle tissue.
According to research, this may help to boost muscle creatine stores by 10-40% however, it is not a necessary practice and with it may come side effects such as temporary water retention .
This water retention in the muscle tissues may appear to some as bloating or weight gain however, this typically resolves a few weeks following the loading phase and should not be a cause for concern .
Additionally, women may not even experience bloating or weight gain from creatine as men do and research suggests it may not be as beneficial for women to take a loading phase for creatine compared to men therefore bloating and weight gain may need not be a concern for many women looking to take creatine supplements .
Will Creatine Make You Gain Too Much Muscle?
A common concern among many women when it comes to increasing muscle tone is looking too bulky or gaining too much muscle to maintain their feminine physique.
Because taking creatine is associated with increasing muscle gains, it’s no surprise many women may have concerns about gaining more muscle than they want. Luckily, this is not a problem.
While creatine helps with boosting muscle gains, the size and appearance of your muscles depends more on your exercise routine. It is meant to compliment your work in the gym, not override it.
Even if you are lifting heavy weights and lifting often, it’s difficult for women to develop a “bulky” physique. Instead, women will begin to see definition in their muscles, notice their clothes fitting better, and be more confident.
So fear not, creatine will not cause you to gain too much muscle.
What Type of Creatine Supplement is Best for Women?
While there are a few different types of creatine supplements, most research studies were conducted using creatine monohydrate. Other forms you may see in creatine supplements include creatine ethyl ester, creatine HCL, and buffered creatine.
Creatine monohydrate is considered the gold-standard of creatine supplementation. It is the cheapest and most effective option and therefore the best for both men and women.
Other creatine types aren’t necessarily less effective however, less research is available therefore they cannot be confirmed as effective as creatine monohydrate.
You can find creatine monohydrate most commonly in powdered supplements that can be easily mixed into liquids or foods. These supplements can also be found in liquids, gummies, and capsules.
Be sure to choose your creatine supplement from a trusted brand that offers third-party testing for quality and purity. As always, be sure to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking creatine supplements, especially if you suffer from any chronic health conditions.