Creatine for Women: It’s Not Just a Man’s World Anymore

Is Creatine for Women?  Where is her Creatine?

Creatine Monohydrate has been extremely popular for men for many decades but what you didn’t know is that it can offer benefits to women!

Creatine for women?  But you’ll get big and bulky.

You’ve heard:

  • Pink Dumbbells are for women
  • High reps, low weight is for toning and that’s what most women should do
  • Deadlifts and Squats are for guys, inner thigh machines and leg extensions are for women
  • Creatine helps your muscles get the nutrients you need to perform
  • Creatine makes you bulky and bloated

Like many things bodybuilding, there are myths and misconceptions about exericses and supplements.   Let’s set the record straight and say for men and women, there are no his and her exercises and most supplements will benefit both sexes.

This is true of creatine monohydrate.  It’s NOT just for males.  It’s pretty much for all age groups, any gender (The NCAA won’t let colleges give it to athletes) and even for those who don’t go to the gym and lift weights.  There are no lines of his and her creatine and if there is, it’s a marketing gimmick designed to sell you a female version of something that is the same as the male.  I had to laugh when I saw this lightly colored bottle “Creatine for Women.”  The product was idential to males but it was specificially for her.

A 1999 survey of 806 NCAA Division I athletes by researchers at the University of North Carolina and published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that 48% of men used it (compared with only 4% of women).

Common Misconceptions of Using Creatine for Women:

  1. I’ve heard it’s a steroid
  2. It causes weight gain
  3. The creatine side effects are bad

This may be one of those rare dietary supplements that can be beneficial even to sendentary people.  So let’s figure out what Creatine is and why creatine for women or men makes sense.  Many of the research used in creatine studies has been done on women.  Those are listed below so if you hear that all the research about creatine has been on men ,that’s not true.

What is Creatine?

In a nutshell, it’s produced in small amounts by your body, it’s found in some foods and when it’s available, your body can use it to convert to something called ATP (Adenisone TriPhosphae) that is the energy source for muscles.  The more creatine you have stored and ready, in theory and in research, you will have more availalbe short term energy for doing work and possibly just enough to do a few more repetitions than without having supplemental creatine.

That means when taking creatine, you may eke out more repetitions with the same amount of weight.

In the exercise world, Creatine helps you do more work which in turn can be beneficial to growing and maintaining more muscle.  With more muscle, you could be leaner, stronger and healthier.  It does not build muscle per se but aids with muscular energy production for better workouts which lead to more muscle.  There are some reported side effects of creatine but they are mild and in most cases, occur when you take well beyond the recommended creatine dosage or unfortunatley take low quality products.

Bloating is the #1 Reason for the Hesistation to Use Creatine for Women

Most women avoid creatine because they heard it causes boating,  upset stomach or unwanted weight gain.

Bloating in this case might be:

  • an increase lean muscle mass
  • gastrointestinal upset
  • water retention under the skin

What they don’t realize is that the weight gain can be a combination of muscle being built (a good thing and takes hard work) and water being retained in the cells.

If you mention the word water rention to most women, they want nothing to do with it.  However, it’s not the type of water retention you’d think.  It’s called cell volumization.  Creatine increases cells retention of water.  This feeling is minimal and entirely different than typical water retention caused by the “monthly bloat.”.  Being properly hydrated is a good thing.  Any water weight gained will be gone when you stop using creatine.

Men probably don’t mind the feeling of fullness, bigger muscles or a few pounds but it is totally understandable that most women are not looking for supplments that offer the remote possilbity of the aformention results.  But keep in mind that this particular effect is way overblown and very different from your typical water retention type effects.

“Weight gain of about 0.8 to 2.9 percent of body weight in the first few days of creatine supplementation occurs in about two-thirds of users.” – Christine Rosenbloom, R.D., sports dietitian for Georgia State University Athletics

Creatine for Women: What Does the Research Say

  • Research shows creatine helps women get stronger and absorb creatine efficiently just like males.
  • Untrained female (nonvegetarian) subjects who took 20 g of creatine monohydrate per day for 4 days, then 5 grams per day for 10 weeks during a strength training program. The researchers said, “It is concluded that long-term creatine supplementation enhances the progress of muscle strength during resistance training in sedentary females.”
  • Female softball players reported that creatine, loaded at 20g for a week, increased mean strength and endurance in trained females
  • Female lacrosse players, creatine increased bench press strength compared with placebo, but there were no significant differences in body weight and no increase in body fat.
  • Female soccer players from the University of Alabama found the same thing – creatine increased strength (bench press and squat) but body composition did not change. They concluded that short term creatine supplementation can enhance strength performance in women with minimal effect on body composition.

There are subtle differences between men and women when it comes to creatine supplemention.  There were some marked differences in the rate at which protein is spared or how much lean mass was gained.  This might be because males have more muscle mass to begin with higher testosterone levels and other factors.  In any case, females responded positively to creatine supplemention just like males.

If you want to be precise, actual creatine dosages may vary for a women because a true creatine dosage is based on bodyweight.

Here is a very professional Creatine Overview by WebMD

Is there a Creatine for Women Only Version?

No.  But it sells so if it hasn’t been done, don’t be surprised to see it.

What is the Best Creatine Monohydarate to Use?

Just the regular powder form.  Nothing added, no sugars, no trasports, no added protein or anything else.  Companies need to create new twists on things to continue to sell and to enter new markets.  But when it comes to creatine, good plain creatine monohydrate powder that is tasteless, orderless, no color and sometimes grainy is the best.  Using creatine for women is no different from men using it.

The Verdict: Is Creatine for Women Something They Should Use?

Hopefully by now you understand a little bit more about creatine for women and why it’s actually a supplement you should consider.  Do not be swayed by the myths about bloating, water retention and side effects.  They are way overblown for most responsible users.  There are some signficiant benefits to females who choose to use this product that is not for men only.  Below you will find some older studies with links for further research.

Creatine for Women Studies:

1 . Vandenberghe, K. et al. (1997) Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance-training. J Appl Physiol, Volume 83, pages 2055-2063.

2. Stout, J. et al. (2000) Effect of creatine loading on neuromuscular fatigue threshold. J Appl Physiol, Volume 88, pages 109-112.

3. Mihic, S. et al. (2000) Acute creatine loading increases fat-free mass, but does not affect blood pressure, plasma creatinine, or CK activity in men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc, Volume 32, pages 291-296.

4. Parise G. et al. (2001) Effects of acute creatine monohydrate supplementation on leucine kinetics and mixed-muscle protein synthesis. J Appl Physiol, Volume 91, pages 1041-1047.

5. Murphy R. M. et al. (2003) Human skeletal muscle creatine transporter mRNA and protein expression in healthy, young males and females. Mol Cell Biochem, Volume 244, pages 151- 157.

What’s your stance on creatine for women?