What's the Best Creatine for Women? [2024 Update]

What's the Best Creatine for Women in 2024?

For far too long, creatine has been pegged as a "bodybuilder supplement," leaving women questioning whether they should take it or not. The reality is that creatine isn't just for men looking to become the next Mr. Olympia; it's arguably the single most effective sports supplement for men and women who want to optimize their athletic performance (e.g. strength and endurance) and enhance muscle recovery.

And before you worry about "creatine being a steroid," rest assured that is a fallacy. Creatine is a naturally occurring molecule that the body produces endogenously (read: on its own) from dietary amino acids. Your cells, especially skeletal muscle cells, use creatine to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the veritable "energetic currency" of metabolism. Hence, taking a creatine supplement can be beneficial not just for your performance but also your longevity.

So, what's the best creatine for women? Are creatine supplements necessary, or can you get enough creatine through whole foods? We'll bring you up to speed by answering these questions and more about creatine supplementation for women.

Creatine for Women: How it Works

The magic behind creatine lies in its ability to bolster adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in skeletal muscle; this is especially important during anaerobic conditions (e.g. when lifting weights or sprinting) since the amount of ATP available directly impacts performance. And wouldn't you know it, an estimated 95% of all creatine in the body is stored in muscle tissue (with the rest found in the brain, kidneys, and liver) [1].

When you exert yourself at a high intensity, such as barbell squatting for a set of 10 reps to (near) failure, the ATP in working skeletal muscle cells is rapidly broken down to a lower-energy molecule called adenosine diphosphate (ADP). As this happens, creatine binds to liberated phosphate and transfers that high-energy phosphate group to ADP, thus recreating ATP and allowing you to sustain peak performance for longer [2].

There are multiple other proposed mechanisms of action for creatine that support its versatility as not just a sports supplement but an "anti-aging" molecule [3]. It's likely that a large majority of the population beyond gym-goers and athletes stand to benefit from creatine supplementation.

Alas, there are still some myths about creatine supplements for women that need to be clarified.

Debunking Common Myths about Creatine for Women

First, let’s address the myth that creatine causes water retention and bloating, which is a common concern among women considering the use of creatine supplements. Since creatine is predominately stored in skeletal muscle tissue, it draws water into the intracellular space of muscle cells, not subcutaneous fat cells.

This intramuscular water retention creates an anabolic (muscle-building) cellular milieu and makes your muscles appear fuller and more "toned" [4]. However, it can create the illusion of being "bloated" or "puffy" for individuals with a large amount of body fat. Thankfully, regardless of body composition, symptoms of bloating related to creatine supplements typically dissipate once muscle creatine stores are saturated and the body adjusts (more on this later) [5].

Another myth about supplemental creatine for women is that it will make you look "bulky." Again, this is a misapprehension tantamount to the idea that "lifting heavy will make women bulky." Of course, creatine may support increases in lean body mass by allowing you to train harder, longer, and more frequently [6]. Nevertheless, the notion that taking creatine supplements leads to a bulky appearance is silly.

Some women (and men) also fear that creatine causes hair loss, but there is no scientific evidence suggesting this to be the case.

But what about the safety of creatine supplements for women? A recent meta-analysis including over 25 studies of adult females demonstrates that creatine supplementation is exceptionally safe and does not cause adverse effects when consumed at recommended dosages [7]. This should allay concerns about renal or liver damage in healthy individuals.

Now, with those myths out of the way, let's turn the page and take a look at the best ways to get more creatine in your diet.

Creatine-Rich Foods vs. Creatine Supplements for Women

While endogenous production of creatine occurs in the liver from the amino acids glycine, methionine, and arginine, the diet also contributes to the creatine landscape within our bodies. Foods rich in creatine, such as red meat and fish, can bolster muscle creatine stores, albeit not to a maximal degree since the amount of creatine in these foods is still relatively low in the grand scheme of things.

Case in point, red meat—ostensibly the most dense food source of creatine—still only contains about 5 grams of creatine per kilogram of uncooked beef [8]. Fish, on average, contains about 3 grams of creatine per pound.

Therefore, you’d have to consume upwards of 2 pounds of red meat and/or fish every day to ingest an evidence-based dose of creatine (~5 grams per day). Obviously, this isn't practical for most, especially vegetarians and vegans.

Sadly, creatine is scarce in plant foods, so supplementation is imperative for those on a plant-based diet. Even those who regularly eat animal products should consider supplementing with creatine powder as it's more cost-effective, practical, and efficacious.

Naturally, then, the question at hand is, what's the best creatine for women?

Creatine Monohydrate vs. Creatine HCl

When it comes to creatine supplementation, the main distinction to note is the type/form of creatine on the product label. The two most prominent, and evidence-based, forms – creatine monohydrate and creatine hydrochloride – are arguably the only ones worth considering for women. There are quite a few "exotic" forms of creatine in the supplement space, but many of them lack data to substantiate claims about their efficacy [9].

For women, especially those new to creatine supplementation, creatine monohydrate is an excellent starting point due to its extensive backing by scientific research. Studies have consistently demonstrated the effectiveness of creatine monohydrate for increasing strength and exercise performance [10]. Creatine monohydrate may also help you build more lean muscle mass by allowing you to train harder and longer in the gym [11]. (And to reiterate, women shouldn't fear looking "bulky" just because they take a creatine supplement.)

If you're an active female with some prior experience using creatine supplements, then creatine hydrochloride (HCl) is also a viable option. Creatine HCl has a theoretical advantage over creatine monohydrate due to its enhanced solubility property. As such, a lower dose of creatine HCl may be as efficacious as a comparatively large dose of creatine monohydrate. In turn, creatine HCl is less likely to cause acute gastrointestinal discomfort than creatine monohydrate.

For women who may be sensitive to the effects of monohydrate or looking for a more convenient dosing regimen, Creatine HCl presents a compelling alternative. While research on this form is not as extensive as monohydrate, preliminary studies indicate its efficacy in improving athletic performance without causing GI issues [12, 13].

Lastly, odds are you've stumbled upon supplements that contain "micronized" creatine monohydrate powder, but is it better than regular creatine monohydrate? Well, not necessarily. Micronization reduces the size of creatine monohydrate particles, yielding a finer powder that has enhanced solubility in liquids. This improved solubility can lead to quicker absorption and potentially fewer gastrointestinal issues, such as acute bloating or discomfort, which some individuals experience with large doses of regular creatine monohydrate powder.

However, it's important to note that the overall benefits in terms of muscle strength, endurance, and recovery are consistent across both forms, and neither form is inherently "better" than the other.

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB: The Best Creatine Supplement for Women

For men and women, creatine supplementation offers a gamut of benefits ranging from enhanced workout performance and muscle recovery to potential cognitive and cardiovascular improvements. However, not all creatine supplements are created equal. It's important to find a supplement that contains creatine monohydrate as it's the most time-tested form of creatine on the market. Look for third-party testing as well, as that’s an unbiased indicator of quality.

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB hits on both of those aspects by providing pure creatine monohydrate plus synergistic HMB (β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate), BioPerine®, and vitamin D3 with absolutely no artificial sweeteners, added sugars, synthetic food dyes, or fillers. Each batch of Transparent Labs Creatine HMB is third-party tested for purity and potency, so you know you're getting exactly what's on the label and no hidden surprises.

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