What Does Creatine Do for Women? [Explained by a Scientist]

What Does Creatine Do for Women, Exactly?

Ladies, we've got some good news: Creatine is not just for men. Creatine occurs naturally in humans regardless of biological sex, and sports nutrition research has made it clear that creatine supplements, particularly creatine monohydrate, are among the most practical and safe ways to improve athletic performance [1].

But the myth that creatine is a "man's supplement" seems to pervade society to this day. Naturally, we feel it's necessary to clear the air and explore what creatine does for women, focusing on its physiological impacts and the scientific literature supporting its use.

Article Highlights:

  • It's an enduring myth that creatine supplementation is solely a man's game. In fact, the beneficial roles of supplemental creatine for women are well-established in research.

  • Some researchers contend that taking a creatine supplement is more prudent for women than it is for men due to creatine's effects on hormone-related changes in energy metabolism [2].

  • Creatine supplements may have longevity benefits that apply to both active women and aging women.

  • Creatine monohydrate remains the most time-tested form of creatine for women and men.

What Is Creatine?

First, let's dive into what creatine is (and isn't). Contrary to popular belief, creatine is not a steroid; it is an amino acid derivative that the liver and kidneys produce endogenously from amino acids in the diet, namely L-arginine, L-glycine, and L-methionine (via S-adenosylmethionine). Thus, creatine is not considered an essential nutrient. Creatine also occurs naturally in red meat and seafood but is scarce in plant foods [3].

Creatine is stored predominantly in skeletal muscle tissues of the body, but it's also an important buffer and energy-producing molecule for the brain and heart (which are comprised of smooth muscle tissue) [4].

But what does creatine do, exactly? Why is it such a popular supplement for gym-goers?

What Does Creatine Do for Women?

Creatine acts as a rapid energy-recycling source for muscles, replenishing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) levels, the primary energetic currency of the cell. This can increase strength, power, and endurance, allowing for more intensive workouts and better recovery [5].

Women, like men, have creatine phosphate stores in their muscles. By increasing muscle creatine stores through supplementation, women may experience noticeable improvements in workout performance and body composition. Studies have shown that creatine is equally effective in both men and women at promoting anaerobic capacity and strength [6].

Benefits of Creatine for Women

how does creatine affect women

1. Improved Lean Mass and Body Composition

Creatine isn’t merely about gaining raw strength; it can also contribute to improvements in lean mass. Though women naturally have lower levels of testosterone and thus build muscle at a slower rate, creatine's cellular hydration effect and increased protein synthesis may contribute to muscle growth [7].

This doesn't translate to a bulked-up, bodybuilder appearance; rather, it fosters a toned, strong physique. Creatine’s ability to support muscle maintenance is particularly vital for women as they age and face the natural decline of muscle tissue [8].

2. Enhanced Recovery and Reduced Fatigue

Women may find that creatine supports more rapid recovery between training sessions. It does this by replenishing ATP stores and hydrating muscle cells, harboring an anabolic milieu for muscles to heal and rebuild [9]. Reduced fatigue and muscle soreness can be especially beneficial for women who engage in high-intensity resistance or endurance training.

3. Bolstered Cognitive Function

Interestingly, creatine's benefits are not confined to aesthetics and athletic performance. Some research suggests it may have a role in brain function, and women who supplement with creatine tend to experience improvements in mental clarity, focus, and even memory [10] (though more studies are needed to solidify these findings).

Does Creatine Enhance Lean Muscle Growth in Women?

The benefits of creatine supplementation may include enhanced muscle growth and performance during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) [11]. While the anabolic properties of creatine remain somewhat unclear, weight gain in the form of lean muscle mass is a putative beneficial effect of creatine supplementation.

What's the Best Creatine Supplement for Women?

Creatine is not a sex-discriminating supplement; hence, it doesn't make much sense for companies to market their creatine as being exclusively for women or men. Nevertheless, there are creatine supplements made specifically for women, but these are usually underdosed and have a lesser value than standard creatine supplements.

Creatine monohydrate, which is simply a creatine molecule bound to crystalline water, is a shelf-stable powder form of creatine that remains the most effective creatine supplement in research [12]. There are 100s of studies backing creatine monohydrate as superior to "new-age" forms of creatine.

As such, Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is formulated for women and men with an evidence-based dose of pure, high-quality creatine monohydrate and zero artificial sweeteners, colored dyes, unnecessary fillers, or harmful additives. This creatine supplement also harnesses the synergy of vitamin D3 and hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB) to further enhance strength, increase endurance, and prevent lean muscle loss.

When adding a creatine supplement to your diet, it may be prudent to begin with a creatine-loading phase. This means that in the first five to seven days of taking creatine monohydrate, you take a "megadose"—15 to 20 grams daily—to saturate muscle creatine stores more quickly. (The typical "maintenance dose" of creatine for women is around 2 to 5 grams per day).

Final Thoughts on Creatine Supplementation for Women

It's time to quash the myth that women taking creatine will get "bulky." That's a silly notion perpetuated by ignorance of what creatine actually does.

Creatine monohydrate supplementation can provide significant benefits for women's health by aiding exercise performance, longevity, cognitive function, and potentially more. Some women are wary of taking creatine due to alleged side effects, like bloating and gastrointestinal distress, but studies have shown that such side effects are largely acute and easily manageable with dosage adjustments [13]. There is also no evidence that taking a creatine supplement causes hair loss or renal impairment.

Overall, what creatine does for women is not too different from what it does for men. It's actually hard to argue against the use of creatine for women given the numerous putative benefits of taking creatine (monohydrate).

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