Creatine has long been hailed for its ability to build muscle and burn fat. Even so, many women avoid taking it because they fear it will cause them to become bulky or retain fluid. Should women take creatine, and if so, what is the best way to go about doing so? We’ve explored the pros and cons of creatine to help you decide.
What Is Creatine?
A substance produced naturally by your body, creatine is formed from amino acids such as arginine, glycine, and methionine. Although it consists of amino acids, creatine is metabolized differently than protein, yet is just as essential for muscle building. Since it is not a protein, your body is not required to remove nitrogen first when breaking creatine down. Research has shown that creatine helps your body replenish Adenosine Triphosphate (APT) fuel to your muscles, thereby allowing them to work out harder and for longer. This is why many people associate it with bigger gains and “the pump”.
Benefits for Women
Since creatine is associated with muscle building, many women are hesitant to take it because they do not wish to appear bulky. However, numerous studies show that women could enjoy greater muscle gains and improved athletic performance after taking creatine. For example, a study performed on female NCAA Division 1 lacrosse players over a period of about a month showed that women who took creatine showed a significant improvement in their maximum bench press strength. A 10-week study on untrained females also showed that women who took creatine had a 20-25 percent increase in their one-rep max for leg press, back extension, and leg extension than other ladies.
Possible Side Effects
Many females ask “Should women take creatine?” because they are concerned about bloating. While creatine is associated with bloating to some degree, it basically amounts to more water weight in your muscles and is therefore very different from the monthly bloating you experience right before your period. This water weight is not normally problematic, and will subside within a week or so after you stop taking creatine. Some women will experience stomach pain, nausea, cramping, or diarrhea after taking creatine, but these symptoms are usually rather mild. There is actually no scientific evidence that shows taking creatine long-term will harm the kidneys, despite rampant rumors to that effect.
How to Take Creatine
Women who are interested in the muscle-building benefits of creatine can take between three and five grams once or twice each day, ideally just before and just after a workout. Some sports nutritionists recommend taking creatine in cycles, consuming it for a period of two to six weeks and then going off it for about the same length of time. There are several different types of creatine on the market; however, women tend to have the most success when taking creatine monohydrate.
Should women take creatine? That all depends on your fitness and weight loss goals. If you are looking to build more muscle mass, the answer to that question very well could be “yes.”