I had a friend ask me about Creatine as it pertains for women that train and I instantly remembered reading a fantastic article in an issue of my favorite health & fitness magazine, Oxygen. I found the article online and wanted to share this valuable info.
I use to think the Creatine supplement was only for men, or more specifically for men whose sole purpose for taking it was to help promote the “swole” effect and surely no woman in their right mind would want to grow so much mass! But after reading that women take to Creatine much differently than men and there are a gang of valuable benefits to this supplement I stopped fearing it. Knowledge is power! haha, read on:
This popular supplement is a hit with men, but it can be even more beneficial to women. See what the latest science reveals!
By: Carey Rossi; Photography by: Rich Baker
Well, here’s a little fact most members of the weight-room posse don’t know: Creatine works differently in women than in men – much differently, in fact. Surprisingly, we can get the all the muscle-building benefits without adding body fat.
“Everybody asks me what the most dangerous supplement out there is and I say sugar. I consider creatine to be even safer than sugar.”
– Jeffrey R. Stout, PhD, director of the Metabolic and Body Composition Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma, and author of Essentials of Creatine in Sport and Health (Humana, 2010)
The training pick-me-up
“When you take creatine, it allows you to train at a higher intensity and a higher volume,” Stout says. That is why numerous studies have shown that creatine increases muscular strength, power and lean muscle mass. “When a muscle cell has more creatine, each contraction can be more forceful, and you can do more work before the muscle fatigues,” Talbott says. That means when taking creatine, you may eke out more repetitions with the same amount of weight.
And the benefits are not only strength-related, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma at Norman separated participants into three groups: creatine, placebo and control. The creatine and placebo groups did four weeks of high-intensity interval training (also known as HIIT). Unexpectedly, they found that creatine improved anaerobic threshold – the maximal amount of exercise you can do before your muscles begin to produce lactic acid – by 16 percent, versus the 10 percent bump experienced by the placebo group.
What does this mean for you? Say you can run a seven-minute mile. If you can improve your anaerobic threshold by delaying the point at which your muscles fatigue, you could run a six-and-a-half-minute mile comfortably for a while without producing lactic acid. Being able to do that can help you perform better in a race or in the gym. “If you can do a few more reps and put on a little bit more muscle, you’re going to be burning more calories,” Talbott says. “The rule of thumb I use is that if someone can put on five pounds of muscle, they can burn 200 more calories per day by just sitting around. So you can think of creatine almost like a fat-loss supplement.”
Other health implications
Unlike most sports nutrition supplements that started in the medical world and crossed over to the gym, creatine’s roots were planted by athletes. Currently, science is exploring how this sports supplement can help people suffering from neuromuscular diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, McArdle’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and heart disease.
One of the most interesting populations using creatine is the sedentary. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging showed that even a low dose of creatine created a huge impact on muscle function in elderly subjects in just two weeks. In another recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found that men with one of their arms in a full cast who took large doses of creatine (five grams four times per day) better maintained lean muscle mass than the placebo group, which lost 3.7 percent of their mass.
Creatine and you
While creatine supplementation is well researched (something many other sports supplements lack), about only one third of human studies involved female subjects. But it’s what those female studies are finding that warrants women cast another look at the creatine jug. What the research revealed was: creatine benefits are greater in women than in men; and unlike men, women do not gain weight from creatine supplementation even when loading (See “Loading: is it necessary?”).
“If you look at all the research, the majority of it finds that when women take creatine, they don’t gain weight, but they see an enhancement in performance,” Stout says. Why is that? One theory is that women have naturally higher levels of creatine than men.
But if women already have high creatine levels in their muscles, why even consider supplementing with it? Consider that it enhances performance and increases strength without causing you to gain additional pounds. And then take into account that creatine has an antioxidant effect that reduces muscle damage, improves recovery and preserves lean muscle – all things a woman athlete would certainly benefit from.
Creatine comes with a welcome bonus — no medical or dietary interactions to speak of. “It doesn’t even do what carbohydrates do: spike insulin,” Stout says. “Creatine doesn’t cause any kind of hormonal reaction. Everybody asks me what the most dangerous supplement out there is and I say sugar. I consider creatine to be even safer than sugar.”
Whether you go for a powder, pill or liquid (creatine is sold in all three forms) looking at all the creatine formulations available on the market can be mind-numbing. Experts agree that there’s only one thing you need to reach for: creatine monohydrate. “It’s hard to find a creatine supplement that doesn’t have a bunch of sugar in it or 50 other ingredients in there,” Stout says. Original creatine monohydrate has not only been shown to perform better than “sexier” blended formulas but it’s also going to cost you pennies a day, compared to dollars a day.
Possible side effects
You may experience gastrointestinal issues, muscle cramps, bad breath, strains and pains and dizziness. Most of these side effects were reported when the supplement first came out and when scientists were still figuring out the correct dosage to take. These days such side effects are very rare. Stout, who has studied creatine extensively, says the only side effect he has heard of is the energy buzz that vegans get when they begin to take creatine. “Vegans are so depleted in creatine because there is no source of it in their diet,” he says. “You don’t experience that if you’re getting creatine elsewhere in your diet and you’re muscles are stocked at normal levels.”
“Loading”: Is it necessary?
Consuming 20 to 25 grams of creatine daily to make sure your muscle stores are full, instead of the regularly recommended three to five grams a day, is known as loading. Doing a “loading phase” when first starting to take creatine was a popular supplementation method a decade ago, but the practice has fallen out of favor with most experts. While there are people out there who say it’s necessary, it isn’t ¬– there is no scientifically compelling reason to take more than five grams of creatine daily. Plenty of research has shown that muscle stores do in fact “load” perfectly well on this amount.
Flashback: The first report of creatine having muscle-building effects was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry – way back in 1926!
17 COMMON CREATINE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1.What Is Creatine?
Creatine is derived from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. Skeletal muscle contains 95% of all creatine. The heart, brain, and testes hold the remaining 5%.
2. How Does Creatine Work?
According to David Sandler, the Senior Director of Education for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), “Creatine allows you to have a longer and larger work volume. It helps you get one more rep. Supplementation can increase phosphocreatine and creatine stores by 10 to 40%.”
3. Why Does Creatine Work?
According to Jose Antonio PhD, a professor at Nova Southeastern University and the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “Creatine serves as a fuel source for rapid exercise through increased phosocreatine (PCr) stores.”
4. Who Should Use Creatine?
According to Jose Antonio PhD, a professor at Nova Southeastern University and the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “To date, creatine is clearly the single most effective dietary supplements for enhancing gains in anaerobic performance as well as increasing lean body mass and muscle fiber size.” Jose Antonio PhD.
So, put simply: everyone should use creatine!
5. How To Use Creatine – How Much Creatine Should I Take?
Take 3-6 grams of creatine monohydrate daily for maintenance.
6. Does Creatine Help You Build Muscle?
Yes! Specifically, research has shown that creatine offers these benefits:
- Increases fat-free mass.
- Improves maximal strength (as measured by 1RM bench press).
- Improve muscular endurance.
- Increases anaerobic power and performance (shown in many activities, including continuous jumping, jump squats, knee extensions, and repeated sprints by soccer players).
7. Does Creatine Help You Lose Fat?
Absolutely! Since we know that creatine helps you gain and retain metabolically active lean muscle tissue: Put simply, the more muscle you have on your body, the harder you can work in the weight room, and the more calories you can burn both during and after your training sessions.
Plus, creatine also helps elevate your metabolism more directly, through its hydration properties. “A well-hydrated cell tends to be more metabolic,” According to Jose Antonio PhD, a professor at Nova Southeastern University and the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
8. How To Load Creatine?
For the fastest possible benefits, take 10 to 20 grams daily for a period of 7 to 14 days.
9. When And Why To Load Creatine?
You don’t “need” to load creatine, as it will work just a well for you after taking it consistently for about 4 weeks. But, when you want fast results, like if you have a completion coming up with a weeks – 2-weeks time frame and you want to maximize your performance.
10. How To Cycle Creatine?
Most people don’t have to worry about this issue. Continual use offers continual performance benefits.
11. Does Creatine Make You Retain Water?
Creatine does help your cells retain water, which is good for performance. But it does give you a higher body weight.
So, fighters and other weight-class athletes may need to cycle off creatine from time to time. It’s recommend to cycle off creatine 6 weeks before a weigh-in.
12. How Much Water To Drink While Using Creatine?
According to Jose Antonio PhD, “The literature has 4 ounces of water for every 3 g of creatine…give or take!”
13. What Is The Best Type Of Creatine?
Alan Aragon MS (nutritional editor to Men’s Health and consultant to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Mighty Ducks) states, “Creatine monohydrate is definitely the way to go,” Alan Aragon says. “Not only is it less expensive than other forms, it’s actually been shown to have better bioavailability.”
14. Is Creatine Safe?
According to Jose Antonio PhD, “creatine is perhaps THE most studied ergogenic aid in history. Plus, the science clearly shows that there are no harmful side effects of creatine supplementation.”
15. Does Creatine Cause Cramps?
No! Jose Antonio PhD describes another study performed during one season of NCAA Division IA football training and competition, “it was discovered that creatine users had significantly less cramping; heat illness or dehydration; muscle tightness; muscle strains; and total injuries than nonusers. Thus, even for athletes who are well-trained, it is clear that regular creatine consumption does not cause harm, and in fact may have a protective effect against certain exercise-related issues.”
16. Is Creatine Safe For Teenagers?
Yes! It’s 100% safe! In fact, creatine has been shown in the research to improve strength and performance in teenagers who were already in shape and highly trained for their sport.
17. Is Creatine Safe For Women?
If you’ve read any of the answers above, you now that know creatine is 100% safe for everyone. And, you also now know that it’s scientifically proven to work for everyone.
That said, women looking to get stronger and build a leaner, more athletic looking body should take creatine.
REF: Questions & Answers from MuscleandStrenth.com