Should Women Take Creatine?
“Creatine makes you bulky.” “Creatine makes you bloated.” “Creatine makes you retain water.” These assertions have been around since the first tub of creatine was sold.
I’m here to put an end to this myth once and for all. As a nutritionist who’s worked with male and female athletes for almost a decade, I always looked for that potential “edge” to give my clients.
Every few years some new product hits the shelves with the promise of rapid weight loss and even more rapid muscle gain. And as the years pass, these products fade into obscurity while creatine keeps chugging along.
CREATINE: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Aside from all the negative associations that are attached to creatine and women, in my experience, most women avoid taking creatine simply because they are unsure of what it actually is, what it does, and whether or not it’s safe.
First off, creatine is a naturally occurring organic acid created throughout the body. It’s produced and stored for future use primarily in muscle tissue. In addition to what we produce, we also get it through diet, mostly in meats and fish.
During high intensity exercise (such as weight lifting or sprinting) the body can run out of energy fairly quickly. At this point there are options to “recharge,” and nothing can recharge that energy supply as quickly or as efficiently as creatine can. Muscles convert their stored creatine into energy, giving a boost to keep working.
Unless there’s a prior medical condition, creatine is safe for men and women. Keep in mind however that the studies done have been in normal dosage ranges, usually between 2-5g a day of creatine, so there is potential for harm when someone uses too much.
BULKY MUSCLES, BLOATED STOMACHS AND WATER WEIGHT
Let’s attack the most common myths associated with creatine: That it makes women bulky, causes water retention and makes you feel bloated. Well, it’s all true, sort of.
Creatine has gotten a bad rap for years due to the misunderstanding surrounding its relationship with fluid balance within the body. While it’s true that creatine can cause water retention, when taken properly that water is retained within the muscles, not under the skin (the kind of water retention you don’t want). Water retained in the muscle is a good thing, and will have little to no effect on your dress size.
The myth that creatine can bloat your stomach is also true, if you take double the recommended amount! I’ve actually ran into this problem with dozens of athletes in the past.
Many times during my first session with an athlete, I’ll ask about prior creatine/supplement use only to be told that they hated the bloated feeling. When pressed on their dosage, without fail, I find excessive doses, often by no fault of their own.
Creatine is not a supplement that increases in effectiveness the more you take. In fact, it can be counterproductive. If there’s one takeaway from this article, it’s that you should never use more than the recommended amount.
WHY IS CREATINE IMPORTANT TO WOMEN?
Creatine will not only give you more energy when you work out, it will make you feel stronger and even recover faster. This will directly influence your ability to tone your muscles AND burn more fat.
One of the oft-forgotten benefits of creatine use is that you’ll burn more calories during exercise and increase your metabolism from added lean muscle.
Of course, increased metabolism is the basic principle behind burning fat! That’s right, creatine use will actually create the ideal environment for losing those unwanted pounds.
The bottom line is that creatine is one of the safest and most beneficial supplements for women.
If you feel hesitant taking a unisex product, try taking a female-specific product. Our Top Ten list is a great place to find your perfect choice, since most of these products contain forms of creatine more in tune with female physiology. Just remember, for best results, follow the dosage directions from the manufacturer.