If you exercise at least a couple days a week, adding creatine to your routine can do wonders for your fitness goals. Creatine naturally occurs in the body, and can be found in food sources like red meat and fish, as well as in supplement form. Vegetarians are often low in creatine and can benefit from taking supplementation, as can those who workout on a regular basis. If you’re curious about creatine for women, check out all you need to know about taking this supplement.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is one of your body’s natural sources of energy for muscle contraction. It’s an amino acid that helps supply energy to cells throughout the body, particularly muscle cells. It helps maintain a continuous supply of energy to working muscles by keeping production up in working muscles. About 95% of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscles of your body and is used during physical activity.
As well as being made by the body (it’s produced in the liver and kidneys and then delivered to the skeletal muscles for use), it naturally occurs in foods like red meat and fish, and can be obtained from supplements. Creatine supplements are used to increase muscle mass, boost strength and enhance athletic performance.
5 Benefits of Creatine
1. Improves Athletic Performance
Creatine helps the body produce more energy, and with more energy you can work harder and achieve enhanced performance. It appears to be particularly useful for short-duration, high-intensity intermittent workouts. Creatine improves numerous factors, such as strength, sprint ability, muscle endurance, resistance to fatigue, muscle mass, recovery and brain performance.
2. Boosts Mental Clarity
Creatine supplements can help increase mental clarity during a workout by improving oxygen uptake in the brain. Adequate creatine stores in the brain allow for optimal energy production to support brain health and cognitive performance. This is particularly helpful for mental workouts such as dance classes or cardio boxing.
3. Prevents and Repairs Injuries
Creatine supplements may help prevent muscle damage and speed up the recovery process after an athletic or sports-related injury. It may also have an antioxidant effect following an intense session of resistance training and may reduce cramping.
4. Builds Lean Muscle Mass
Creatine is known as the most effective supplement for adding muscle mass. It’s been shown to significantly increase lean body weight and muscle size, increasing the amount of water in the muscles and creating a better environment for muscle growth. Building lean muscle offers a range of benefits from speeding up your metabolism to strengthening your bones and reducing your risk of injury.
5. Reduces Bone Loss in Women Over 50
As we get older, our bones naturally decrease in mass and density, and this is particularly true for women who have started menopause. This can lead to problems such as osteoporosis, which makes bones break more likely. Creatine increases aging muscle mass and strength, which strengthens your bones. It also may slow down bone loss.
4 Side Effects of Creatine for Women
1. Potential Weight Gain
Creatine supplements may cause weight gain because of water retention in your muscles. It will take 7 to 28 days to see your energy effects depending on how much creatine you already have in your body. Some people will not notice any weight gain at all.
Since creatine helps increase exercise capacity, promoting longer and more intense workouts, it can lead to more fluid lost through sweat. A greater amount of fluid is required to replenish what the body has lost, so make sure to drink a lot of water on days of heavy exercise.
Dehydration can also lead to muscle cramping. Ensuring you stay well hydrated before, during and after your workouts will significantly reduce the likelihood of muscle cramping.
The excessive use of creatine can cause slight digestive issues and discomfort. You can avoid this by not taking excessive amounts and sticking to the recommended doses.
5 Things to Consider Before Taking Creatine
1. Water Retention
You may notice an increase in water retention when using creatine. This is harmless and normal and is due to the fact that creatine can cause your water cells to draw in and retain more water. Weight gain associated with creatine supplementation will be in the form of water weight and/or muscle mass.
2. Stay Hydrated
To minimize any noticeable water retention, it’s important to consume enough water each day and continue engaging in regular physical activity. If you find you’re retaining a lot of extra water, try decreasing the amount of creatine you take.
3. Time of Day
You can take creatine at any time of day to reap its benefits. Some research shows that it’s most effective when taken right before or after a workout, but this research is limited. It isn’t something that has an immediate effect on your performance, but benefits come with supplementing everyday.
4. What to Look For
Make sure to buy creatine monohydrate. A lot of supplements have junk that you don’t need and you’ll end up spending a lot more money on them. Powder supplements are the best as liquid ones are unstable and break down in your bloodstream.
5. Creatine Powder
Look for 100% pure creatine powder. You’ll know the powder is poor quality if it’s hard to dissolve and there’s residue at the bottom of the glass after you drink it. If this happens, try a different brand.
If you workout multiple times a week, adding a creatine supplement to your regime will help you enhance your physical performance, build lean muscle mass and boost your mental clarity.
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