Creatine is a popular supplement used to:
✓ Promote muscle strength
✓ Increase muscle mass
✓ Improve overall physical performance
Some women don’t supplement with creatine because they make the mistake of thinking that it will make them “too bulky”. It is also commonly thought to make you look and feel bloated, because of water retention and weight gain. Though some of these factors may be true, this article will help you decide whether or not creatine will be right for you.
What is creatine?
As mentioned above, creatine is a supplement that is generally used for increasing muscle strength and size. It is a white, tasteless and odourless powder when manufactured. Creatine is not to be confused with steroids. It’s not related to hormones, as it’s a completely different chemical compound. Creatine is naturally created in your body, specifically within your liver. Although creatine is made up of amino acids (glycine, methionine, and arginine), it is not considered a protein.
It’s metabolized differently in your kidneys. Creatine doesn’t involve that removal of nitrogen when it gets passed through the kidneys when it gets broken down. It’s not considered an essential nutrient, because of your body’s natural ability to produce it on its own. However, it can still be beneficial to those who are interested in increasing their strength and muscle mass. Creatine can be found naturally in your diet from some protein sources, such as red meat and fish.
How does it work?
To put it simply, creatine allows your muscles to work harder by replenishing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) within the muscle cells. This allows muscles to sustain energy during the performance. Scientifically speaking, creatine combines with a phosphate molecule in your muscles which then creates a compound that’s called phosphocreatine (PCr). PCr plays an important role in energy metabolism in muscle cells. When contracting your muscles during a lift, you have to expend ATP.
During this process, ATP is broken down to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and a phosphate molecule. This creates the energy that allows your muscles to move. There is only a limited amount of ATP within your muscles. Therefore, when ATP stores run out, your muscles won’t be able to contract as efficiently and will fatigue much quicker. PCr, the creatine molecule, is needed to replenish ATP. When you’re allowed to work harder for a longer period of time, you can build more muscle while burning more fat without your muscles fatiguing too quickly. During rest and recovery, ATP can be restored properly.
What are the benefits?
Women can still experience the benefits of creatine, alongside men. Creatine may be beneficial for increasing overall strength in women who take it for a long period of time. With increased strength, an increase in muscle mass follows due to the ability to lift more weight. When you do this, you’re entering progressive overload and that’s how muscles grow. The same benefits apply to both women and men. Creatine is not a gender specific supplement.
How much creatine do I need to take?
Generally, the recommendation is to take 3-5 grams each day. Most creatine labels will suggest a “loading phase,” where you would take 15-20 grams each day for 1-2 weeks before you drop the dosage to 3-5 grams. This isn’t necessary unless you want to see results faster. Avoiding this period will lengthen the time that it will take to saturate your muscles with creatine. After about one month of using the minimal dose, you should see results.
Can I take creatine if I’m pregnant?
Research has yet to give a direct answer for whether or not it’s advised to supplement with creatine during pregnancy. However, it seems that creatine supplementation is safe even when pregnant. It may actually have some benefits for your baby. Of course, please consult with your doctor prior to use and make sure that you are fully comfortable with the decision to take creatine during your pregnancy.
Take Home Message
Creatine will help you train harder so that you will be capable of lifting heavier weight to build more muscle. If you experience any bloating, give your body more time to adjust to the change before you discontinue use. This supplement can be an excellent choice for any women wanting to increase their strength in the gym.