While creatine offers a wide range of benefits for performance, body composition, and recovery, the misconception that it leads to bulkiness, weight gain, or other adverse effects in women can dissuade them from experiencing its positive effects.
Although women may metabolize and utilize creatine differently than men, the potential benefits of creatine supplementation for women far outweigh any minimal risks, making it a valuable tool in the toolbox for women.
There are also rumors that creatine is less effective in women than in men, and today, we are going to uncover the differences in how creatine works in women compared to men and why it can be beneficial for women to use it.
Table of Contents
Should Women Take Creatine?
The way the body uses and stores creatine differs between men and women. For instance, females generally possess 70-80% lower natural stores of creatine (in the whole body) than males .
Additionally, studies indicate that females tend to consume significantly less creatine in their diets compared to males , suggesting that supplementation could be a beneficial means to increase their natural stores.
Interestingly, females have approximately 10% higher resting levels of intramuscular creatine concentrations (creatine stored in the muscles only) compared to males , possibly due to higher muscle mass .
This may theoretically reduce how responsive they are to supplementation, potentially necessitating higher doses than males .
In addition, it’s worth noting that creatine supplementation has not shown the same effectiveness in reducing measures of protein breakdown following exercise in women as it has been reported in men .
Consequently, there has been some skepticism regarding the use of creatine among females.
Due to changes in hormone-driven processes related to creatine in the female body, the bioavailability of creatine (how well your body absorbs creatine) varies during different stages of the female reproductive cycle. This suggests that creatine supplementation could positively affect females .
Hormonal shifts affect how the female body makes, transports, and uses creatine. This means that creatine availability changes during different stages of female reproduction. This suggests that creatine supplements could be beneficial for females .
Women have been found to have lower levels of creatine in the frontal lobe of the brain .
Elevating creatine levels in the brain through supplementation, especially in females, could potentially enhance the reported benefits of alleviating symptoms of depression [11, 12] and mitigating the effects of traumatic brain injury [13, 14].
Pros And Cons Of Creatine For Females
Assessing the balance between benefits and risks is crucial. The risks associated with creatine supplementation are minimal, especially when weighed against the potential advantages for females .
Studies have found that creatine can improve performance and body composition in females.
For example, one study  demonstrated that supplementing with creatine (20 g/day for 4 days followed by 5 g/day thereafter) during a 10-week period of resistance training led to significant increases in creatine in the muscles, muscle mass and strength compared to a control group in women (between the ages of 19-22).
In elite female soccer players, creatine supplementation of 20 g/day for 6 days (your standard loading phase) improved sprinting and agility performance compared to a control group .
A third study  found that creatine loading enhanced upper-body exercise capacity in strength-trained females between the ages of 21-33, compared to a placebo.
Additionally, in 20-year-old college-aged females, creatine loading improved knee extension muscle performance compared to a placebo .
Finally, in female collegiate dancers, 6 weeks of creatine supplementation increased muscle mass and total body water , thereby improving body composition.
It is important to weigh the benefits against the risks; as mentioned in this article, the risks associated with creatine supplementation are minimal, especially when considering the potential advantages for women.
Using creatine supplements could be a beneficial option for postmenopausal women looking to enhance muscle quality and performance.
When combined with resistance training, creatine supplementation may also positively affect bone health in postmenopausal women .
For instance, women in this group who took 0.1 g/kg/day of creatine daily during 52 weeks of supervised whole-body resistance training experienced a slower rate of bone mineral loss at the hip compared to those on a placebo during training .
Additionally, taking 5 g/day of creatine during 12 weeks of resistance training led to a significant increase in muscle mass as well as upper- and lower-body strength in postmenopausal women in comparison to those who took a placebo .
Even without resistance training, creatine has been shown to increase fat-free mass and improve the sit-to-stand test in postmenopausal women .
Depression is twice as common in females compared to males . This higher prevalence of depression in females is connected to hormonal changes occurring during puberty, the high-estrogen phase of the menstrual cycle, after pregnancy, and during perimenopause .
However, it’s not just the levels of estrogen and progesterone that determine this pattern but also how sensitive the brain is to these hormones .
In a study of U.S. adults, even after accounting for demographic and lifestyle factors, those who consumed the highest amount of creatine had a 31% lower risk of depression compared to those who consumed the lowest amount of creatine .
Cons: Weight Gain
Rapid weight gain was seen more in males than females due to water retention . Weight gain can also be seen if creatine is consumed with the recommended 1g/kg carbohydrate , and this strategy is not found to be the best for women .
Creatine Side Effects For Females
A comprehensive recent systematic review unequivocally demonstrated that women who supplement with creatine experience no adverse effects on their gastrointestinal, kidney, liver, or cardiovascular systems .
As mentioned, there is no conclusive evidence that creatine intake will lead to weight gain in females .
Although there is a lot more research done on creatine intake in men than women, you can rest assured that women can take creatine. Women should not be turned off from using creatine because of the fear of gaining weight.
The benefits of creatine far outweigh the minimal risks and side effects, making the risk-to-benefit ratio highly favorable.
Therefore, if you are a woman, you can take creatine with confidence, knowing that it can be a fantastic tool in the toolbox to enhance your performance, body composition, and recovery.
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