Creatine monohydrate, a naturally occurring substance in many animal proteins, helps women build or maintain lean muscle mass. This becomes more important if you are dieting, since losing lean mass results in a decrease your metabolism. Supplementing with creatine can allow you to squeeze out an extra repetition or two at the end of a difficult set or increase your power during intense exercise. Consult a health-care professional before using any dietary supplement.
You produce a small amount of creatine in your body -- about 2 g -- every day. Creatine helps supply energy to your muscles for intense muscular effort. If you are training exclusively for a marathon, you are not stressing the system that creatine helps supply much in comparison to weightlifting or sprinting. So while creatine can be a useful tool, it is up to you to use it appropriately. This becomes particularly important to women who are seeking to gain strength or improve their short-term power in exercises such as sprinting.
Creatine is safe to use, since you both produce it and eat it, unless you are a vegan. Creatine has benefits beyond exercise, such as increasing your use of fats for fuel. Because of the role creatine supplementation plays in exercise, creatine supplementation reduced the blood lipid profiles in women in a study published in the July 1996 issue of "Clinical Science." Creatine use, even two to four times the normal dose, does not increase your blood pressure or generate additional waste products and toxins in women, according to a study published in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" in 2000.
Creatine helps you get stronger, but it does not add excessive bulk. Researchers at The College of William and Mary in Virginia study the effect of creatine supplementation on the effect of women measuring their strength, fat-free mass and body fat levels. At the end of the study, every woman had become stronger without gaining any weight, according to results published in the "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" in 2003. If your goal is to improve performance but you are worried about getting bigger, you can stop worrying.
Not All Creatine Is Created Equal
Many types of creatine products are available on the market, all of which appear to offer results, some aimed specifically at women. Unfortunately, the bulk of the research is performed using creatine monohydrate, and research on other types of creatine has not been as promising. Creatine ethyl ester is added to some creatine products, but it does not give the same results and creatine monohydrate in women. In a comparison study performed at Baylor University, creatine ethyl ester generated no improvements in performance in comparison to creatine monohydrate. This research appeared in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" in 2009.
- "Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance"; William D. McArdle, et al.; 2009
- "Clinical Science"; High-Performance Capillary Electrophoresis-Pure Creatine Monohydrate Reduces Blood Lipids in Men and Women; C.P. Earnest, et al.; July 1996
- "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise"; High-performance Capillary Electrophoresis-pure Creatine Monohydrate Acute Creatine Loading Increases Fat-Free Mass, but Does Not Affect Blood Pressure, Plasma Creatinine, or Ck Activity in Men and Women; S. Mihic, et al.; Feburary 2000
- "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism"; Short-Term Creatine Supplementation Improves Maximum Quadriceps Contraction in Women; K.W. Kambis, et al.; March 2003
- "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition"; The Effects of Creatine Ethyl Ester Supplementation Combined with Heavy Resistance Training on Body Composition, Muscle Performance, and Serum and Muscle Creatine Levels; M. Spillane, et al.; February 2009