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There is almost an endless supply of supplement choices out there for wellness warriors of all fitness levels and backgrounds. How do we know which ones to choose?
We have found that women may have a harder time choosing the right supplement for their needs. Today, we’re picking apart one of our favorite supplements, creatine. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether or not it’s right for you. Let’s get into it.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid that’s naturally produced in your body.
Although creatine is also found in protein-rich foods like beef, pork, lamb and fish, it may prove to be difficult to get an adequate amount. Especially if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. How do we combat this? High quality supplementation.
Creatine supplements have reached hall-of-fame-like status in the fitness community for being one of the best out there for improving exercise performance, enhancing strength and increasing muscle mass.
Usually a tasteless and odorless white powder, the most common type of creatine is creatine monohydrate.
In fact, research suggests that creatine monohydrate is the most effective form, as it has been shown to improve muscle creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations by 15–40%, allowing muscles to produce more energy during exercise.
How Does Creatine Work?
There is some hard-core science at work here. Not to worry, we’ve broken down the most important information for you.
Essentially, creatine helps the body use energy stored in your muscles when you engage in high intensity exercise like HIIT, lifting heavy, sprinting or jumping and so on. In short, creatine helps your muscles work harder, longer.
What does this mean for you? Not only will you feel less tired at the gym, you’ll also be able to lift heavier and increase your overall performance. Hello, new personal best!
What’s more? According to Registered Dietitian, Claire Muszalski, adequate amounts of creatine can also help boost muscle recovery, prevent injury and even regulate your body temperature.
Creatine Benefits for Women
We love that there’s been a massive movement or paradigm shift in the fitness industry recently. Women are lifting heavier, focusing on becoming stronger and setting wellness goals based on how they feel rather than how they look.
Of course, we all want to look our best. But what trumps that singular vanity metric is how we feel on the inside. That’s exactly why we’ve developed our very own high-quality Creatine Monohydrate supplement to help you hit your personal best and then some.
Even though this shift has been happening slowly over the last decade or so, there are still concerns when it comes to women lifting heavy. You know where we’re going with this, right? Some women worry that creatine supplementation could make them look bloated, bulky or “manly.”
However, this simply isn’t the case. Let’s look at some of the top benefits of creatine for women.
Reduces Body Fat
This study showed that women who take creatine while exercising not only had greater upper body strength, but also had a significant reduction in the percentage of body fat after only five weeks of supplementing.
Increases Lower Body Strength
The same study showed the impact that creatine had on women performing intense lower-body exercises such as spinning and cycling. The results showed a significant increase in lower body strength in women without weight gain.
According to board certified nutritionist, Dr. Joseph Debe, creatine may also help with slowing neurological diseases, improve bone health and strengthen muscle mass as we age.
Great Supplement for Vegans and Vegetarians
Even though creatine is produced naturally within our bodies, supplementation is recommended as it may be hard to reach adequate amounts in order to reap the benefits. One way to do that is by eating animal-based foods like lean red meats and fish. But of course, that may not be an option for you if you’re vegan or vegetarian. That’s where high-quality, vegetarian-friendly supplementation comes in to save the day for you.
Should I Take Creatine Before or After Working Out
Some research suggests that insulin (via simple carbs) can increase the level of creatine in our muscles. That’s why we suggest whipping up a delicious post-workout shake or meal.
For example, you can easily blend up a medium banana, a handful of blueberries, a cup of plain yogurt and your favorite non-dairy beverage along with your favorite scoop of creatine. Our single ingredient, Creatine Monohydrate formula is the perfect addition to your tasty post-workout smoothie.
With that being said, research on the timing of creatine intake is too limited and inconclusive to definitively say that consuming the supplement post-workout is more effective.
In fact, it’s perfectly fine and safe to mix in some creatine powder to your pre-workout beverage. It’s all about what works best for you and what makes you feel best.
How Much Creatine Should I Take?
Now you know that you should take creatine with carbs after you workout, but how much should you take?
The standard recommendation is 3-5 grams of creatine per day. This suggested recommendation came from the fact that an average healthy person excretes approximately 2 grams of creatine via their urine each day. So, taking at least 3 grams a day ensures that you replace the amount lost.
Here’s our little PSA: Most things worth having in life take time and seeing the results of creatine is no different. It's important to give your supplements enough time to work. Your body usually works in 28-day cycles so it’s best practice to give it at least two months to see any effect.
Can I take Creatine While Pregnant?
Women's bodies and nutritional needs change during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough conclusive information regarding the impact of supplementation on a developing fetus. It’s best practice to always speak to your doctor before taking any supplements if you’re breastfeeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Will Creatine Make Me Feel Bloated or Gain Weight?
It’s no secret that women tend to avoid certain supplements because they’ve heard through the fitness grapevine that it causes water retention (aka bloating) or may even cause you to gain weight. Is that the case for creatine?
First of all, patience is key. You must give your body enough time (up to two months) to see results before you decide it’s not for you. Just like when you join a killer new 12 week fitness program, you can’t expect results after the first day, right?
Sometimes, women may retain water in the first couple of weeks of using creatine as your body gets used to the increased supply. Everybody is different, but the good news is that this usually diminishes over time.
As far as weight gain goes, remember that not all weight gain is created equal. Chances are you already know that muscle weighs more than fat, right? Since creatine helps improve muscle recovery time, boosts athletic performance and increases muscle strength, you may see your number on the scale go up a little if you're new to weight lifting.
This is completely expected because with weight training comes increased muscle weight. It may be a little jarring to see the number go up, but trust us, you’ll feel much better once you realize how strong you’ve gotten and how much more comfortable you are in your clothes.
We say screw the scale. It’s all about how you feel!