By K. Aleisha Fetters
It's no secret that creatine is more popular among men than women, making men more apt to enjoy its benefits, such as greater workout performance and enhanced muscle growth. And if you're a woman, you might wonder if creatine supplementation will work the same way for you — and if it poses any risks for your gender.*
Fortunately, creatine monohydrate, the most tested and effective form of creatine, is one of the most extensively studied and research-backed supplements on the market, explains Marie Spano, RD, CSCS, CSSD, a certified specialist in sports dietetics and consulting Major League sports dietitian.
Here, we answer the question, "Is creatine safe for women?" and how to take it for optimal results.
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Your body produces energy through three distinct "metabolic pathways" — phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative — and each of them relies on a different fuel source and is emphasized in different situations. Creatine is what fuels the phosphagen system, which kicks into high gear during high-intensity efforts, such as weightlifting and sprinting, and during the first 10 or so seconds of exercise. By bulking up your body's creatine stores, you're supplying it with more of this key fuel source, which can help delay fatigue.*
Creatine is an "osmotically active substance," causing cells to draw in more water. That's why supplementing with creatine can result in a small increase in water weight. Although this might be noticeable (and slightly disconcerting) when you step on the scale, it won't make it more difficult to button your pants.
Here's how creatine may be able to help supplement your workouts and get you better results.
As mentioned previously, creatine supplementation can help enhance energy production and delay fatigue during high-intensity efforts. That, in turn, can result in greater workout performance. According to one Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research review, creatine helps lifters perform 14 percent more reps at a given weight.
2. Increased muscle growth*
By helping you bang out more high-quality reps, creatine can help you safely increase your training volume, which can have a positive effect on strength and muscle gains.
According to a Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition review, heavy lifting combined with creatine supplementation can result in larger increases in muscle mass compared with lifting alone.
“Creatine is generally safe for healthy individuals," Spano says. Nevertheless, always check with your physician prior to taking a new supplement.
Research suggests that taking five grams of creatine a day, the amount found in LADDER Pre-Workout, is both safe and healthy for most people. At that level, it will take about a month of supplementation for it to build up to sufficient levels in your cells for you to notice a difference in your workouts.
You can knock up to three weeks off of that timeline through a process called "loading."
Remember, creatine isn't like caffeine — its effects aren't acute. It takes a while for it to build up to sufficient levels in your system. As a result, it doesn't matter when you take creatine each day as long as you take it.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.