Creatine supplementation actually appears to enhance the ability for muscle to store ATP for both males and females, and can provide a variety of other benefits specifically for females .
First, let’s back up and understand what creatine is exactly.
Although creatine supplements have increased in popularity, it is actually a compound that can be found naturally in your muscle tissue. Most of this natural form of creatine comes as phosphocreatine and phosphocreatine helps your body produce energy in the form of ATP . Your muscles rely on ATP to power movement– for instance curling a dumbbell or squatting a barbell.
What happens when you supplement with creatine?
When you add creatine supplements to your diet, you are increasing your muscle’s storage of phosphocreatine and thereby increasing the potential for more ATP or energy. In other words, creatine supplementation helps provide more energy to your muscles during training sessions .
One study conducted on 23 male participants split the individuals into two groups: one group supplemented with 5g of creatine monohydrate, 4 times per day, whereas the other group received a placebo drink. Before and after supplementation for 5 days, all participants were tested on their one rep max strength .
Researchers found that those who supplemented with creatine monohydrate were able to significantly increase their one rep max strength more so than the placebo group .
Similar results have been found in studies that had only female participants. Researchers found that females who supplemented with creatine monohydrate using a loading phase (20g creatine monohydrate for 4 days), then 5g per day for the remainder of the 10 weeks, showed increased muscle mass and strength compared to the placebo female group .
What’s really interesting is how creatine may affect postmenopausal females.
More research needs to be conducted in this area, however, some studies have shown that in postmenopausal females who resistance train, creatine supplementation can help increase their muscle mass .
This is crucial for postmenopausal females because menopause occurs as estrogen levels drop. Without this anabolic (muscle building) hormone, muscle protein synthesis also tends to decrease.
This can also be beneficial for older adults in general because of sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle mass and sometimes bone mass with age .
How do I supplement with creatine?
Current studies tend to follow a very standard protocol of beginning with a loading phase, then following with a maintenance phase . Remember to stay hydrated throughout the day!
- Loading Phase: 20 grams per day for 5-7 days
- 5 grams per dose, 4x per day
- Maintenance Phase: 5 grams per day for remainder of cycle in one dose
Are there any side effects?
Some people have reported feeling slight nausea and cramping, so remember to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Otherwise, several studies have shown that creatine has no long-term negative effects on the body .
I’m ready to start supplementing!
If you’re looking for a great creatine supplement to get started, check out Thorne Creatine. We love this product as it is third party tested for banned substances by NSF for Sport.
If you’re curious about other supplements, we highly recommend checking out our Supplements that Improve Performance Mini-Course to learn more about which supplements will actually optimize your performance, and how to make sure the supplements you purchase are actually working.
I need personalized nutrition help!
If you need help fine tuning your training or racing nutrition and hydration, please sign up to work one on one with our practitioners today! Click HERE to get started!
- Casey, A., & Greenhaff, P. L. (2000). Does dietary creatine supplementation play a role in skeletal muscle metabolism and performance?. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 72(2 Suppl), 607S–17S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/72.2.607SPMID = 10731009
- Becque, M. D., Lochmann, J. D., & Melrose, D. R. (2000). Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 32(3), 654–658. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200003000-00016
- Vandenberghe, K., Goris, M., Van Hecke, P., Van Leemputte, M., Vangerven, L., & Hespel, P. (1997). Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 83(6), 2055–2063. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.19188.8.131.525PMID = 33557850
- Antonio, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Gualano, B., Jagim, A. R., Kreider, R. B., Rawson, E. S., Smith-Ryan, A. E., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Willoughby, D. S., & Ziegenfuss, T. N. (2021). Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w
- Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Chilibeck, P. D., Cornish, S. M., Antonio, J., & Kreider, R. B. (2019). Effectiveness of Creatine Supplementation on Aging Muscle and Bone: Focus on Falls Prevention and Inflammation. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(4), 488. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8040488
- Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M., Ziegenfuss, T., Lopez, H., Landis, J., & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4, 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-6
- Kreider, R. B., Melton, C., Rasmussen, C. J., Greenwood, M., Lancaster, S., Cantler, E. C., Milnor, P., & Almada, A. L. (2003). Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 244(1-2), 95–104.