Creatine for Women: Benefits, Dose & Side Effects

There’s a common misconception that creatine is only for men looking to build hulking muscles.

By extension, many believe creatine for women is a bad idea unless they want to look like an IFBB Pro bodybuilder.

These assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

Creatine is a stand-out supplement for anyone pursuing better health and fitness, with potential advantages especially relevant to women.

In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of creatine for women

We’ll also dive into the research to answer key questions, including: What is creatine? What does creatine do for women? Should women take creatine? And more. 

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound comprising the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and methionine.

Your body produces creatine naturally and absorbs and stores it from foods like red meat, eggs, and fish.

Athletes and gym-goers also often take a creatine dietary supplement because it has numerous muscle-building and performance-enhancing benefits. 

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What Does Creatine Do?

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the most basic unit of cellular energy. When cells use ATP, they split it into smaller molecules. Afterward, they “reassemble” the fragments back into ATP for reuse.

The more ATP your cells can store and the faster your body can regenerate it, the more “work” you can do.

Creatine donates a molecule to an ATP “precursor” called adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which expedites ATP production, enabling your body to replenish its ATP store more rapidly.

That’s why supplementing with creatine helps you gain skeletal muscle and strength faster, improves anaerobic endurance, enhances muscle recovery, and boosts exercise performance. 

Related: This Is the Definitive Guide to Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation

What Are the Benefits of Creatine for Women?

Top athletes, industry experts, and leading authorities like the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommend creatine for women because it confers numerous benefits.

Let’s explore creatine’s benefits for women here:

Creatine boosts muscle gain, strength, and athletic performance.

Creatine’s benefits for women are similar to those for men: it helps you gain muscle and strength faster, improves anaerobic endurance, enhances muscle recovery, and boosts intense exercise performance.

Basically, it’s an all-around win for women who exercise.

What’s more, some research suggests women supplementing with creatine tend to see greater relative improvements than men in these areas. Where men typically experience an improvement of around 5%, women enjoy an increase of around 15%, highlighting how effective creatine is for women

Creatine may improve brain function.

Creatine boosts cognition, memory, and focus, may ease stress and anxiety, and may help protect against cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s.

Creatine may improve mood.

While scientists are still exploring the connection between creatine and depression, several studies show that taking creatine can improve mood.

Some animal research also hints that it may be more beneficial in improving mood for females than males.

Creatine may aid sleep.

Animal research suggests taking creatine reduces total and deep sleep duration. 

While reducing sleep duration and quality usually harms mental and physical performance, other studies show that taking creatine makes you mentally and physically sharper, even when sleep-deprived.

While speculative, this could mean creatine reduces your need for sleep and offsets any negative effects of insufficient sleep quantity and quality. 

Related: 5 Evidence-Based Techniques for Sleeping Better Now

Creatine may ease menstrual symptoms.

Many women experience disturbed sleep and “brain fog” during the follicular phase (the first half) of the menstrual cycle.

As we’ve already seen, however, creatine can lessen these effects, alleviating some of the adverse symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. 

Related: The Complete Guide to Eating and Training During Your Menstrual Cycle

Should Women Take Creatine?

If you’re a woman who exercises regularly and wants to optimize your health, you should take creatine. It offers myriad fitness and wellness benefits and has an excellent safety profile.

Additionally, women naturally have lower creatine stores than men and often consume fewer creatine-rich foods, which makes using supplements to increase creatine levels even more advantageous.

Some women fear that taking creatine will lead them to become “bulky.” While understandable, this isn’t something most women need to worry about. 

To learn why, check out this article:

The 10 Absolute Worst Muscle-Building Myths and Mistakes for Women

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How Much Creatine Should a Woman Take?

Research shows that supplementing with 3-to-5 grams of creatine per day is optimal for women. 

And despite what some say, there’s no “best time to take creatine.” Research shows it works perfectly well when you take it pre-workout, post-workout, or at any other time of the day.

When you start taking creatine, you can “load” it by taking 20 grams daily for the first 5-to-7 days (followed by the “maintenance” dose of 3-to-5 grams daily).

You don’t have to start with a loading phase, but studies show that it causes the creatine to accumulate in your muscles faster, helping you reap its benefits sooner.

Side Effects of Creatine for Women

Taking creatine supplements is largely safe for women, even in high doses (up to 30 grams daily) over many years.

Despite some claims, there’s no proof that it leads to acne, headaches, or increased blood pressure. It also doesn’t negatively affect sleep quality, almost certainly doesn’t cause hair loss, and if your kidneys are healthy, it won’t damage them.

People with sensitive stomachs might feel discomfort if they start with a high dose of creatine. You can avoid this unwanted effect of creatine supplements by skipping a “loading” phase and simply taking 3-to-5 grams a day.

You may also gain weight while taking creatine.

Creatine causes weight gain because it draws water into your muscles, temporarily increasing your body weight.

Crucially, water retention from creatine is not the same as gaining fat. It has no negative impact on your overall health or body composition, so you shouldn’t view it negatively. It also won’t meaningfully impact how you look and may expedite the muscle-building process, helping you build muscle faster.

Related: Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight? What Science Says

What’s the Best Creatine for Women?

The best creatine for women is creatine monohydrate. 

While research shows that creatine of any kind improves your athletic performance in numerous ways, no type of creatine is as well-studied, safe, cost-effective, and reliable as creatine monohydrate. 

For a natural source of micronized creatine monohydrate that also includes two other ingredients to enhance muscle growth and improve recovery, try Recharge.

(If you aren’t sure if Recharge is right for you or if another supplement might better fit your budget, circumstances, and goals, then take the Legion Supplement Finder Quiz! In less than a minute, it’ll tell you exactly what supplements are right for you. Click here to check it out.)

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Creatine for Women: FAQs

FAQ #1: What will creatine do for a woman?

There are many benefits of creatine for women, both inside and outside of the gym. For example, creatine helps women build and maintain lean body mass (muscle), gain strength and power, and recover after exercise.

Other potential benefits of creatine include enhanced mood and brain function, better sleep, and improved menstrual symptoms. 

FAQ #2: Should women take creatine to lose weight?

Taking creatine by itself probably won’t boost fat loss to a meaningful degree. Still, supplementing with creatine while dieting and exercising to lose weight is sensible for several reasons. For instance, it helps you train longer and harder, which may increase energy expenditure and, thus, fat loss over time. 

It also helps you retain muscle and strength, which is vital for improving your body composition while “cutting.”

To learn more about how to diet and exercise to lose weight quickly, check out this article:

How to Lose Weight Faster in 5 Simple Steps

FAQ #3: Does creatine have side effects for girls?

Supplementing with creatine is generally safe, even when taking large daily doses for several years.

Contrary to what some say, there’s no evidence it causes acne, headaches, or high blood pressure. Moreover, it doesn’t disturb sleep, almost certainly doesn’t cause hair loss, and provided you have healthy kidneys, it won’t harm kidney health, either.

Those with sensitive stomachs may experience stomach discomfort if they “load” creatine. You can easily sidestep this issue by skipping a loading phase and taking 3-to-5 grams daily instead.

FAQ #4: What are the disadvantages of taking creatine?

Taking creatine has no downsides, provided you take the recommended dose. On the contrary, it increases strength and muscle gain, improves endurance, accelerates muscle recovery, and enhances exercise performance.

It may also improve brain health, mood, and sleep and relieve symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. 

FAQ #5: Can you take creatine while pregnant?

Although there are indications that creatine supplementation could benefit both expectant mothers and their unborn children, we need more definitive, high-quality research before we can confidently recommend creatine use during pregnancy.

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