I opened my inbox a few weeks ago and there was a question from this nice Finnish girl I have been chatting with over the past month or so. I am always happy to answer questions and love to meet new people. Thanks to the internet I now have friends on almost every continent. I still haven’t gotten an email from anyone in Antarctica yet(I have high hopes, though).
Beautiful Finnish Girl writes:
What’s your take on supplements like creatine? The big boys seem to be taking it and I wonder if it’s of any use for a little girl :).
This is a great question and yes, it is of use for a little girl like you. It’s really the only supplement I would ever approve someone to consume to aid their muscle building pursuits because it’s the only supplement that has been around long enough with research to back it up.
As for my response, creatine is safe and suitable for females as it is for males. There is no risk of ineffectiveness based on gender because our musculoskeletal profile is identical as I pointed out in this article. Creatine is perfectly fine to use regardless of what your goals may be. If you are performing intense workouts on a regular basis, it’s probably a good idea to be using it.
What is Creatine?
It’s made up of 3 amino acids(building blocks of protein), therefore it is a natural supplement. Our beautiful bodies make small amounts of creatine and if you consume red meat, fish and other animal protein sources you are getting some though your diet. However the amount we make and consume in food is very small and will not create a noticeable effect in strength levels. This is why you must supplement with a creatine product to reap the benefits. Our bodies and diet will just not provide enough.
Creatine is a very old supplement, is well researched and has been proven to work, unlike many of the newer supplements that are made purely to sell. The ever popular N.O. products come to mind right about now(cue a snarky laugh) and the supposed affects one may notice from these types of products are usually placebo(omg, I am getting such a pump BRO!).
What Makes It Work?
Without getting too technical, our bodies break down the three macro nutrients, carbs, fat and protein into an energy product known as ATP. Through a long chain of complicated processes, ingested creatine will allow one to store more ATP and creatine within the muscle cells. This in turn allows us to over reach a bit during our workouts and increase our performance slightly. This will allow you a bit faster sprint time or to squeeze out a few more reps on the bench press. Layne Norton does an awesome job explaining exactly how creatine works in the article he wrote for bodybuilding.com. Enjoy.
To Load or Not to Load
Many people will say that you must load creatine, taking 20g per day for a week to ensure your stores are maxed out for optimal progress. This is semi-true but not an absolute. If you are taking creatine, it’s going to build up in your system regardless of loading or not. I personally do not like to load as it would give me massive gastrointestinal discomfort. I have fond memories of the summer when I would decide to load up on creatine. The bathroom was a very familiar place during that first week on the stuff.
This is just my account and you may have a different experience with loading. You won’t know until you try. If you are adamant about loading, I say start small with 5g the first day and then build up by 5g each day to assess tolerance. By the time you get to the fourth day you will be at 20g and it’s only recommended to consume that much for five to seven days anyhow.
How Much, What Kind and Cycling?
If you were under my supervision I would tell you to take 5g per day and stay on the stuff. Do not worry about timing, just make sure you are ingesting the daily requirements. I like to mix mine in a protein shake. As popular as cycling creatine is, there is no need to. There are no benefits or special effects as a result of cycling creatine. Once your stores are full, the 5g daily will just keep them topped off. I also do not recommend going out and buying hyped up, overpriced creatine. Buy the inexpensive, generic creatine monohydrate powder. You can usually buy it in bulk for cheap.
For the Ladies
Here are some reminders before you begin ingesting this white, flavorless powder. You will gain weight. Your clothes are going to be tighter. You are not getting fat or growing gigantic muscles. Creatine is known for making one retain water. This is common in men and women alike. Enjoy the bloat.
There have been times where I gain a permanent 5-7 lbs after going on creatine but the initial gain is all water. Once I ditch the creatine, the water drops and I am back to normal. If you are one of those lovely females interested in strength training, I highly recommend the use of creatine. It can’t hurt and I am positive it will help you build that body you’re after.