For athletes to perform at their best, achieving optimal dietary intakes and adequate rest to recover are essential. Nutrient timing around training and performance as well as maintaining hydration states are also paramount.
If all these boxes are ticked, the use of ergogenic aids i.e. supplements which can enhance performance, should be considered.
One of the most clinically validated supplements within this category is creatine (known as creatine monohydrate) which is supported by a vast body of research as an effective performance enhancer.
While creatine supplementation is popular among men, it has long been underused amongst female populations, likely due to the culturally accepted belief that it causes weight gain. In this article we’re going to cover what creatine is, it’s benefits for the female athlete and our top choices of creatine supplement.
We’re also going to be giving our top 5 best creatine supplements for women 2020 review!
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Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Capsules
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Kaged Muscle C-HCl
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Signature Creatine Monohydrate
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Best Creatine Supplement for Women
Here are our top picks. They vary in the needs one may have, so choose based on your goals. For example if high intensity workouts and CrossFit is your thing, you may want to go with the Kre-Alkalyn product from Swolverine. However, if you care more about pure Creatine for lean muscle mass, you should choose one of the no filler products. Here is our list of best creatine supplement for women:
1. Transparent Labs Strengthseries Creatine HMB (Top pick) Creatine Monohydrate Powder with BioPerine for bioavailability and absorption.
2. Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn (For HIIT workouts) Creatine Phosphate Powder.
3. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine (From a very popular brand) Micronized powder for better solubility in water.
4. Kaged Muscle Creatine HCL (Patented and 3rd party Approved formula) Creatine Hydrochloride in Powder or Capsules.
5. Signature Creatine Monohydrate (Great Value) Pure Creatine Monohydrate micronized powder.
What is creatine monohydrate?
Creatine is a naturally occuring compound that humans produce themselves at roughly a rate of one gram per day.
It acts as an “energy recycler”; our body uses a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to fuel all of our processes (mechanical and chemical).
To produce energy and fuel these processes, ATP is broken down to adenosine diphosphate (ADP); it is the energy released from this reaction which drives processes.
Creatine binds to a phosphate group becoming creatine phosphate. It then donates this phosphate group to an ADP to replenish it to ATP; hence, creatine is the “energy recyler”.
How to use creatine
There is a great amount of research published on creatine supplementation; dosing protocols, which forms of creatine supplementation are most effective as well as potential side effects.
Athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike have the option to “load” when it comes to their creatine supplementation or take a standardized dose. The difference between the two protocols is simply that creatine loading may lead to it’s reported benefits appearing sooner.
For a more in depth view on creatine loading protocols click this link!
There are a variety of types of creatine supplementation on the market appearing in various different forms; creatine powder, creatine pills, creatine capsules and even ready to made drinks!
The types of creatine supplement can include;
- Creatine monohydrate powder
- Creatine HCl
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Creatine citrate
- Creatine pyruvate
- Creatine hydrochloride
- Creatine blend
Whilst the various forms of supplement propose that they enhance creatine absorption this benefit is generally unsupported by clinical data.
For that reason, when we are giving our top 5 best creatine supplements for women 2020 review we will be sticking to the most supported (as well as cost-effective), plain old creatine monohydrate supplement.
Weight gain, bloating, cramps and water retention are all proposed negative side effects of creatine supplementation. In some studies, this has been shown, but it is likely down to improper mixing and/or dosing of the creatine product.
Generally speaking, it has been shown to be a safe and effective ergogenic aid that does not usually result in significant increases in body weight (BW) or fat-free mass (FFM) in women.
Creatine and athletic performance
As mentioned, creatine is one of the most rigourously tested of all the performance enhancing supplements.
The international society of sports nutrition have cited that creatine supplementation appears to reliably result in significant;
- increases in total muscle mass
- increases in lean muscle mass
- increases in muscle strength
- increases in muscle growth
- preservation of lean muscle and muscle strength during rehabilitation
They’ve also highlighted it’s potential role in other facets of health, such as having a possible protective effect on cognitive function with age.
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Are there differences between men and women when it comes to creatine?
There are distinct differences between men and women when it comes to creatine (and these differences arguably make an even greater case for supplementation).
Women naturally produce around 70 – 80% of the amount of creatine which males produce, and dietary intake of creatine may be lower too. However, women appear to be more efficient storers of creatine within the muscle cell.
There may also be some interaction between menstrual cycle sex hormones and creatine levels too, however this requires further study.
Creatine and female athletic performance
The differences in male and female creatine metabolism create a favourable argument for women to supplement with a creatine product but is it as effective for women when it comes to performance as men?
The answer appears to be “yes” in most instances.
Whilst there is a notable difference in the amount of lean muscle mass gained between men and women when using a creatine product, this is likely due to changes in water within the muscle cell as opposed to actual changes in tangible lean muscle tissue itself.
As it relates to athletic performance men and women both appear to benefit relatively similarly when it comes to creatine supplementation.
There are some studies which show a greater effect in men than in women, however these are usually conducted when investigating upper body exercises.
It is known that men tend to have superior performance in upper body testing given that they have more muscle mass in these areas. However, women and men actually perform more or less equally when it comes to lower body exercise.
This is also to say that women do achieve a benefit when using a creatine supplement in these upper body focused studies, it is simply not as significant as that seen in men when comparing directly.
In creatine monohydrate studies comparing a female group to a female group investigating supplementation on upper muscle strength and lean muscle gain, there has been a significant difference between the supplement taking and non-supplement taking group.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition previously concluded in its position stand on creatine supplementation that creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to both male and female athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean muscle mass during training.
Creatine supplementation is not simply for men and female athletes could see a whole host of benefits from using it regularly.
Be it increase in muscle mass, exercise performance or even more female specific benefits such as increased bone density post-menopause and even promote neural development and reduce complications resulting from birth asphyxia during pregnancy!
Creatine supplementation is one of the few tried, trusted and virtually universally effective supplements we have available to us; a must have for any athlete irrespective of sport or gender!
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Best Creatine Supplements for Women Review
Transparent Labs Strengthseries Creatine HMB
- Science-based ingredients at clinically effective dosages
- No artificial substances (sweeteners, food dyes, or harmful additives)
- Flavored & Unflavored
Transparent labs guarantee 100% formula transparency, with included science-based ingredients at clinically effective dosages.
They hold themselves to the highest standard of quality and integrity, and have committed to never using artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or harmful additives.
We love their strengthseries creatine HMB; these two ingredients are a wonderful compliment to each other (as backed by clinical findings) and when combined, Creapure creatine monohydrate and HMB have been shown to enhance strength, increase endurance, decrease fat mass, and prevent lean muscle loss. The added BioPerine® increases bioavailability and absorption.
Creapure creatine is a commercially manufactured form of creatine which has the highest rated purity on the market.
This product has zero artificial sweeteners, colored dyes, unnecessary fillers, or harmful additives. It also has added vitamin D and is suitable for those following a gluten-free approach.
It comes in both flavoured and unflavoured variations and you can expect to get around 30 servings per tub.
Our only qualms with this product is that it only comes in the one size tub and costs around $39 per tub. However, they do offer a multitub discount which may make it a more viable option!
While Creatine Monohydrate generally gets the job done in terms of increasing strength and muscle mass, it can still have a bloating effect on some. This is why we chose an alternate that is supposed to address some of the side effects of creatine monohydrate.
This creatine phosphate is a patented pH correct form that adds alkaline powder to balance the pH and reduce the acidity level. This is especially helpful for those performing high intensity workouts like those in CrossFit, which can lead to lactic acid build up in muscles.
This product is also more suitable for women who do CrossFit because it prevents cramping from high intensity and ton of reps.
According to the study published by Swolverine in a randomized controlled trial, Kre-Alkalyn showed no significant difference from creatine monohydrate in terms of increasing muscle mass or strength, but did show an ability to increase VO2 Max. Read more about the study here.
Lastly, we really liked the fact that Swolverine backs up its product with various clinical studies that can also be found on the product page. So check it out if this is the type of product that is interesting to you.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Capsules
- Strenuous procurement process for ingredients
- Unflavored creatine with no fillers or additives
- Brand produces various other sports nutrition products
Optimum Nutrition is a cornerstone of the sports nutrition industry; a pioneer of the industry, innovating and providing some of the best quality products on the market for over thirty years.
Part of the Glanbia global nutrition group, Optimum owns state-of-the-art production facilities in and is one of the few sports nutrition companies to manufacture in every product category.
Optimum Nutrition’s procurement team carefully select the most premium grade raw materials for their products. A Certificate of Analysis is required for every ingredient, which is then tested and retested for compliance.
Quality assurance performs daily inspections of the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) compliant facilities, which are GMP registered. Notably, Optimum are also strenuously tested by other third-party agencies too. As they are one of the global leading sponsors of many sports, both team and individual, their products have to be of the utmost quality and labels of virtually perfect precision to be able to provide to national and international drug-tested athletes.
Their pure micronized creatine monohydrate powder promises 99.9% pure unflavored creatine with no fillers or additives.
A similar quality to the Signature Series, it is slightly more expensive however comes in 5 different sizes (150g, 300g, 600g, 1200g and 2000g) and is also available in capsule form.
Kaged Muscle is an ultra-premium science-based sports nutrition brand that delivers real results in the gym, and provides incredible value for your money.
Approved by both Informed sport and Informed choice, Kaged has achieved the golden stamp of approval from the industry’s two most stringent 3rd party quality testing organisations.
Their creatine Hcl product is an alternative to those who may not be fans of the loading protocols.
Kaged Muscle’s creatine powder comes in both flavoured and unflavoured varieties as well as in capsule form. It’s relatively reasonably priced too, with a tub of around 75 servings costing in around the $20 mark; certainly one to consider for those who need to abide by the Informed Sport approval!
Bodybuilding.com’s signature series was created several decades after the company’s inception. The formulation team wanted to wait to gather as much data as they could to produce the highest quality, evidence-based dosed products that would fit within virtually any customer’s budget.
Their goal is for the Signature line to serve as a foundation for overall sports nutrition: basic supplements that will help each customer reach their unique bodybuilding and fitness goals.
Every product is transparent, filler-free and third-party companies have commended the signature series for its quality (ranking it among the best in the industry!)
Their micronized creatine monohydrate powder achieves just that. Micronized creatine monohydrate is purer and more soluble in water and so mixes better.
While it is unflavoured and only comes in a 400g tub, the price tag is simply too good too turn down ($8 per tub right now) and a 400g tub will provide around 80 servings, which is amazing for the price!
Final Thoughts On Creatine Supplements For Women
As you can see, creatine supplements are not all the same. There is no such thing as THE best creatine supplement for women. Some prefer a capsule to make it easy to ingest while others may prefer to mix it in with a shake or smoothie. There are flavored and unflavored versions for those who simply want to drink it with water.
If there are too many choices for you, know that pure creatine monohydrate will do the job. This is why we chose Transparent Labs product which is made from Creapure which is the commercially available pure form of Creatine Monohydrate.
However do not discount the other alternatives here as there is sufficient evidence for the alternatives such as the Kre-Alkalyn which is capable to have less bloating effects. However, Creatine monohydrate can also feel less bloating after a couple of weeks of usage.
If you choose one of these products, please do leave a comment for others to know how it worked for you. Good luck in your workouts!