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creatine

What is Creatine? The Ultimate Guide & Everything You Need to Know!

You’ve reached a point in your life where you understand the importance of diet and exercise. You’ve probably seen hundreds of articles on what’s best for your body and on taking supplements. It might feel like an impossible task to wade through the quagmire of information and determine which supplement will work for you.

Supplements are taken by athletes to improve performance. They are also taken to increase muscle mass and keep a body healthy. The best advice when considering a supplement to take is to stick with more natural substances that are well researched, like creatine. What exactly is creatine? Let’s find out!

Creatine – The Super Cell Energizer

Technically speaking, creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid. In layman’s terms, it is a naturally occurring acid, found in red meat and fish. It is also produced by the human body. Creatine is often taken by athletes in supplement form to improve performance and increase muscle mass. In addition, it can be taken for those who have difficulty naturally metabolizing creatine.

According to Medical News Today, this cell energizing supplement is made up of three amino acids: glycine, L-methionine, and arginine. Ninety-five percent of the creatine in our bodies is stored in the skeletal muscle, one percent in our blood, and five percent in the brain.

The cool fact about creatine is that the body designates a small portion of creatine each day to the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. The rest is circulated through our blood and distributed to the parts of the body that require a high amount of energy, like your muscles and your brain.

While creatine is popular with athletes, there is evidence to suggest it might also be beneficial in preventing skin aging and in the treatment of muscle diseases. Those who suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS) have used creatine to increase their ability to exercise and enhance their cognitive ability.

Why Might Creatine Benefit You?

If you are looking to improve your overall health, and your athletic performance, you might want to take a closer look at creatine. Remember, this acid is produced naturally by the body to increase the phosphocreatine in your muscles. Adding more can produce more ATP, which is an important energy source for lifting and high-intensity workouts.

Healthline outlines a few more ways that creatine increases lean muscle, helping you get more pumped.

• Increase your training: creatine may allow you to boost your workload during a single session. This is an important component in enabling long-term muscle growth.
• Strengthen cell signaling: just in case you are not familiar with this term, this is the process that assists with muscle repair and grows new muscles. In other words, it’s how you get ripped.
• Raises levels of anabolic hormones: creatine may be responsible for raising hormone levels such as IGF-1 which is responsible for stimulating somatic growth. It is also a mediator of GH-independent anabolic responses in various cells and tissues.
• Hydrates cells: we all know the importance of hydration; this also applies to our cells. Creatine can increase the water content in your muscle cells. This, in turn, might result in increased cell volume which plays a role in muscle growth.
• Less protein breakdown: you probably work hard to get enough protein in your diet. Creatine may help with that by increasing your total muscle mass which may reduce muscle breakdown.
• Reduce myostatin: this unwanted protein is responsible for slowing and inhibiting new muscle growth. Creatine supplements can reduce these levels thus increasing your growth potential.

In a nutshell, creatine provides your muscles with more energy. It may lead to positive changes in cell function that in turn, will increase your muscle grown. In addition, creatine may give you more brainpower. It can increase the phosphocreatine stores in the brain. This may have positive effects on your brain health and help prevent neurological disease.

Creatine Facts and Studies

Facts
Examine.com is a website that provides information, benefits, effects, and important facts regarding supplements. Their summary of creatine confirms it is a molecule produced from amino acids. It does in fact store high-energy phosphates that are transferred to ADP, regenerated as ATP, the main energy carrier in the human body. This specific energy production is crucial in intense physical and mental activities.

It is also confirmed that the main benefits of creatine are improved strength and power during resistance training. The best news is that Examine.com believes creatine is well-researched, has notable effects, and when used along with resistance exercise, may increase lean body mass.

Creatine has been tested in other areas as well. In anaerobic running studies, there are some mixed results. The overall consensus is that it may generate a small improvement in running performance. In the cognitive department, it also displayed benefits. There were positive results in reducing mental fatigue and working memory.
Medical News Today gives a list of fast facts about creatine.

• Creatine is used by athletes for assisting high-intensity training
• Body mass be shown to increase with the use of creatine
• Creatine is being used in studies regarding depression and Parkinson’s disease
• Shown to build muscle, creatine may be used to treat muscular dystrophy
• Some evidence suggests creatine can boost memory
• Moderate doses of creatine can be safe

Studies
As with any new supplement you are considering taking, you want to know it has been researched with an unbiased truth. Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements. It has proven to be effective with regular exercise by producing more energy during intense workouts.

For the full list of references on the creatine studies check out Examine.com’s scientific research section. The Human Effect Matrix is a compilation of human studies that report on the effects of creatine on your body and the strength of those effects. Here are some of the results based on multiple studies.

(Report Order) Outcome, Magnitude of Effect, Consistency of Results

• Muscle Creatine Content – strong – very high. Creatine has shown to increase muscular creatine levels. There is some variability in the increase and some nonresponders.

• Power Output -strong – very high. Shows a 12 to 20% improvement in strength and up to a 26% increase in power in a training regimen where creatine monohydrate is used.

• Total Body Hydration – notable – very high. Increase shown in water weight in the skeletal muscle tissue after taking the creatine supplement.

• Anaerobic Running Capacity – minor – high. Did show some indication of an increased anaerobic cardiovascular capacity.

• Lean Mass – minor – very high. Lean mass building properties were indicated, but it was difficult to assess because of water weight gains.

• Fatigue Resistance – minor – moderate. Some evidence of fatigue reduction was noted.

• Muscle Endurance – minor – high. Creatine was given a “somewhat effective” rating.

• Memory – (N/S) – very high – studies do not reflect the effects of sleep deprivation.

Creatine Safety, Side Effects. and Precautions

Safety
Taken at the recommended dosage, creatine has been labeled as “likely safe”. Those who chose to take creatine in high doses are given a “possibly safe” recommendation. The possible complications are associated with the kidneys, liver, and heart. No negative effects on these organs have been proven.

Fourteen studies were conducted on the safety of the creatine supplement in 2003 as reported by Medical News Today. The conclusion was that there appear to be no serious health risks when creatine is taken at the suggested dosage. The literature reported that creatine may enhance exercise performance in those individuals looking to maximize single effort or repetitive exercises.

In 2007, it was reported by the International Study of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) that the use of creatine is effective, ethical, and safe. It was their recommendation that athletes consider using creatine supplements to increase their fat and protein intake.

ISSN added an update to their creatine findings in 2017. They concluded that using creatine is acceptable when following the recommended dosage. It should be used short-term for competitive athletes who maintain a proper diet.

The FDA has not given its approval as of yet on the safety and efficacy of creatine even though most of the reported dangers of creatine are unfounded. Since there are so many performance-enhancing drugs with bad reputations on the market, creatine has sometimes been equated with these products.

Creatine supplements do increase the level of creatine in the body which can be a marker of poor kidney function. This increase, however, is not due to any type of kidney damage. It is simply an indication that more creatine is present in the body’s system. Other than the symptoms of gastrointestinal issues if creatine is used in excess, it is unlikely to be unsafe for human consumption in the proper doses.

Side Effects
An article written in 2019 by Healthline specifically addresses the safety and side effects associated with creatine. Author Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN, believes creatine is the top performance supplement available on the market.

Mawer dismisses the idea that creatine is bad for your health. He believes that the claims which indicate creatine may cause cramping, weight gain, liver, kidney, and digestive issues, are unfounded. His article presents an evidence-based review on the safety and side effects of creatine.

Some of the purported side effects of creatine include:

• Kidney damage
• Liver damage
• Kidney stones
• Weight gain
• Bloating
• Dehydration
• Muscle cramps
• Digestive problems
• Compartment syndrome
• Rhabdomyolysis

Claims that creatine is an anabolic steroid are untrue. The ISSN gives it approval on creatine and has recommended it as being a safe sports supplement. Leading researchers have spent several decades researching creatine and say it is one of the safest supplements currently on the market.

There have been creatine users who have reported that when taken without enough water, creatine can cause stomach cramping. When too much creatine is taken, it can cause diarrhea or nausea. These symptoms can be reduced by spreading the doses out throughout the day and taking it with plenty of water and with meals.

The side effect of dehydration when using creatine may be related to the fact that creatine alters your body’s stored water when it forces water into cell muscles. The shift in cellular water is so minor that no research can substantiate the claims regarding dehydration.

A three-year study was conducted on college students using creatine. Those taking it had fewer instances of muscle cramps, muscle injuries, and dehydration. They also missed fewer workout sessions because of illness and injury than when not taking creatine.

When creatine was studied during exercise in hot weather, a condition known to increase cramping and dehydration, after a 35-minute cycle in 99-degree F. heat, creatine showed no indications of adverse effects as compared to the placebo. Based on current evidence, there is no indication creatine causes dehydration or cramping.

Research has also been conducted regarding the side effect of body weight gain. After a week of taking high doses of creatine, subjects reported a two to six-pound increase. It was not in body fat. The weight gain was attributed to increased water in the muscles.

Over a longer-term study, creatine did show a greater increase in weight over non-users. Again, the weight was not due to an increase in body fat. The increase was due to muscle growth. As positive muscle growth in athletes is considered a positive effect, and one of the reasons this product is used, the type of weight gain one experiences when taking creatine should not be considered a negative side effect.

Precautions
It has been suggested that people with kidney disease should not use creatine. Caution is also recommended for people who suffer from diabetes or anyone who is currently taking blood sugar supplements.

Since the safety of creatine has not been confirmed with pregnant or lactating women, it is advised that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid using this supplement.

Use caution when taking creatine if you are in a sport where weight gain will be an issue. While the weight gain experienced with taking creatine is mostly due to better hydrated muscle cells, and in increase in muscle mass, it may have an effect on athletes aiming for a particular weight. It may also have a negative impact for activities where center of gravity plays a role.

Creatine used at high does come with the following cautions recommended by the Mayo Clinic.

• Individuals with diabetes or hypoglycemia could experience lower blood glucose
• Those with hypertension could experience raised blood pressure
• Caution should be used if you have or experience: deep vein thrombosis, electrolyte imbalances or disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, irregular heartbeat, kidney stones, liver disease, migraines, low blood pressure, bipolar disorder
• Since creatine is a bioactive substance, it should be used with caution

While most people indulge in an occasional energy drink, it is highly recommended to take precaution. It is not safe to consume energy drinks when using creatine. Many energy drinks currently on the market use a combination of creatine, ephedra, and caffeine. A high combination of these elements could increase the risk of a stroke.
Since creatine affects the body’s water levels, taking creatine in combination with diuretics could cause hydration.

Precautions should be taken when combining creatine with any drug that affects the kidneys. An example of this is probenecid, a gout treatment. A drug such as this taken with creatine could cause kidney damage. As with any supplement, consult your doctor about taking creatine if you are on any prescription medication.

Creatine’s Most Popular Uses

Medical News Today reports that creatine is one of the leading supplements taken in the U.S. today. It is widely used among athletes who participate in football, ice hockey, baseball, wrestling, and lacrosse. Found in sports nutrition products and sport drinks, it is one of the most common athletic supplements.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common uses of creatine.

Athletic Performance
If you are an athlete looking to improve your athletic performance, you may want to consider a creatine supplement. Supplements can be very effective in improving high-intensity training. The basis for taking creatine is that it produces more energy for the body to use during training. This allows an athlete to train harder and achieve better results.

The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine published an article in 2003. They reported after a meta-analysis of creatine, athletes looking to improve performance during short durations of powerful activity, may see improvement. It may be especially effective for those training with repetitive bouts.

A review in 2012 arrived at the following conclusions regarding the use of creatine:

• may improve resistance training for strength and body mass
• boost the quality of high-intensity and intermittent speed training
• increases endurance in an aerobic activity that lasts for more than 150 seconds
• can improve strength, mass, power, and neurological function

Body Mass
Greater body mass and muscle content have been associated with an increase in creatine. Studies have suggested that creatine does not build muscle, is simply allows muscle tissue to hold more water.

The possibility does exist that muscle mass can be increased as a result of being able to work harder while exercising when taking creatine as a supplement.

Muscle Growth
The topic of creatine’s ability to speed up muscle growth is gaining momentum. It has been touted as the world’s most beneficial supplement for adding muscle mass. Reports have indicated that taking creatine for just 5 to 7 days may increase muscle size and lean body weight.

This increase has been attributed to the increase in water content in the muscles. However, the longer-term effects suggest creatine increases muscle fiber growth. It accomplishes this by signaling biological pathways and boosting an athletes overall performance, which leads to muscle growth.

Studies have shown the following results. Over a six-week training regimen, participants using creatine added 4.4 pounds more of muscle mass than the control group. In addition, a review of creatine demonstrated clear results for increased muscle mass during a regular training regimen as compared to those training with the same regimen not using creatine.

Injury and Damage Repair
Research on creatine has suggested that it may be useful in preventing muscle damage. It may also help the recovery process after an injury is sustained.

Creatine may also have antioxidant effects following resistance training and intense sessions. Some other benefits may include reduced muscle cramping as well as playing a role in brain injury rehab.

Deficiency Syndromes
Athletes who suffer from deficiency syndromes my find relief with creatine. Since creatine is a natural substance, it may have a role in a range of body functions. The amount will vary depending on the individual’s muscle mass and muscle fiber. Oral creatine supplements may relieve the following conditions, however, there is no proven documentation to substantiate these claims.

• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
• Congestive heart failure (CHF)
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Fibromyalgia
• Muscle atrophy
• Diabetes
• Depression
• Osteoarthritis

While there is no evidence to support creatine is an effective treatment for these conditions, oral creatine may relieve some of the symptoms. Supplements are now being taken to increase the level of creatine in the brain. The desired result is that seizures will be reduced, movement disorders will improve, and improvement in some of the issues associated with autism.

Creatine Bottom Line

Creatine is the most popular sports performance supplement currently available on the market. Despite all the research done on creatine and the benefits that have been reported, some people are still afraid that it’s bad for their health.

Some of the claims against creatine include dehydration, weight gain, cramping, and digestive issues. None of these symptoms have any researched-based evidence.

Extremely positive reviews of creatine have been provided by reputable sports associations and health organizations. The International Society of Sports Nutrition has given its endorsement of this product, deeming it one of the safest and most beneficial sports supplements on the market. The Mayo Clinic has also studied creatine and found it safe and beneficial.

Other associations such as the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association allow creatine to be used by their athletes. It is widely used among sports professionals ranging from ice hockey to lacrosse.

Creatine is one of the most heavily researched supplements on the market. Leading researchers have been conducting studies on creatine for decades. One such study looked at 52 health markers after the participants took creatine for 21 months. There were no adverse effects from any of the participants.

In addition to its uses for athletes in building and repairing muscles, creatine has been used to treat diseases, health issues, and brain disorders. These range from neuromuscular disorders, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, concussions, and muscle loss.

Creatine is naturally produced in your body and mainly stored in your muscles. It can be obtained in its natural form by eating meat and fish. Diet and natural levels may be increased, especially during high-intensity workouts, by taking creatine supplements.

With over 500 studies to support its safety and effectiveness, creatine supplements in the recommended dosage can be taken with confidence. The benefits will include better muscles and performance as well as promote overall health. It may even increase mental performance. Creatine is one of the safest, cheapest, and most effective supplements available. Give it a try!

pre-workout for women

Pre-Workout For Women: The Pros, Cons & Everything In Between

Bodybuilders were already on the scene by the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s that Muscle Beach became overrun with juice heads. Interestingly enough, the moniker “juice heads” stems from pre-workout supplements. With an entire group of people earning a label based on what they drink, rather than what they do, it’s safe to say that pre-workout drinks closely trailed the boom of bodybuilders.

The entire lives of these men revolved around how pumped they could get their muscles. Admirers and manufacturers, alike, were taking notice. With big names like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva crediting the success of their workouts to coffee, it wasn’t long before somebody concocted the liquid gold that would give these men even greater gains.

In 1982, the world was introduced to the first multi-ingredient pre-workout supplement (MIPS), Ultimate Orange. The company found wild success amongst gym-goers looking to beef up their routine. Where icons had previously boasted that coffee fueled their workouts, they couldn’t deny that Ultimate Orange gave their workouts an even greater boost.

How could it not? Coffee was just good old plant matter and caffeine. Ultimate Orange, however, contained far more than caffeine. The inclusion of ephedra, which is essentially a form of speed, ultimately caused the manufacturer to find themselves in the midst of multiple lawsuits by the early 2000s.

Sure, ephedra was giving these men and women all the energy their bodies could muster to motor through a workout. However, it turns out that there’s only so much watered-down speed that your body can handle before it starts having adverse effects. Some who had been drinking the liquid crack for nearly two decades learned first-hand that heart attacks were one of the most severe side effects of continually ingesting ephedra.

Alas, the FDA finally stepped in, putting ephedra on the list of banned substances. Now, years later, Ultimate Orange sill thrives while adhering to the ever-changing rules of the FDA. So while you can still get your hands on the MIPS that started it all, you would be hard-pressed to find an ephedra-containing formula nowadays.

Pre-Workouts Aren’t Just For Men

With new research being conducted concerning how MIPS affects men and women differently, manufacturers are now starting to cater to women, or at least try to. With there being so many different formulas, many containing undisclosed amounts of ingredients, it is nearly impossible for scientists to run the proper tests and to conduct the necessary research.

However, with the tidbit of research that has been done regarding MIPS, along with the knowledge of which vitamins and nutrients women need, manufacturers have a pretty good starting point.

Most formulas are engineered to cater to the masses. What this means is that most pre-workouts for women are intended to aid in maintaining a healthy weight or burning fight while maintaining muscle. Alternatively, the majority of men who use MIPS are attempting to bulk up and become more vascular.

How Women Benefit

The ways in which you can benefit from your pre-workout supplement are multitudinous. Perhaps, after reading this, you’ll decide to stick with a regular formula that works for both men and women. If that’s the case, you will likely experience multiple benefits including:

  • Rapid recovery following workouts
  • Reduced rate of exercise-related injury
  • Improvement of blood circulation
  • Accelerated fat burning
  • Combatted fatigue
  • Better focus
  • Increases in strength and endurance
  • Overall improvement in exercise performance

What’s even more exciting is that with formulas now changing for women, women can receive even further benefits from their pre-workout supplements. If you opt for a formula specially formulated for women, you may experience these additional benefits:

  • Accelerated recovery while still in the “cool down” phase of your workout
  • Maintenance of thermogenic metabolism
  • Accelerated fat loss paired with muscle maintenance
  • Healthier hair, skin and nails

Formulated to Fuel the Modern Woman

You can thank a variety of ingredients, and oftentimes a certain combination of them, for all the benefits you gain when using MIPS. For example, chromium and biotin make a great pair in MIPS for women, as this combo works to burn fat and preserve muscle mass.

Many companies will lower the dosage of certain ingredients in formulas for women. While this may seem like a rip-off, it’s done with good intentions. The theory here is that women will get all of the fat-burning benefits, without becoming too bulky or too vascular.

Manufacturers will also often add additional ingredients, just for women. However, these ingredients can differ greatly amongst different formulas. Some of the additional ingredients you want to see in your pre-workout supplement are:

L-Glutamine:
It’s the most abundant amino acid created by your body, and with just reason. L-Glutamine has the ability to contribute to the production of varying minerals in your body, including glucose, protein and other amino acids.

Aside from that, L-Glutamine is your small intestine’s primary source of metabolic fuel. It also works to protect your gut and keep you free of infections like sepsis.

Vitamin C:
Here’s a vitamin that you’re likely all too familiar with taking, particularly when you’re feeling a little under the weather. But did you know that humans are one of the only animals unable to create this vitamin naturally within our bodies?

You know that Vitamin C is important when you’re sick, but maybe you didn’t realize how critical it is to weight loss and muscle maintenance. Not only does vitamin C play a critical role in metabolism, but it is also necessary for the production of L-carnitine and collagen, which is required for proper wound healing.

Biotin
Biotin is one of many B vitamins that you want to look for in your pre-workout. B vitamins, in general, are an excellent thing to have packed into your MIPS.

By now, you’ve likely come across more than one ad featuring the latest Biotin product, proclaiming that it can bring new life to your hair, skin and nails. As it turns out, this vitamin can also bring a boost to your workout. It plays a key role in the metabolism of fatty acids and thermogenic metabolism during workouts.

Chromium
Chromium is a mineral that is concerning to some, and rightfully so. Hexavalent chromium, a form of industrial pollution, is toxic. Trivalent chromium is what is found in some food sources and dietary supplements, and is actually quite beneficial to human life.

The latter form of chromium has proven to enhance insulin. This can make a huge difference in your workout regimen, as Chromium can greatly assist in metabolizing fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

L-Carnitine:
L-Carnitine is a compound naturally produced by our body that lends itself to physical health in a major way. L-Carnitine has a leading role when it comes to energy metabolism and fatty acid oxidation.

This miracle supplement can nearly do it all. Studies are now showing exactly how beneficial this can be to workouts. It has the capability to increase your maximum oxygen consumption, speed up recovery time, and protect from and assist in the recovery of muscle injuries.

You may have noticed that none of these ingredients are detrimental to a man. However, the reason that these key ingredients are added is often to increase fat burning. This will be a welcomed gift for women who struggle with stubborn belly fat that just won’t budge no matter what they throw at it.

In addition to these bonus ingredients, there are quite a few components that you want to ensure are in your pre-workout supplement. While it would be difficult to find a pre-workout including every single item in this list, it certainly shouldn’t be hard to find multiple formulas containing the majority of the best ingredients.

Caffeine:
While some are too sensitive to overstimulation and choose a pre-workout that is caffeine-free, the majority of consumers should consider a formula featuring caffeine as a primary ingredient. The reason that caffeine is so often a major component of MIPS is due to how quickly it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Research indicates that caffeine reaches its peak about an hour after consumption, meaning that you can start noticing its effects on your workout just 30 minutes after you crack open your pre-workout drink.

Other than being known to burn fat and improve cognitive function, this popular drug has also proven to give people a performance boost in the areas of endurance, power and resistance.

Nitric Oxide Agents:
As is true with so many other vitamins, minerals and molecules, nitric oxide is self-generated by your body. Its primary job is to improve circulation by widening the muscular lining of your blood vessels. If you frequent the gym, then you know good and well how important it is to have great circulation.

Since agents are what you’re looking for, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for a couple of the ingredients that can help generate nitric oxide in your system. Arginine and citrulline are the two key players in the pre-workout game. Other companies include a dietary nitrate in their formula, which really stretches out your endurance during high-intensity workouts.

Amino Acids:
Be aware that some companies will generalize amino acids and put just that on the label. Other manufacturers include branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). It’s true that BCAAs aren’t bad, but it’s also true that they provide little benefit to your workout.

Taurine, specifically, is the key amino acid you want to see on the label. Why though? As it turns out, taurine has antioxidant and ergogenic effects, in addition to having a positive metabolic effect.

Just a little goes a long way. You only need 1.5 grams of taurine to see a significant difference during your fat-burning sessions.

Betaine:
Betaine, also known as trimethyglycine, derives directly from another amino acid called glycine. Just like arginine and citrulline, betaine raises the levels of nitric oxide in your system. In addition, it is also capable of increasing creatine synthesis and promotes homeostasis.

If that weren’t enough to sell you on what a powerful ingredient betaine is, take into consideration that it also has considerable effects on energy and strength. The recommended dose of betaine is 1.25-2.5 grams per day.

Note: Most pre-workout supplements do not contain a full dose of betaine. You may consider searching for a specialty formula or supplementing with betaine.

Beta-alanine:
The magic isn’t in the β-alanine, it’s in the carnosine. There would be no carnosine without β-alanine, as it acts as a precursor.

Carnosine’s job is to act as a sort of muscle buffer, which is crucial to getting through a workout where the goal is to max out on weight. To ensure that you’re doing all you can to keep your muscles from tapping out, consider opting for a supplement that provides at least four grams of β-alanine.

Creatine:
Following caffeine, creatine is one of the leading ingredients in most MIPS formulas. Sure, just like every other ingredient in this list, creatine can give your workouts a boost. However, creatine also offers an abundance of benefits to your general health.

Because of this, creatine is one of the most popular ingredients found in pre-workout supplements.

As research proves, regularly supplementing with creatine can greatly increase the amount of creatine within your muscles. As far as workouts go, creatine has been credited with speeding up recovery, improving exercise performance, preventing exercise-related injuries, and aiding in thermoregulation.

Perhaps the greatest benefits to be gained from creatine supplements are the ones to your general health. Creatine is so powerful that it often has positive effects on serious health issues including heart ischemia and neurodegenerative diseases.

Should Women Take Creatine?

The real question is ‘why wouldn’t they?’ You know that creatine can boost your workout performance, and even that creatine can positively affect certain health issues. What you don’t realize is that you’ve just started to scrape the surface when it comes to all of creatine’s benefits.

While creatine comes with a lengthy list of pros, some worry about the threats that chronic supplementation can pose. Unfortunately, a few horror stories took root and now some consumers question the safety of this supplement. You can rest assured knowing that most of these claims have little to no basis in fact.

Pros Cons
Increases the concentration of
creatine within the muscular system;
Causes weight gain;
Enhances strength and the recovery period following a workout; Can contribute to, or worsen, issues with renal failure;
Assists with thermoregulation; Some consumers experience muscle
cramps; and
Improves workout performance; Occasionally causes gastrointestinal disturbances.
Aids in injury prevention and
rehabilitation;
Positively effects symptoms of varying neurodegenerative diseases and fibromyalgia;
Acts as an anti-depressant for
women;
Significantly impacts cognitive function;
Provides spinal cord
neuroprotection;
Improves overall brain and heart function;
Has antioxidant properties;
Works to lower cholesterol;
Reduces fattiness of the liver; and
Minimizes bone loss.

Does Creatine Affect You Sexually?

You’ll notice that sexual effects are absent from the above list. While it’s certainly true that a handful of male users have complaints of their libido being negatively affected by creatine, there is zero scientific evidence supporting the claim. Granted, this could be due to the lack of studies carried out in this specific area.

When you weigh all of the many benefits of creatine against the few potential side effects, perhaps you will be more inclined to take these users’ claims at face value. It’s important to remember that individuals experiencing low libido may be showing symptoms that are related to the use of other supplements, herbs or drugs.

Women, specifically, have not reported experiences with low libido when supplementing with creatine.

Can Creatine Affect Your Period?

The short answer here is no. Since creatine is naturally produced in the body, it is not directly detrimental to your health. However, creatine’s relationship to the female menstrual cycle is an interesting one.

There is no evidence supporting that creatine affects your period. Rather, different stages of your menstrual cycle can affect your creatine production and activity.

What’s even more fascinating is that creatine has an anti-depressant effect on females. These effects are further strengthened when ovarian hormone levels are raised.

Pre-Workouts, Fat Burning and Weight Loss

After that in-depth synopsis on the wonderful powers of creatine, let’s not forget that that’s just one ingredient that makes up pre-workout supplements. In all reality, pre-workouts are packed full of ingredients that are capable of providing a number of services.

Some formulas are designed to help you bulk up your muscle mass while others are designed to burn through fat and shred weight from your “problem areas”.

If your goal is weight loss, consider investing in a formula that contains a couple of these powerful fat-burning ingredients:

  • African mango
  • Caffeine
  • Chitosan
  • Green coffee bean extract
  • White kidney bean

Pre-Workout Research & Studies

Due to the vast array of pre-workout ingredients and the endless combinations of them, researching MIPS isn’t an exact science. While there is an abundance of studies and research regarding the specific ingredients, it’s tough for scientists to get a thorough read on the complex combinations of all existing pre-workouts.

That being said, there are a handful of studies supporting the claim that pre-workout supplements can be a benefit to all. One study that has been run by multiple professionals questions the effects of MIPS on muscle endurance and mood. The National Institute of Health is just one source to publish their findings that pre-workout supplements do, indeed, have a positive effect on both of these areas.

Other studies take a very honest look at pre-workout supplements, revealing the benefits along with the shortcomings.

The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that while caffeine-containing MIPS may help give fatigue the boot, they have little to no impact on strength. In practice, this translates to consumers being able to lift the same amount of weight, while successfully increasing the number of repetitions they can complete during any given workout.

Interestingly enough, researchers are finding that pre-workout supplements have a tendency to target a specific area of your body during your workout. When conducting two entirely separate studies, both Michael Cameron and Andrew Jagim found evidence that supported each other’s claim.

The ending results confirmed that consuming MIPS prior to a workout allowed the consumers to maximize their repetitions only when exercising an isolated region. As it turned out, both men and women saw an improvement in number of bench press repetitions, but their repetitions of back squats remained unaffected.

One additional study supported their claim while verifying that varying regions of the body could also benefit from pre-workout supplementation. It was curious that these participants benefited in a different area. While they achieved an almost insignificant increase in bench press repetitions, just the opposite was true when it came time to do the leg press.

The Rarity of Research

Sadly, research surrounding the safety and benefits of pre-workout supplements for women is scarce. However, researchers have revealed a study in which female participants saw an increase in both resting metabolism and diastolic blood pressure immediately following the consumption of a pre-workout. The regular inclusion of MIPS prior to workouts also improved post-workout focus, anaerobic activity and upper body muscular endurance amongst these individuals.

Atypical Adverse Effects

As is true with any other caffeinated beverage, pre-workout drinks are known to cause the jitters for more than a handful of consumers. Often, the adverse effect is due to an excessive amount of a particular ingredient or the pairing of additional dietary supplements.

Because there is an endless combination of ingredients, those who chronically ingest pre-workout supplements could potentially be putting themselves at risk for some pretty serious health risks. Thankfully, the following adverse effects are experienced rarely:

  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Glucose intolerance
  • High blood pressure

Note: Both ephedra and DMAA are FDA-banned substances. DMAA can also be listed as ‘dimethylamylamine’ or methylhexanamine’. If your pre-workout supplement contains either of these ingredients, you are at a much higher risk of experiencing extreme adverse effects.

All Aboard the Bandwagon to Better Workouts and Better Results

The research is out and the verdict is in: the addition of pre-workout supplements presents far more rewards than risks. With the recent introduction of formulas designed specifically for women, this statement is made truer.

If you choose to include MIPS as part of your daily routine, consider that what works for your friend down the street may not work for you. Be sure to choose a product with your end goal in mind, but also with your overall health in mind.

If your weight has reached a plateau or you just can’t seem to drag yourself out of that rut at the gym, consider adding a fat-burning and endurance-boosting pre-workout beverage. Who knows? If you’ve been eating clean and sticking to your exercise routine, this may be just the boost that your workout and your body needs.