Question: Is creatine safe for women to use after a workout? Are there any side effects to taking creatine?
Answer: Short answer, yes. Creatine is safe for women to use before, during and after exercise. But, before we start sucking down this substance it would be of great value to identify some key points regarding this misunderstood supplement, to become educated on the topic. Most people go into supplementation without knowing a thing about the substance, stimulant or whatever other foreign product they are about to put into their body. My question is, aren’t you curious as to what ingredients are being put into your body?
What is Creatine?
Without getting too physiological and trying to keep things very basic and understandable, creatine aids in fueling our body during physical activity. While performing low-intensity activity, our bodies use glycogen (sugar) as the main fuel source; carbohydrates stored in our muscle. On the other hand while performing high-powered activities, our bodies use a different energy system in which our body gets its fuel from ATP, the main intracellular energy source, and creatine phosphate. Essentially, creatine replenishes our muscles with ATP so we can produce functional movements that help us power through our workouts.
How Does Creatine Affect the Body?
With intense and powerful movements during exercise, ATP gets broken down into ADP. This is what allows our muscles to contract and produce a power movement. As activity continues, our muscles need to continue to produce energy in order to sustain exercise. This occurs by a “refueling” of our energy stores by the conversion of ADP back to ATP (ADP + creatine phosphate = ATP + creatine). It’s important to understand, however, that the rate of ATP production and supply of ATP is dependent upon three different energy systems used during specific exercise and/or activity. Very high-intensity, short-duration (ATP-CP/phosphagen system) exercise lasting approximately 10 seconds primarily uses ATP and creatine phosphate as fuel and reproduces ATP rapidly, but only in limited supply. High-intensity, moderate-duration (anaerobic/glycolytic system) exercise lasting between 30 seconds and 120 seconds will reproduce more ATP than the above, but will take a longer time to do so. Any exercise lasting longer than 5 minutes (aerobic/oxidative system) uses glycogen (sugar) as the main fuel source and reproduces a large amount of ATP but at a very low turnover rate.
Who Should Supplement Creatine?
With all that being said, let’s keep in mind that ATP and creatine are utilized as a fuel source mainly in high-powered and short-duration exercise. Athletes, male or female, that have an extremely vigorous training schedule may consider a creatine substance, in order to have a readily available supply in the tank. I would not recommend taking a creatine formula if your main goal is to increase your cardio, improve endurance and/or core strength. You very well could, but you would be wasting your money due to the physiological demands surrounding the lack of creatine needed for aerobic conditioning. Also, if your energy levels are sky high during your workouts, why would you feel the need to tamper with that? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What are the Side Effects?
In clinical studies referenced in the Journal of Exercise Physiology (Kreider RB 1998) Creatine Supplementation: Analysis of Ergogenic Value, Medical Safety and Concerns, the only side effect reported in preoperative and postoperative subjects, athletes and non athletes, was weight gain.
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