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Why all women should consider supplementing with creatine

Why all women should consider supplementing with creatine

Creatine could be a game changing supplement for all women in perimenopause / age 35 plus. Current research shows that creatine can be majorly beneficial in helping women maintain muscle, good body composition, mood, energy, and overall health.

But what is it exactly?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in your muscle cells that helps them produce energy, particularly during high-intensity activities such as heavy lifting and interval sprints. It’s produced in your liver, kidneys, and pancreas from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. It supports the uptake of glucose into cells of working muscles, the brain, and the heart. It plays a crucial role in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a naturally occurring compound that fuels the functioning of every cell of the body.

Your body uses creatine everyday to fuel your brain, heart, muscles, and other organs, and you can only make so much of it, so your stores need to be replenished on a daily basis. You produce about 1 gram of creatine per day in your body, and it can be obtained through food. The best dietary sources are meat and fish and the typical carnivorous diet provides about 1-2 grams of creatine daily. Vegetarian and vegan diets provide much less.

Women store less of it than men

Five percent of the body’s creatine stores are held in the brain and your muscles hold the other 95 percent. At full potential, the body can hold around 160 grams of creatine. However, women only store 70-80 percent of the amount of creatine that males store, furthermore women are known to store less in the brain, particularly in the areas that control cognition, mood, memory, and emotion.

Thankfully we can fix this deficit through supplementation with creatine!

It’s important to know that once creatine supplementation stops, your body stores can revert to their typical storage levels after as little as a week, and for many people it can take just 30 days for their stores to end up where they started.

Why can it be so helpful in perimenopause?

There’s a growing amount of evidence to show that creatine not only helps increase strength, power and athletic performance in women, but that it’s also good for your cognitive function (brain health) and mood – two big areas impacted by the change in hormonal landscape in your 40s. I have personally been supplementing creatine for over two years now and have found it helpful, it’s definitely something I’ll be doing long term.

Perimenopause influences the need for creatine

Changes in oestrogen and progesterone occurring from around aged 35 right up to menopause, may impact the synthesis, storage, and bioavailability of creatine, making supplementing with creatine an important consideration from your mid-late 30s.

During perimenopause, oestrogen can fluctuate wildly at times, with the sharper highs and lows impacting mood and cognition (e.g., brain fog, mental fatigue, headaches, forgetfulness), and research finds improvements in cognition and mental fatigue with creatine supplementation.

The perimenopause shifts in oestrogen and progesterone also impact body composition, for example it’s common for women to gain extra body fat, particularly around the middle, and lose muscle mass. Over time, this can bring significant negative impacts on metabolism and metabolic health as well as a woman’s overall experience of perimenopause and menopause. If creatine can support muscle growth and strength then it can play an important health-protective role in counteracting this.

Creatine for postmenopause

A 2021 study in the journal Nutrients, called “Creatine Supplementation in Women’s Health: A Lifespan Perspective” concluded that when combined with resistance training, creatine further improves body composition (muscle to body fat ratio) and bone mineral density, particularly in post-menopausal women. Creatine supplementation has also been shown to improve mood and cognition, which again are of particular concern postmenopause.

Creatine for building muscle and improving strength and performance

In your muscle cells, creatine is stored in a form called creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine (PCr). When you need to generate extra strength and force, such as for a heavy deadlift or squat, a super fast sprint or other high intensity interval training, and plyometric work (where speed and power are needed), your body splits the phosphate molecule away from the rest of the compound, which it uses to create the important energy-giving molecule ATP.

Having plenty of creatine stored in your muscle cells can help you lift heavier, sprint faster and jump higher in your workouts so you can enjoy, and benefit from, continually improved strength, power and muscle growth. To ensure stores remain plentiful, supplementation is likely needed in women, because remember, women naturally have 70 to 80 percent lower creatine stores than men.

Creatine for cognition and mood

Low mood and depression rates can increase during perimenopause and decreases in mental clarity, focus and memory are also common. Another 2021 study, in the journal Nutrients, found that creatine supplementation may improve cognitive processing, particularly where creatine stores in cells of the brain are low, which for example could be caused by acute stressors such as exercise or sleep deprivation, or chronic, pathologic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

A review 2019 study in the journal Biomolecules, suggests that creatine supplementation may be able to work as an antidepressant agent. The review found that women with a major depressive disorder who took 5g of creatine alongside their antidepressant medication responded twice as fast to their meds, experiencing remission of their depressive disorder twice as fast as the women who just took the antidepressant alone.

How should you supplement creatine?

Studies show that to increase stores of creatine in the muscle quicker (e.g., at first), a loading dose of 5 grams taken 4 times a day for 5 days is needed, followed then by 3-5 grams daily on an ongoing basis to maintain plentiful stores.

For mood and cognitive health, studies suggest a dose of 5-10 grams per day may be more beneficial. I personally take 5g everyday and I also eat a diet rich in quality animal protein. The most-researched creatine supplement form for women is creatine monohydrate, specifically as CreaPure. I currently get mine from here. It’s tasteless and mixes well simply with water or added into a smoothie. Use it daily anytime that suits you including pre or post workout.

PS.

I teach exactly how to support your body and mind in your 40s (and beyond) in my Thrive Through Perimenopause Course, which is now an ‘evergreen’ programme! This means that you can join the programme ANYTIME and get started on the course content straight away, and have access to the private Facebook group and the weekly live group calls. There is a live option. (weekly group calls) and a self study option. Click here to learn more and to join! If 1-2-1 support is a better fit for you, click here to learn more about how I work and the options.

Hi, I'm Francesca

I’m a Registered Nutritional Therapist who helps womens in their 40s find vibrant health and vitality, and thrive through perimenopause and beyond.

With nearly 10 years of experience working with hundreds of people, I empower and support women to support their bodies and hormones for a smooth and happy ride in their 4os.

Through our work together, clients have improved their energy, their periods and cycles, their mood, sleep, brain fog and digestion, and learned how to better manage their weight.

I am here to help you get back to YOU so you can have a fantastic time in your 40s.

My signature nutrition and lifestyle coaching approach to supporting women with their health and wellbeing is refreshing, down-to-earth and realistic.

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