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Women exercisers or athletes and supplemental creatine use
For females who enjoy weightlifting or want to explore its benefits, there can be tough rows to hoe. The weightlifting rooms of most gyms are bastions of testosterone, you don't seem to be taken seriously unless you're loading three 45-lb. plates on each end of your barbell, and there's still that old myth floating about that you'll become a muscle-bound version of Arnold Schwarzenegger and lose whatever degree of femininity you might possess. If that's not enough, trying to find accurate and reliable information on supplements can be near impossible. While advertisements on supplements proliferate in all the fitness magazines geared to women, there are few objective articles published on the subject. Hence, this article to get you up to date on an oft-touted supplement, creatine.
Creatine is a completely natural compound. It is both made in the body - the liver, kidneys, and pancreas - and is found in many foods, particularly meats and oily fish. Thus, its cannot be banned by any sport authority, including the NCAA. Care must be taken, however, that any creatine consumed is not packaged and sold as part of a compound mixture that might include banned substances.
Creatine helps weightlifters in many ways. The supplement helps to synthesize muscle protein - increasing muscle mass by making muscle fibers larger and stronger - and minimizes protein breakdown, all because of its ability to strongly enhance muscle energy reserves and hydrate muscle cells. For this reason, many references on creatine emphasize an overall weight gain due both to increased muscle mass and fluid retention.
Well, here's the good news: creatine works very differently in women than in men. In general, women achieve the muscle building benefits of the compound without adding weight. As reported in Oxygen and according to Jeffrey R. Stout, PhD, Director of the Metabolic and Body Composition Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma, ingestion of creatine "allows you to train at a higher intensity and a higher volume." This is why women's use of this supplement results in "increased muscular strength, muscular power and lean muscle mass."
Other researchers at the University of Oklahoma also demonstrated in a blind study that creatine improved their anaerobic threshold by 16%, as opposed to the 10% increase noted in the placebo group. This increase applies to the maximum exercise amount an athlete can perform before lactic acid production, thereby increasing exercise time, burning more calories, increasing lean muscle mass, and increasing the overall baseline metabolic rate.
Creatine can be purchased in powder, pill or liquid form and ranges in price enormously, depending upon other ingredients that may be included in the mixture. To spend less money - and the amount can be significant - look for "creatine monohydrate" without sugar or other additional ingredients.
Consider adding creatine to amplify your workout and enjoy the results, but do your homework ahead of time to be sure that this option is for you.
Have a happy workout!
Rossi, Carey. "Is Creatine Right For You?" Oxygen, May 2010.
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