Is Creatine Good For Women? Examining All The Science

Medical Disclaimer: The material presented in this article aims to offer informational insights. It should not be perceived as medical guidance. The views and writings are not designed for diagnosing, preventing, or treating health issues. Always consult with your physician prior to starting any new dietary or supplement routine.

Key Takeaways

  • Creatine benefits anyone aiming to improve performance, recovery, and muscle mass, including women with these goals.
  • A daily dose of 3-5 grams of creatine, even on rest days, is optimal and less likely to lead to water retention or gastrointestinal issues.
  • Women need to ensure their creatine supplement only has one ingredient (creatine) and includes third-party testing to ensure its safety and quality.

Understanding Creatine

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition:

Creatine has the potential to enhance muscle mass, recovery, and overall exercise performance. 

Although your body produces creatine naturally, it doesn’t make enough to saturate your muscle cells fully.

Foods naturally high in creatine, such as red meat and seafood, can boost creatine levels.

But, the quickest and most convenient way is by taking a creatine supplement.

To learn more about how creatine works, check out my article on Types of Creatine.

Real Results From Women Taking Creatine

I contacted Mariia (Mascha) Zhukova, an accomplished IFBB Bikini Athlete, and Posing Coach, to gather insights from her firsthand experience with creatine.

She responded to three specific questions:

Question #1: Why did you start taking creatine?

Since I have been training professionally in the gym with a stage ambition, I have followed my nutrition plan that included various supplements (which according to my coach were necessary). Among them, creatine was listed.”

Question #2: When should someone start taking creatine?

“I think that if you are serious about your performance and results in the gym or if you are interested in starting a bodybuilding career, this is where creatine belongs, being one of the most essential supplements.”

Question #3: What results did you get?

“It helped me achieve my bodybuilding goals, since it speeds up muscle recovery, increases anabolic hormones, and also supports better cell hydration. All this positively influences muscle growth and reduces dehydration and muscle cramps.”

Is There Science Supporting Creatine Use For Women?

Yes, there is science supporting creatine use in women (both younger and older), although there are some contrasting findings to consider regarding body composition changes.

One study involving postmenopausal women suggested no significant changes in body composition with creatine supplementation (with small doses of 3 grams per day for two years). 

However, these participants did not undergo any regimented physical training (strength or cardio) during the study, so it’s unsurprising that they didn’t see significant changes in body composition.

Other research on soccer players and strength-trained female athletes found increased muscle mass and strength with roughly 20-25 grams daily for 4-7 days.

Other benefits of creatine use in women have been proven repeatedly in a large body of evidence; these benefits include:

Creatine Use With or Without Resistance Training Improves Strength and Health in Older Women

Study #1

One study involving 15 older men and women (aged 64-84) concluded that 14 days of creatine supplementation might boost upper body grip strength and increase physical working capacity by delaying neuromuscular fatigue. 

The main limitation of this study is that it included both men and women, making it challenging to account for physiological gender differences in older populations. 

Study #2

Another study focused on 30 older women (aged 58–71) and found that short-term (7 days) creatine supplementation increased strength, power, and lower-body motor functional performance without any adverse side effects. 

However, the subjects were 58-84 years old, and the participants were untrained, making them less comparable to trained and pre-menopausal women. Moreover, the study had small sample sizes.

Study #3

This extensive, longer-term study examining creatine supplementation, with or without resistance training, in 60 older women showed that combining creatine supplementation with resistance training over 24 weeks improved lean mass and muscle function. However, it didn’t significantly impact bone mass. 

The lack of impact on bone mass could be due to the method of resistance training; if participants engaged in lower-impact machine-based resistance exercise, then it would make sense that there weren’t significant changes in bone mass.

Other important considerations include the fact that the subjects were vulnerable elderly individuals with low bone mass and other chronic diseases, as well as sedentary, making it less generalizable to active, healthy, pre-menopausal women. 

Creatine Use With Resistance Training Leads to Greater Improvements in Muscle Mass and Strength Training Performance

A review study of 100 studies (including males and females) looking at the effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance found that when people took creatine for a short time, they saw more significant increases in muscle (lean body mass), especially during high-intensity exercises lasting less than 30 seconds, like weightlifting or exercises focusing on the upper body. 

Additionally, researchers stated that:

“The fact that creatine is more effective when combined with a training stimulus suggests that the main mechanistic action of creatine is its ability to enhance training volume and/or intensity”

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

In simple terms, creatine helps by allowing you to do more intense workouts or exercise for longer. 

These effects, in turn, can affect various things in your muscles, like how they grow and recover, the presence of certain hormones and cellular signals, and how your body responds to stress during exercise.

Are There Differences Between Taking Creatine For Men vs Women?

Creatine works in the body the same way for men and women; however, the extent of supplementation’s impact may differ.

Evidence suggests that women might naturally have more creatine in their muscles because they have less muscle overall. 

This difference could be why some studies show that creatine might not have as much of an impact on women’s performance compared to men. 

That said, the recent review study of 100 studies (mentioned above), which includes males and females, found no difference in the impact of creatine supplementation (referred to as effect size in scientific, statistical terms) based on whether a person is male or female.

In this context, the effect size refers to the strength of the impact/benefit observed due to creatine supplementation on performance and body composition.

Due to the lack of long-term studies of creatine use in women exclusively, there isn’t enough research to conclude that creatine supplementation is more effective for men than women.

Despite potential differences, the dosing recommendations remain the same for men and women (more on dosing recommendations later).

Common Misconceptions About Creatine Use In Women

A common misconception is that creatine is unsuitable for women and should only be used by male athletes or bodybuilders.

People seem to believe that because females have lower muscle mass and higher muscle creatine concentrations, creatine is ineffective for women, but that’s not true. 

While there are some physiological differences between males and females, this does not signify that women, whether trained or not, cannot benefit from using creatine. 

Another misconception is that creatine makes women bulky or fat. Although creatine can increase one’s scale weight, any weight gained is likely due to temporary water retention. 

Increasing the body’s creatine stores may increase water retention for the first several days of supplementation, especially with a loading phase (larger doses of creatine meant to saturate stores more quickly). 

The additional weight gained after taking creatine for some time is likely from increased lean muscle, not fat.

Are There Safety Concerns or Side Effects Specifically For Women?

Creatine is a safe supplement when ingested at recommended dosages for both men and women.

Some research supports using creatine at higher doses (30 grams per day) for up to 5 years, showing no adverse side effects. 

On the other hand, while there is no indication from reliable sources that creatine poses any harm to the liver or kidneys in individuals consuming standard doses, individuals with preexisting liver or kidney issues are advised to seek guidance from a healthcare professional before considering supplementation.

Since most studies have been done in men or both men and women, longer-term studies in women are required, focusing on larger doses. 

When Should You Start Considering Taking Creatine?

When and how to incorporate creatine into your routine depends on your health status, fitness goals, and the specific timeline requirements.

If you exercise, you can be taking creatine.

It has various (well-researched) body composition and performance benefits and should therefore be one of your go-to supplements.

However, if you are considering taking it, I recommend consulting your clinician first. 

Suppose you are aware of a particular event on the horizon, such as a bodybuilding competition or a triathlon. 

In that case, it’s wise to consider time-based strategies before commencing creatine supplementation to maximize the effects of creatine. 

Consider the following two scenarios:

  • Short Time Frame (Less than 30 Days to the event)

A “loading” strategy is a suitable choice if you are in a constrained time frame. 

This strategy involves supplementing with creatine for 5–7 days at a dosage of 20–25 g/day, typically divided into smaller doses throughout the day (e.g., four to five servings of 5 g/day).

  • Extended Time Frame (More than 30 Days to the event)

If you have more time, a “maintenance” strategy is more practical and less likely to cause water retention. 

This approach includes supplementing with creatine for at least 4 weeks, with a daily dose of 3-5 grams or 0.1 grams per kilogram of body mass. This longer duration allows for a gradual buildup of creatine stores, optimizing its effectiveness over time.

Lower, daily dosages of creatine supplementation (i.e., 3-5 g/day) are effective for increasing intramuscular creatine stores, muscle accretion and muscle performance/recovery

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

How To Take Creatine For Women – 3 Considerations

According to the evidence, you don’t necessarily need to go through a ‘loading’ phase to experience the benefits.

Instead, a more straightforward “maintenance” approach can be just as effective if you’re not on a short time frame.

Here are three easy-to-follow tips on how to take creatine without a loading phase:

1. Dosage and Frequency

Take one daily creatine dose of 3–5 grams.

It might take about 4 weeks to saturate your creatine stores fully.

2. Timing and Consumption 

Take your creatine with a meal rich in carbohydrates or a mix of carbohydrates and protein.

This pairing is especially beneficial after intense training or performance when your glycogen stores need replenishing, helping your body recover more effectively.

For example, you could add it to your water and have a plate of pasta with meat sauce alongside this. 

Another option is to add it to a glass of water (with or without glycerol) 60-90 minutes before exercising, especially in hot conditions.

Some research has shown that it can improve tolerance to exercise in the heat when used for hyperhydration.

3. Type

Opt for creatine monohydrate, the most widely researched type of creatine and the most effective.

While various other creatine forms are available (like creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride, buffered, and liquid creatine), evidence minimally supports their superiority.

What To Look For When Shopping For Creatine

With multiple brands and varieties of creatine supplements, choosing the right one might be challenging.

I’ve highlighted a few few factors to help you choose your supplement:


Buying your creatine as a single-ingredient product rather than in a stack (i.e., pre-workout) is more effective because you have more control over the dose and timing.

Read the ingredient list on the packaging label to ensure you’re getting pure creatine without filler or additives.

Third-Party Testing and Informed Choice Certification

Look for brands that publicly disclose third-party testing (for reassurance that the content in the tub matches what is printed on the label) and that provide a certificate of analysis or an informed-choice logo (for safe use by drug-tested athletes).

Search for BSCG (Banned Substances Control Group), USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency), NSF, or USP on the labels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can creatine cause weight gain or bloating in women?

Standard doses of creatine should not cause bloating.

As for weight gain, since an increase in the body’s creatine content drives water in the muscles and helps to increase muscle growth over time, it can lead to weight gain. This is likely temporary water retention or lean muscle, not fat mass. 

Is creatine suitable for all types of athletic training, including cardio-focused workouts?

Yes, creatine is good for cardio-focused workouts.

Research suggests it can also positively affect high-intensity intermittent and endurance events, such as football and running, by helping athletes recover.

One study showed that those taking creatine experienced less muscle damage, inflammation, and muscle soreness after running 30 km.

Creatine Resources


Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, Candow DG, Kleiner SM, Almada AL, Lopez HL. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 13;14:18. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. PMID: 28615996; PMCID: PMC5469049.

Santos HO, Cerqueira HS, Tinsley GM. The Effects of Dietary Supplements, Nutraceutical Agents, and Physical Exercise on Myostatin Levels: Hope or Hype? Metabolites. 2022 Nov 20;12(11):1146. doi: 10.3390/metabo12111146. PMID: 36422286; PMCID: PMC9695935.

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Cox, G., Mujika, I., Tumilty, D., & Burke, L. (2002). Acute Creatine Supplementation and Performance during a Field Test Simulating Match Play in Elite Female Soccer Players. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 12(1), 33-46. Retrieved Mar 19, 2024, from

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Stout JR, Sue Graves B, Cramer JT, Goldstein ER, Costa PB, Smith AE, Walter AA. Effects of creatine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue threshold and muscle strength in elderly men and women (64 – 86 years). J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Nov-Dec;11(6):459-64. PMID: 17985060.

Gotshalk, L.A., Kraemer, W.J., Mendonca, M.A.G. et al. Creatine supplementation improves muscular performance in older women. Eur J Appl Physiol 102, 223–231 (2008).

Branch, J. D. (2003). Effect of Creatine Supplementation on Body Composition and Performance: A Meta-analysis. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 13(2), 198-226. Retrieved Mar 19, 2024, from

Gualano, B., Macedo, A. R., Alves, C. R. R., Roschel, H., Benatti, F. B., Takayama, L., Pinto, A. L. S., Lima, F. R., & Pereira, R. M. R. (2014). Creatine supplementation and resistance training in vulnerable older women: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Experimental Gerontology, 53, 7-15.

Antonio, J., Candow, D.G., Forbes, S.C. et al. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 18, 13 (2021).

MIHIC, SASA; MacDONALD, JAY R.; McKENZIE, SCOTT; TARNOPOLSKY, MARK A.. Acute creatine loading increases fat-free mass, but does not affect blood pressure, plasma creatinine, or CK activity in men and women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 32(2):p 291, February 2000.

Nabuco, H. C. G., Tomazoni, S. S., Pedron, A. F., Dos Santos Grandinetti, V., Bragado, D., Bjordal, J. M., & De Marchi, T. (2015). High-intensity resistance training and EAAT2 regulation in elderly subjects. Amino Acids, 47(9), 2019–2025.

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Branch JD. Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2003 Jun;13(2):198-226. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.13.2.198. PMID: 12945830.

Antonio J, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Gualano B, Jagim AR, Kreider RB, Rawson ES, Smith-Ryan AE, VanDusseldorp TA, Willoughby DS, Ziegenfuss TN. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021 Feb 8;18(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w. PMID: 33557850; PMCID: PMC7871530.

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About The Author

Giulia Rossetto

Giulia Rossetto is a qualified Dietitian and Nutritionist. She holds a Masters in Human Nutrition (University of Sheffield, UK) and more recently graduated as a Dietitian (University of Malta). Giulia aims to translate evidence-based science to the public through teaching and writing content. She has worked 4+ years in clinical settings and has also published articles in academic journals. She is into running, swimming and weight lifting, and enjoys spending time in the mountains (she has a soft spot for hiking and skiing in the Italian Dolomites).

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