Creatine for Chicks?

I took creatine for a little while when I was in high school. I’d gotten into weight lifting, developed a crush on the guy at the local nutrition store, and started taking it at his suggestion. I remember becoming noticeably stronger within a few weeks — but I didn’t stay on it for long. Creatine put a couple pounds on me and I was freaked out. I couldn’t get off the stuff fast enough.

Ever since, I’ve carefully combed through the labels of nutrition supplements to make sure creatine wasn’t lurking, waiting to pounce and turn me into a puffer fish. It’s common knowledge that creatine can cause weight gain and fluid retention, and frankly, my regular hormonal cycles provide with more than enough of that garbage. Thank you very much.

I’m embarrassed to say that, until recently, I really didn’t even know how creatine worked. But I learned what the stuff was all about a few weeks ago when I was assigned to write an article on creatine supplementation. Once I understood the mechanisms, the thought of gaining weight from creatine was a little less terrifying.

Here’s the deal: Creatine gives your muscles the ability to create and store more ATP, the unit of energy that fuels, well, all of our movements. Having more ATP helps you to train longer and more intensely. The natural result of increased training intensity? Bigger and stronger muscles. Creatine also pushes water into the muscle cells, stimulating protein synthesis and creating that full, pumped look that users enjoy. This is the cause of fluid retention. I had always equated water retention with that awful bloat around the waist and hips — not something that would cause my muscles to bulge.

I’ll admit, the latter is far better.

A few days after I wrote the creatine article, I stopped by Total Nutrition, a new supplement store that had opened up nearby. The owner, Will, started talking shop with me about different supplements. I was just looking for some BCAAs to mix in with my protein after workouts, but he recommended a post-workout supplement that already had aminos in it. It also had glutamine.

And creatine.

I told Will that I preferred not to take creatine, and he let out a big sigh. Women, he explained, are always worried about gaining weight on creatine. But if they gain weight, it’s muscle and water, not fat. Second, as soon as they stop taking creatine, they drop the excess fluid. From my own research, I knew he was right. So I made him promise I wouldn’t blow up and bought a tub of Anabolic Flood, by Nutracore Nutrition.

I’ve now been faithfully taking the supplement after every workout for the last month. So what have I noticed? I feel substantially stronger during my workouts and get a pretty sweet pump. I’m starting to notice a little more muscle development, especially around my shoulders and legs. I’ve gained a couple pounds, but nothing too crazy, and I just feel strong in general.

I think for anyone who wants to make some fast gains in the gym, creatine is worth checking out — man OR woman.

I’ll give an update next month to let you all know if I’m still a creatine believer ;)

Granted, I have a tan and heels in the second photo, but you can see the change in my legs here (try to ignore my dog’s photobomb):