October 19, 2021

Health Club

The Health Look

5 Best Creatine Supplements for Women: A Dietitian’s Picks

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Creatine is a substance that’s found naturally in your muscles. It has been shown to help with exercise recovery, as well as improve strength, power, muscle mass, and anaerobic exercise capacity (1, 2).

In women specifically, creatine supplements have been linked to improvements in strength, exercise performance, and muscle mass, both pre- and post-menopause (3, 4, 5, 6).

Furthermore, early research suggests that taking creatine supplements may have benefits for women outside of the gym, including helping reduce mental fatigue and manage depression (5, 7).

Several kinds of creatine supplements are available, including creatine ethyl ester and creatine HCL.

However, research suggests that creatine monohydrate is the most effective form, as it has been shown to improve muscle creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations by 15–40%, allowing muscles to produce more energy during exercise (1, 2).

To help you decide which product is right for you, we researched the best creatine supplements for women using the following criteria:

  • Creatine monohydrate. All of the products contain creatine monohydrate for optimal effectiveness.
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards.
  • Ingredients. We looked for products that are made with quality ingredients and free of artificial additives.

While this list is for women, because creatine has been shown to be effective in both men and women, creatine supplements can be utilized by most healthy adults.

That said, here are the 5 best creatine supplements for women.

How much should you take?

When you start taking creatine supplements, it’s typically recommended to consume larger doses initially, during what’s called the loading phase.

Taking 20–25 grams of creatine per day for 5–7 days during a loading phase has been shown to help increase muscle stores of creatine (2, 8).

Afterward, a daily dose of 3–5 grams is recommended for maintaining these stores (2, 8).

Keep in mind that these are guidelines for the general population. Before taking creatine (or any other supplement), make sure to speak with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized dosing recommendations.

Should you take creatine before or after your workout?

Some professionals recommend consuming creatine after exercising, as it’s thought that the increase in blood flow post-exercise may increase the rate at which creatine is delivered to your muscles (8).

Furthermore, some studies have shown an increase in lean muscle mass when creatine is consumed post-exercise (8).

However, research on the optimal timing of creatine supplementation is too limited and inconclusive to definitively say that post-workout ingestion is more effective.

Therefore, while most of the products on this list recommend using them after your gym session, it’s perfectly fine to add creatine powder to your pre-workout beverage if that’s what works best for you.

What can you mix creatine powder with?

Most of the creatine supplements on this list are powders that can be mixed with water or any beverage of your choice, including warm and cold options.

You can also stir it into your yogurt or overnight oats in the morning.

Though, as the powders are usually unflavored, many people prefer to add the powder to their post-workout protein shake.

Best overall

Thorne Research Creatine

  • Price: $
  • Available flavors: unflavored
  • Creatine monohydrate per 1-scoop (5-gram) serving: 5 grams

Thorne Research is a reputable supplement company that’s known for using high quality ingredients.

In addition to producing products in facilities that are compliant with Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), the company is NSF Certified for Sport. This means that its supplements are third-party tested and guaranteed to be free of substances that are banned in sports.

This creatine supplement, in particular, is a great option for those with dietary restrictions, as it doesn’t contain any artificial flavors and is certified gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.

In fact, the only ingredient listed on the product is 5 grams of creatine monohydrate.

Best overall runner-up

BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

  • Price: $$
  • Available flavors: unflavored
  • Creatine monohydrate per 1-scoop (5-gram) serving: 5 grams

Similarly to Thorne Research, this creatine supplement contains just one ingredient — creatine monohydrate.

As a result, it’s free of soy, dairy, gluten, yeast, added sugar, and other additives.

Plus, with over 25,000 mostly positive reviews on Amazon, the supplement is clearly a fan favorite.

BulkSupplements products are manufactured in a facility that’s inspected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and meets cGMP standards.

Certificates of analysis for third-party testing results are also available upon request, though the name of the testing organization isn’t disclosed on the company’s website.

Best for building muscle

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Price: $$$
  • Available flavors: orange, blue raspberry, black cherry, strawberry lemonade, unflavored
  • Creatine monohydrate per 1-scoop (9.5-gram) serving: 5 grams

Unlike other creatine supplements on this list, this one also contains other ingredients that may help build muscle and strength, such as hydroxylmethylbutyrate (HMB).

HMB is a substance that’s naturally produced in the body. While more research is needed, it may help increase strength, muscle size, aerobic performance, and recovery (9, 10).

Vitamin D is also included in this product.

In addition to offering several health benefits, vitamin D may help improve upper and lower limb strength. However, more studies are needed to determine its role in other aspects of exercise performance (11, 12).

Lastly, the powder also contains BioPerine, or piperine.

Piperine is the active ingredient in black pepper extract, which the company claims helps boost the absorption of nutrients, though more research is needed (13, 14, 15).

In addition to its active ingredients, the flavored versions of this creatine supplement are sweetened with stevia and gluten-free, non-GMO, and free of artificial coloring and preservatives.

What’s more, the supplement is third-party tested by Analytical Resource Laboratories, with certificates of analysis available on Transparent Labs’ website.

Best for HIIT

Genius Creatine Powder

  • Price: $$
  • Available flavors: sour apple
  • Creatine monohydrate per 1-scoop (7.8-gram) serving: 5 grams

In addition to creatine monohydrate, this supplement includes beta-alanine — an amino acid that helps prevent lactate buildup in muscles, which in turn enhances athletic performance and is particularly helpful during high intensity interval training (HIIT) (16).

It’s important to note that beta-alanine can cause a harmless tingling sensation. However, as this product contains just 1.6 grams, the dose may be low enough to avoid the tingles.

On the other hand, benefits of beta-alanine supplementation have been shown at doses of 4–6 grams, so there’s a possibility that this supplement may not contain a high enough dose to be effective (16).

The powder also includes AstraGin — a supplement blend that contains Panax notoginseng extract and Astragalus membranaceus extract (17).

AstraGin’s website claims that it can improve energy levels and increase the absorption of nutrients in the body. However, no studies have confirmed this.

Also included in this product are turmeric and spirulina, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial for exercise, though more research is needed (18, 19, 20).

For example, curcumin — the main active ingredient in turmeric — may help improve exercise recovery (18).

Meanwhile, spirulina has been shown to increase the time to fatigue in cardiovascular workouts. It may also support weight loss and improvements in body composition when combined with an exercise program (19, 20).

Genius Creatine is sweetened with stevia and monk fruit extract and free of artificial dyes and fillers. However, the sour apple flavor is the only option, so keep in mind that it may not be ideal for smoothies or multi-ingredient protein shakes.

While the company’s products are regularly tested in a lab, information on third-party testing isn’t readily available. However, you can request testing results from the company directly on its website.

Best capsules

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules

  • Price: $
  • Available flavors: unflavored
  • Creatine monohydrate per 1 (2-capsule) serving: 2.5 grams

If powdered supplements aren’t your thing, Optimum Nutrition offers creatine monohydrate in convenient capsules.

Though, if you’re not a fan of swallowing pills, this may not be your best choice, as you need to take 4 capsules per day to get the 5 grams of creatine monohydrate typically recommended.

Another difference is that this supplement’s manufacturers recommend consuming the capsules with a meal twice per day, rather than immediately post-workout.

For quality assurance, Optimum Nutrition’s products are third-party tested by Informed Choice and produced in facilities that meet cGMP standards.

When shopping for a creatine supplement, it’s important to choose a product that’s made with high quality ingredients.

To ensure the quality and accuracy of a product, look for supplements that are third-party tested by an independent company, such as Informed Choice or NSF.

Additionally, we recommend looking for a supplement that contains creatine monohydrate, rather than a less effective form, such as creatine ethyl ester or creatine HCL (1, 2).

Depending on your goals, you’ll also want to decide whether you want a product that only contains creatine, or one that offers additional ingredients, such as beta-alanine, vitamin D, or HMB.

On a similar note, consider if you’d prefer taking capsules or buying a powder that you can mix into your protein shake.

Creatine supplements — and creatine monohydrate, in particular — may help improve strength, recovery time, and exercise performance, as well as offer additional health benefits outside of the gym.

However, as some products are better than others, make sure to look for a creatine supplement that’s made with high quality ingredients and has undergone rigorous testing to ensure quality and accuracy.

Regardless of which product you choose, it’s important to talk with a healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.

Finally, while creatine supplements may enhance your nutritional intake, it’s important to remember that they’re not a replacement for a well-balanced diet.