How secret to tackling menopause may be muscle-building supplement loved by gym bros

Photo of author
Written By Rivera Claudia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

com com com com com com com

Women going through the menopause are usually armed with anything from HRT to magnesium and omega-3 supplements to tackle their symptoms.

But they might be missing a trick.

Creatine — gym-bros’ favourite muscle-building supplement — could be the secret to beating some of the most dramatic results of the menopause, including muscle loss, which increases the risk of falls and fractures.

This compound found in our muscles, is taken by fitness fanatics before and after intense exercise, thanks to its ability to boost workouts, build muscle and even improve brain function.

‘Research has shown that creatine supplementation, when combined with resistance training, can be particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women,’ says Rob Hobson, sports and registered nutritionist at Healthspan and author of Unprocess Your Life.

‘Creatine supplementation is often used to increase muscle mass as it can draw more water into the muscle cells and promote muscle growth.

Creatine — gym-bros’ favourite muscle-building supplement — could be the secret to beating some of the most dramatic results of the menopause, including muscle loss, which increases the risk of falls and fractures

Creatine (pictured) is a gym-bros’ favourite muscle-building supplement. But Older women, in particular, can benefit from taking creatine because of the increased risk of muscle loss (sarcopenia), which can then lead to bone loss (osteoporosis)

Creatine (pictured) is a gym-bros’ favourite muscle-building supplement. But Older women, in particular, can benefit from taking creatine because of the increased risk of muscle loss (sarcopenia), which can then lead to bone loss (osteoporosis)

‘There are also lots of studies showing how creatine supplementation can improve strength, power, and high-intensity exercise performance.’

Older women, in particular, can benefit from taking creatine because of the increased risk of muscle loss (sarcopenia), which can then lead to bone loss (osteoporosis).

‘Resistance training is a key treatment for sarcopenia, and evidence suggests that adding creatine supplements can further improve the muscle-building effects of this training, helping to reduce the impact of sarcopenia,’ says Hobson.

Here, Mr Hobson reveals what all women need to know about creatine – especially those in mid-life and beyond…

CREATINE: FACT OR FICTION? 

Nutritionist Rob Hobson sets the record straight.  

Myth: Creatine harms the kidneys

There are more than 500 peer-reviewed studies affirming creatine’s safety but

misconceptions persist.

Be reassured that creatine doesn’t harm the kidneys in healthy people, nor does it cause dehydration, muscle cramping, fat gain, or other commonly feared side effects.

Myth: It can help endurance athletes

This supplement is used mainly for strength and power sports that require short bursts of energy.

It would not be effective or needed for endurance sports and it can also cause water retention initially which can increase your body weight so sports requiring a better weight to power ratio may find this detrimental.

Myth: It’s a steroid

Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of testosterone and is used to help people doing resistance training to build muscle.

Myth: It’ll make you go bald

Thanks to a 2009 study in which male rugby players taking 25g of creatine a day for seven days saw an increase in a kind of testosterone that is linked with baldness, the theory that taking creatine leads to hair loss gained traction. However, the results have never been replicated in other studies.

Advertisement

Makes performing everyday tasks easier

Creatine can help enhance performance in functional tasks like standing from a chair or doing arm curls.

Mr Hobson suggests starting with a powder such as Healthspan’s Elite All Blacks Creatine Monohydrate, £43.99 for 500g (100 servings of 5g).

The key is combining it with lifting weights or strength training, according to Mr Hobson. 

In one 2019 study, a 12-week program of creatine supplementation alongside resistance training led to significant increases in muscle mass and strength.

‘I think the most likely reason for daily use of creatine would be for sports performance or maintenance of muscle mass in women post-menopause alongside resistance exercise,’ says sports and registered nutritionist Rob Hobson.

‘All scientific evidence shows that the best dose is from three to five grams per day. 

‘Some people choose to do an initial load on creatine to begin with which is normally 20g daily for five days before taking just 5g daily, but this is normally recommended for people trying to get quicker results in a shorter period of time, say less than 30 days.

‘Creatine use has been shown to be safe for use for periods of up to five years.’

Slows the rate of bone loss

Postmenopausal women who took a daily dose of creatine while engaging in a year-long resistance training program experienced a slower rate of bone mineral loss at the hip compared to those who didn’t take creatine, according to researchers at the University of Nottingham.

The compound helps bones grow by promoting the activity of bone-forming cells called osteoblasts, while also stopping the cells involved in bone reabsorption.

Creatine also increases phosphocreatine stores in muscles which enhances energy production during high-intensity activities.

This leads to stronger muscles which then exert greater forces on bones during physical activity, which can stimulate bone formation and improve bone density.

This muscle-bone interaction is crucial for maintaining bone health, particularly in postmenopausal women who are at a higher risk of sarcopenia and osteoporosis.

Helps women overcome depression

Women generally experience depression at about twice the rate of men during their reproductive years, and this increases around the time of puberty.

But research suggests creatine could help. 

In 2016, US researchers found adolescent girls who didn’t respond well to standard depression treatments showed fewer depression symptoms when they took a daily dose of creatine.

Depression has been linked to issues with brain energy production and mitochondrial function and creatine supplementation has been shown to boost brain energy reserves, especially in women.

Creatine also increases phosphocreatine stores in muscles which enhances energy production during high-intensity activities

Creatine also increases phosphocreatine stores in muscles which enhances energy production during high-intensity activities

The key is combining creatine with lifting weights or strength training, according to Mr Hobson

The key is combining creatine with lifting weights or strength training, according to Mr Hobson

Makes women stronger and faster

If you’re looking to increase your strength and speed, adding a scoop of creatine into your smoothie could give you the edge, says Mr Hobson. 

Elite female football players, around the age of 22, improved their sprinting and agility after taking 20g of creatine for six days, according to an Australian study in 2002. 

While university-aged women around 20-years-old, who took creatine for five days (0.5g to every kilogram of their weight), experienced stronger thigh muscles, a US study found. 

Women, aged between 21 and 33, also saw their upper-body strength improve after taking a loading dose of creatine for seven days, in another US study. 

Reduces heart disease-causing inflammation

Some studies suggest that creatine supplementation can reduce oxidative stress, which is closely linked to inflammation, a chronic health problem associated with issues such as heart disease and arthritis.

By combating oxidative damage, creatine may indirectly contribute to lowering inflammation levels, Mr Hobson says. 

Research, including animal studies and limited human trials, has indicated that creatine may have anti-inflammatory effects by impacting the activity of cytokines, proteins involved with the body’s immune and inflammation responses, and reducing the expression of molecules associated with inflammation.

HOW TO BOOST CREATINE IN YOUR DIET

Rob Hobson, sports and registered nutritionist at Healthspan and author of Unprocess Your Life, reveals how to increase your creatine levels from food.

Creatine is naturally found in various foods, mostly in animal products.

The body also synthesises it in small amounts. Here are some common dietary sources of creatine.

However, it can be tricky to get the 3-5g of creatine that is recommended for sports performance from diet alone, which is why supplements are advised.

Red meat (beef, pork and lamb)

Red meat is one of the richest sources of creatine, containing about 0.2-0.4g per 100g serving.

Poultry (chicken and turkey)

Poultry contains slightly less creatine than red meat, with roughly 0.1-0.2g per 100g serving.

Fish (salmon, tuna and haddock)

Fish is a good source of creatine, with amounts varying by type. Haddock contains around 0.03 to 0.06g per 100g.

Other Seafood (prawns, mussels, lobster)

Similar to fish, the creatine content can vary, but generally, seafood is a decent source. Prawns contain around 0.02-0.05g of creatine per 100g.

Dairy Products (milk and cheese)

Dairy products contain much less creatine than meat and fish. Cheese contains approximately 0.01g per 100g.

Eggs

Eggs contain a small amount of creatine, mostly in the yolk – less than 0.01g per 100 grams (one egg is roughly 50g).

Vegetarian and vegan sources

While plant-based foods generally do not contain creatine, the body can synthesise creatine from amino acids including glycine, arginine and methionine.

Vegetarians and vegans can ensure adequate production of these amino acids through a varied diet that includes legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

However, vegetarians and especially vegans might have lower levels of creatine in their muscles compared to those who consume animal products.

SOURCE

Leave a Comment