The best creatine supplement for you will depend on what form you find the most convenient, if you’re doing the loading phase, and what your budget is.
This article will explain what to look for in a creatine supplement, the best brands, and what benefits the different forms will give you.
The Best Creatine For Building Muscle
Best For Men
Jym has all of the ingredients any man who is looking to build muscle mass and increase their energy reserves for higher intensity workouts are looking for.
Best For Women
I don’t want to put all women in the category of not wanting to build muscle mass but the majority of women who are my clients are looking to tone their body’s, lose excess fat, and build a slimmer body type.
Thorne is perfect for this goal, it’s a more simple supplement without any BCAA’s that will promote energy distribution more than focusing on building muscle.
Best Creatine Pills
Best Micronized Creatine
Best Creatine Monohydrate
Top Ten Reviewed Creatine Supplements
|MuscleTech Platinum Creatine Monohydrate Powder, 100% Pure Micronized Creatine Powder, 14.1oz (80 Servings)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Pure Creatine Monohydrate – 200 Servings - 1,000 Grams, 2.2lb Bulk, Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Soy Free. Aid Strength Gains, No Artificial Ingredients - NAKED CREATINE||Prime||Buy Now|
|Pre JYM Pre Workout Powder - BCAAs, Creatine HCI, Citrulline Malate, Beta-Alanine, Betaine, and More | JYM Supplement Science | Tangerine Flavor, 20 Servings||Prime||Buy Now|
|BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized) (1 Kilogram)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder, Unflavored, Keto Friendly, 120 Servings (Packaging May Vary)||Prime||Buy Now|
|MuscleTech Cell Tech Creatine Monohydrate Formula Powder, HPLC-Certified, Improved Muscle Growth & Recovery, Fruit Punch, 56 Servings (6 lbs)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Dymatize Micronized Creatine, 1kg||Prime||Buy Now|
|Thorne Research - Creatine - Creatine Powder to Support Energy Production, Lean Body Mass, Muscle Endurance, and Power Output - NSF Certified for Sport - 16 oz||Prime||Buy Now|
|NOW Sports Nutrition, Creatine Monohydrate Powder, Mass Building*/Energy Production*, 2.2-Pound||Prime||Buy Now|
|Isopure Creatine Powder 500g, Unflavored||Prime||Buy Now|
What Is Creatine
Creatine is a chemical that is naturally made and found primarily in your muscle cells and is made of amino acids methionine, arginine, and glycine for how important they are affecting your performance and results in the gym.
Your body uses it for many reasons. Still, the one action that helps in bodybuilding is how it distributes energy to your muscles during periods of stress from strength training and high-intensity cardio.
Different variables will decide how much you have in your body
- The percentage of testosterone you have
- How much meat you have in your daily diet
- How often you exercise will determine levels
- What percentage of muscle mass you have on your body, since it is stored in your muscles, the more you will allow your body to be able to save more. Lean body mass will have less.
Sports nutrition has shown it’s converted into creatine phosphate to increase energy levels allowing for optimal muscle building during workouts.
How Does Creatine Work
The short answer is when taken regularly, it will increase muscle mass, add strength, allow you to do more reps during your workouts, and improve your exercise performance, and fitness.
The longer technical answer is that it helps your body produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) ATP is the currency of energy. When you lift weights, it makes the cells in your muscles require energy, and your body supplies the energy by breaking down ATP, this is known as hydrolysis.
The problem is that there is not a lot of ATP to go around, and once you run out, your muscle endurance and workout will start to sacrifice.
This is where creatine supplementation comes into play, and your body can only store enough ATP for about 10 seconds of high-intensity workouts; at this point, your body must start producing more ATP.
It increases your body’s phosphocreatine, which will be used to make ATP during strenuous activity, allowing you to workout longer, add reps, decrease muscle fatigue, and increase your intensity.
Being able to work out harder, longer, and at a higher intensity, in the long run, will give you faster results.
What Is The Best Type Of Creatine On The Market
This is a debate I’ve heard over and over in my gym, and for the life of me can’t understand why this is even a question.
Monohydrate has been tested more times than any other supplement on the planet.
It has had sports nutrition studies last as long as five years allowing the scientific evidence to show the long term safety and effectiveness is unmatched by any other type.
A quality creatine workout supplement has never shown any adverse side effects in these studies when being used by a healthy individual.
The side effects that people talk about experiencing are due to being dehydrated 99% of the time since creatine pulls water into your muscles, making it easier for you to become dehydrated.
If you don’t drink enough water, you will have some adverse effects.
I can’t in good conscience tell you to take another type since no one knows of a different kind that is as effective or safe as creatine monohydrate.
What You Need To Look For In Creatine Supplements
What Consumable Form They Come In
Before you buy them, you’ll need to consider if a liquid, pill, or powder form will be best for you. If you like how the tablets will be easily transported, or don’t want to deal with having to mix the powder, then pills are your best bet.
Micronized Creatine powder is the easiest to load with and is the most affordable per dose.
Micronized Or Not
A big complaint of creatine powders is how it doesn’t mix well with water and becomes stuck together.
Micronized creatine powder is more soluble since the particles are 20 times smaller than regular powder, more comfortable to digest, and doesn’t have any flavor.
This will allow you to receive a higher percentage in each drink making it easier for your muscle cells to stay saturated, and help preserve and build your lean muscle.
Watch Out For Additives.
If you’re buying pills, powder, or liquid, you need to make sure you’re buying a pure creatine monohydrate and not a brand that is packed with fluff that is going to waste your time and money.
Try buying from quality creatine from reputable companies like Creapure, Optimum Nutrition, and Bulk Supplements.
They have all of their products third party tested to prove that they are made with quality ingredients and are active.
How Does It Taste
A lot of people hate the way creatine tastes, I don’t notice it, but if you want to try and change the flavor up, you can buy a pure creatine monohydrate powder like kaged muscle or liquid that comes in a flavored version.
I would personally opt to mix it with an organic fruit juice; that way you have better control over the ingredients you’re adding to your creatine drink.
You won’t always be able to tell what artificial flavors they are using to flavor it.
Does It Come With A Measuring Tool
Some creatine monohydrate powders don’t come with a scoop, and that makes it a lot harder o take your dose every day, may seem silly, but it’s a small convenience that’s worth having.
How Much Does It Cost
A creatine supplement in different forms will cost you more money per serving.
Pills and liquid forms cost the most, while your pure creatine monohydrate powder will come out to be the most affordable per dose.
The difference in price isn’t staggering, so if you feel that the liquid or pill form is more convenient for you, this should still be within your price range.
Thing To Be Aware Of When Looking At Different Brands
You need to understand that the FDA does not govern supplement companies.
These brands can put whatever they want in them and place a fancy ingredient label on the bottle, and you won’t have any idea what you’re buying or putting in your body.
That is why you need to buy from companies that use 3rd party testing to prove their products have what is on the label and aren’t full of filler.
How Pure Is The Creatine
Any creatine supplement that you buy and consume should be tested for heavy metals that are sometimes added in the manufacturing process.
The metals that you should be concerned with are:
Tested creatine should show to be pure and not have any added flavoring, preservatives, heavy metals or fillers.
Who Manufactured It
Supplement companies like to save money by using manufacturing plants that aren’t qualified by the FDA.
It’s not illegal for a plant to not be FDA approved, but any company that takes the safety of its product and you seriously will have a manufacturing plant that is FDA approved.
This means that the way they manufacture, package, and store their product is at a food-grade level.
Buy Creatine Monohydrate
I know there are other choices on the market, and the guy next to you at the gym tells you that another type of creatine is the best.
There isn’t any other type of product that has been tested more and has proven its effectiveness and safety than a creatine monohydrate supplement.
The studies that are done on creatine monohydrate have been able to last for years, given them the ability to see if there is diminishing effectiveness over time and is any long term safety issues arise.
In both cases, a tolerance was never built to make creatine any less effective from day one of using to 5 years of usage, and there haven’t been any side effects associated with healthy individuals taking creatine monohydrate for extended periods.
After taking 5 grams of creatine monohydrate for the first week if you train hard on a consistent basis you will receive the best results from any supplement other than taking a banned substance which is just idiotic.
Should You Buy Creatine Powder Or Pills
Like everything in life, there are pros and cons to what you choose.
I’ll list the differences between a creatine powder supplement and creatine pills for you to figure out which one makes the most sense for you.
If you have ever tried to put creatine powder in a shaker bottle, you know that it doesn’t work out as well as you want.
Between it sticking to the sides of the cup after being mixed or the dust cloud that blows away when you open the cap, you end up with a smaller dose than you wanted.
I always fix this by adding it to my protein shakes, and I find that it mixes better, and I don’t notice a bad taste that other people do.
One advantage you’ll see with the powder is that when you are doing your loading phase, it’s easier to take the powder multiple times a day than the pills.
Since you will take a lot of your pills early in your supplementation, you’ll want to buy two bottles, maybe.
I’ve noticed that some people hate or have a hard time swallowing capsules; if you’re one of the see people, then you’ll want to buy a powder form.
Besides the fact the creatine [ills are easily transported, I don’t feel there are any other benefits to taking them.
They’re more expensive than the powdered brands; they don’t dissolve faster or are absorbed quicker in your body, and don’t offer a single performance advantage.
A lot of people like to mix the powder with a high sugar fruit juice to spike their insulin levels so that the creatine is absorbed quicker.
I don’t think this makes any difference, and I mix it water, but if you do feel like this gives you an advantage, you won’t be able to do this with creatine pills.
Different Types Of Creatine
I’m going to preference this by saying if you want to take a creatine supplement, it should be creatine monohydrate or creatine hydrochloride.
The other types haven’t been nearly tested as much, and there is no way of knowing if they are as effective or safe as these have proven to be.
The only information you’ll have is the guy at your gym swearing this type is the best, don’t listen to the know it all’s at the gym.
Do the research and trust the scientific data that has come out of hundreds of tests over the last two decades, telling you to pick between monohydrates or HCL.
I know there is still one of you saying, but I want to know what else is out there, so here is the list of other types of creatine supplements, even though I strongly opposer you from trying them.
The name says it all; this is creatine that is in liquid form to make it easier to take when at the gym or on the go without having to take a shaker bottle.
This is a little silly to me since you can make a protein shake and add creatine to it or mix up some creatine HCL with any liquid beforehand.
It all becomes the same thing in the end since there is no other benefit you receive from buying creatine in liquid form.
Supposedly this type also increases cognitive brain function, but I couldn’t find any studies that have proven this.
This is simply creatine monohydrate with the water removed to give you a little more creatine per gram.
This doesn’t make a difference once your creatine stores are fully maxed; it doesn’t matter that you are receiving a little more creatine per gram.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
This is creatine that has been attached to a fat-soluble ethanol ester to give you 3 grams of pure CEE in each one scoop serving.
This is another brand that is trying to say that it is absorbed easier and goes to the muscles that you need faster.
This is stupid, I’ve said it a million times already, but once your muscles are saturated with creatine, it doesn’t matter how fast your next dose is absorbed.
Magnesium Chelate Creatine
This is a form of creatine where magnesium is combined with the creatine molecule or chelated with magnesium.
People will tell you that it increases your strength and endurance, this may be true, but there aren’t enough tests to prove that it’s efficient in increasing your strength or whether or not it’s safe to take long term.
Buffered creatine is like magnesium chelate except instead of the magnesium being combined with the creatine compound. It’s only mixed.
Creapure Creatine Monohydrate Powder
This is made by a company called creapure, who is based in Germany using a manufacturing plant that sets the highest standards in terms of quality, purity, effectiveness, and safety.
The way they manufacturer creapure monohydrate makes it more potent and pure than any other type.
Benefits Of Taking Creatine
While it has been shown to help fight neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, Epilepsy, and brain and spinal cord injuries were going to focus on the physical benefits that come from it.
- Increase in lean muscle mass – Countless studies done over many years have shown significant muscle gain when creatine supplementation is combined with strength training.
- Strength gains – When your levels hit their max by a loading phase or daily servings studies have shown increases in muscle between 5 and 15%
- Improved cardiovascular and muscular endurance – Your performance during high-intensity cardio and strength training will increase anywhere from 15 to 20%.
- Improved hydration – Creatine pulls water into your cells, which is believed to help reduce cramps, muscle tightness, strains, and other miscellaneous injuries.
When To Take Creatine
This is a debate that I don’t ever think will end, is it better to take when you first wake up when your body is craving nutrients, or before your workout to enhance power and strength, after your workout or before bed. You can decide, and then you’ll have your own opinion to keep the debate alive.
When you first wake up
The thought behind this is when you first wake up, your stomach is empty, and you’re catatonic from not eating for 6 to 8 hours, making your body ready to absorb anything you put into it. On my off days, I take it first thing in the morning with my espresso shat.
Before your workout
This argument wants you to believe that consuming it before your workout will increase your strength, force, and endurance. Allowing you to activate more muscle fibers and, as a result, lift more weight and lead to more muscle growth.
The problem I have with this is that as long as you take creatine every day, your muscles are already saturated with it, and you should already be seeing increases in strength, force, and endurance. I don’t know how this would make any difference.
This is why there are many opinions about this topic.
After your workout
I feel this is the best time to take creatine, and I subscribe to the thinking that there is a window of opportunity between 30 and 60 minutes after your workout, where your body is primed to absorb every gram of creatine and protein to repair itself from the epic workout that you just performed.
This is only my opinion, but it is also backed by science. In the end, find what works best for you and do that.
Some people feel it helps them sleep, but I’ve had a hard time finding any studies to prove this. There isn’t anything that happens during your sleep that would make it more useful or absorbed more.
I’ve heard people arguing this point before, but for the life of me can’t figure out why. If you want to take it before bed go right ahead, but at least with the three prior times, you can find a case study or science fact to back them up.
Creatine Side Effects
Creatine monohydrate and HCL have been tested more than any other supplement on the market, allowing you to comfortably judge the long term and short term safety of the product.
Some side effects can come with creatine supplementation, but almost all of them can be avoided if you drink enough water while taking it.
These are some of them:
- Stomach pain
- Kidney stones
I want to point out again that when a healthy individual that doesn’t have any preexisting liver or kidney issues can avoid all of these above symptoms by drinking enough water daily while using creatine HCL or monohydrate.
Can You Take Creatine With Caffeine
I am a legit coffee addict, I would drink 20 shots of espresso a day if I knew my heart wouldn’t explode, but there is one thing you need to know about caffeine and creatine.
As we spoke about earlier, creatine pulls water into your muscles, which can make you dehydrated if you’re not drinking enough water throughout the day.
Unfortunately, caffeine also makes you dehydrated, so the combination of the two can put a hurting on your water levels unless you make sure to drink a lot.
Over the years, I have gotten used to drinking around a gallon of water a day, but I know this isn’t common for everyone, so I wanted you to be aware of this so that you can take measures to hydrate appropriately.
Nonresponders VS Responders
There is a percentage of people that do not respond to the benefits of creatine due to there genetic disposition.
If you do the loading phase, you should know within two weeks if you are responding to creatine supplementation, you’ll notice less muscle fatigue and a small increase in how much you can lift.
If you’re not doing the loading phase, you’ll have to wait for 3 to 4 weeks to see if you’re a nonresponder.
How To Do A Loading phase
Your muscles naturally store creatine, but it is believed that they are only 60 to 80% filled at any given time, supplementing with creatine will fill the remaining 40 to 20%.
Doing a loading phase, you will fill up your creatine stores quickly, allowing you to experience the benefits sooner.
During the first week of usage, you’ll take 20 grams a day broken up into four daily servings of 5 grams each, generally taken at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed.
After the loading phase, you’ll take one serving every day that will range from 3 to 10 grams. I never take more than 5g of creatine monohydrate a day; anything above this is a waste.
Once you saturate your muscles with the loading phase and maintain the levels with 5 grams per day after that, your muscles can’t hold anymore, and the excess will be moved to your brain, liver, and kidneys.
Is The Loading Phase Necessary
In no way shape or form is it necessary to do the loading phase; if you start with 5 grams a day in about 3 to 4 weeks, your storage will be at its max. The loading phase-only gets them filled up quickly, and there is no other benefit other than that.
How Should You Take Creatine
The options below are some of the popular ways people take it; if you want to make it with water, that is also completely fine, and you will still receive all the benefits.
A lot of experts will tell you to mix it with a fruit juice that is high in sugar. The thinking behind this is that insulin regulates the absorption of creatine, so if you spike your insulin, you will elevate absorption levels.
There is a problem with this, though, you have to use a fruit juice that has at least 100 grams of sugar to raise your insulin. Since you take creatine every day, the calories from the high sugar content are going to add up quickly.
If you feel like this is beneficial, make sure to do your research and to find the healthiest fruit juice you can and make sure to account for the calories in your nutrition plan.
I mix mine up with a protein shake just for the sake of convenience, I drink it after every workout and don’t have to worry about forgetting it.
Many people believe that there is a 30-minute window after your workout where your body is starved for nutrients and will use a higher percentage at this point than at any other point during the day.
Many people buy pre-workouts that have creatine in them already, or you can add some to it; I find most pre-workout supplements to be garbage, and it is just as beneficial or healthier at times to have a double shot of espresso.
Especially since caffeine is the main ingredient in pre-workouts, it’s just covered up by a bunch of other ingredients to make you feel like you’re taking something special.
The best type of creatine for you may be in pill, liquid, or powder form, but I believe that the most important consideration should be how safe and effective it is.
Creatine monohydrate powder is undoubtedly one of the most effective and safe supplement in this world.
I don’t see any case where the ease of capsules or the convenience of a liquid creatine can make you want to try one of those types and ignore all of the results that has been seen for over two decades of scientific data from creatine monohydrate.