Creatine can be a great addition to your diet if you’re looking to improve your athletic performance and build more muscle. Supplements come in various forms and types, so finding the best creatine supplement to meet your individual needs is vital.
We’ve done the research for you and have picked the best brands and forms to meet each and every need and help you reach your athletic goals in the most efficient way possible.
Top Pick: The Best Creatine Supplement Is -Creapure
Creapure comes in as our top pick for creatine supplements. This German-based company prides itself on choosing the highest-quality ingredients to ensure purity.
Creapure is a powder supplement made from monohydrate and can easily be dissolved in water for quick absorption. This product contains 80 servings per container.
Pro: Creapure is tasteless and dissolves quickly and easily in water.
Con: The product does not come with a scoop. You will have to find a measuring tool that matches the recommended dose.
Runner Up: Best Creatine For Bulking – Naked Creatine
Naked supplements are made with 100% creatine monohydrate. This product is vegan, non-GMO, and gluten and soy-free.
There are no added ingredients or sweeteners, so you know it’s pure. Because there are no added ingredients, It can absorb ultra-fast for quick results. There are 200 servings per container.
Pro: No artificial ingredients, no sweeteners, just 100% monohydrate. Scoop included!
Cons: Reviewers have noticed this supplement is marketed solely to men.
Budget Pick: Best creatine Supplement For Vegans – Nutricost
Nutricost is our top pick if you’re on a budget. This affordable supplement still values high-quality ingredients with no fillers or enhancers.
Nutricost is 100% creatine monohydrate and is paleo and vegan friendly.
This supplement contains micronized granular, which means you get high results from a lower dose. There are 90 servings in this product.
Pro: Micronized for quick absorption and fast results.
Cons: A scoop is included but does not match the recommended dose. This product does not dissolve easily in water, and reviewers have noted residue or chunks at the bottom of their bottles.
Best Flavored: Six Star
Six star takes the lead for flavored creatine supplements. The fruit punch flavor makes this supplement easy to drink. Six Star includes both monohydrate and HCL for added effectiveness.
Pro: Fruit punch flavor makes for a more enjoyable supplement drink.
Con: This product has added dyes and sweeteners.
Best Unflavored: Bulk Supplements
Bulk Supplements create our favorite unflavored creatine. This product is made from 100% creatine monohydrate and has been lab-tested to ensure quality and purity.
The bulk supplements brand is well known and is one of the largest distributors of pure food and supplements.
Pro: Bulk Supplements is a top brand with a lot of recognition. You can be sure you are getting high-quality products.
Con: Scoop not included. You will have to supply your own measuring device.
Best For Men: Muscle Tech
Muscle Tech tests each product for quality and purity. This product has one of the highest doses of creatine on the market.
The fruit punch flavor gives it a nice flavor and makes it easier to drink. This product has 5 grams of monohydrate and 5 grams of HCL to increase absorption and effectiveness.
Pro: Higher doses mean you get more results with less product needed.
Con: Some reviewers have experienced adverse side effects, such as muscle spasms and cramping.
Best For Women: Skinny Fit
Skinny Fit is explicitly created for women who want to increase their focus and energy during exercise.
This product can help you burn fat while increasing physical activity and reducing muscle soreness. This product contains 30 servings per container.
Pro: Great taste and boosts your mood.
Con: The powder can take a while to dissolve and may leave a residue in your glass.
Best For Strength: Raw Barrell
The Raw Barrel micronized formula gives you increased absorption for higher efficiency.
Efficient absorption means your muscles can work harder and build mass quickly. This supplement is free of fillers and additives and has been lab-tested for purity.
Pro: Raw Barrell’s personalized packaging shows they care about their consumers.
Con: This product does not dissolve quickly in liquid and may have an unpleasant aftertaste.
Best Monohydrate – Optimum Nutrition
Optimum Nutrition is a micronized formula of pure creatine monohydrate. The 100% monohydrate will support strength, power, and muscle gain. This product is unflavored and can easily be mixed with any shake or liquid.
Pro: Pure monohydrate and the micronized formula gives you maxim potency for muscle strength and power.
Con: No scoop included; you must have your own measuring tool.
Best Creatine Stack – Cell Mass
The Cell Mass creatine supplement is a mix of creatine monohydrate, creatine HCL, and creatine anhydrous.
The combination of these three types provides a complete post-workout recovery drink. This product comes in a refreshing watermelon flavor.
Pro: Combined forms of create highly effective results.
Con: Some reviewers have noted increased bloating while taking this product.
Best Creatine Pills – Kaged Muscle
Kaged Muscle creatine supplements come in pill form rather than powder. This can reduce adverse side effects, such as nausea and bloat.
This formula is made from HCL, which has high absorption and decreased stomach discomfort. There are no added colors or sweeteners.
Pro: A great option if creatine monohydrate does not agree with you or caused adverse side effects.
Con: Pill supplements take longer to dissolve in the body.
Best Creatine HCL – Bulk Supplements
Bulk Supplements creates another option made with creatine HCL rather than monohydrate. HCL can reduce the risk of side effects such as stomach cramping and nausea. Bulk Supplements is a well-known brand with effective ingredients.
Pro: This product can reduce cramping and nausea seen in other monohydrate products.
Cons: Reviewers have noted this product does not have a pleasant taste and is best mixed with a flavored shake or liquid.
Best For Muscle Gain – EFX Sports
The EFX Sports creatine supplement is created with a higher pH level than most other types.
This means your body will absorb this product more efficiently. This efficiency allows your muscles to gain more positive benefits and gain muscle more effectively. This product comes in pill form.
Pro: The company creates all of its own products to ensure the best ingredients and highest quality.
Con: The pills are large and difficult to swallow.
Best For Nootropics – Genius Brand
If your focus is on athletic performance and brain health, Genius Brand may be a great choice.
This product has all-natural ingredients that are lab tested and clinically proven. There are no added ingredients or sweeteners.
Pro: Highly tested to ensure quality and effectiveness.
Con: This product does not mix well in liquid and may leave residue in your glass.
Best Micronized Creatine – Bodybuilding
Bodybuilding’s micronized formula is created for fast, efficient absorption. The company boasts high-quality ingredients and an effective dose that has been backed by research. This product does not contain any fillers or added ingredients.
Pro: Highly-researched micronized formula gives you the perfect amount of absorption and efficiency.
Con: The large container is only filled half-way, making it appear as though there is more product than there is.
Best Vegan Creatine – Vivo Life
Vivo Life is a creatine supplement that is plant-based and certified vegan. This product is third-party lab tested for quality and purity. The packaging is made from 100% compostable material making this an environmentally-friendly choice.
Pro: This product contains quality eco-friendly ingredients that are lab tested.
Con: Although eco-friendly, the packaging is difficult to open and is not as sturdy as a plastic tub.
What is Creatine
It is a chemical naturally found in the human body and produces energy for your muscles during intense exercise or heavy lifting. Its also found in red meats and fish as well as dietary supplements.
Athletes and gym enthusiasts take creatine supplements to enhance their gym performance. It is a popular supplement due to its ability to increase muscle mass and exercise performance.
It enables you to work longer and harder during a period of exercise, thus building more muscle mass over time. It increases the muscle’s ability to repair itself and reduces the amount of breakdown that occurs during exertion.
It’s formed through the combination of three amino acids: L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. In the human body, 95% of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscle, and 5% is stored in the brain.
Although more research is needed, it is believed that creatine could prevent skin aging and muscle loss as you get older. It may also enhance cognitive ability and memory, which may protect your brain as you age.
Who Should Buy Creatine Supplements
Many athletes or professional sports players take it to improve their training and exercise ability. This is a common supplement for weight training or bodybuilding and individuals who want to expand their capabilities in the gym.
Some individuals may consider it for health reasons such as muscular disease or protection against other neurological diseases.
Vegans and vegetarians have been known to take creatine due to a decrease in natural production. Always consult with a professional before adding creatine to your diet to manage any health concerns or symptoms.
What to Consider When Buying Creatine
Before buying a creatine supplement, there are some things you want to consider to ensure you are getting the best option to support your needs.
The first was made from creatine monohydrate and is still the most popular choice. This form is the most widely studied and has the most relevant research.
Other forms have recently been manufactured and claim to enhance their production. Kre-Alkalyn is a buffered form of creatine that has the same benefits without needing a loading period.
It claims to have more muscle absorption by reducing the amount of creatine breakdown in the stomach during digestion.
Creatine Hydrochloride enhances the effect of monohydrate in a smaller dose. Due to the smaller dose, less water is needed to take this supplement. This can reduce bloating and cramping during exercise.
Creatine Nitrate supplements bind creatine molecules to nitrate molecules to create more benefits in a smaller dose. Studies have found that nitrate has the same effect as monohydrate supplements.
When choosing a supplement, take a look at the ingredient list. Some manufacturers will add caffeine, sugar, or other ingredients. Creatine should be the first, if not only, ingredient on the list.
Flavor vs. Unflavored
Whether you want your powder flavored or unflavored is a choice of preference. One thing to note is that you are paying for the extra flavoring additive when buying flavored. With unflavored, you can be sure you are getting 100% pure product.
Is There a Scoop
Many supplements come with their own scoop, which makes dosing easy. If your powder does not come with a scoop, you will have to determine the dosage amount and provide the appropriate measuring device.
The price can vary depending on quality and potency. Most supplements range from $12-$30. The best supplements for your money are those that are 100% creatine without any added ingredients. This way, you are paying solely for the product rather than sweeteners or fillers.
Benefits of Using Creatine
Increased ATP production
Phosphocreatine is your body’s natural source of creatine that aids in the formation of ATP. It will increase your store of phosphocreatine, which allows your body to produce more ATP.
Increased ATP means your body has a higher capacity to perform at a maximum level.
It will help you build muscle mass by boosting the creation of proteins that aid in muscle building. You will also expand the water content in your muscles, enhancing the size of your muscles and allowing them to grow quicker.
Muscles get their energy from ATP production. Creatine increases that ATP production, which means it gets replenished quicker and allows you to push your muscles further without getting fatigued.
Creatine supplements give your muscles more energy, which means you can perform at a higher aerobic capacity for longer. Not only do you have more energy to perform, but you will also recover more quickly and be able to take shorter breaks between exercises.
Another benefit of higher ATP production is greater strength when weightlifting. ATP is quickly depleted during high exertion, so more ATP means you can exert a higher energy amount with less fatigue.
Recent studies have shown that it may prevent neuron death and increase brain health.
Studies have shown that it may protect the cells in your brain from deteriorating and allow your brain cells to live longer. This can also benefit memory and depression and may even allow people who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury to heal faster.
Side Effects of Taking Creatine
Creatine has not been approved by the FDA but is considered safe to use for up to five years. Some side effects you may experience while taking it includes:
- Water retention
- Weight gain
- Muscle cramping
If you have any serious side effects, you should stop taking all supplements and consult your doctor immediately. It would help if you always discussed options with a professional before adding any supplement to your diet.
When Should You Take Creatine
Most studies that have been done have shown that there isn’t a specific time you need to take this supplement to get results. The time you take it is mostly up to personal preference and figuring out what works for you.
Some individuals believe it should be taken before a workout to increase strength and endurance. If you have found that you gain an extra boost during training, then you might want to consider it as a pre-workout supplement.
It can also help with muscle recovery and cell absorption. If this is something you are focused on, then using it as a post-workout supplement may be a better choice.
Although it is debated whether it’s best used before or after a workout, studies have pointed towards the idea that it should be taken close to your workout time. Individuals who take it in the morning or night have seen lower results than those who time it with their exercise routine.
The Best Type of Creatine
These supplements come in a variety of types and can be ingested in different ways. Here are some common types you can find and the effectiveness of each.
Creatine monohydrate is the most popular and most studied form. This type comes in a powder that can be dissolved in a liquid or shake. Monohydrate is thought to be the most effective, safe, and studied supplement on the planet. (And I’m Not Exaggerating)
Liquid creatine comes already dissolved in water. Research suggests that this form is less effective than monohydrate powders.
Creatine hydrochloride can be taken in smaller doses with similar effects of monohydrate. The smaller dose means less water is needed to take the supplement and may decrease some negative side effects such as cramping.
Creatine supplements also come in pill form. This is beneficial because it can be taken quickly with minimal water, but it will take longer to absorb because it needs to be digested by the body before being active.
Micronized supplements dissolve faster in liquid due to the smaller particle size. This allows for easy mixing that won’t sink to the bottom or thicken over time.
Responders and Non-Responders
Creatine supplements won’t work for every individual. In fact, it is believed that 20-30% of individuals will not see any benefits from taking a creatine supplement. These individuals are called “non-responders” because their bodies do not respond to them the way most people do.
Its effects can be mostly seen during heavy weight-lifting. If you are using it solely to improve endurance, you may not see the same results. Some individuals have a naturally high muscle saturation, which means it will not help their muscles exert any higher.
The body’s ability to absorb and use creatine differs between individuals. Some people have a more difficult time transporting it from the bloodstream to their muscles.
How Do You Do the Loading Phase
If you have a well-balanced diet and incorporate red meat and fish regularly, your creatine stores are likely between 60-80% full. Adding a supplement can help you get to that 100% creatine storage.
To get there quickly, most products recommend a loading phase. This means you will take a higher dose of creatine to get your body’s stores to 100%.
Most loading phases are recommended for 5-7 days. Once the loading phase is complete, you can take a lower dose to maintain your creatine levels.
The loading phase is recommended but not necessary for results. Taking a lower daily dose can still get you to that 100% storage level, but it will take longer.
If you choose not to do the loading phase, you can expect creatine levels to be at their maximum within 3-4 weeks.
Can You Mix Creatine With Caffeine
There is still much research to be done in terms of caffeine and the effects it has when mixed with a creatine supplement.
Caffeine itself can cause gastrointestinal discomfort due to its high acidity. This can add to any adverse side effects seen with creatine, including nausea and cramping.
Mixing caffeine with creatine can also increase the chance of dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water during exercise.
Caffeine has been shown to improve gym performance, muscle endurance, mental clarity, and focus.
The bottom line is determining how caffeine affects your body and whether the benefits outweigh any negative digestional side effects.
The best creatine supplements can depend on your personal needs and preferences. Luckily there are many options out there to suit many individual needs.
Although more research is required, creatine has been shown to be a fairly safe supplement to help you enhance your gym routine, boost energy, and pack on more muscle.
Remember to consult your doctor or health professional before adding a creatine supplement to your diet.