The best creatine supplements are often considered the key to superhuman performance.
I’ll tell you why.
You work your body hard in the gym. Each and every session, you want to make that extra gain. The determination and desire are there, but sometimes, your muscles just say—no.
As much as you try, there is nothing left to give—however much you want it.
Creatine is the answer.
It’s a naturally occurring compound. Creatine has been scientifically proven to increase stamina, endurance, power, and muscle mass.
This best creatine supplement article will bring you the truth behind creatine. It will explain how and why it works, and bring you the most effective products on the market.
Table of Contents:
- Best Creatine Supplements
- What is Creatine?
- Which type of creatine is best?
- Creatine for bodybuilding
- How To Use Creatine
- Side Effects
- Types of creatine
Best Creatine Supplements: Top 6 Brands for Sale
1. Creatine HMB by Transparent Labs: Best Creatine for Bulking
Creatine HMB is only available on their official website
This creatine supplement from Transparent Labs is ideal for people looking to gain large mass within the shortest possible time.
What makes this supplement stand out, is that the creatine monohydrate powder contains an additional ingredient—β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (HMB).
Here’s the science:
HMB works alongside the creatine to boost muscle mass. Studies have shown that, even when taken on its own, HMB has impressive anabolic effects.
It promotes mass and strength increases. Hence combined with creatine, it makes for a supplement ideal for those wanting to bulk up. 19
This supplement is available from the Transparent Labs website and e-supplements—priced at $39.00 for 290 grams (30 servings).
- Contains creatine monohydrate—the most effective form.
- Includes additional HMB to promote bulk.
- Available in flavored or unflavored forms.
- Contains bioperine to boost absorption rates.
- Premium price.
- Only available on their official website.
2. Optimum Nutrition Creatine: Best Unflavored Creatine
As an unflavored supplement, this creatine powder would suit those who prefer to combine it with their favorite foods or drinks—not be bound to the flavors decided by manufacturers.
This powder includes micronized creatine. Although the increased surface area may make it more readily absorbable and dissolvable, this form has less scientific backing than the standard pure monohydrate variety.
Each serving delivers five grams of micronized creatine. The product is available in 150, 300, 600, 1200 and 2000 gram tubs. This makes it perfect for space-saving bulk-buying.
This creatine powder can be purchased from the Optimum Nutrition website, Amazon and the Vitamin shoppe. It’s priced at $15.99 for 600 grams.
- One of the cheaper creatine products available.
- Numerous pack size choices.
- Contains pure creatine with no fillers.
- Contains micronized creatine, not the standard form of creatine monohydrate.
3. Platinum Creatine by MuscleTech
Part of the MuscleTech Essential Series,
this creatine supplement is designed to improve recovery, increase strength and build muscle.
This supplement is third-party tested with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)—verifying that the ingredients contained are pure creatine and nothing else.
This supplement contains one ingredient—micronized creatine. There are no additional fillers, flavorings, colorings or sweeteners. A five-gram dosage is included in every serving.
This creatine supplement can be purchased from the official MuscleTech website, Amazon, Walgreen and Walmart. It’s priced at $14.99 for 400 grams (80 servings).
- No fillers, flavorings or sweeteners.
- HPLC tested for purity.
- Five-gram dosage.
- Available from numerous outlets.
- Designed to build muscle and aid recovery.
- Includes micronized creatine.
- Takes a while to dissolve.
4. Creatine 2500 Caps: Best Creatine Pills
An alternative for people who either do not like the taste of powdered supplements or haven’t the time or inclination to mix a preparation. This creatine supplement is supplied in capsules.
Each capsule delivers 2.5 grams of pure creatine monohydrate, with two taken daily to achieve the ideal dosage of five grams.
They are designed to dissolve quickly when consumed and feature a “fast-release” action—ensuring the creatine reaches the muscles as soon as possible.
Thus, providing explosive bursts in your training sessions.
These 2500 creatine capsules can be purchased from the Optimum Nutrition website, Amazon and GNC. They are supplied in 100, 200 or 300 capsule amounts. Currently, they cost $10.99 for 100 capsules.
Probably the best creatine pills, as opposed to powder, available today.
- Capsule form—ideal for those who hate to make shakes.
- Fast-release action.
- Available from numerous outlets.
- Convenient—no need to mix.
- Variety of capsule quantity options.
- Although unflavored, some users report a “strange” taste.
A powder which takes a different approach to creatine supplementation. It contains creatine hydrochloride—designed to be absorbed by the body faster and reduce water retention.
In addition, he manufacturers claim that hydrochloride is more potent than monohydrate—meaning less dosage is required. In this case, each serving provides 750 mg of creatine hydrochloride.
This does make it easier and simpler to ingest.
However a word of caution.
There are few studies available on this form of creatine, meaning that the claims cannot be substantiated.
Conversely, creatine monohydrate, as we have seen, is one of the most widely tested and scientifically proven forms.
This supplement can be purchased from the ProMera Sports website, Amazon and GNC. Each tub contains 61.4 grams of creatine hydrochloride (64 servings) and costs $29.99.
- Smaller servings than any other powder—easier to consume.
- Available in numerous stores.
- Comes in four different flavors.
- Includes creatine hydrochloride which has not been extensively tested.
6. BEAST Creature
Whereas all the above supplements include just one form of creatine, Beast Creature contains five. Their proprietary “creature advanced creatine blend” includes creatine monohydrate, malate, anhydrous, gluconate, and buffered creatine.
The theory is that combining these forms into a powder will provide the best results in strength and lean muscle mass gain. The combined dosage of this creatine results in a serving size of four grams.
However, there appears to be no evidence that combining these forms provides any benefits over and above creatine monohydrate supplementation.
It also includes ingredients such as banaba and chromium to control blood sugar levels.
This supplement can be purchased from Beast Sports, Amazon, and the Vitamin shoppe. It costs $27.99 for 60 servings (300 grams).
- A novel approach using a creatine blend.
- Includes ingredients to control blood sugar levels.
- Available in five flavors.
- There is no evidence that combining five different forms of creatine has any increased efficacy.
- The dosage of combined creatine is low—four grams as opposed to the usual five.
What Is Creatine and How Does It Work?
You may have heard about creatine at the gym. But there is one important question in your mind—what is creatine and what does it do?
Therefore, it’s entirely natural.
Creatine is essential for your muscles to work, by providing fuel for adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Let me explain how.
During resistance training,
as your muscles contract they exert bursts of power. This high-energy explosion is fuelled by ATP. As the name suggests, the nucleobase adenine is bound to three phosphates. 3
When one of these phosphates is released, this powers the burst of energy that allows you to raise the barbell or dumbbell.
The ATP has now lost one phosphate and becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP)—as it only has two bound phosphates remaining. In this state, it cannot provide the power required for any more energy release.
Your muscles cannot function, and the weights cannot be lifted. 4
Your body needs to find a replacement phosphate.
Creatine fuels the reattachment of that all-important third phosphate—turning ADP back into ATP. Your energy reserves are restored, muscle fibers are ready to contract, and you can carry on with extra repetitions. 5
Simply put, the more creatine you have, the more ATP your body produces—leading to longer endurance during training. The best creatine supplements provide this boost.
Which Type of Creatine Is Best?
Just as with all supplements, never accept anything at face value.
All creatine is not the same.
Later in this article,
I will illustrate the numerous types of creatine available.
as a point of reference, remember this:
Always choose a creatine supplement that contains creatine monohydrate.
Here’s why the best creatine supplements contain it:
- This form has the most evidence for effectiveness in scientific studies—over 1000 research articles have been published. 6
- Compared to other forms, creatine monohydrate provides the best results for strength, power, and endurance. 7
- Even with prolonged use, it’s safe—continuous supplementation over a five-year period illustrated no detrimental effects. 8 9
- It remains the most cost-effective way of supplementing with creatine.
In summary, monohydrate is the best type of creatine. Do not accept alternatives.
Creatine for Bodybuilding
Supplementing with the best creatine supplements can take training results to the next level.
While creatine can be obtained through food, it’s inadequate for those undergoing serious resistance training.
I will tell you why:
For one five-gram dose of creatine monohydrate, you would need to consume around 3.2 pounds of chicken per day. Both expensive, and a little impractical.
creatine does not occur in plants. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you will definitely need to supplement. 10
Here are the main creatine bodybuilding benefits:
- Boosts strength—the more weight you can lift in your sessions the larger the muscles will grow. 11
- Increases insulin-like growth factor (IGF) production—raising lean muscle mass. 12 13
- Reduces myostatin levels—myostatin can lead to a catabolic state, meaning muscle is lost. 14 15
- Increases muscle hydration—boosts muscle protein synthesis. 16
- Enhances endurance—allowing for longer workouts—improving performance. 17
- Improves cell signaling—increases the rate of muscle repair and growth. 18
These creatine effects make it an invaluable supplement for the bodybuilder.
Does Creatine ACTUALLY Build Muscle?
In combination with resistance training, creatine has powerful effects on muscle mass gain.
The best creatine supplements do this by increasing endurance, strength and providing the ideal chemical conditions for muscle growth.
How to Use Creatine
If you want to make the largest gains in the shortest time, it’s best to load creatine. This means boosting your levels with higher doses in the first few days, which can then be dropped and maintained afterward with a lower dose.
Start with 20 grams of creatine per day for seven days (its best to take four doses of five grams), then reduce to five grams per day thereafter. 20
There are no set rules on when to take creatine. Some studies indicate it’s best before a workout, others post workout. I would recommend taking it whenever is most convenient for you and then stick to that routine. 21 22
What Are the Side Effects of Creatine?
Studies have shown that even with prolonged supplementation, creatine use does not have any adverse health effects on the body. The dangers of creatine are extremely small. 23
However, in a minority of cases, some users have reported the following symptoms.
- Muscle cramps.
- Weight gain—although usually through an increase in muscle mass.
- Stomach cramps.
- Water retention.
A 2011 study investigated the numerous claims that creatine can affect the kidneys, liver and urinary tract and found them all to be unsubstantiated. 24
Creatine is one of the safest bodybuilding supplements on the market.
Types of Creatine
There are different of creatine available that all have similar functions, the most popular creatine used by bodybuilders and athletes is creatine monohydrate.
Supplement companies are now offering some of these types of creatine to consumers but we recommend sticking to the creatine monohydrate as it is proven to be very effective.
Creatine Ethyl Ester.
Creatine magnesium chelate.
Tri Creatine Malate.
Creatine is one of the most important supplements to take as a bodybuilder. With its power to build lean muscle mass, increase strength, improve endurance and give impressive pumps—it’s the answer to most bodybuilding needs.
Is It Better to Take Creatine Before or After a Workout?
It doesn’t matter. A 2014 study indicated better results were achieved when taken post-workout, whereas research from 2001 stated that pre-workout supplementation yields better returns.
Essentially, take when it’s most convenient for you. There is no reason why you cannot take it both before and after.
Does Creatine Only Cause Water Gain?
Although creatine hydrates muscle cells—leading to water gain, it does make them look more pumped. This also has another important effect—it improves performance.
A recent study illustrated that hydrating muscles improved the bench-pressing ability of experienced bodybuilders. 25
Does Creatine Make You Build More Muscle?
Yes, in numerous ways.These include:
- Improved muscle hydration increases nitrogen ions to promote muscle protein synthesis.
- Raises strength levels—the more you lift the more muscle you can gain.26
- Elevates endurance—the longer you work out, the greater the gains.
- Raises fat-free mass 27
Is Creatine Dangerous?
Despite isolated cases some media outlets have jumped upon, research has shown there are no known risks or side effects related to creatine supplementation. 28
How Long Is It Safe to Take Creatine?
As there are no adverse health effects, you can take the best creatine supplements continually.
However, if you are preparing for any competition, I suggest dropping creatine for 4 weeks prior to the event.
This can enable any excess water retained in muscles to be dropped, leading to a more defined physique.
How Much Water Should You Drink When Taking Creatine?
As creatine hydrates the muscles, this can mean less fluid is available for the rest of the body. Hence, your water intake should increase when supplementing.
To calculate your water requirement—cut your pound weight in half. That’s your regular (pre-exercise) daily water need in ounces. 29
To account for creatine supplementation, add 16 ounces for every five grams of creatine.
What Happens When You Stop Taking Creatine?
There is no “come-down”.
After about four weeks, your creatine levels will return to pre-supplementation amounts. The only difference you will notice is that the impressive endurance you had while supplementing will decrease.
Does Creatine Have Any Effects on Sperm?
but in a positive way. Studies have shown that creatine increases the motility of sperm. It’s actually used in IVF treatments to increase the chance of fertilization. 30
Is Creatine a Steroid?
Creatine is produced from the combination of three amino acids: methionine, arginine, and glycine. It occurs naturally in the body, its not manufactured in a laboratory and has no harmful side effects.
What Does Creatine Do to a Woman’s Body?
Creatine has the same effect on a woman’s body as a man’s. It increases muscle mass, raises strength levels and improves endurance.
What Is Micronized Creatine?
Essentially it’s creatine monohydrate that has been micronized, i.e. it has been microscopically divided into a very fine powder. This has the effect of increasing the surface area by around 20 times.
This process leads to it being very expensive.
How Many Grams of Creatine Should You Take Per Day?
The ideal dosage is five grams of creatine monohydrate per day.
Can Creatine Increase Testosterone?
Yes and no.
Whereas there is no evidence that actual testosterone levels increase when supplementing with creatine, there are some positive effects.
Studies have shown that creatine can increase the conversion rate of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is a more potent form of testosterone, which is more readily utilized by the body. 31
How Long Does Creatine Stay in Your System?
Creatine will always be present in the body as it’s naturally synthesized for muscle function. Elevated levels of creatine take between three to four weeks to return to normal after supplement cessation.
However, you will increase this depletion rate the more training you do post-creatine.
Can Creatine Cause Acne?
although it’s extremely rare.
Creatine can raise dihydrotestosterone levels, which in turn can increase the rate of acne—but only in those already predisposed to this condition.
Additionally, as creatine can act as a dehydrator, this can again increase the occurrence of acne. Raising your water intake by around 16 ounces per day can offset this risk.
Can Creatine Give You Energy?
During anaerobic activity (as in resistance training), your body targets the phosphates of creatine for energy. The more creatine you have, the more energy you possess to complete your workout. 32
Can Creatine Make You Fail a Drug Test?
As it’s synthesized naturally within the body, it’s expected to appear on both blood and urine tests. Furthermore, it’s not banned by WADA or the Olympic Committee (although some US colleges prohibit its use). 33