If there was ever a bodybuilding supplement built to stand the test of time, it’s creatine. The body is already familiar with creatine because this molecule already exists within it naturally. Still, with supplementation, users can improve their endurance, increase muscle mass, and promote better recovery after workouts.
Still, many factors contribute to finding the remedy that is best for the user. There are different types of creatine, and the quality can determine if the user can get what they need. To help users find the right supplement, look at the top rankings of the available creatine supplements this year.
The Top Creatine Supplements in 2021
After reviewing many different options, this guide narrowed down the top supplements for creatine on the market today. Those formulas include:
- CrazyBulk CRN-5 Creatine
- XWerks LIFT
- Onnit Creatine
- Performance Lab Maintain
- Cellucor Creatine Monohydrate
- Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
- Beast Sports Creature Creatine
- NSP Nutrition Muscle Power Creatine
- Elm & Rye Creatine
Read on below to learn more information about the way that each of these products works.
CrazyBulk CRN-5 Creatine
CrazyBulk is at the top of this guide’s list for the many products they’ve developed as legal steroid alternatives. The CRN-5 Creatine formula is just another one of their high-quality remedies, offering 30 scoops in every jar at 10.2 grams each. The whole point of this remedy is to improve the user’s pumps and make heavy lifting easier for users. It also enhances the user’s workouts and recovery process.
To make sure that their product stands out, CrazyBulk offers five different types of creatine, which are:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine hydrochloride
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Creatine citrate pyruvate
- Tri-creatine malate
Users also benefit from electrolytes that will enhance hydration, and they are encouraged to keep drinking as much water as possible. For one tub, the total cost is $49.
LIFT from XWerks offers an uncomplicated remedy that gives users exactly what they want – creatine. They don’t try and spruce up the ingredient or make it seem more magical. Instead, the product simply offers unflavored creatine monohydrate that blends easily into shakes, pre-workout formulas, and other drinks.
This formula is so high on the list due to the power increase and significant strength support that the remedy offers without frivolous ingredients. Users get 5 grams of creatine in every serving, though the mixture provides 80 servings per container. The whole package only costs $39, giving the user incredible value for the amount they receive.
Onnit is another brand that already has a solid reputation in the supplement world, and they’ve done it again with the Creatine formula. Using creatine monohydrate, users improve their strength and performance with incredible value. Plus, it is available for just $15 to get 30 servings of the remedy.
Performance Lab Maintain
SPORT Maintain from Performance Lab offers an extended-release formula that helps to improve muscle growth throughout the day. It is meant to be used every day to keep the strength, power, and endurance that creatine is known to offer.
While it isn’t quite as much as some of the other products offer, it also doesn’t have to be mixed. To make sure that the Maintain formula stands out, users don’t have to mix anything. Instead, the supplement is offered as a capsule. To get the muscle gains they want, users have to take quite a few pills – 6 to 10, to be exact. Still, they bring about 3,000 mg of creatine from those capsules.
Along with creatine, this formula offers 1,600 mg of beta-alanine to support the recovery process. Users get ten servings in every bottle for $44, so anyone who wants to save a little money may seek another option.
Cellucor Creatine Monohydrate
Anyone who uses some kind of fitness supplement knows the Cellucor name. Luckily, all of the hype is well-placed when it comes to the creatine formula. With 72 servings in every package, users pay very little to get the support that they want. It is the best value of any other product on the list for $20.
Users get micronized creatine monohydrate daily to improve digestion and increase how quickly it is absorbed. As it stands, the Cellucor formula is one of the top creatine supplements available on the market. Users should keep up with daily servings to make lean muscle mass a reality.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
Optimum Nutrition is another prime example of a brand that already boasts a strong reputation. With their Micronized Creatine Powder, users get a boost for their body as they push their muscle size, strength, and performance to new limits. To improve ATP recycling, users gain 5 grams of creatine monohydrate in every serving, making each movement more powerful than the last.
Users that want to prioritize their muscle development will be pleasantly surprised to find that each serving is free of calories and carbohydrates. Instead, there are no fillers, ensuring that users get creatine monohydrate. Packages are available with up to 400 servings, though the 30-serving container is just $10.99.
Beast Sports Creature Creatine
Beast Sports Creature Creatine offers elegant packaging for a product that assertively boosts muscle mass. Though other products on this list are primarily unflavored, Beast Sports breaks the mold with cherry limeade, citrus, pink lemonade, and other options for maximum taste and enjoyability.
With a level up in muscle performance, users can boost their bench press, promote better sprinting, and improve lean muscle mass with ease. It is up to the user to put in the work, but Creature Creatine lays the foundation they need with five types of creatine. The included creatine is:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Di-Creatine malate
- Creatine anhydrous
- Creatine gluconate
- Crea-Trona (a buffered form of creatine with 94% creatine and 6% of a buffering agent)
Along with a choice of flavors, users get to choose from a capsule or powder to meet their needs. The powder only requires one scoop with a glass of water to get the desired effects, though it may be best to use it before and after a workout to get the best benefits. Users get 60 servings for $30, which is a relatively reasonable price.
NSP Nutrition Muscle Power Creatine
NSP Nutrition Muscle Power Creatine zeroes in on the need for consumers to get fast results from the products chosen. Users seem to see quicker changes in their muscle mass, fat loss, and strength with this potent dose of 5 grams of creatine per serving.
The total cost of this formula is just $28, only offering creatine monohydrate as the source of creatine. No fillers flush it out, which means that users can improve their energy and strength with better performance during exercise.
Elm & Rye Creatine
Elm & Rye Creatine is still new in the industry, but their efforts are beneficial. The company already has a relatively good reputation, helping users improve their muscle growth and increase their physical performance. Plus, the balance of nutrients makes it possible to alleviate the muscle fatigue that happens during recovery.
Instead of condensing everything down to a powder, users get capsules that they can just swallow with water. While users won’t get quite the same amount of creatine that they often get from a powder, they still get 1,400 mg in every serving. The total cost of these capsules is $50.
Determining How to Rank the Top Creatine Monohydrate Supplements
Creatine is a singular ingredient among many in the supplement industry, making it difficult for companies and consumers to see how each product differed. Every remedy doesn’t live up to the promises made, so this guide considered the following criteria.
Types of Creatine
There are many different types of creatine, but the majority of products only include creatine monohydrate. This source is incredibly beneficial to users, but this guide preferred brands with a few different types of creatine for a more rounded approach. While some types help users absorb the nutrients quickly, others have more of an “extended release” approach. More creatine types mean that users get more benefits.
Price and Value
In general, creatine is relatively affordable for most budgets. Getting high-quality creatine won’t break the bank for users, and there are even products that only cost the user about 50 cents for every serving they purchase. Any unusually high supplements didn’t make this list, but there are products for every budget. While some formulas are as little as $10, others can cost $100 for a one-month supply.
Track Record of Manufacturer
Supplementing with creatine has happened for years, and some manufacturers have seemingly been in this space since the very beginning. Other brands are only just now jumping on the bandwagon. The length of time that a brand has offered their supplement didn’t sway these rankings, but they have a track record of high-quality production.
Understanding what is in a supplement is the key to improving the user’s performance and energy. Some companies hide what is actually in the product by placing the ingredients in a proprietary blend or simply refusing to list creatine dosage and other elements. The preferred brands are the ones that show complete transparency to users.
Honest Advertised Benefits
Though it is vital to be transparent and honest about what goes into a creatine supplement, it is equally important to be honest in what they can do. It is impossible to create massive muscle gains within a single night, and there’s no way to improve pumps without a bit of work. Companies that claimed to make significant changes without participation on the user’s part were enough to deter them from a spot on this list.
Effective Creatine Dosage
A creatine supplement needs to contain between 3 and 10 grams of creatine in every serving to be effective. Most supplements use about 4-5 grams to improve effectiveness, but any amount below or above this amount was generally ineffective.
Minimal Filler Ingredients
The whole point of a creatine supplement is to get the energy and support that the muscles need. Most users don’t seek out these remedies to get stimulants or protein, which is why the preferred products for this list were the ones that didn’t include any other ingredients. Electrolytes (like potassium and sodium) were the only exceptions because they help with hydration. More elements in the formula dilute the effectiveness of the creatine, making it pointless to take one at all.
Mixability and Texture
While some creatine supplements are available in capsules, powdered remedies can be reasonably challenging to enjoy. Some powders are too clumpy to mix correctly, while others have a chalky texture that is next to impossible to choke down. The creatine supplements here had to be mixable for users to enjoy rather than dread.
Absorbability and Micronized Creatine
Micronizing is a process that helps users to improve how absorbable their creatine is. Smaller molecules increase the ability to take in nourishment, making it easier for muscles to utilize.
What is Creatine?
The human body already contains creatine, but what is it? Why does it matter? From a chemical standpoint, creatine is just three different amino acids – arginine, glycine, and methionine. These amino acids are needed as a way to provide fuel for the muscles. Without it, the muscles simply don’t have enough energy to move.
Most often, creatine is introduced to give the muscles a little more support during quick movements. Studies indicate that regular use helps with sprint speed and lifting strength.
How Does Creatine Work?
While some products are rather complicated to understand, creatine is simple. By consuming this supplement, users can positively impact their muscle contractions and the processes involved with them.
The body contains adenosine triphosphate (ATP), but it only has enough to give the user the necessary energy for their activities in a 10-second burst. Using creatine phosphate provides the user with more of the molecule that drives this energy. By improving the performance, the user already increases how much creatine phosphate is used in the body. Higher ATP levels mean that users get greater efficiency with their energy levels.
By integrating creatine into the body, studies indicate that training intensity and recovery improve substantially.
Who Should Take Creatine?
Most people believe that creatine users are primarily bodybuilders and other people who want to increase their strength. However, considering the many benefits of creatine, consumers who want to promote better muscle recovery, lean muscle development, joint health, and brain health can also get support.
Some of the groups that may consider using creatine in their everyday life include:
- People who want to improve their strength or muscle mass.
- Anyone who wants to improve their workout
- Individuals that want to increase lean muscle mass
- Someone who wants to recover faster after injury or physical activity
- People who want to improve their cognition and brain power
If an individual wants to improve their overall performance with a nutritional supplement, creatine could be the best option.
Types of Creatine
To choose the right creatine supplement, consumers should first learn about the different types of creatine that are currently available. Consumers often use creatine monohydrate because it is the most popular, but others still provide impressive health benefits. Some formulas even use up to five types of creatine in one product.
The common types of creatine include:
Creatine Monohydrate: As the most cost-effective remedy, users will likely find this version of creatine in almost every supplement. It was the original variation used to create supplements in the first place for bodybuilding.
Creatine Ethyl Ester: The purpose of this variation is to introduce a bond with ester salts, promoting better bioavailability. Though it is easier for the body to reap the benefits of the digestive system, some studies suggest no real difference between the benefits of creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester.
Creatine Hydrochloride (HCl): This option bonds with hydrochloride molecules, ensuring that the product is easier on the digestive process (because it is soluble in water). Individuals that find creatine monohydrate harsher on their stomach may want to check out this version instead.
Buffered Creatine: Buffered creatine has a higher pH level than the other creatine types. Though studies don’t find much difference between creatine monohydrate and buffered creatine available, some think the latter holds much better in the body.
Liquid Creatine: This version is simply liquified to make it easier for users to consume and use. While some customers find this product easier to handle, the research on liquid creatine is still minimal.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate: This version of creatine has been bonded with magnesium for faster absorbability, though researchers have yet to back up this claim.
No matter which type of creatine the user chooses, most focus on increasing energy levels to promote better physical performance.
Scientific Studies on Creatine
Creatine’s history in the bodybuilding industry has made it possible for science and researchers to gain a complete understanding of what it can do. There is no shortage of studies to demonstrate creatine’s benefits, further showing why it has been trusted for decades.
Back in 2003, researchers wanted to understand the effects that creatine has on performance. At Baylor University, the researchers concluded that this molecule helped individuals who tried to promote better lifts and promote more incredible speed in their sprinting. The researchers also discovered a direct link between the use of creatine and improved overall muscle. Unfortunately, the researchers did not see a long-lasting effect on endurance for individuals who participated in aerobic exercise.
As researchers learn more about this ingredient, approximately 70% of the studies come back to the improved muscle mass offered. The results showed 5% to 15% progress across most studies on muscle growth, muscle mass improvement, and strength, even short-term performance.
In 2017, researchers again sought to understand the other benefits users could get from keeping creatine in their routine. The researchers found no side effects or risks of use in individuals already healthy before including this remedy. Plus, the use of creatine tends to benefit the entire workout and is incredibly safe.
Stacking creatine and protein is another standard method that consumers use to keep up their muscle development. In a 2001 study, researchers tested the effects of creatine use with protein supplementation on participants. The group that received the protein/creatine combination (as opposed to the placebo) saw an increase in their lean muscle mass, maximum bench press, and strength.
Even individuals that aren’t trying to build muscle can benefit from the use of creatine. Creatine helps users to heal from injuries while improving the health of joints. A study by researchers in Belgium checked the effect of creatine on 22 participants who had to be immobilized in a cast, though not injured—using creatine made regaining strength after immobilization much easier.
Older adults may add creatine to promote better joint health. The aging process can be harsh for the body, significantly as collagen and other forms of nutrients deplete. Using supplements to regain this nutrition is an easy way to protect the body. To examine the effects that creatine has on elderly consumers, giving part of the group placebos. The group then had to keep up with a resistance training program for 12 weeks to see the effects, discovering that the adults had strength and muscle gains that were not seen in individuals who only took the placebo. Using a creatine supplement is a helpful way for individuals to keep their muscle mass and strength as they age, even if they don’t participate in a fitness program.
Cardiovascular health also benefits from creatine use. Some studies have been used to understand this molecule’s effects on the risk of heart failure. Individuals who added creatine to their routine significantly improved the healing after standard treatments than individuals who didn’t.
Cognitive benefits are also a significant part of why consumers seek to improve their bodies with creatine. A study in 2017 showed that the use of a creatine supplement could help individuals who suffered from mild concussions. With the benefits that creatine provides, cellular energy is preserved for better recovery. Cognitive function was also supported by a study in 2019, showing that creatine use could help the brain maintain its function during times of stress.
Creatine helps consumers that want to keep their blood sugar under control, especially if they have been diagnosed with diabetes. The latest research examined the effects of creatine on diabetics for 12 weeks. The individuals who used exercise and took a creatine supplement could naturally manage ordinarily high blood sugar levels after quickly eating a lot of carbohydrates.
In some cases, creatine helps to reduce the risk of cancer. While the preliminary investigations have been promising, studies still need to be pursued to determine a correlation between the two concerns.
Side Effects of Creatine
For healthy adults, creatine is unlikely to cause any side effects at all. After all, the body already naturally produces some creatine levels, and most sources are vegan or vegetarian. Most healthy adults have no side effects in scientific studies, even after using this ingredient for six months or more.
The only exception is that consumers with creatine use tend to gain a little weight. The weight is seemingly no more than lean body mass, giving the user the extra bulk that they want.
The people who seem to be at a greater risk of developing side effects for creatine are older adults. This demographic is more prone to kidney disease, liver disease, and high blood pressure. Anyone who has health concerns before taking creatine may want to speak with a medical professional to make the right choice for their particular needs.
Recommended Creatine Dosage
The total creatine that users will likely get from a creatine supplement ranges from 4-6 grams in each serving. Depending on the particular product, the user will take the serving about once or twice a day. The individuals who make it more frequently will likely add a serving before and after their workouts.
During days without a workout, some users reduce how much they take to maintain their progress. Rather than taking a full scoop, they may only take 50% or even 25% of the regular serving size. Luckily, studies suggest that the benefits of creatine still occur in doses that are no more than 3 grams each day.
Even though it is possible to use a higher amount of creatine – about 20 grams or higher – it won’t likely push the user to experience more remarkable effects. Once the muscles are thoroughly saturated with creatine, they cannot use any added support. The creatine becomes wasted and expelled through the kidneys.
Individuals that have greater muscle mass or a higher weight can handle more creatine. For instance, someone who is 140 lbs. can take about 5-6 grams, while someone over 200 lbs. will still see a difference with 8-12 grams.
Frequently Asked Questions About Creatine
Q: How does creatine work?
A: Creatine helps the muscles to improve their energy expenditure. Creatine is used to saturate the muscles with the power they need for a short-term boost in performance.
Q: Is creatine found in food?
A: It is possible to get a modest amount of creatine from an individual’s foods. However, getting the necessary support for workouts and other physical activity is much easier if the user takes a supplement.
Q: Which foods have the most creatine?
A: Apart from using a supplement, users get creatine whenever they consume raw beef, salmon, and similar meats. However, in one pound of each of these meats, the total creatine is about 1-2 grams.
Q: What is creatine?
A: Creatine provides the body with short-term energy bursts. This molecule is pivotal to the muscle’s generation of new energy. Using a supplement creates more energy; it also promotes better energy pathways to make creatine usable.
Q: What are the benefits of creatine?
A: The main reason consumers use creatine is for the boost it offers the muscles during workouts. It can improve lean muscle mass, support recovery, and encourage muscle growth. Some studies show that using creatine can help users improve their cognition, support the health of their hearts, and provide other impressive benefits.
Q: What’s the best type of creatine?
A: Every type of creatine has its advantage. The most popular type is currently creatine monohydrate, but there are other options as well. Creatine anhydrous, for example, is a purer version of the molecule. Some supplements will combine several types of collagen to best support the body to get the best absorption.
Q: How many types of creatine are there?
A: Seven. The creatine types often used in supplements include creatine monohydrate, creatine anhydrous, creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride, buffered creatine, liquid creatine, and creatine magnesium chelate.
Q: Is creatine bad for you?
A: As long as the user is healthy and follows the guidelines for the particular creatine supplement they choose, side effects are rare. Individuals that experience an adverse effect should speak with a medical professional.
Q: Who should take creatine?
A: Everyone can benefit from the use of creatine. Bodybuilders and amateur gym enthusiasts get the benefits they need from this ingredient, which is why it is popular and necessary.
Q: Should users cycle creatine? How does creatine loading work?
A: To improve how well consumers absorb creatine, some people cycle it. While some people use about 20 grams each day to bulk up, others will drop to 5 grams on the days they simply want to maintain their results. Based on the current research, it is difficult to determine if creatine loading is more helpful to users than not. Research is still ongoing, and limited information is currently offered to users.
Q: What is the best time of day to take creatine?
A: The time of day is irrelevant. Splitting creatine into multiple doses can effectively get all-day support, offering about 5 grams per dose. Spreading out the amounts helps users to absorb creatine effectively.
Q: Is creatine safe to take at night?
A: Absolutely. Creatine doesn’t contain any natural stimulants, so it won’t likely keep the user up each night.
Q: Should I take creatine before or after a workout?
A: Users can take it at either time. Consumers vary between taking it before a workout or after one to improve the development of muscles.
Q: How do I take creatine?
A: The majority of creatine supplements are either offered as a powder or a capsule. The powders sometimes provide their mixable flavors, while the tablets require at least once-daily use.
Q: What is a creatine shuttle?
A: A creatine shuttle helps users better absorb creatine into their muscles, using a combination of creatine and other ingredients. Glutamine and dextrose are common ingredients to combine with it.
Q: If the user no longer takes creatine, will they lose muscle mass?
A: Not necessarily. Creatine causes the body to hold onto more water weight, so the user will likely see a slight weight change. However, muscle loss is not common.
Q: Does creatine cause water retention?
A: Not exactly. To promote better muscle performance, creatine pushes the body to draw water from it. It won’t cause the body to retain moisture beyond that adjustment.
Q: What’s the best time to take creatine?
A: Anytime! However, the most optimal use of creatine comes when the user takes it after a workout.
Q: Does creatine impact kidney function?
A: There is a possibility that creatine will impact kidney function in older adults that take creatine. Though only small studies demonstrate this idea, healthy adults can mostly take creatine without risk or concern for their kidney function. Individuals that want to use creatine might first like to speak with a medical professional if they have a history of health issues.
Q: Does creatine cause obesity?
A: Short-term weight gain is familiar with creatine use since it promotes more excellent fluid retention. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, resisting any type of weight gain or swelling is incredibly easy.
Q: Can women take creatine?
A: Yes. Creatine doesn’t impact the user’s hormones. There are no studies that indicate that creatine use by women will negatively impact them.
Q: Does creatine negatively interact with caffeine?
A: Studies are mixed. While some researchers show that creatine and caffeine help each other when taken together, other studies claim they deactivate each other. More studies are still needed.
Q: Does creatine cause hair loss?
A: While hair loss is unlikely to directly result from creatine usage, how this formula causes DHT to rise could inherently reduce the user’s hair thickness.
Q: Is creatine vegetarian/vegan?
A: Right now, the cheapest creatine sources to make are ones with vegan or vegetarian resources, which is why nearly every creatine product on the market prefers them.
Q: Does every person need a creatine supplement?
A: Not necessarily. Creatine is already naturally produced by the body, and a balanced diet already gives users a small amount. Anyone who wants to boost their muscle growth in their active lifestyle would benefit from the improved performance that it offers.
Q: How much creatine does the human body produce each day?
A: On average, the body already creates 1-2 grams of creatine daily.
Q: How much creatine do I need to take?
A: Creatine supplementation is unnecessary, so there is no “need” to reach a certain amount each day. However, users that want to add a creatine supplement to their routine would benefit from using 10-20 grams daily. Individuals who wish to maintain their results should use about 3-5 grams daily instead.
Q: What is creatinine?
A: While creatine is a molecule, creatinine is a metabolite from creatine and creatine phosphate production. To expel creatinine, the body naturally pushes it through the kidneys.
Q: What’s the best creatine supplement?
A: All of the remedies on this list are excellent options for creatine supplementation.
The Top Creatine Supplements in 2021 Final Thoughts
The use of creatine in workout supplements has been around for decades, predating the influx of health gurus and specialized trainers. It is found in products like legal alternatives to steroids and testosterone boosters, showing its flexibility in the market today. It has consistently been one of the most important and notable compounds for users, and today’s world of fitness proves that it is still just as necessary.
Whether the user wants to improve their muscle development, promote lean muscle mass, or enhance cognition, the products on this list can help exponentially.
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