If you are an athlete, bodybuilder, weightlifter, or you just want to get in shape and improve your performance, you need to know about creatine. This is a non-protein amino acid that is made of three amino acids:
Your body naturally creates it, and it’s found in things such as seafood, poultry, and red meat. Plus, it can be found in the form of a capsule, liquid, or powder on the shelf of your local health food store. Many people use this supplement and there has been a lot of research that has gone into it.
Most creatine is stored in your muscles, 1 to 2% of it turns into creatinine and filters out through your urine. In order to maintain your normal creatine levels, you need to be taking 3 to 5 grams daily, based on muscle mass.
Approximately 50% of your creatine is processed in your body. The remaining 50% should come from your diet. Unfortunately, since vegetarians and vegans don’t eat meat, they typically have less creatine in their bodies than others. This is why supplementation is necessary. Research shows that this is the best way because even through dietary sources, you’ll only increase creatine by about 20 to 40%.
Creatine supplements are the best way to increase creatine concentrations in your muscles, improving HIIT workouts. Research shows that creatine supplementation over the short-term and even long term is safe and effective in healthy individuals.
How Does Creatine Work?
As we mentioned, creatine is widely used and has been widely researched as well. In both of these instances, positive results have been observed. Many of the studies prove the benefits associated with using a creatine supplement.
Creatine molecules combine with phosphate molecules to create phosphocreatine. This helps with the production of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, which is the energy currency for the body. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine supplements, as long as used within specified guidelines, are safe and effective. You will see improvements in strength and muscle mass and reduce your risk of injury during a HIIT workout.
Types of Creatine
As mentioned, creatine is widely used and studied. However, the average person doesn’t know that much about it. They are taking it because everyone else does. Most people don’t take the time to educate themselves about what they are taking. That being said, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common types of creatine:
Creatine is naturally produced in your body and has several important roles, including energy production. As mentioned, it is also found in dietary sources- such as meat- and through supplementation.
Creatine supplementation increases creatine in your body- which increases phosphocreatine- which increases ATP production. This means your workout is exponentially improved. Also, creatine has been shown to fight off certain diseases.
However, when shopping for a good creatine supplement, it can be confusing because there are so many options. Below, we’re going to look at some of the different types of creatine. Then, we’ll look at several of the benefits. Finally, we’ll review what we feel are the 9 best creatine on the market for muscle growth.
The most common form is creatine monohydrate. This is the form of creatine that is used in many of the research studies. Therefore, most of the benefits and side effects are associated with this type of creatine supplement.
This form of creatine is made of one creatine molecule and one water molecule. However, there are several ways it can be processed. In some cases, the water molecule is removed, leaving behind creatine anhydrous. When the water is removed, the amount of creatine in a dose is increased. This means that a dose of creatine monohydrate is 90% creatine and a dose of creatine anhydrous is 100% creatine.
In some cases, it’s processed to improve solubility, through a process known as micronization. This allows your body to absorb and use it. Though there are some differences in processing, they are equally effective in equal doses.
Creatine monohydrate doesn’t just improve strength- as well as increases water content, resulting in muscle growth.
Most research indicates that creatine is safe and has no significant side effects associated with it. There are a few potential mild side effects, such as cramping or upset stomach, which can be relieved by consuming several small doses instead of one big one.
Since creatine monohydrate is affordable as well, it’s the “gold standard” when it comes to creatine supplements. As new forms are created, they are compared with creatine monohydrate before they are recommended.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Some manufacturers use creatine ethyl ester in their formulas instead of creatine monohydrate. They claim it is superior to other forms- and there is some research indicating that it may be easier on the body than monohydrate.
However, there’s another study that compared creatine monohydrate with creatine ethyl ester. It was discovered that there’s really not. Therefore, experts are less likely to recommend creatine ethyl ester.
Creatine Hydrochloride (HCl)
Creatine hydrochloride, or Creatine HCl, has increased in popularity with many of the manufacturers and users of creatine supplements. This is most likely due to the fact that creatine HCL is more water soluble than other forms.
Due to its water solubility, the dosage can be much smaller, meaning that minor side effects such as gastrointestinal difficulty is reduced. That being said, at this time there is not enough research on this form, this is merely speculation.
One study indicated that creatine HCl is 38 times more effective than monohydrate- but at this time, there have not been any human trials. Since there are so many studies showing creatine monohydrate as superior, HCl can not be given this title yet. We need further experimentation to make this comparison.
Buffered creatine is a form of creatine in which an alkaline powder has been added to your creatine supplement. Experts believe this increases the potency and decreases side effects such as bloating and cramping.
One study specifically looked at the differences and similarities between this form and creatine monohydrate. There was zero difference between the two- which means neither is better than the other, but neither is worse either. Therefore, since monohydrate has been studied more, it’s still the most superior.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate
Creatine magnesium chelate is a form of creatine where a creatine molecule has been chelated, or fused to, a magnesium molecule. One study divided participants into three groups. Researchers gave one group a creatine monohydrate supplement, one group a placebo, and one group a creatine magnesium chelate supplement. They were then asked to do bench press reps.
The two groups that were given creatine saw similar results. The placebo group didn’t see the same results. Therefore, it’s clear that creatine magnesium chelate is as effective, but not superior to, creatine monohydrate.
Benefits of Creatine Supplementation
Now that we’ve looked at the different types of creatine supplements, let’s look at some of the benefits that have been associated with creatine supplementation.
Encourages energy production
When you take a creatine supplement, you increase phosphocreatine in your cells. This, in turn, creates ATP, which your body needs to function. When you are working out, your body uses ATP for movements. Resynthesis of ATP limits your ability to perform at max intensity. Your body uses ATP faster than it can use it. When phosphocreatine levels are boosted, your body can produce more ATP during HIIT workouts.
Supports other muscle functions
Creatine effectively increases muscle mass. According to experts, it alters cellular pathways related to muscle growth, increasing production of proteins that create new muscle fibers.
Additionally, it increases IGF-1, a hormone that facilitates an increase in muscle mass. Creatine also has an effect on the amount of water in your muscles, resulting in increased muscle mass.
Some research indicates that creatine reduces myostatin– a chemical that stunts muscle growth- levels in your body.
Improves HIIT performance
As mentioned, creatine increases the production of ATP. This means that performance during HIIT workouts is drastically improved. There are several factors that are improved by creatine supplementation:
- Muscle endurance
- Resistance to fatigue
- Muscle mass
- Ballistic power
- Sprint ability
- Brain performance
The good thing is you don’t need to be an athlete to get any benefits. Even the average person will experience a variety of benefits.
Speeds Muscle Growth
Creatine has been proven to be the most effective supplement in the world for increasing muscle mass. In fact, most people see results after taking this supplement for 5 to 7 days. In the beginning, the size increase is due to water being pulled into the muscles. However, eventually, muscle fibers will begin to grow. This will ultimately improve your athletic performance.
May Improve Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
If you don’t already know, Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition in which patients experience a drop in dopamine levels in the brain. This reduction causes brain cell death and other symptoms, such as:
- Speech impairments
- Loss of muscle function
In order to potentially avoid losing muscle function, patients will engage in a weight training program. One study showed that creatine along with weight training improved strength and functioning, compared to just weight training.
May Improve other Neurological conditions
According to experts, one of the primary causes of neurological conditions is a reduction in phosphocreatine levels. Since creatine has been proven to increase phosphocreatine levels, it may help delay the progression of conditions such as:
Some research has shown creatine benefits patients with ALS as well. While more research is needed, early indications are that creatine can help with neurological conditions when used alongside conventional medicine.
Improves brain functioning
There is some research that creatine is critical for brain health and functioning. When engaging in difficult tasks, your brain depletes ATP stores. As mentioned, creatine supplementation increases phosphocreatine stores, which helps with ATP production. In addition, a creatine supplement can increase mitochondrial function and dopamine levels, which have an effect on brain function.
Due to the fact that meat is the best natural source of creatine, vegans and vegetarians get less than those who eat meat. One study indicated that vegans and vegetarians see a 20 to 50% improvement in memory and intelligence test scores from using creatine supplementation.
Research has also shown that older individuals who use creatine experience improvement in their recall ability. Finally, research indicates that those who are using a creatine supplement experience improved brain function and are protected from neurological conditions. Plus, muscle/strength loss due to age is reduced.
Though results are positive so far, we need more research using young, healthy individuals that consume meat/fish regularly.
Safe/Easy to Use
Finally, creatine is inexpensive and safe to use. Research has been ongoing for more than 200 years and most studies indicate that, even with long-term use, creatine is safe and effective. Some of the trials have lasted 5 years and still have had zero adverse reactions reported.
9 Best Creatine Supplements for Muscle Growth At-a-Glance
|Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder||30, 240, 400||$10.99, $44.99, $64.99|
|CRN-5 by CrazyBulk||30||$49|
|Performance Lab Maintain||6-10 (60 capsules)||$44|
|Cellucor Creatine Monohydrate||72||$20|
|Beast Sports Creature Creatine||60||$30|
|Elm & Rye Creatine||30 (60 capsules)||$50|
|NSP Nutrition Muscle Power Creatine||60||$28|
9 Best Creatine Supplements for Muscle Growth
Now that we’ve educated you a bit on creatine, we’re going to review the 9 best creatine on the market today. They are as follows:
- XWERKS Lift
- Onnit Creatine
- Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine
- CRN-5 by CrazyBulk
- Performance Lab Maintain
- Cellucor Creatine Monohydrate
- Beast Sports Creature Creatine
- Elm & Rye Creatine
- NSP Nutrition Muscle Power Creatine
XWERKS is well-known and respected in the fitness industry. Lift, their creatine supplement, is everything you could ask for in a creatine supplement. It is made with micronized creatine monohydrate. Each package contains 80 servings. Since all of the research shows that creatine monohydrate is superior to other forms, XWERKS didn’t try to re-invent the wheel or bring something new and innovative to the market.
Each dose contains 5 grams of unflavored creatine monohydrate. Since it’s unflavored, you can add it to anything you want when you are working out.
XWERKS is $49 per package and since each package contains 80 servings, it’s a great value.
Onnit’s creatine monohydrate formula is designed to facilitate muscle mass growth and increased strength, which will boost your effectiveness in the gym. Onnit offers 30 doses for $15 and each dose offers 5 grams of micronized creatine.
Your body needs creatine to produce ATP. Onnit’s Creatine Monohydrate is a lot like the other brands on the market. Therefore, you can be sure you will achieve significant power and reps when engaging in weightlifting, as well as an increase in lean muscle mass and strength.
Optimum Nutrition is one of the most well-known and loved fitness supplement companies on our list. You will find that their micronized Creatine Powder is one of the best options on the market. According to their website, this supplement also offers 5 grams of creatine per serving. This supplement provides users with strength, muscle growth, efficiency, and stamina.
Each dose contains zero carbs and zero calories and is a lot like the other products listed here. You won’t find any unnecessary ingredients in this supplement.
Another reason we love Optimum Nutrition is that it comes in a variety of sizes, including:
- 30 servings ($10.99)
- 240 servings ($44.99)
- 400 servings ($64.99)
CrazyBulk offers a variety of supplements for a variety of goals. Their supplements can help with weight loss, weight gain, increasing muscle mass, and more. Their creatine supplement, CRN-5, is one of their most popular. You can get a 30-dose container for only $49. CrazyBulk promises that CRN-5 will improve HIIT workout results, strength, and muscle pump.
As we’ve seen, most of the quality creatine supplements on the market will at least contain creatine monohydrate. CRN-5 actually contains 5 different types of creatine:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Tri-creatine malate
- Creatine citrate pyruvate
- Creatine HCl
In addition, to promote hydration/replenishment following your workout, CrazyBulk has added electrolytes:
According to the experts, you need to drink plenty of water when using a creatine supplement since so much water from your body is pulled into your muscles. You don’t want to get dehydrated.
Performance Lab Sport Maintain is the first creatine supplement on our list that is in the form of capsules. This supplement replenishes your muscles with nutrients and facilitates increased muscle mass. If you take this on a daily basis, you’ll see an improvement in your strength, power, and persistence. Of course, the same applies to the other supplements on the list. Consistency is what matters.
According to the website, healthy adults can take 6 to 10 capsules daily to see muscle mass increase. There is 3,000 milligrams of creatine in each 6-capsule dose of Performance Lab Sport Maintain. This is lower than the other products on our list, but they make up for it by adding 1,600 milligrams of beta-alanine.
While powders are a lot friendlier on the budget, many people find that capsules are a lot more convenient to take. Performance Lab Sport Maintain is a bit expensive: a package of 60-capsules, which is up to 10 doses, will cost you $44.
Cellucor has been in the industry for some time and built up a stellar reputation. Their creatine monohydrate supplement supports this reputation. This supplement is one of the best ones on our list because it is budget-friendly: 72 doses costs around $20.
We know that creatine is well-known for building muscle, so using this supplement on a daily basis will help you increase your lean muscle mass. This product is comparable to the other brands because they also use micronized creatine. This makes it easier for the body to absorb. Also, it’s important to note that it’s one of the most recognizable products on the market today.
Beast Sports Creature Creatine stands out because of their name and packaging. They also have a great flavor variety compared to other brands. Their flavor lineup includes:
- Pink Lemonade
- Cherry Limeade
- Beast Punch
When you take a look at their website, you’ll see that their motto is: “An unfair advantage for next level performance.”
Beast Sports claims that their Creature Creatine will increase the number of reps you can bench, facilitate the building of lean muscle mass, and increase sprint speed. This is one of the most effective supplements on our list.
Creature Creatine is made with 5 types of creatine:
- Creatine anhydrous
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine gluconate
- Di-creatine malate
Beast Sports offers their Creature Creatine in both powder and capsules. Most people do choose powder because of the flavor options. Each dose provides you with 4 milligrams of creatine. Simply mix one scoop with water prior to and following your workout. When you use this regularly, you will see that your long-term muscle mass and strength will improve and your recovery will be a lot quicker.
Keep in mind that Creature Creatine is not expensive at all- 60 servings will only cost you $30.
Elm & Rye is an elite fitness supplement company that has built a reputation for bringing high-quality supplements to the market. Their creatine formula doesn’t disappoint. When you use this creatine product, you will notice that the effectiveness of your workout is increased, your fatigue/exhaustion is decreased, and muscle mass is increased.
Like the other products on our list, Elm & Rye increases energy levels, increases capacity, and supports muscle development. Each dose contains 1,400 milligrams of creatine per dose. This is much lower than others on the list, which is something you’ll want to keep in mind.
Each package contains 60 capsules and will cost $50. According to some, since this product is a capsule, it’s easier to take.
NSP Nutrition has been around for some time. They are known for their Muscle Power Creatine. This product promises to increase strength and muscle mass, burn fat, and more.
You will experience a variety of benefits by using this product on a daily basis- even on non-training days. Muscle Power is a bit more budget-friendly than some of the other options on our list. Each container offers 60 doses and will cost $28. Each dose offers users with 5 grams of creatine. This is average for a quality creatine supplement.
This is one of the top options for anyone that wants to increase strength with a 100% creatine supplement. There are no additives in this one either.
There are many people in the fitness world who are using creatine supplements to get the most from their workouts. However, they usually don’t know much about what they are taking. That is where we come in. We wanted to make sure that you have the information you need to make an educated decision about the best creatine supplement for you. If you are considering starting with creatine, start with one of the options we’ve listed here- but don’t feel like you’re stuck with the first one you choose. Keep looking until you find one that works for you.
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