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Contents of this Article
- Top 10 Creatine Products Compared
- 1. Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB
- 2. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
- 3. Cellucor COR-Performance Creatine
- 4. BPI Sports Best Creatine
- 5. Beast Sports Nutrition Creature
- 6. Bulksupplements Creatine Monohydrate
- 7. Universal Nutrition Creatine
- 8. MusclePharm Creatine
- 9. BSN Creatine DNA
- 10. MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine
- Frequently Asked Questions About Creatine Supplements
- What is Creatine?
- What Are Creatine Supplements?
- What Are the Benefits of Creatine?
- Who Can Benefit from Creatine?
- How Do I Take Creatine?
- What is the Best Time to Take Creatine?
- What is Creatine Cycling?
- Creatine Pills vs Powder: Which is Better?
- Are There Any Side Effects of Creatine?
- How Do I Pick a Good Creatine Product?
In order to help you find a good product we’ve researched & compared the best creatine supplements on the market right now.
Top 10 Creatine Products Compared
1. Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB
StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is an innovative creatine supplement from Transparent Labs. It uses pure creatine monohydrate, combined with HMB. Like all Transparent Labs products, Creapure HMB contains nothing but pure ingredients. If you’re looking for a simple and effective creatine product, this is the product for you.
- Contains 5g Creapure brand creatine monohydrate
- Contains 2g HMB
- Contains 5mg BioPerine – an extract of the black pepper fruit
- Zero artificial sweeteners, fillers, harmful additives, or unnecessary ingredients
- Clean, pure ingredients – no junk!
Who makes it: Creapure HMB is made by Transparent Labs, one of the best companies in the sports nutrition industry. Transparent labs is all about, well, transparency! They always clearly list everything that goes into their products. They use pure, simple, and clinically proven ingredients to create products that get real results. Instead of relying on marketing gimmicks to sell their products, Transparent Labs relies on proven science and word-of-mouth. Transparent Labs has grown their business by providing the one ingredient seldom found in sports nutrition products: honesty.
Full Breakdown: StrengthSeries Creapure Review
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2. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder is a simple and clean creatine supplement. This product contains only one ingredient: pure micronized creatine monohydrate – the most widely studied form of creatine available.
- 5g of Creatine per serving
- Uses Creapure brand creatine imported from Germany
- Unflavored for easy mixing
- No fillers or additives
- Excellent value for money
- Very well reviewed throughout the industry
- Comes from one of the most known brands in the industry
Who makes it: This product is manufactured by Optimum Nutrition, one of the biggest and most respected brands in the sports nutrition industry. For many years, Optimum Nutrition has been known for their innovative, effective, and clean products, which help a huge number of people reach their fitness goals.
Full Breakdown: ON Creatine Powder Review
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3. Cellucor COR-Performance Creatine
This is a powerful creatine supplement that uses micronized creatine monohydrate. By micronizing the creatine, the manufacturer has improved the water solubility of the creatine, which makes it easier to mix into water and consume. This product contains the industry-standard 5g creatine per serving and is affordably priced.
- 5g micronized creatine monohydrate per serving
- Micronized for easier mixing
- Clinically studied dosage
- Contains sucralose and acesulfame potassium
- Great reviews
- Made by a trusted company
- Available in several flavors
Who Makes It: This product is made by Cellucor, a sports and fitness supplement firm best-known for their C4 line of pre-workout supplements. While C4 is their best seller (and a top seller overall), Cellucor also manufactures a wide range of high-quality supplements for a variety of uses. They have been in business for over 15 years and are a trusted name in the fitness community.
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4. BPI Sports Best Creatine
BPI Sports Best Creatine is designed to help improve muscle performance and reduce fatigue during intense workouts. This product contains a blend of different creatine formulas, to aid cellular hydration and improve recovery. This product has been rigorously tested through the ChromaDex quality verification program. At only 5 calories per serving and 0g of sugar, this product is a great way to give your workouts a boost, without sacrificing your diet.
- Contains 4g of a proprietary Creatine Blend
- 5 calories per serving
- <1g carbohydrate per serving
- 0g sugar per serving
- Rigorously tested through the ChromaDex quality verification program
Who makes it: BPI Sports Best Creatine is made by BPI sports, a US company that is committed to delivering the highest-quality, best tasting sports nutrition supplements. BPI sports has been developing, formulating and marketing their products in the US since 2009.
|Where to Get It|
5. Beast Sports Nutrition Creature
Beast Sports Nutrition Creature is an advanced supplement that uses 5 different forms of creatine. Creature can aid you in your bodybuilding endeavors.
- 3,025 mg Creature Advanced Creatine Matrix Blend
- Uses an innovative blend of 5 forms of creatine (creatine monohydrate, buffered creatine, creatine magnesium chelate, creatine alpha-ketoglutarate 2:1, and creatine anhydrous)
- Winner of the Bodybuilding.com Creatine Supplement of the Year Award in 2015
- Provides great value for money
- Very well reviewed by online users
Who makes it: Creature is made by Beast Sports Nutrition, the fastest growing company in the entire sports nutrition industry. Their innovative products have taken the industry by storm, and the community response has been overwhelmingly positive. Beast Sports Nutrition makes a wide variety of fitness supplements, but they’re best known for Creature.
Full Breakdown: Beast Sports Nutrition Creature Review
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6. Bulksupplements Creatine Monohydrate
Bulksupplements Creatine Monohydrate powder is designed to support high-intensity athletic training, as well as recovery post-workout. This great-value product contains only 1 ingredient – creatine monohydrate. It is vegan – it contains no animals products, milk or eggs. It is also micronized, to make a finer powder, which is easier to dissolve in water, juice or add to your shakes.
- Bulk creatine powder
- Contains 2500mg creatine monohydrate per serving
- Great value
- Sugar free
Who makes it: Bulksupplements Best Creatine Monohydrate is made by Bulksupplements, a US company that aims to provide high-quality, clean and pure products at a great price.
|Where to Get It|
7. Universal Nutrition Creatine
Universal Nutrition Creatine is a creatine powder that uses 100% pure creatine monohydrate and contains no other ingredients. It is also made by one of the most respected supplement companies in the fitness world.
- 100% pure micronized creatine monohydrate
- Contains 5g creatine monohydrate per serving
- Uses Creapure brand creatine – made in Germany
- No artificial sweeteners, fillers, or unnecessary ingredients
- Micronized for easier mixing and digestion
Who makes it: This product is manufactured by Universal Nutrition, a large multinational sports nutrition company that has been in business since 1977. In almost 40 years in the industry, Universal Nutrition has worked hard to develop cutting-edge products that help their customers lose weight, gain muscle, and reach their fitness goals.
Full Breakdown: Universal Nutrition Creatine Review
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8. MusclePharm Creatine
MusclePharm Creatine is an advanced creatine supplement that uses a blend of 5 different types of creatine to produce optimal results.
- Contains a unique blend of 5 different creatines (creatine nitrate, creatine AAB, dicreatine malate, creatine magnesium chelate, creatine monohydrate)
- Contains 5g creatine per serving
- Advanced formula
- Quick absorbing
Who makes it: This product is developed and manufactured by MusclePharm, which has quickly become somewhat of a household name in the weightlifting community. Since 2008, MusclePharm has been working hard to develop innovative and effective supplements for a variety of customers.
Full Breakdown: MusclePharm Creatine Review
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9. BSN Creatine DNA
Creatine DNA is made by BSN, a leader in the sports nutrition industry. It uses pure micronized creatine monohydrate to help improve athletic performance and help you meet, and exceed, your fitness goals. It uses no junk, sweeteners or fillers – just pure micronized creatine monohydrate. This product will help you get the edge you need to perform at your best at the gym. It is a bit on the expensive side, but it’s definitely a quality product from a well-respected brand.
- Contains 100% micronized creatine monohydrate
- Contains 5g of creatine monohydrate per serving
- Contains no fillers or unnecessary ingredients
- Unflavored, which makes it easy to mix into any liquid
- Micronized to help with easy mixing
- No artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or other junk – just pure creatine!
Who makes it: Creatine DNA is made by BSN, a leader in the sports nutrition industry. Since 2001, BSN has been developing and manufacturing exercise supplements to help their customers achieve the results they want. BSN manufactures all sorts of supplements, but they are best known for their incredibly popular N.O. XPLODE pre-workout supplement.
Full Breakdown: BSN Creatine DNA Review
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10. MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine
Platinum 100% Creatine is a quality product that will help you reach your fitness goals. Its use of pure micronized creatine monohydrate means that it will mix easily in water, and won’t clump – making it easy to take whenever is convenient for you.
- 100% pure micronized creatine monohydrate
- Pure and simple – no fillers or unnecessary ingredients
- Contains 5g creatine monohydrate per serving
- Comes from MuscleTech, a well-respected brand
- Uses micronized creatine for fast absorption
- Uses HPLC-tested creatine
- Flavorless, can be mixed with most liquids
Who makes it: This product is manufactured by MuscleTech, a large sports nutrition company that has been in business since 1995. In their 20+ years in the industry, MuscleTech has developed many innovative and effective exercise supplements, and currently holds more than 50 U.S. patents. They have developed quite a following of loyal fans over the years, and for good reason.
|Where to Get It|
Frequently Asked Questions About Creatine Supplements
What is Creatine?
If you’ve heard of creatine, then you’ve no doubt heard a lot of mixed stories about it.
To some people creatine is a typical supplement that helps increase strength and energy and to others it’s an evil steroid that they avoid like the plague.
But what’s the truth?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that is produced naturally in the kidney & liver (1).
The body uses creatine to help supply energy to cells all over the body (2).
In the case of a weightlifting session, the cells that need energy the most are the muscle tissue cells that are straining to get in that last rep.
Creatine is made up of 3 amino acids; L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine.
The body naturally synthesizes these amino acids, primarily in the liver, to make creatine. Creatine is then converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is used to provide the energy for muscle contractions (3).
The body synthesizes creatine in a natural process, so the chemical is present in every human being. It’s also found in protein-rich foods like meat and fish.
What Are Creatine Supplements?
Creatine supplements are fitness supplements that increase your body’s natural levels of creatine. Alongside supplements for weight loss, creatine supplements are among the most popular on the market.
These products provide a quick, easy, and affordable way to increase the natural positive effects of creatine by saturating your muscles with the helpful organic acid.
There are a few different types of creatine supplements.
The most popular type is powdered supplements, which are usually mixed into water or other liquids. Many are flavorless, so they can be added to just about any liquid.
There are also creatine pills, which are a convenient option. Creatine pills are very easy to take along with your daily vitamins, or whenever you have time.
The subject of most studies, and often regarded as the best type of creatine, is creatine monohydrate – which also happens to be the cheapest and most widely available form.
However, other types are commonly used, like creatine nitrate, creatine hydrochloride, creatine ethyl ester, and more.
Although companies keep coming up with new and exciting new versions of this effective supplement, most types do essentially the same thing.
What Are the Benefits of Creatine?
Creatine has been a staple of the athletic community for many years.
Many companies manufacture creatine supplements to help their customers boost the levels of creatine found naturally in the body.
Many claim that creatine helps to build muscle, increase strength, increase energy, boost athletic performance, and provide the bursts of strength needed to lift bigger and better.
But does it live up to the hype? Does creatine really work?
The effectiveness of creatine supplementation has been studied by a large number of reputable organizations and universities, and the results are impressive.
- Helps Athletic Performance – Creatine helps the body create more energy, and more importantly, push that energy to where it’s needed the most. This can result in a noticeable increase in athletic performance, including an increase in lifting capabilities. According to the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, creatine supplementation can increase maximum power and performance by up to 15% in high-intensity exercise (4).
- Fast Energy – Creatine helps to provide “fast energy”, providing the muscles with much needed ATP to fuel muscle contraction. This is exactly the type of energy that bodybuilders need the most, to improve performance and help push out those last few reps (5).
- Can Help Endurance – Your muscles use phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate), a substance found naturally in the body, to produce ATP, which is used as a source of energy during intense exercise. As levels of phosphocreatine in the muscle tissues deplete, muscle fatigue sets in. Creatine supplements can help slow the body’s natural depletion of phosphocreatine, and provide extra energy to your cells, which improves endurance and helps you exercise for longer before fatigue sets in (6).
- Can Help With Strength and Muscle – As any weightlifter could tell you, an increase in power and endurance will quickly lead to an increase in muscle size and strength. Creatine helps increase strength in both the short-term (by increasing energy) and long-term (as a result of increased energy and performance). In other words, creatine itself does not make your muscles grow. It does, however, provide the temporary increase in strength and energy that is needed to push out that last set or hit that last mile marker, which will in turn greatly increase your overall strength, power, and muscle size.
- Can Help Recovery Time – Any high intensity workout will require a certain amount of time to adequately recover. When you lift weights, you’re actually damaging and ripping muscle tissues. After exercise, your body gets to work on repairing the damage you have done (which leads to larger, stronger muscles). Protein is an essential part of this process, but recent studies have shown that creatine can also help to reduce the amount of time it takes to recover.
Increasing Strength & Performance with Creatine
Creatine can actually make you stronger, when combined with resistance training. It has been studied and shows documented strength-boosting benefits:
- Enhanced power output
- Increased muscle creatine content
- Temporarily increased strength
- Increased lean mass gains
Creatine use on its own will not make you stronger.
However, when combined with a regular strength training routine, creatine shows documented benefits that can help you build more muscle and strength.
The Research Supporting Creatine for Increased Strength
- A 2003 study found that participants were able to increase max performance and power output by up to 15% after supplementing with creatine (7).
- A meta-analysis of over 300 creatine studies found that 70% of studies reported statistically significant improvements in strength and performance (8).
- In a 2003 study, all participants who were given creatine supplements showed an increase in muscle creatine concentrations (9).
Improving Energy & Endurance with Creatine
Creatine is effective for improving energy and short-burst endurance.
The effect is most significant for short bursts of intense energy, and gradually diminishes as exercise time extends.
Thus, it’s not a true endurance aid, but it can help significantly with certain types of exercise. Some energy-boosting effects that have been observed include:
- Enhanced “short burst” energy
- Improved athletic performance
- Increased speed and energy in certain athletic activities
- Most useful for weightlifters, sprinters, swimmers, cyclists
Creatine is a potent short-burst energy booster.
It’s helpful for weightlifters, sprint runners, and other athletes who need to perform intense, quick activities.
The Research Supporting Creatine for Improved Energy & Endurance
- An Ohio State University project showed that swimmers took creatine for 2 weeks shaved an average of 0.73 seconds off their time during a 50-meter swim. This finding supports the “quick burst” energy that creatine is known for (10).
- A review from the University of Michigan found that more than 40 studies showed that creatine could enhance performance of bouts of high-intensity, short-duration exercise lasting less than 30 seconds each (11).
- A 2005 study on anaerobic exercise performance noted reduced fatigue rates in participants given creatine, although no significant performance differences were observed (12).
Overall, creatine is one of the most effective supplements for athletes.
It’s also one of the most widely studied. Examine.com’s page on creatine features an incredible 650+ unique references to scientific papers (13).
While results differed in some studies, most researchers agree that creatine is effective at improving short-burst energy, power output and athletic performance.
Creatine may also provide some cognitive benefits, although these effects are less studied.
Who Can Benefit from Creatine?
Many people can benefit from creatine supplementation. Those who will benefit most are:
- Fitness enthusiasts/weightlifters – People committed to regular exercise will see the most benefit. Taking creatine supplements will help to improve endurance, increase strength, improve muscle growth, and reduce recovery time.
- Vegetarians – Creatine is found naturally in meats like beef and seafood. Because of this, vegetarians have lower natural levels of creatine in their systems than meat-eaters. So, when a vegetarian begins creatine supplementation, they may see even more effects than the average weightlifter, simply because the difference in creatine levels before and after supplementation will be much greater.
- Both men and women – Creatine is a supplement that can greatly benefit both men and women. Anyone interested in building muscle mass can benefit from this supplement. However, due to the bloating caused by excess water weight, some women don’t like taking creatine. But, remember that the water weight is just temporary, and will go away shortly after you stop taking creatine. Some products use forms of creatine that don’t cause as much bloating.
How Do I Take Creatine?
Before beginning to take any supplement, it’s important to know how much to take, when to take it, etc.
As with all supplements featured on this site, we recommend speaking with your doctor before using them.
Note: This phase is just a common suggestion and is not necessary to do when taking creatine.
When you first begin taking creatine, some manufacturers and fitness experts recommend to complete a “loading phase”.
During this time, you’re essentially taking extra creatine to help saturate your muscles with this helpful substance, speeding up its positive effects.
For the first 5-7 days of taking this supplement, you should take about 15g of creatine per day, split into 4 or 5 doses.
That translates to 4 doses of 5g, or 5 doses of 4g, spread out evenly throughout the day.
Creatine should ideally be taken with a meal, as insulin helps transport creatine molecules to muscle cells. Try not to take it on an empty stomach, as it can cause stomach upset in some people.
After this initial loading phase, your muscle cells will be saturated with creatine and ready for the maintenance phase.
Once you complete the loading phase, you can switch to a maintenance dose of 5g per day. You can take this in a single dose, or split into 2 doses.
*Please note: different creatine supplements contain different ingredients, dosages, etc.
Always follow the dosing instructions found on product packaging, unless otherwise instructed by a medical professional.
Many people like to mix creatine and other supplements into protein shakes for more convenience. (For this we’d recommend unflavored creatine monohydrate)
Since most creatine products are tasteless, you can mix them with just about anything. For the ultimate convenience, use a BlenderBottle to blend and enjoy shakes on-the-go.
Again, these two phases are completely unnecessary, and you can just take 5g-10g a day from day one.
Related: 10 Best Shaker Bottles & Mixers
What is the Best Time to Take Creatine?
There isn’t really a best time. Your body will absorb and digest creatine the same way, regardless of when you take it and the benefits will be the same.
However, for convenience, I like taking my creatine with my pre-workout before the gym or with my whey protein shake after the gym. (I use unflavored creatine monohydrate if I’m mixing it with whey protein)
What is Creatine Cycling?
Some folks follow a creatine cycle in which they take creatine supplements for a few weeks to a few months, then stop taking it for a while.
The efficacy of this process is widely debated and it’s up to you if you wish to follow this process. Realistically, you don’t need to, but it’s never a bad idea to give your body a break from supplementation.
Some say cycling creatine improves its positive effects, while others say that taking creatine daily will deliver the best results.
Creatine Pills vs Powder: Which is Better?
The most popular creatine supplements typically come in one of two forms: powders, which must be mixed with water or into a shake to use, and pills, which are simply capsules filled with creatine powder.
A lot of people wonder which is the better form to choose, creatine powder or pills? Let’s break it down:
- Most affordable form
- Mixes easily in water or pre-workout shake
- Makes customizing dose easy
- Makes taking large doses easy
- Absorbs very quickly
- Flavored and flavorless options available
- Must be mixed in order to use
- Very convenient – simply pop a few pills and you’re good
- Easy to take with you to the gym
- Typically more expensive than powders
- Requires a lot of pills for larger doses
- Fewer options on the market
Overall, when comparing creatine pills vs powder, powder wins hands-down. It’s significantly cheaper, offers more flexibility, and offers both flavored and flavorless options.
There are a couple situations where creatine pills come in handy, but overall we recommend powders.
Plus, if you do get a powdered version and end up wanting pills, you can purchase empty capsules and fill some yourself.
Are There Any Side Effects of Creatine?
It’s important to know both the good and the bad about every supplement you take and to know the creatine pros and cons.
Creatine can provide a lot of beneficial effects, but it can also cause some side effects. Generally speaking, creatine side effects are mild.
However, we always recommend that you check with your doctor before taking ANY supplements featured on this site.
Here are some of the side effects of creatine:
- Gastrointestinal distress (stomach ache, cramping, etc.
Some people experience minor gastrointestinal distress after beginning creatine supplementation. This usually equates to a minor stomach ache or cramping.
To potentially avoid the potential for GI issues, don’t consume creatine supplements on an empty stomach, and make sure you follow the dosage instructions on the product packaging.
Creatine causes muscles to draw water in from elsewhere in the body, which can lead to dehydration. To combat this, simply drink more water while you’re using creatine supplements.
- Temporary weight gain/bloating
Some people gain weight while using creatine, but it’s only temporary.
Since creatine causes your muscles to hold more water, you can gain “water weight” after a long period of supplementation.
This is normal, and nothing to worry about. If it becomes bothersome, simply stop taking creatine for a few weeks, and your body will drop the water weight quickly.
- Kidney & Liver issues
There has been speculation about creatine causing kidney and/or liver damage and other problems, but several academic studies have disproved this theory (14).
However, individuals with kidney disease should not take creatine supplements (15).
How Do I Pick a Good Creatine Product?
As is the case with most types of supplements, there are tons of choices when it comes to selecting a creatine supplement. Here are some things to look out for:
- Brand reputation – Have you heard of the brand who makes the supplement? Do they have a good reputation in the industry? How are their reviews? Stick to the well-known and reputable brands, and you’re sure to get a quality product
- Quality of ingredients – This one is pretty straightforward. Most creatine supplements contain very few ingredients, often only one (a certain type of creatine). Look out for unnecessary ingredients and fillers. Also, pay attention to which type of creatine they use.
- Value for money – Obviously, cost is a factor. Although creatine is fairly affordable, there is a wide range of prices depending on the product, company, and package size. When you’re comparing costs of two different options, be sure to do your calculations based on per dose price, rather than just comparing the cost of two different packages.
- Product reviews – Since the effectiveness of products varies based on a wide number of factors, one of the best things to do is read user reviews. However – remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, as there’s a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there.
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About the Author
Austin Meadows is an independent writer and consultant specializing in health and wellness topics. With more than 7 years of experience writing in the natural health industry, Austin strives to deliver accurate, concise and research based information to his readers. Contact Austin about this article