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August 07, 2022
It’s not surprising the market is absolutely flooded with creatine powders. Other than protein powder, creatine is by far the most popular sports supplement there is. And that’s not surprising either as it’s the most studied AND the most effective ergogenic aid there is. Being so, the supplement industry has scooped up this remarkable and simple powder and has managed to complicate it to the point you need a degree to figure it out; and sometimes that isn’t even enough! Point being, knowing what creatine to buy can be a bit intimidating, so we want to fix that.
This article will go over what you need to know about creatine so the next time you go supp shopping, you’ll understand what creatine brands to look out for.
Creatine is a non-protogenic amino acid that is vital for basic human function. It’s found naturally in the human body with 95% being stored within our muscles and 5% within our brain and testes. Without creatine supplementation, we consume our creatine through our diet (meat, fish) or it is synthesized within the body from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine.
ATP is a high energy phosphate that is also known as the body’s “energy currency. This is because it’s required for various physiological processes including every muscle contraction that takes place. However, it is constantly being used and then replenished which is done by one of our three metabolic processes. In other words, if you run out of ATP, you’re not moving.
Creatine is primarily used in the ATP-CP metabolic system to resynthesize this energy molecule making it vital for success in the gym. This is because the ATP-CP system is responsible for replenishing ATP during very high intense events for short durations, such as lifting weights.
So now that we know what we’re looking for, we will go over the top creatine powders that you should keep your eye out for. The good thing about creatine is that there’s actually not a ton of room for it to differentiate it from other creatine supplement brands. While there can be differences in purity and price, the only other way brands can put themselves on top is with fancy marketing. In other words, you don’t need a ton of choices; you just need a few quality choices.
Instead of coming up with special titles for different creatine powders, such as “Best for men”, we’re just going to give you our three top picks for creatine monohydrate supplements.
As mentioned above, creatine is creatine, and there’s no such thing as a “best for men” or “best for bodybuilders”. It's like saying a piece of steak is best for men or best for bodybuilding. A creatine supplement has one job and that’s to fill your creatine stores. If it does that, weight gain in the form of building muscle or losing weight is up to you, your programing, and diet.
Here are our top 3 picks for a creatine monohydrate powder...
It’s always a safe bet to say that Optimum Nutrition will end up on a “Best of” list for supplements. They are generally seen as the #1 company on the market and for good reason. Being founded in 1986, Optimum Nutrition is one of the pioneers in the supplement industry. Since then, they have earned their premier reputation by consistently delivering top quality products at affordable prices; including their creatine.
Optimum Nutrition offers a micronized creatine monohydrate produced from Creapure. From this we know two things; it’s highly soluble and is as pure as you can get. “Micronized” simply means that particles of creatine have been “microparticle size”; in other words, extremely fine. To be exact, Optimum Nutrition’s micronized creatine is reportedly 20x smaller than normal creatine powders. As far as the purity, we have already discussed Creapure, so there’s really nothing much left to say; it’s the best and our favorite form of creatine
They offer several sizes, but the most commonly purchased product is their 114 serving bottle. We actually already discussed this above, but to re-cap, their serving size is 5g which means this bottle actually has 570g. At $40, this comes out to 0.35/serving. Considering this is as good as it gets, this is actually economically feasible as well.
You can’t go wrong with Optimum Nutrition, and it’s a sure bet. We love that Optimum Nutrition has stood the test of time and has always remained on top. It’s really hard to come up with any reason to buy other than Optimum Nutrition as they offer some of the highest purity creatine on the market at one of the most affordable; even when compared to those of less purity.
While not as popular as Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Feast is another quality creatine monohydrate on the market to look out for. Similar to Optimum Nutrition, they too have decided to source their creatine from Creapure so again, you’re talking about top quality. At once they did stand out as they offered flavored creatine monohydrate; however, that seems to be no longer continued. They do offer creatine candy, which is more similar to pills, but it appears that you can only buy unflavored creatine monohydrate powder for now. However, that doesn’t really affect our thoughts as in reality, you should mix creatine with carbs and liquid anyways, such as juice. This makes flavoring completely unnecessary.
All that being said, we like that they too offer top-quality creatine at an affordable price. Currently, they seem to only offer a 55 serving bottle on Amazon for $32.99. This places one serving at around $0.60, which is a bit more expensive than Optimum Nutrition. However, it’s still acceptable considering you’re buying the best quality on the market.
Muscle Feast delivers a top notch creatine monohydrate. While more expensive than Optimum Nutrition, it’s still a great product if you find yourself in a bind.
Marc Lobliner is the man behind Tiger Fitness. He is an IFBB Pro bodybuilder and an Old School Youtuber; literally one of the first to run a fitness channel on Youtube. While he can be a polarizing figure due to his bluntness, we love that because he speaks the truth and doesn’t spread BS. This includes his supplement line MTS which he created along his path to success.
MTS offers top-quality creatine with a name that includes all you need to know “Creapure German Powder”. And that’s what he delivers, a creatine monohydrate powder produced with Creapure. And if you haven’t noticed yet, all of our top picks are Creapure based creatines.
MTS comes with an 80 serving bottle priced at $39.99, equating to about 0.50/serving. However, you also have the option of buying on a subscription service which brings the total prices down to $34.99. This definitely isn’t a bad way to go as, again, creatine is something that most will take for extended periods of time. Regardless, Mark Lobliner and his line of supplements are top quality that have gained respect over the years.
MTS again offers a Creapure base creatine monohydrate powder so you know it’s top quality. We like the idea that they offer a chance to save a little bit of cash by being put on a subscription service which is always a good idea as you know you’ll be buying again.
If the three options above aren't for you, here are 4 more options for creatine to consider. These are based on:
We talked about this product above but we can now officially introduce it on our list of top creatine supplements. If you are watching your spending but still want a quality creatine product, you should definitely check out Bulk Supplements. Bulk Supplements have quickly become the go-to brand for those wanting to buy quality without “quality” prices. Part of the way they are able to offer such low prices is due to their marketing and packaging, or lack of thereafter. They rely on minimal marketing and a very basic packaging as a means to offset their price and it has definitely worked in their favor.
Their creatine monohydrate product is the cheapest that you’ll be able to find. Further, they have several different sizes which generate an even lower price. For example, they sell a 5kg bag of creatine for just $270! That’s 1000 servings at just 0.27/serving! Even their smallest bag of 250g (50 servings) sits at just 0.60/serving.
Note: They have 1.1lb and 2.2lb options on Amazon.
Still, all of their products are tested by third parties to ensure quality. Their creatine product holds the following certifications:
You’re not going to find a cheaper product of this quality on the market. If you don’t need the 99.9% purity of Creapure (which it’s hard to confidently say we do), save yourself some money and buy Bulk Supplements. If you really want to save money or have friends, buy one of their bigger bags of creatine!
Above we went over the differences between pills vs. powders and how you’re basically just paying for convenience. Well, if you’re willing to pay for convenience, then you might as well buy a creatine pill that offers convenience AND quality. For that, we will go with Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Capsules. Again, this is the same exact creatine that is found in their powder version except now, their creatine has been pre-measured into 2.5g gelatin capsules for ease of use.
While 2.5g seems like an odd dosage, it actually makes a lot of sense. This is because the average dose is anywhere from 3-5g a day. This means that unless you make pills that deliver 1g of creatine, someone will always be a bit off so pills will never be sufficient for everyone. Many creatine supplements from other brand will actually choose to make a 3g pill however, the majority of people prefer to just take the 5g dose. This means this large group of people will always be underdosed by 2g or overdosed by 1g (2 pills=6g). By making 2.5g pills, Optimum Nutrition chooses to satisfy the desired dose for the majority of people.
If you are looking for micronized creatine powder in capsule form, go with Optimum Nutrition. Not only are you guaranteed to get high quality creatine, but you get the appropriate dosage with 2 capsules AND you can be sure the dose per capsule is correct. ON is methodical.
When most people think about dietary supplements, they automatically think of Dymatize, Optimum Nutrition, or Animal. All of these are powerhouses in the supplement game and should be as they all consistently deliver high-quality products. However, other lesser-known brands offer equal or even higher quality products. One of these brands is called NutraBio.
What makes NutraBio stand out is that it claims to have some of the highest quality ingredients on the market. Concerning their creatine, they claim a purity level of >99.98%! Not only that, they can guarantee this as they have 3rd party testing on every batch. If that wasn’t enough, they started a website called www.checkmysupps.com which allows consumers to directly check the batch number of their product. You simply go to this site and enter the batch number of your product and it takes you to the actual lab analysis of the 3rd party testing organization. That’s confidence, and we love it. Purity is the number one variable next to an economical price. Plus, at 99.98%, you can’t really get too much higher. Further, all of their products are made in-house in their FDA-inspected, GMP certified facility in New Jersey.
Other than being 99.8% pure, creatine is reportedly some of the finest on the market. With 20x more surface area than normal creatine, NutraBio creatine monohydrate is highly soluble and incredibly easy to mix. When these qualities are put together, NutraBio comes out on top as one of the supreme products that allow the greatest absorption and mitigates distress.
Currently, they only have two quantities, 150g and 300g. If you’re going to buy creatine, we firmly believe in purchasing larger quantities as creatine must be taken chronically for optimal effects. Therefore, we would advise you to buy the 300g. At $34.99, this gives a per serving (5g) of $0.58. That’s actually in line with the Bulk Supplements 250g bag.
NutraBio is an excellent company that you should definitely look into. It’s hard to argue with a company that makes an entire website just so you can check the 3rd party lab analysis yourself. When combined with the quality of their creatine at 99.8%, we think it’s worth it to pay a little extra for that guarantee if you were looking for a supreme product.
As mentioned above, most people don’t need anything other than creatine monohydrate to promote muscle growth and increased power output. However, if you really do have an issue with digestion, it’s good to have options. Therefore, we want to pick you our top creatine HCL, which comes from Kaged Muscle.
Kaged Muscle has become very popular for their Creatine HCL over the past years. Compared to creatine monohydrate, it is difficult to review as there haven’t been enough studies to establish its effectiveness. However, they do claim to be the only patented creatine on the market due to the make-up of their product; again, difficult to review.
They offer a 75 serving bottle for $29.39. One odd thing to mention right now is their flavored version is actually cheaper, but anyways. At first this seems to be extremely cheap until you realize that a serving is only 750mg. Again, the major claim for creatine HCL is that you don’t need to take as much, but the general consensus is that 750mg still seems low as 1.5-2g daily is recommended for HCL. However, due to the patent, we can’t really say much about that.
That being said, they have over 2,000 quality reviews on Amazon, so we will go with that. The vast majority do talk about how Kaged Muscle HCL could fix their digestive issues with creatine monohydrate. Further, you’ll almost always find Kaged Muscle on the top of creatine lists, so we’re sticking with what we see.
As mentioned, it’s a bit more challenging to review other versions of creatine as there just hasn’t been a lot of time to evaluate products. Further, our own experience with different versions is limited as we use creatine monohydrate with no problem. Therefore, we are collecting all of the information from the internet to identify trends, and that trend is Kaged Muscle. Therefore, if you do need a creatine HCL, go with Kaged Muscle.
If you were to come look in our company's pantry, you would find a big bottle of Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate as it’s our favorite creatine. At just $0.35/serving for Creapure, Optimum Nutrition shows why they’re the best. Perhaps we’re creatures of habit, but we firmly believe in the motto “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it."
While all of the options on this list are great, we don’t think any offer anything that would make us try something other than what we have used for years and know works. Optimum Nutrition offers the supreme creatine monohydrate supplement at an awesome price.
Note: This article contains Amazon affiliate links where we will receive a small commission on any purchase at no additional cost to you.
As mentioned, our bodies will always have natural stores of creatine. However, depending on the diet, most individuals’ creatine stores are only 60-80% full at any given time. Therefore, when we supplement with creatine, we are merely filling up our creatine stores to 100%. With our creatine stores at 100%, we are then able to produce stronger muscle contractions which means either lifting more weight or performing more reps. This higher workload will then translate into more gains in strength and muscle mass.
All this said, creatine is the most studied and well researched ergogenic aids on the market which is why the ISSN always ranks it as one of the best nutritional supplements there is.
At the end of the day, creatine is a very basic dietary supplement. It’s composed of one compound which generally comes in a powder form. In other words, there are no proprietary blends or special ingredients that you need to be aware of. Creatine is creatine.
That being said, there are some variables you need to look out for...
Perhaps the most important factor when deciding what creatine supplement to buy is its purity; basically, how much filler are you getting? The good news is that with so many products on the market today, it’s pretty safe to say that the vast majority of creatine powders are going to have very high purity.
Be aware that no product is truly 100% pure even if the labels say so.
That being said, the brand Creapure does deliver creatine with the highest level of purity at 99.9% (which is basically 100%). Creapure is actually a lab in Germany that sells creatine to different supplement companies who can use it in their products; either part of multi-ingredients or single-ingredient supplements. While other brands who don’t use Creapure most likely also have products with very high purity, the Creapure logo can guarantee it. To put it in perspective, we’re talking about 99.9% purity vs 99.5%; either way is likely going to be sufficient.
After the purity has been dealt with, cost is the next major factor. As mentioned, creatine is creatine, so there’s really no reason to pay more money unless there’s a major difference in the purity. If you do pay more, you’re likely spending money on marketing or packaging. For example, one of the cheapest products on the market is from a company known as Bulk Supplements. You are able to buy 1kg, which equals 200 servings for under $50. That’s just $0.25 per serving!
You would do well by staying away from any type of multi-ingredient supplement with creatine. To begin with, assuming you’re getting what you think you’re getting, these are generally over-priced due to the tedious process of putting the ingredients together. These supplements will sell you their products with the assumption that you won’t do the math and add up what you’re actually getting. They also assume you’ll pay for the convenience.
Regardless, multi-ingredient supplements are always more expensive than if you just buy single ingredients and mix them yourself.
In addition, they probably add something you don’t even want or possibly doesn’t even work. This means you’re literally paying for something you don’t need.
Further, these blends can make it very difficult to dose correctly. Let’s say you buy a supplement that comes with 2g of creatine per serving. This would mean you need to take 2.5 servings just to hit the recommended maintenance dose of 5g of creatine per day. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to even know how much you’re getting! Many supplement brands will hide behind proprietary blends so as not to tell you exactly how much of each compound you’re getting. This is not ideal for obvious reasons (if the supplement doesn't say how much of an ingredient, don't buy it).
While multi-ingredient products aren’t always a bad thing (i.e. with pre-workouts), when it comes to creatine, stick with just buying a single ingredient product to ensure proper dosing.
One of the major decisions you’ll need to make regarding creatine supplementation is creatine powder or creatine pills. So what’s the difference?
Well, one is in a powder form and one comes in capsules. And that’s it. When you buy creatine capsules, you are effectively paying for convenience as it’s literally the same creatine. The only advantage is that you don’t have to measure out the creatine (it can be more accurate than scoops of powder) making it a faster and more convenient option.
Further, it’s easier to take with you on the go if you are a fan of food timing (but be aware that timing of creatine has been shown to really not be that important). That being said, you do pay for this convenience as creatine capsules are quite a bit more expensive than powder.
For example, when looking at Optimum Nutrition, they have creatine capsules and creatine powder. The powder has 114 servings at 5g which equals 570g. At $40, this comes out to $0.35/serving. Their capsules only have 370g total (150 servings of 2.5g) which equals 74 servings. At a price of $58, this comes out to $0.78/ serving - more than twice as much!
So, if you find capsules more convenient OR you simply don't want to drink it in powder form, then go for it; other than that, you’ll end up paying a lot more money for nothing.
Another common question that comes when deciding what creatine to buy is “What’s the difference between creatine monohydrate and other creatine versions”. Creatine monohydrate, put simply is one creatine molecule paired with a water molecule.
Over the past few years, the market has seen an influx in different kinds of creatine such as creatine hydrochloride, buffered creatine, liquid creatine, creatine nitrate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine magnesium chelate and others. While we won’t break down every version here (you can check out this in-depth article we wrote on creatine HCL vs monohydrate), the basic explanation for all of these is they are a money grab.
The dietary supplement companies have tried to create new and better versions of creatine with vague claims of more effectiveness and the like. There is very little, if any, evidence to back up any of these claims. Creatine monohydrate is awesome and there is really no reason to use any other version.
The only time you might want to look at a different variation is if you have problems with bloating, which some people claim they get with creatine monohydrate. While you can just take smaller doses more frequently (i.e. take 1g in the morning, 2g at lunch, and 1g at night), it's rare for it to occur with just 5 grams of creatine. It's more likely to occur during the loading phase, but again, you can just split up your daily dosages over the day.
Nevertheless, if you really do have a bloating issue with monohydrate, you may want to look into creatine HCL as it involves lower daily dosing (1.5-2g).
If you are unsure about bloating (meaning you haven't taken creatine so you don't even know if you get bloated), then just start with creatine monohydrate. If you have no issues with it, there’s no reason to use another version.
All in all, creatine monohydrate is king for the vast majority of people. It's the most studied and a better price.
In general, we think taking creatine monohydrate will be the best course of action for most people. If you experience bloating with creatine monohydrate then you might want to try creatine HCL.
Two words, creatine monohydrate. This is the most widely studied out of all the types of creatine and it proves to be effective and safe time and time again.
Creatine is one of the most widely studied dietary supplement on the market. During the creatine loading phase you can take 20 grams per day spread out in four servings over a 5-7 day period. Then you can switch to maintenance levels of 5 grams of creatine everyday.
If you want to learn more about creatine supplementation in sports nutrition, check out these articles:
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