Want the perfect workout program?Take Quiz
Fact checked by Meghan Novoshielski, M.S Nutrition Sci. ,RDNFACT CHECKED
June 06, 2023
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. 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 provide recommendation for the best creatine supplements for muscle growth (men and women alike), and it will also teach you everything you need to know about creatine so that you are completely informed about this highly effective strength and muscle building supplement.
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.
In short, creatine supplies energy to your muscles by replenishing ATP.
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 high intensity movements for short durations, such as lifting weights.
Creatine is a popular supplement known for its benefits in improving athletic performance and enhancing muscle strength and power. Some of the best uses for creatine include:
There are several forms of creatine available on the market. Some of the common forms include:
It's important to note that creatine monohydrate is the most well-researched and cost-effective form of creatine. Other forms may have specific claims or marketing advantages but may lack scientific evidence supporting their superiority.
Note: Creatine comes in powdered form. However, it can be capsuled for those who prefer to take them as "pills" (it is simply powder placed into capsules). Creatine can also come as a mixed product, as in, blended with other supplements.
Our selection process for the best creatine brands and supplements involved the following criteria:
The good thing about creatine is that there’s actually not much room for differentiation between brands using the same form of creatine. While there can be differences in purity and price, the only other way brands can put themselves on top is with better marketing. In other words, you don’t need a ton of choices because a pure creatine supplement should simply have one ingredient: creatine.
With creatine monohydrate (and micronized creatine monohydrate) being the most well researched, followed by creatine HCL, it goes without saying those are the main forms we considered when deciding on which is the best creatine supplement to take.
So, unlike other reviews for the best creatine supplements, you won't see special titles like the “best creatine for men”, "best creatine for women", "best creatine for teens", or “best creatine for cutting (or bulking)”, as that would be like saying a piece of steak is best for men or best for bodybuilding. Steak is steak. Creatine is creatine. A creatine supplement has one job and that’s to fill your creatine stores.
Essentially, if someone says "it is the best creatine for post-workout", what they are really saying is "this is creatine + another supplement, by which that additional supplement is good post-workout".
For our best recommended creatine list, we are sticking to the best pure creatine supplements. The only caveat for our list is we included one flavorful creatine, for those who can't stand drinking creatine on its own. Since creatine has no flavor, a pure creatine product won't either. For flavored creatine to become tasty, it needs other ingredients, such as sweeteners, natural or otherwise. Most flavored creatines also include another supplement in addition to creatine, to give it a boost in benefits (and marketing). All in all, we will have a "best tasting creatine" option because of this, and just know that we used the same stringent selection process for it.
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
Price: 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.
Price: 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.
Price: 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 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.
Price: 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. So, if we are talking about the best straight-up creatine monohydrate, Bulk Supplements is arguably the best creatine powder simply based on price.
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!
We will go over the differences between creatine pills and powders further below, but in essence, it simply comes down to you are paying for convenience. The convenience being not needing to mix powder into water.
If you’re willing to pay for convenience, then you might as well buy a creatine pill that offers convenience and quality. For the best creatine capsules, 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.
Price: For the 100 count bottle, which has 200 capsules (100 servings), it is ~$0.60 per serving. You pay a slight premium to have them in capsule form.
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 best brands of creatine 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.
Price: 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.
Most people don’t need anything other than creatine monohydrate to promote muscle growth and increased power output. However, if you really have an issue with digestion when taking creatine mono, creatine HCL might be the solution. 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.
That being said, they have over 2,000 quality reviews on Amazon, so we will go with that (by the way, we prefer to buy from Kaged directly on their site, as the customer support is much better that way). The vast majority of the reviews do talk about how Kaged Muscle HCL could fix their digestive issues with creatine monohydrate.
Price: 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.
As mentioned, it’s a bit more challenging to review other forms of creatine as there just hasn’t been a lot of time to study them. 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.
This last one goes against some of what we said about creatine is simply creatine. As mentioned, there are different forms of creatine, or types of creatine you could say. Crazy Nutrition takes things further than most companies by combining several types of creatines in their own unique blend, which also contains electrolytes to further enhance muscle hydration, prevent cramping, and help maintain optimal focus during workouts. Oh, and it has flavor, so it tastes good when you drink it on its own, and it also makes it the best tasting creatine on this list.
The ingredients used in CRN-5 is as follows:
This formula offers a range of benefits to support workouts, muscle hydration, performance, focus, and endurance.
What really sets Ultimate CRN-5 apart is its commitment to quality and effectiveness. Unlike many other creatine formulas on the market, which often cut corners and compromise on ingredient potency, Crazy Nutrition has prioritized delivering a premium product. The concept with the creatine blend is that it avoids the need for loading phases through better absorption.
There's tons of research on creatine monohyrdate so it's a must to include. For reference creatine monohydrate is a creatine molecule bound to a single molecule of water.
Then, with CRN-5 you also have, Di-Creatine Malate, which is a creatine mixed with malic acid, providing better absorption. Tri-creatine malate, which has three creatine molecules attached to a naturally occurring malic acid molecule, said to be easier on digestion and more soluble (plus malic acid has its own benefits). And, tri-creatine citrate pryuvate, which has proposes benefits of better absorption and stability, and further enhancing of energy production. Advocates claim that the citric acid and pyruvic acid components may support the Krebs cycle, which is involved in energy production, leading to better performance and recovery.
On top of that, or better yet, mixed in, are premium electrolytes, including Aquamin® MG and Aquamin® AG, which are derived from marine sources.
Safety and natural ingredients are also emphasized in Ultimate CRN-5. Free from bloating or gas-inducing components, this formula uses trusted, vegan, and non-GMO ingredients, providing athletes with a clean and reliable supplement option.
Crazy Nutrition offers a 100% satisfaction, 60-day money-back guarantee, providing customers with the confidence to try Ultimate CRN-5 risk-free. This commitment to customer satisfaction, coupled with the quality of the formula, showcases Crazy Nutrition's dedication to delivering a superior product.
Price: When considering the price, Ultimate CRN-5 offers excellent value for money. Priced at $44.99 (30 servings per tub) for a single purchase, or with a 30% discount for the subscribe and save option, the cost is heavy ($1.49/serving), but it does align with the quality and benefits provided by the product. Many top athletes stand by Crazy Nutrition's Ultimate CRN-5.
Crazy Nutrition’s Ultimate CRN-5 creatine formula stands out as a reliable and effective choice for athletes seeking to optimize their performance and enhance their workout results. It's not cheap compared to the others, but it does come with the potential for better absorption, as well as the added benefits from the electrolytes. Plus, it uses natural ingredients and non-artificial sweeteners so it tastes good. We give the taste an 8/10. We tried the lemon & lime flavor and it taste good, but not great. All in all, it's definitely worth the try if you want a flavored creatine, and the 100% satisfaction guaranteed money back shows you this company trusts in their own product.
Here's a table summarizing the information about the best creatine supplements:
|Best Creatine Brands||Form||Key Features||Price/Serving|
Highly soluble and pure (Creapure)
Sourced from Creapure for top quality/purity
Produced with Creapure for high quality/purity
$0.50 (or $0.45 on subscription)
|Bulk Supplement Creatine Monohydrate||
Low-priced option with quality testing
Pre-measured capsules for convenience
>99.98% purity and high solubility
Creatine HCL Powder
Popular choice for creatine HCL with positive reviews
|Crazy Nutrition Ultimate CRN-5||Creatine-blend||Flavored and comes with the added benefit of its own unique creatine blend for better absorption, as well as electrolytes.||$1.49|
Please note that the prices per serving are approximate and may vary.
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 and the one most of our team at SET FOR SET uses.
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.
If you don't take our word for it, just check out all of the reviews Optimum Nutrition has on Amazon. You can see these by clicking the "check price" button below.
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.
Here are some more frequently asked questions people have when buying creatine.
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.
Creatine monohydrate doesn't necessarily make you bigger but it does allow you to train harder for longer sessions. These changes in your training can enhance performance. Just a few benefits of creatine are to increase lean muscle mass, improve body composition, and boost athletic performance.
If you want to learn more about creatine supplementation in sports nutrition, check out these articles:
Since you are interested in creatine, you might find these supplement reviews for building muscle and strength useful too:
Comments will be approved before showing up.
December 08, 2023
December 07, 2023
At SFS we strive to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed for your fitness journey. Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases, killer workouts, actionable fitness content and more. As our motto goes - "You don't have to get ready if you stay #alwaysready!"