Creatine supplementation gained popularity after the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 after athletes believed it enhanced their performance. (1)
It is approved by sports organizations as effective in improving anaerobic capacity, strength, and lean body mass in conjunction with training. (2), (3)
Milk, meat, and fish are rich sources of dietary creatine. Creatine is available as powders or pills and can be bought locally or online without a prescription.
Though many types of creatine such as creatine monohydrate, creatine pyruvate, creatine HCL, creatine malate, etc. exist, the most popular and well-researched type is creatine monohydrate.
Here are the top 6 creatine supplements in the market.
Our Best Picks:
1. The Best Creatine Monohydrate – Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB
2. The Best Creatine HCL – Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL
3. The Best Creatine Pills – Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules
4. The Best Budget for Creatine Supplement – Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized)
5. The Best Vegan Creatine – Naked Creatine Powder
6. The Best Kre Alkalyn – EFX Sports Kre-Alkalyn
Now let’s look at each of these creatine supplements in detail to find out why they are considered the best in their categories.
1. Best Creatine Monohydrate: Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB
Creatine monohydrate is the most popular and most researched form of creatine. Creapure® creatine monohydrate is a patented product from Germany and is used as the primary raw material in many creatine monohydrate supplements.
HMB (β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate) is a chemical that is made when the body breaks down the amino acid leucine. HMB with creatine can provide ergogenic muscle benefits and prevent muscle loss. (4)
Bioperine® is a patented form of black pepper fruit extracts and is used in numerous supplements to enhance the bioavailability of those ingredient(s).
About Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is a unique supplement that uses a combination of Creapure® creatine monohydrate, HMB, and Bioperine® for increasing physical strength, muscle growth, and fat-free mass in conjunction with training workouts.
Suitable for both men and women, this supplement contains clinically approved dosages with enhanced bioavailability and rapid absorption for enhanced physical health.
Manufactured in the USA with non-GMO ingredients, Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is third-party tested for purity and efficacy.
What it Contains:
Each serving size of 1 scoop (9.91 g) contains
- Creapure® Creatine Monohydrate – 5000 mg
- HMB – 2000 mg
- Black Pepper Extract with 95% Piperine – 5 mg
Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is available in a tub pack of 297 g (0.65 lbs) that provides 30 servings. It is available in 3 delicious flavors and as an unflavored version as well for user convenience.
The recommended dosage is 1 scoop every day 30 minutes after workout and 1 scoop in the morning, on non-workout days, for recovery. This supplement can be taken with 4-6 oz water, juice, protein shakes, or meals for maximum efficacy.
Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB contains 100% pure ingredients and does not contain any artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, or fillers. It contains stevia as a natural sweetener, food additives such as malic acid and citric acid, that are deemed safe. This product is gluten-free and is suitable for use by vegans and vegetarians.
- A potent combination of Creapure® Creatine Monohydrate and HMB
- Added Bioperine® for maximum bioavailability and rapid absorption
- Available in flavored versions and as unflavored
- No artificial ingredients, fillers, or preservatives
Summary: Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is a non-GMO supplement with enhanced bioavailability for maximum strength and muscle growth. It is third-party tested, contains no artificial ingredients or gluten, and is safe for vegans.
2. Best Creatine HCL: Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL
Creatine HCL or Creatine Hydrochloride is a popular type of creatine combined with hydrochloric acid in its molecular form to replenish ATP reserves in the muscle and brain tissues.
About Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL
Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL is a popular supplement that provides good doses of creatine to increase anaerobic strength, weight gain, and muscle mass.
The micronized particles in the powder ensure quick dissolvability and rapid absorption into the body to promote physical benefits, as well as enhance the cognitive functioning of the brain.
Manufactured according to cGMP standards, Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL is inspected, lab-tested at every stage, and verified by third-party testing for quality.
What it Contains:
Each serving contains:
- Micronized Creatine HCI – 750 mg
Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL is available as a 100g (3.53 oz) pack to cater to 133 servings per pack. It can also be purchased in other sizes of 250g, 500g, 1 kg, 5 kg packs as per the user’s convenience.
The suggested dosage is 750 mg ( under 1/4 teaspoon) to 1500 mg (under 1/2 tsp) daily before workouts for better efficacy. It can be mixed in a minimum of 16 oz of water or any suitable beverage of your choice for easy consumption. It is advisable to increase water intake following supplementation for maximum absorption and effect.
Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL contains pure creatine and no other added ingredients. This supplement is free from sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, gluten, and other harmful additives for safe consumption.
- Potent 750 mg doses to increase ATP reserves
- Suitable to mix in a beverage of your choice
- Lab-verified and third-party tested
- Free from sugar, allergens, and additives
Summary: Bulk Supplements Creatine HCL provides various benefits including increased muscle mass, strength, and good cognitive abilities. Free of allergens and additives, it is verified by third-party testing for consumer safety.
3. Best Creatine Pills: Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules
Creatine supplements provide excellent physical benefits, especially for athletes and bodybuilders. Creatine pills are the easiest form of creatine available when compared to powders.
Portable and with no mixing involved, popping a pill to reap the benefits is what creatine pills are designed to do.
About Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules are formulated for daily use in conjunction with regular exercise to promote physical muscle growth, strength, and stamina during workouts.
A GMP certified product, this supplement provides approved doses of creatine monohydrate to enhance ATP recycling for continued power and energy during workouts.
Optimum Nutrition ensures that the supplement surpasses all safety checks, They ensure quality through a Certificate of Analysis for the raw material, and undertake random in-house as well as independent lab testing to ensure purity.
This product is also tested for banned substances and all levels of contamination through a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program to make it safe for consumption.
What it Contains:
Each serving size of 2 capsules contains:
- Creatine Monohydrate – 2.5 g
This bottle of Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules contains 300 capsules providing 150 servings that can last 2-5 months depending on use. It is also available in sizes of 100, 200 capsule bottles for buyer’s convenience.
Each easy-to-swallow capsule contains 1.25 g of pure creatine monohydrate. The suggested dosage is 16-20 capsules (20-25 g) per day for the first 4-5 days to up muscle saturation followed by daily doses of 2-3 capsules (5-7 g).
For maximum efficiency and ease-of-use, the capsules can be consumed in divided doses throughout the day including before and after workouts. It can be taken with meals or non-acidic, non-caffeinated drinks for better retention.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules are keto-friendly and contain no fillers. The capsule is made from beef or pork gelatin contains magnesium stearate and has a 2-year shelf life.
- 100% pure creatine monohydrate
- Effective for both pre and post workouts
- Extensive quality checks and Independent lab-testing for safety
- Keto-friendly and free from fillers
Summary: Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules are filled with pure creatine monohydrate to promote muscle growth and strength. A keto-friendly product, it undergoes intensive quality checks to ensure consumer safety.
4. Best Budget Creatine Supplement: Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine supplements are effective but sometimes the cost is an inhibitor. The cost of a creatine supplement is dependent on the type of creatine used, its purity, and the overall quality of the product.
Finding a supplement that fits your budget without compromising on quality can be quite a challenge.
About Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized)
Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate is another popular supplement from this well-known brand. Bulk Supplements provide this research-backed creatine powerhouse at an extremely affordable cost.
This creatine monohydrate supplement is designed to provide physical benefits such as enhanced strength, lean muscle growth, increased weight, and promote cognitive abilities in the brain.
Manufactured in adherence to cGMP standards at an FDA registered facility in Nevada, Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate sources its creatine from various countries including USA, Canada, China, Korea, Japan, India, and Germany.
Bulk Supplements undertakes rigorous inspection, exhaustive in-house lab-testing including independent third-party testing for heavy metals, microbiology contamination, and potency to assure maximum quality.
What it Contains:
Each serving contains:
- Micronized Creatine Monohydrate – 2500 mg
This pack of 1 kg (35.27 oz) can deliver 400 servings of 2500 mg or 1/2 teaspoon of creatine that can last as a year’s supply of creatine. Other alternative sizes of 100 g, 250 g, 500 g, and 5 kg packs are available for purchase.
As a suggested dosage, you can take 1/2 teaspoon (2500 mg) to 1 teaspoon (5000 mg) every day with plenty of water for rapid absorption into the body. Users report that consumption by mixing into other non-caffeinated drinks has been effective.
Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate contains synthetically prepared pure micronized creatine monohydrate that is free of steroids and fillers. There are no other added ingredients and it is free of sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, gluten, corn, and additives.
- Highly affordable and excellent value for money
- Recommended doses of 2500 mg to 5000 mg per day
- No steroids, fillers, or additives
- Free from sugar and other allergens
Summary: Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate is an excellent powder supplement that provides strength and muscle growth along with cognitive benefits. It is free of steroids, fillers, additives, allergens, and is third-party tested for purity and quality, providing the best value for money.
5. Best Vegan Creatine: Naked Creatine Powder
Vegan Creatine supplements contain pure creatine that is lab-made with 2 chemicals in a reactor, without the use of any animal products, byproducts including gelatin-based capsules.
This type of synthetic supplement is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans, providing the same benefits as that of naturally occurring creatine in the body.
About Naked Creatine Powder
Naked Creatine Powder is a top-ranking supplement packed with creatine monohydrate to benefit the human body with physical gains, strength, and endurance.
The micronized creatine powder is fast dissolving and ensures quick absorption to increase creatine stores for enhanced physical benefits.
Manufactured and distributed by Naked Nutrition in Florida, USA, this supplement is certified vegan and hence suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
What it Contains:
Each serving size of 1 scoop (5 g) contains:
- Creatine Monohydrate – 5 g
Naked Creatine Powder is available as a 2.2 lb (1 kg) container pack that provides 200 servings of pure creatine monohydrate. The suggested dosage is 3-5 g mixed with at least 14-16 oz of any beverage of one’s choice, taken 30 minutes prior or immediately after a workout.
This supplement contains the highest grade of creatine monohydrate with zero artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. It is certified gluten-free, is non-GMO, and soy-free. The company also tests for heavy metals contamination to ensure complete safety in consumption.
- 100% pure creatine monohydrate of 5 g per serving
- Vegan certified
- Certified gluten-free, no soy, or GMO
- Free from artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors
Summary: Naked Creatine Powder is a powerful supplement with creatine monohydrate for enhancing physical gains and strength. Free from artificial ingredients, soy, and heavy metals, this product is certified vegan and gluten-free.
6. Best Kre Alkalyn: EFX Sports Kre-Alkalyn
Kre-Alkalyn, referred to as buffered creatine is designed to contain the right pH form of creatine to provide better physical benefits. This stable form does not degrade to creatinine and hence may be easier on the stomach than normal creatine monohydrate.
A patented form of creatine, Kre-Alkalyn does not need to be taken as a separate loading cycle and can still facilitate greater absorption for better efficacy.
About EFX Sports Kre-Alkalyn
EFX Sports Kre-Alkalyn is a top-ranking supplement loaded with the power of creatine monohydrate in a buffered form for better physical strength, muscle mass, and enhanced performance.
Kre-Alkalyn uses a multi-patented pH of 12-14 that is easily assimilated and used by the body. Developed by Dr. Jeff Golini, EFX’s Sports Kre-Alkalyn contain 99.9% pure creatine monohydrate that is clinically tested for efficacy.
Manufactured by one of the small elite brands, EFX Sports, Kre-Alkalyn is made in the USA and a registered trademark of All American Pharmaceutical.
What it Contains:
Each serving size of 2 capsules contains:
- Kre-Alkalyn – 1500 mg
The product is available as 240 capsules that deliver 120 servings. Other options available are 120 capsules (60 servings) and 400 capsules (200 servings).
Suitable for both men and women, this product does not require a loading phase. The suggested dosage varies for men and women as below:
- Women: 1-2 capsules per day
- Men under 175 lbs: 2 capsules per day
- Men over 176 lbs: 3-4 capsules per day
The dosage can be taken as one capsule 30-60 mins before a workout and one capsule post-workout with meals on training days. On ‘off’ days, 1-2 capsules can be taken with breakfast.
EFX Sports Kre-Alkalyn is safe and does not contain any banned substances. The capsule is made of gelatin and contains magnesium stearate to maintain product consistency.
- A buffered form of creatine with a multi-patented pH of 12-14
- No loading phase required
- Doctor formulated and clinically tested
- Free of banned substances
Summary: EFX Sports Kre-Alkalyn is a buffered creatine supplement with a unique pH of 12-14 for quick absorption. A patented product, this supplement is easy on the stomach and delivers excellent physical muscle benefits for users.
Dosage Instructions for Creatine Supplements
Creatine supplementation for medical reasons can vary depending on the medical condition for which it is used and the people who need it such as children, seniors, or vegans.
Creatine supplements, especially for sports, may be taken in 2 phases – loading and maintenance. The loading phase is not essential but can provide better benefits.
The loading phase is a short period and involves the consumption of higher doses of creatine to increase creatine stores in the body. The maintenance phase helps sustain the existing levels of creatine with a daily dose.
Scientific studies affirm the ideal dosage of creatine as: (5)
- Loading Phase – 0.03 gm/ per kg/ per day or 5 gm taken 4 times per day for 5 – 7 days
- Maintenance Phase – 0.03 gm/ per kg/ per day or 3 – 5 gm per day for 4-6 weeks
The loading phase can also be limited to 2 or 3 days if enough proteins or carbohydrates are consumed during this time. (6)
Summary: Creatine as a supplement can be used for medical conditions or to help with energy and muscle mass in sportspersons. Creatine can be consumed in loading and maintenance phases at clinically approved doses.
The Side Effects and Risks of Using Creatine Supplements
Supplements are an excellent way to add creatine to your diet. They are generally safe and ideal for athletes and vegans too.
Creatine monohydrate has been endorsed by the International Society of Sports Nutrition as safe and effective in producing ergogenic benefits. (7)
- Weight gain: One common side-effect of creatine reported is that of quick weight gain. The rapid weight gain occurs because creatine draws water into the muscles, This water retention is exhibited as extra weight gained. (8)
- Renal complications: Overdosing or ingesting too much of creatine, with the hope of getting more benefit, may result in renal complications. (9)
- Gastrointestinal issues: Creatine supplements, if taken in higher doses, are also known to cause gastrointestinal issues.
- Drug interactions: Creatine may interfere with certain medications, so a doctor’s advice on dosage and use before using creatine would work best. (10)
Though creatine has been used for medical treatments in children, studies are yet to establish 100% safety of its use for children, pregnant, or nursing women. So, it is best to avoid the use of creatine supplements by such people till proven. (11)
Summary: Creatine, though proven safe by many studies, can cause some temporary effects such as weight gain or gastrointestinal issues. Overdosing must be avoided to prevent adverse effects and make creatine safe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is the Loading Phase Necessary for Creatine Supplements to Work?
The loading phase helps to increase creatine reserves in the body but is not mandatory.
Regular creatine doses in smaller amounts are enough to up levels of creatine, though this will take a little longer to reach the maximum level of efficacy.
When is the Ideal Time to Take Creatine Supplements?
Creatine Supplements can be taken either before workouts, after workouts, or both times.
While pre-workout supplementation helps to increase strength during resistance training, post-workout supplementation facilitates muscle mass and faster recovery.
Together, creatine enhances both strength and muscle mass. Timing is important for creatine and studies also affirm this. (12)
How Should I Use Creatine Powders?
Creatine powders can be mixed in enough water and consumed directly. Unflavored creatine powders can also be dissolved into juices or other protein shakes if desired. But water hydration post supplementation is essential.
Creatine can also be consumed in combination with carbohydrates as studies have shown that it can ensure better creatine retention. (13)
Do Creatine Supplements Have an Expiry Date?
Creatine supplements do have an expiry date like any other supplement. Though creatine supplements are synthetic, they are quite stable, safe for consumption, and last for years. Besides, additional ingredients, if any, also have an expiry date.
Expiry dates are usually printed on the product label. Please check with the manufacturer, if there is no expiry date printed when you purchase the supplement.
Are Creatine Supplements Suitable for Women?
Creatine is a natural substance that is produced by all human beings in their bodies. Like men, women especially in the sports field need creatine too. Though muscle physiology in men and women may differ, scientific studies show that short-term creatine supplementation works equally well for both men and women. (14)
In the case of pregnant women, studies are yet to establish the safety of consuming creatine and its effect on the fetus. So it’s better if creatine supplementation is avoided during this phase.
The Final Note
Creatine is widely used to enhance muscle power, strength, and energy in athletes and bodybuilders.
Creatine supplements are available in the form of powders or pills usually as types creatine monohydrate or creatine HCI as single or combined with other ingredients for better efficacy.
Creatine in small, recommended dosages has minimal side-effects and is research-backed as safe. They can be effective in providing physical improvements, exerting cardioprotective, and neuroprotective benefits to help with overall wellbeing.