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Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that helps supply energy to the cells, particularly muscle cells. People may take creatine supplements to boost athletic performance and help build muscle.

A quick look at the best creatine supplements

Creatine is a natural compound present in large amounts in red meat, poultry, and fish. In the body, creatine helps supply the cells with energy. This includes providing muscle cells with energy.

Creatine is a combination of three amino acids: glycine, L-arginine, and L-methionine. Most of the body’s creatine is in the muscles, though the brain also stores some.

There are a few different types of creatine supplements available. Some of the more popular types include:

  • Creatine monohydrate: This is the most common form of creatine. It comprises one creatine molecule and one water molecule.
  • Buffered creatine: Also known as Kre-Alkalyn, this form contains an alkaline buffer.
  • Creatine HCL: This creatine is bonded with a hydrochloride salt, which may help enhance absorption.

Some research suggests that the average person requires roughly 1–3 grams (g) of creatine each day.

However, a few different factors can affect how much may be beneficial for a person to consume. For example, athletes who do more intense physical training may benefit from a higher daily creatine intake.

Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes and people who are looking to build or repair muscles. It may be best for people who regularly engage in moderate-to-high intensity training.

Other people may take it to supplement their diet. As dietary creatine comes mainly from red meat and fish, vegans and vegetarians may take creatine supplements to help ensure that they get enough each day.

Learn more about essential supplements for vegans.

Some people with health conditions that affect how their body makes or uses amino acids may also need regular creatine supplementation.

Some research suggests that creatine supplementation may also be beneficial for immune system regulation and for people with muscle-wasting diseases or neurological conditions. However, more research is necessary to support these claims.

A person should always speak with a doctor or dietician before taking a supplement.

Medical News Today’s methodology

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products containing safe and high-quality ingredients that are clearly labeled. They should also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: MNT chooses products that must clearly state the supplement dosage.
  • Serving size: MNT selects products in which manufacturers recommend a safe dosage.
  • Third-party testing: MNT chooses products that must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis: MNT chooses companies that demonstrate transparency and share a product’s certificate of analysis (COA) following receipt of its third-party lab results.

Many creatine supplements are available to purchase. Below are 11 products that people may wish to try.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All product information presented here is purely research-based.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for injury recovery: Gnarly Sports Nutrition Creatine

  • Price: around $55
  • Dose per serving: 5 grams (g)
  • Type: powder

This unflavored creatine powder offers 5 grams of creatine per serving. It uses Creapure creatine monohydrate. Each pack includes around 90 servings.

The company claims these supplements can reduce muscle damage, soreness, and inflammation.

A person can mix this powder with drinks 30 minutes before exercise or immediately after a workout. On rest days, people can have one serving with a meal. The powder aims to help athletes recover faster from injuries.

It is National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified for sport. This means the supplement has been tested for safety and does not contain banned substances.

Best for an unflavored powder: Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder

  • Price: around $34 for 60 servings
  • Dose per serving: 5 g
  • Type: powder

This product is a micronized creatine monohydrate powder for quick absorption and use. Each serving delivers 5 g of pure creatine monohydrate. The product contains no other ingredients.

The manufacturers suggest mixing the creatine with water, fruit juice, or a protein shake.

The packaging states that it has undergone testing for banned substances.

Buyers appreciate that it does not have a taste when they add it to drinks and that it does not have any added ingredients.

However, some people noted that they experienced increased thirst after using the powder, and some people received damaged products.

Best for creatine with no loading phase: Kaged Creatine with HCL

  • Price: $24.99 for 75 servings
  • Dose per serving: 750 milligrams (mg)
  • Type: powder

This creatine powder from Kaged comes in two flavors and a capsule form. It contains a patented creatine hydrochloride (HCL) formula, and the company states people do not need to have a “loading phase” with this supplement.

A loading phase is when people consume large amounts of creatine in a short space of time to saturate their muscles with creatine.

Kaged states this formula absorbs quickly and effectively.

Customers say the powder lasts a long time and does not cause side effects.

However, a number of buyers claim that the unflavored product has an unpleasant, sour taste.

Best for an HMB formula: Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Price: $49.99
  • Dose per serving: 5 g creatine, 1.5 g HMG
  • Type: powder

This powder contains vitamin D, creatine monohydrate, β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB), and Bioperine, which is a black pepper fruit extract. It provides a person with 65% of their recommended daily intake of vitamin D.

HMB is a natural substance reportedly useful for building muscle. However, scientific studies have produced mixed results, and many studies focus on older populations with health conditions. As such, the results may not be applicable to younger, healthy people interested in muscle-building supplementation.

It comes in 11 flavors, including sour grape, tropical and fruit punch, and black cherry. There is also an unflavored option. People can choose a 30- or 60-serving bottle.

A person can also subscribe for regular deliveries and a discount.

Customers write that the product is high quality and has a good flavor. There are no negative reviews on the company website.

Best for capsule creatine: NOW Sports Kre-Alkalyn Creatine Capsules

  • Price: around $18 for 60 servings
  • Dose per serving: 1.5 g
  • Type: capsules

Instead of a powder, this product comes in the form of convenient capsules. It contains Kre-Alkalyn, which proponents suggest may enhance creatine uptake in the muscles and lead to fewer side effects than creatine monohydrate.

However, older research does not support the claims that Kre-Alkalyn causes fewer side effects than creatine monohydrate.

NOW Sports recommends taking two capsules two to four times per day.

There is just one customer review for this product, which rates it at 5 out of 5 stars.

Best for gluten-free creatine: Thorne Creatine

  • Price: $40 for 90 servings
  • Dose per serving: 5 g
  • Type: powder

Thorne’s Creatine powder is free from gluten, dairy, and soy. Thorne also says it derives its ingredients from natural flavors and colors.

Thorne recommends mixing a 5 g scoop with at least 8 ounces of water or other beverage. It recommends a person takes this powder 30–90 minutes before or after exercising.

Each 5 g scoop contains 5 g of creatine monohydrate.

Customers claim that they can see a difference in their bodies after using this product. However, some people found the powder gave their drinks a grainy texture.

Best for athletes: Klean Athlete Creatine

  • Price: $28.70 for around 60 servings
  • Dose per serving: 5 g
  • Type: powder

Klean Athlete designs its products for athletes.

This pure creatine supplement contains 5 g per scoop. There are approximately 60 servings in total.

Klean Athlete writes that it does not contain gluten or GMO ingredients and it is also suitable for vegans.

Klean Athlete recommends a person mixes a 5 g scoop with 8 oz of water or other beverage. The company says people may get the best results if they take the supplement with a beverage or food containing carbohydrates around 30 minutes before exercise.

After exercise, the company advises that people take a recovery drink with the supplement. On rest days, a person can have one serving with a meal.

There are no reviews on the company website for this product.

Best for a low dose: Proven4 Sport Pre Workout Powder

  • Price: around $37.99 for 30 servings
  • Dose per serving: 2 g
  • Type: powder

Proven4 is available in four flavors: cherry limeade, blue raspberry, fruit punch, and watermelon.

It provides 2 g of creatine per serving, which is lower than most products. This may be suitable for people who are trying creatine supplements for the first time.

This formula contains various other ingredients in addition to creatine, including:

  • vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12
  • niacin
  • calcium
  • pantothenic acid

The company recommends a person takes this supplement before a workout.

The product is NSF Certified for Sport, which states the product is safe and free from banned substances.

Positive reviews mention improvements in workout performance and buyers appreciate the NSF testing.

However, critical reviews state that the product has a chalky taste and does not dissolve well in drinks.

Best for muscle growth: Bare Performance Creatine Monohydrate

  • Price: $34.99 for 60 servings
  • Dose per serving: 5 g
  • Type: powder

Bare Performance claims the product has been widely studied and increases muscle mass as well as muscle strength, power, and performance.

Each bottle contains 60 servings, which provide 5 g of creatine monohydrate from Creapure.

The powder is unflavored. Bare Performance advises customers to mix one serving with their beverage of choice before or after exercise. A person can also take it on rest days.

Many reviews state the product is effective and shipping was fast. There are no negative reviews on the product page.

Best for maximizing muscle function: The Genius Brand Creatine Powder Mix

  • Price: $24.99 for 25 servings
  • Dose per serving: 5 g
  • Type: powder

This product from Genius also contains beta-alanine as well as creatine monohydrate. The company states beta-alanine helps to maximize muscle function and performance during workouts.

Older 2016 research shows that beta-alanine does have an overall positive effect on workouts. However, it may be more effective when combined with other supplements, such as sodium bicarbonate.

A person can choose a green apple or unflavored powder.

This may not be suitable for individuals with severe allergies as their product is processed in a facility that also processes major allergens such as milk, nuts, and wheat.

There are many 5-star reviews on the company website, but buyers do not regularly leave comments. Those that did enjoy the taste and claim it improved their performance at the gym.

Best for a large serving volume:Nutricost Creatine Monohydrate Powder

  • Price: from around $36–69 for 200 servings
  • Dose per serving: 5 g
  • Type: powder

This Nutricost supplement provides 200 servings per 1 kilogram (kg) container. A person can also purchase a 500 g container that provides 100 servings.

There are three flavor options: unflavored, blue raspberry, and fruit punch.

Each 7 g serving contains 5 g of creatine. A person can take it pre- or post-workout.

Many customers claim the product is effective. However, critical reviews frequently mention digestive side effects.

The table below compares each creatine supplement in this article for price, dose, and more.

PriceServingsDose per servingType
Gnarly Sports Nutritionaround $55905 gpowder
Optimum Nutritionaround $34605 gpowder
KAGED$24.9975750 mgpowder or capsules
Transparent Labs$49.9930 or 605 gpowder
NOW Sportsaround $18601.5 gcapsules
Thorne$40905 gpowder
Klean Athletearound $28.70605 gpowder
Proven4 Sportaround $37.99302 gpowder
Bare Performance$34.99605 gpowder
The Genius Brand$24.99255 gpowder
Nutricostbetween around $36–692005 gpowder

The factors a person should consider when buying a creatine supplement include:

  • Third-party testing: A person should purchase products that have undergone third-party testing. This means that an independent lab tests supplements for the safety, purity, and accuracy of the ingredients. A person can often look at third-party lab results on the company’s website.
  • Added ingredients: People may wish to buy supplements that do not contain artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, or fillers. Many companies supply pure creatine, but others may add additional ingredients. A person should consider the benefits of these additional ingredients.
  • Form: Many creatine supplements are available as a powder that a person can add to drinks. However, some people may prefer to take a creatine supplement as a capsule. Capsules can ensure people get an accurate dose of creatine in every serving.
  • Dosage: People should ensure they are not taking too much creatine. They can discuss the appropriate dosage with a doctor.

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements among athletes and people who regularly train their bodies, as it may help support ideal muscle energy.

Research from 2017 notes that, as well as helping improve athletic performance, creatine may also help with a number of other factors.

These include:

  • enhancing recovery after workouts
  • regulating temperature
  • preventing injury
  • rehabilitating the muscles
  • protecting the spinal cord
  • recovering from concussion

Creatine may also play a role in several health conditions, including:

Creatine use may also help reduce markers of depression in some people. One 2020 study found that otherwise healthy people who consumed more creatine had fewer markers for depression.

However, more research needs to explore these results before scientists can make any broad claims.

Creatine is a natural supplement, and the risk of experiencing side effects from the supplement itself is low.

However, some people may experience the following side effects from taking creatine:

  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • muscle cramping

In higher dosages over long periods of time, supplementation with creatine may affect the liver or kidneys. However, current research does not fully support this concern.

Taking high dosages of creatine may affect various bodily functions, so some people may need to take creatine with caution. Anyone who is unsure about whether or not they can safely use creatine should talk with a doctor.

It is important to take creatine supplements as the packaging suggests. Do not take more creatine in hopes of gaining more benefits, as the body can only use so much at one time.

Some people may decide to do a creatine “loading phase”. This involves taking multiple doses of creatine for a week to increase muscle stores rapidly, then decreasing the daily intake to maintain high levels. That said, taking lower regular doses over a long period of time may have the same effect.

However, 2021 research suggests that while a short-term loading phase can be helpful for increasing exercise capacity, it is not necessary for maximum benefit.

People should avoid taking very high dosages and look out for any other ingredients in the product that may affect the body.

For example, some sports mixes contain other ingredients, such as caffeine. People who are sensitive to caffeine may experience negative effects when consuming these drinks.

For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.

Creatine is a natural substance, but some people may not enjoy taking it as a supplement. There are other ways to get creatine, such as by eating lean meat and fish.

Additionally, other compounds may help build and repair muscle. For example, high quality proteins rich in branched-chain amino acids may also be beneficial.

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about creatine supplements.

Which creatine is best and safest?

The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has stated that creatine monohydrate is a safe and the most effective form of creatine supplementation.

Which is the best creatine on the market for muscle growth?

The best creatine supplement for muscle growth is one that provides a high dose of creatine and fast absorption. Bare Performance Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate may be a suitable option as it uses Creapure, which is a purified form of creatine.

Creatine is a popular natural supplement that may help build and repair muscles and enhance performance. It is generally safe and one of the most extensively studied supplements.

As with any supplement, it is best to opt for moderate use and discuss it with a doctor first.

People may also be able to increase their creatine intake through their diet.