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

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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 go through 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.

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.

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

Many creatine supplements are available to purchase. Below are five 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.

BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate Powder (Micronized)

This product is a micronized creatine monohydrate powder. The micronizing process creates a rapidly dissolving powder, which mixes into most drinks quickly. This may be best for people who do not enjoy different textures in their drinks and need the powder to dissolve completely.

It contains 5 g of micronized creatine monohydrate powder per serving, and the powder contains no other ingredients.

BulkSupplements recommends that adults mix 5 g of this product with a liquid and consume it before a workout.

At the time of publishing, a 1-kilogram pouch of BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate Powder (Micronized) costs $20.46.

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate 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.

At the time of publishing, a 60-serving bottle of Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder costs $10.58.

Naked Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate Powder

This product is a certified vegan creatine option. It offers 5 g of micronized creatine monohydrate per serving, with no added ingredients.

It also delivers a larger serving size than many similar products, with around 200 servings per bottle.

Naked Nutrition recommends mixing one scoop into 14–16 fluid ounces (fl oz) of sports drink or fruit juice and consuming it either before or after exercise.

At the time of publishing, Naked Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate Powder costs $24.99.

MuscleTech Cell Tech Creatine Monohydrate Formula Powder

This product is a post-workout recovery powder that contains creatine and many other supportive ingredients to help the body recover.

MuscleTech states that this product may help increase muscle gain after a workout by causing an insulin spike in the body.

Each serving of this product contains 7 g of
high performance liquid chromatography-certified creatine monohydrate and 3 g of creatine HCL.

The company recommends that people mix 1 scoop of this product with 6 fl oz of water and consume it immediately after a workout.

MuscleTech Cell Tech Creatine Monohydrate Formula Powder is available in a fruit punch flavor. At the time of publishing, a 5.95-pound container costs $54.99.

NOW Sports Kre-Alkalyn Creatine 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, existing 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.

At the time of publishing, 120 NOW Sports Kre-Alkalyn Creatine Capsules cost $19.19.

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 use 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 benefit, 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.

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.

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.

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.