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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.

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 bonds with a hydrochloride salt, which may help enhance absorption.

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

However, a few different factors can affect the optimal amount 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.

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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.

Best for a large serving volume:Nutricost Creatine Monohydrate Powder

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

PriceServingsDose per servingType
Thorne$40905 gpowder
Gnarly Sports Nutritionaround $55905 gpowder
Optimum Nutritionaround $26.99605 gpowder
KAGED$24.9975750 mgpowder or capsules
Transparent Labs$49.9930 or 605 gpowder
NOW Sportsaround $21.86601.5 gcapsules
Klean Athletearound $32.80605 gpowder
Proven4 Sportaround $37.99302 gpowder
Bare Performance$34.99605 gpowder
The Genius Brand$24.99255 gpowder
Nutricostbetween around $39.95–64.952005 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.

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.

Further resources

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

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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.

A 2021 review notes that, as well as helping improve athletic performance, creatine may also help with several other factors, such as:

  • 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 unsure whether they can safely use creatine should talk with a doctor.

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

What is the most effective creatine?

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 supplement on the market today?

The best creatine supplement or creatine pills for muscle growth provide a high dose of creatine and fast absorption. Products that use Creapure, a purified form of creatine, might be the best available supplements.

What is the most commonly used creatine supplement?

Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest form of creatine and, as such, is the type of creatine companies are most likely to use.

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.