Are you ready to take your body to the next level? In need of a solution that can sculpt a lean physique? Most athletes, particularly bodybuilders, resort to a popular supplement: creatine. By taking creatine, individuals may experience an upsurge in energy production, oust in power output, and healthy endurance – all of which are fundamentals for getting by with each workout. Chemically, creatine is comparable to amino acids (i.e., building blocks for protein), but how is the former different?
Well, our editorial team has taken care of all the presumptions, starting with the possible choices for creatine supplementation right down to its composition. After searching the market for viable options, we were persuaded by not one but nine creatine supplements. The goal of this guide is to go beyond offering a selection. Expressly, individuals should use this as a reference for selecting creatine supplements while factoring in the when’s, how’s, why’s, what’s and who’s. Let’s get started with the top contenders!
The Top 9 Creatine Monohydrate Supplements in 2022
The following breakdowns are meant to educate on the ins and outs of each creatine supplement. Everything from the makers down to the supplement’s facts is outlined below:
- Creature® Creatine
- Cellucor Cor-Performance Creatine
- CRN-5 Creatine
- Elm & Rye Creatine
- Muscle Power Creatine
- Onnit Creatine Monohydrate
- Micronized Creatine Powder
- Performance Lab Maintain
- XWerks LIFT
- Company: Beast Sports
- Starting Price: $32.99
Creature® Creatine by Beast Sports is an all-natural creatine supplement formulated to enhance performance. The team avows that performance can be peaked by delivering the body with the rawest conceivable ingredients. Ergo, individuals might build muscle and strength all while preserving lean muscle. Additionally, plateaus may be broken, ATP levels can be replenished, and athletic speed, power, and endurance heightened. Together, these facets push one to train harder and longer, without any fatigue-related influence.
The Beast Sports Nutrition story has been in the works for 25 years with the mere goal of helping fitness fanatics become their best. The team maintains that the best individuals tap into their inner beast. They pledge to work with one vision in mind: “To deliver the best multi-functional line of supplements in the industry. To craft high-quality, results-driven products with transparent ingredients backed by science.”
Our research guided us to consider their supplements as being tested by third-party laboratories, free from banned substances and in its place capturing patented ingredients. Their efforts have been recognized via their “Creatine Product of the Year and Breakout Brand of the Year” awards. Now for the formula, each serving (i.e., three capsules) contains D-Biotin (180mcg), Chromium (100mcg), 2000mg of Creature® 5x Complex (Creatine Monohydrate, Di-Creatine Malate, Creatine Anhydrous, Crea-Trona®, and Creatine Gluconate) and 58.5mg of Creatine Optimizers (Banaba Leaf, Biotin, Cinnulin PF®, and Chromium Picolinate).
Cellucor Cor-Performance Creatine
- Company: Cellucor
- Starting Price: $24.99
Cellucor’s Cor-Performance Creatine is advertised as a supplement supporting cellular energy’s rapid production for muscular power, endurance, and growth. The secret? As seen before, it all rests in replenishing ATP levels. Consequently, a betterment can be expected regarding muscle mass, exercise intensity, peak power, leanness, and water solubility. What astounded us regarding Cellucor’s approach is their use of just one ingredient. Precisely, each serving (one 5g-scoop) encompassing Micronized Creatine Monohydrate (5000mg).
Micronization is when a solid material’s average diameter is reduced. In so doing, a solution is said to reflect improved bioavailability and time-release engineering for sustained delivery. The team at Cellucor also highlighted that their decision rests in the process’ ability to improve water solubility. For 15 years, Cellucor’s mission has been “to support personal journeys of improvement and evolution.” Dedicating themselves to bringing science and wellness together, Cellucor solutions are those that establish a healthy mind-body connection.
- Company: CrazyBulk
- Starting Price: $48.99
CrazyBulk’s CRN-5 is a creatine formula that embraces a total of five creatine types coupled with electrolytes. This methodology is reckoned to build, repair, and promote fast recovery, optimize muscle hydration, enhance performance, and boost focus and endurance. For people looking for high output, the CRN-5 is recommended because it too increases ATP capacity.
According to the CrazyBulk team, their formulation is unlike others. For starters, individuals are said to be protected from muscle cramping. This formula is potent, where one scoop suffices for wanted results. How can anyone neglect cases of bloat, gas, and headaches – all free! These changes stem from taking a serving combining Creatine Monohydrate (3750mg), Creatine Hydrochloride (1000mg), Creatine Ethyl Ester (500mg), Tri-Creatine Malate (500mg), Creatine Pyruvate (250mg), Sodium (1250mg), Aquamin® Magnesium (562.5mg), Aquamin® Ag (400mg) and Potassium (195mg).
CrazyBulk is an exceptional brand on a mission to replace illegal steroids with natural alternatives. Simply put, each serving comes with the benefits of steroids, but none of the dangerous and unpleasant side effects. This team also stresses the significance of a complete diet, training, and wholesome lifestyle choices. Hard work pays off, and CrazyBulk is in it to remind everyone of it.
Elm & Rye Creatine
- Company: Elm & Rye
- Starting Price: $49.99
Another take on creatine supplementation has been brought to us by Elm & Rye. Their strategy is convinced by underscoring the formula’s ability to promote muscle growth, improve performance, and reduce fatigue. During training is when the magic happens, as the Elm & Rye team claims that their creatine can oust power output like never experienced. Why? It rests in the ‘simple is sweet’ principle. More specifically, each serving (2 tablets) contains nothing but Creatine Monohydrate (1400mg).
Now for the makers themselves, the Elm & Rye brand exemplifies what it means “to improve the lives of humanity by making high-quality supplements accessible and convenient.” To hold their end of the bargain, Elm & Rye promised their supplements equally account for sustainability, transparency, and educational resources so that individuals are fully knowledgeable on what they are fueling their bodies with.
Muscle Power Creatine
- Company: NSP Nutrition
- Starting Price: $27.99
Coming up, we have Muscle Power Creatine, a dietary supplement expected to stimulate energy production for faster gains in strength, muscle mass, and fat loss. When taken as directed, developments can be projected in muscle mass, strength, and overall performance. NSP Nutrition wants everyone to know that “Muscle Power is as pure as it comes as it is loaded with 100% creatine and nothing else,” or based on the supplement’s fact, delivers 5000mg of Creatine Monohydrate per 5000mg-scoop.
We weren’t fazed by NSP Nutrition’s strategy, as the company has been operating for the past 45 years with the same principles respected by the greatest bodybuilder of the 1970s and 1980s, Vince Gironda. People who’ve been by Vince’s side know that he was 100% devoted to bodybuilding. His discipline and commitment cannot be compared to any other competitor. During his time, Vince focused on scientific research for safe and natural staples, which remains front and center for NSP Nutrition even today.
Onnit Creatine Monohydrate
- Company: Onnit
- Starting Price: $15
The Onnit Creatine Monohydrate formula comprises patented creatine and Creapure® (5000mg per 2 scoops). Developed by ALzChem Trostberg GmbH in Germany, this patented ingredient is advertised as a widely studied form of creatine, proving safe and effective. Besides, this formula is entirely vegan, and thus, can tend to different lifestyles and beliefs. How can anyone ignore the verified nature of the production of Creapure®? In other words, it has since been IFS FOOD certified, a gold standard recognized by the “Global Food Safety Initiative.” For an ingredient to hold its ground clinically for 25 years says a lot and might explain claims surrounding muscle building, strength, performance, endurance, and recovery within a short period.
Since the Onnit team is committed to the highest quality and efficacy standards, they pledge to take the extra step to get every supplement independently certified for competition safety. Their choice for a partner was Informed-Sport, i.e., a testing program developed by the world-class anti-doping laboratory, LGC. So, if you spot an Informed-Sport logo on Onnit products, it represents rigorous testing for banned substances, quality, and safety, which is sure to put one’s mind at ease.
Micronized Creatine Powder
- Company: Optimum Nutrition
- Starting Price: $19.99
Optimum Nutrition and Cellucor share the process of micronization when it comes to achieving muscle building, strength, and performance. The official website states that each serving (i.e., two capsules) contains 2500mg of Pure Creatine Monohydrate; no fillers, calories, or carbohydrates.
At Optimum Nutrition, commitment to quality is under the spotlight, as the team strongly believes “you get out what you put in.” Each of their solutions is thought to accentuate high-quality raw materials, state-of-the-art manufacturing, and testing and retesting procedures. Believe it or not, Optimum Nutrition has been standing by the previously mentioned trio for over 30 years and counting.
What drew us closer to this brand was its level of transparency. For instance, they’ve elaborated on everything from neckbands and tub design for maximum consistency to displaying date and batch codes for safety purposes. Under each of the caps, a cardboard vacuum barrier has been introduced to hold their solutions in place while also garnering authentication certifications across the globe (i.e., Europe, Russia, India, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and China).
Performance Lab Sport Maintain
- Company: Performance Lab® SPORT
- Starting Price: $44
Performance Lab® SPORT is broadcasted as the “world’s cleanest, smartest muscle-restoring” post-workout formula intending to protect the muscles against breakdown and promote robust growth. This formula is equipped with the essentials that work against the implications of depleted nutrients, dehydration, and exhaustion. The team is confident that taking each serving (i.e., 4 to 6 capsules) immediately after a workout can fast-track muscle recovery. This comes from a formula celebrating the inseparableness of Creapure® (1750mg), SR CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine (1200mg), Ajipure® L-Glutamine (600mg), Pomegranate Extract (100mg), Himalayan Pink Salt (350mg), and NutriGenesis® Potassium+ (25mg).
So, what sets Performance Lab® SPORT Maintain apart from others? This brand is known for creating NutriGenesis®. This means that quality standards for cleanliness, purity, effectiveness and eco-friendliness can be better controlled. Luckily, their whole food vitamin and mineral supplements are sourced from fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms instead of conventional and cheap, Isolated Chemical (USP) nutrients.
By culturing nutrients, Performance Lab® was able to replicate the authentic function of vitamins, minerals, and amnios – all thanks to Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Albert Szent Gyorgy. At the end of the day, when people hear “Performance Lab®,” their thoughts should lead them to clean delivery, clean labels, cutting-edge manufacturing, third-party validation, eco-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, and world-class customer care.
- Company: XWerks
- Starting Price: USD$39
Lastly, we have a Pure Micronized Creatine Monohydrate (5000mg) dietary supplement called LIFT by XWerks. XWerks too appears to be a fan of creatine, as the team insists the addition to one’s training routine might stimulate “rapid strength, and power increase,” underlining that a “multitude of scientific studies have proven this point.” Regarding scientific evidence, XWerks trusts their solution can increase strength by 8 to 14% in maximum reps and increase the ability to perform one maximum squat rep by 20 to 25%.
Also, the maximum reps on bench press and squat are superior in the control group over the placebo group. Besides XWerk’s apparent favoritism towards science, we have insufficient knowledge of the company story. Nevertheless, the brand made an enduring impact given its recognition among Gear Patrol, Muscle & Fitness, Entrepreneur, Sports Illustrated, and Leafly.
How We Arrived at Our Creatine Supplement Selections
Even though this list isn’t as widespread as we initially hoped for, it undeniably represents top performers within the industry. That said, getting to this point was a journey mapped out by a customizable ranking system. We sat down to assess fundamental factors that creatine supplements must uphold to prove their worthiness as a team. After some debate, we landed on the following:
Manufacturer Standing & Transparency
Supplements can be advertised in any manner, but heightened confidence only stems from knowledge. A company’s story for existence, coupled with its efforts to outline every detail, is always reflected in a solution. Why would anyone want to invest in something that screams ambiguity regardless of the perspective? This is a risk we were not willing to take. Ultimately, poor branding and labeling disqualified several creatine products by default.
Type of Creatine
Each creatine type has something unique to bring to the table, whether chemically, solubility, or impact on the body. Certain forms might also be far more effective than others; therefore, our editorial team sought solutions comprising and accepting combinations of others. Creatine monohydrate was at the top of our list because it is the only one to have garnered a lot of interest from the scientific community and has since been proven to be safe for consumption.
Regarding concentrations, we resorted to one source that expounded on creatine storage. Specifically, the researchers justified that a regular diet containing 1 to 2g of creatine daily ensures storage within the muscles at a rate between 60 and 85%. Ingesting 5g of creatine monohydrate is generally recommended to increase this storage. Since no two people have the same body composition, our team decided to seek solutions that carried 3 to 10g of creatine per serving .
Bioavailability and Solubility
It turns out that our intestines can completely absorb creatine. The issue rests in how each person’s body reacts to its presence . Companies that selected creatine types with high bioavailability or those that went the extra mile to factor in bioavailability immediately qualified. It is essential to mention that oral bioavailability depends largely on solubility. Poor solubility will hinder metabolic or permeability-related processes, forcing contents to waste.
Our team resorted to creatine supplements in either pill or powder form to guarantee maximum inclusivity. Most creatine supplements are vegan-friendly because they are made using sarcosine and cyanamide (neither contain animal by-products). Some people believe that the powdered version is superior to the pill version. Still, in general, if a good quality manufacturer develops a supplement, then there shouldn’t be a chemical difference .
Results are dependent on how creatine is taken. One source introduced the concept of creatine loading with an example, which goes as follows, “a common approach is to take 20 grams of creatine daily for 5 – 7 days […] Research shows that this regimen can effectively boost creatine stores by 10 to 14% .” This phase is later followed by one with lower concentrations, and thus, can drive results some more. If one chooses not to load, it will take longer for stores to fill up. Hence, companies that touted intense results yet offered smaller concentrations were removed because of deception.
Value for Price
As with any supplement, the price tag means absolutely nothing until its facets have been measured. A solution that captures any combination of the said factors is valuable regardless of the displayed number. Still, undoubtedly, we aimed to find solutions that were both budget-friendly and valuable.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is defined as a naturally occurring substance in our muscle cells. It has been shown to push muscles into increasing energy production during high-intensity and heavy lifting exercises. Although our body is predisposed to create these using glycine and arginine amino acids, the rate at which creatine stores fill up is influenced by meat intake, exercise style, frequency, hormones, and muscle mass.
Of the body’s entire creatine storage, 95% is found within our skeletal muscle as phosphocreatine, whereas the remaining 5% is dispersed among the brain, kidneys, and liver. Nevertheless, the goal for creatine supplementation is to increase phosphocreatine stores, as this naturally implies energy storage and a high probability for boosted ATP levels. ATP was a term thrown around by all nine brands on our list, and this is because it is a high-energy molecule guaranteed to peak performance during exercise .
What are the Main Types of Creatine?
Among the 12 different types of creatine available, six are predominantly found in dietary supplements. Here’s a brief on each kind and its anticipated impact on the body:
Creatine monohydrate is created by infusing glycine, arginine, and methionine amino acids along with one molecule of water. As mentioned earlier, the monohydrate type has been extensively studied only to prove that it is involved in the body’s primary form of energy in muscle cells . This formulation represents 88 to 90% creatine by weight of all the creatines out there.
Exercise physiologist Ciaran Fairman, Ph.D., clarified that “Supplementation with creatine serves to increase creatine stores and phosphocreatine availability in the body, resulting in faster ATP formation,” stressing its secondary function as one that entails muscle hydration regulation. In terms of benefits, they can be enjoyed by just about anyone practicing an array of fitness regimes. Researcher Krissy Kendall Ph.D. insists that taking this type may support endurance and athletes who want to store and use glycogen during training or competition. It may also reduce inflammation and pain even after a lengthy workout.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine ethyl ester is simply a creatine monohydrate subjected to the esterification process. Since the latter is allegedly not as bioavailable as some would assume, the former alternative has been created. One source described monohydrate as “semi-lipophilic,” meaning it cannot effectively use fat to transport creatine . Esterification resolves this problem, granting creatine access to the cell wall and exerting its effects onto them. The advantage of taking this alternative is its capacity to produce results at smaller doses (i.e., anywhere between 3 and 6g per day). Effects include lean body mass, muscle growth, and power output in short bursts.
Creatine hydrochloride (HCl) is like creatine ethyl ester, as both versions start with creatine monohydrate at the base. The main difference is that the former is a molecule with HCl attached, whereas the latter has an ester attached. Creatine HCl is a newer alternative, yet it is popularly in demand.
As enlightened in a piece weighing HCl against monohydrate , this addition lowers the pH levels of creatine, making it more acidic. Acidity is trusted to help increase creatine solubility in fluids, ensuring optimal bioavailability. Preliminary studies also depict HCl as having the upper hand because our intestines can absorb the nutrients approximately 60% better than the monohydrate version. Once again, smaller doses may have a lasting effect.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate
Creatine magnesium chelate is equivalent to creatine monohydrate with a magnesium attachment. The reward of resorting to this type rests in the bioavailable source of magnesium delivered throughout the body. Without this essential nutrient, cells cannot make use of ATP. Why? Because ATP must first bind to a magnesium ion for activation. Likewise, the increased absorption rate allows it to serve as an antioxidant in mitochondria, thereby preventing ROS and other toxins from causing damage .
Buffered creatine (also known as KRE-ALKALYN) is a pH-buffered form of creatine phosphate. This has been recommended for people who have suffered from gastrointestinal issues with monohydrates. The buffered creatine is deemed more stable in the stomach and created to prevent creatinine conversion. High levels of creatinine indicate poorly functioning kidneys, or as put by one piece, “will rise due to poor clearance of creatine by the kidneys, [where] abnormally high levels […] warn of possible malfunction or failure of the kidneys .” This concern appears to be more prevalent with the ingestion of creatine ethyl ester .
Liquid creatine is simply creatine monohydrate delivered in a ready-to-drink format. Based on limited research surrounding the effectiveness of liquid and powdered forms, the former is believed to be less effective. Individuals are typically recommended against this delivery because of the possible risk of creatine breakdown when rested for several days. In the case of powders, there isn’t a problem assuming they will be consumed shortly before or after a workout .
Scientific Perspective: Setting the Record Straight on Creatine Supplementation
Earlier, we mentioned that creatine supplementation has been studied, but only to a certain level. The most studied form is creatine monohydrate, with limited research on the remaining varieties. Our editorial team did an elaborate hunt to see how far the scientific community has come in understanding the effects of creatine on the mind and body. As a consequence, we discovered the following:
Mounting interest from the scientific community regarding creatine supplementation surfaced in 1994. A 2003 meta-analysis was conducted to assess the quality of these studies. Precisely, researchers wanted to see whether significant evidence can be established regarding the effects of creatine on body composition and performance. Consequently, they learned a more substantial change in body composition with a loading-on creatine regimen than a maintenance regimen. Similarly, improvements were more prevalent for repeated-bout versus single-bout exercises and upper-body than lower-body exercises. At the time, there was no evidence in the literature of an effect of gender or training status .
2003 double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial was conducted with the effect of oral creatine monohydrate on brain performance in mind. Over six weeks, 45 young adults, vegetarian subjects were administered 5g of creatine monohydrate. Intelligence test scores and working memory performance were measured. By the end, the researchers concluded that “creatine supplementation had a significant positive effect on both working memory and intelligence,” adding that both tasks require processing speed .
For the longest time, supplements were only recommended for the male population. Only much recently has the underserved (i.e., females) been given reflection. One study looked at creatine monohydrate (5g) on female volleyball players’ body composition, strength, and power. Thirty-six female players were subjected to 10 weeks of training, where they were equally split between control (5g of creatine four times daily) and placebo group (glucose).
The control group first underwent a five-day loading phase (4 servings per day), followed by a maintenance phase (a single serving per day).
As for the training program, the researchers focused primarily on weight and plyometric training. Interestingly, both groups experienced improvements in their bench press and vertical jump results. Nevertheless, it was the control group that witnessed a more significant change. This group also had greater gains in body weight and lean body mass, whereas body fat remained unchanged. These findings led the researchers to argue that “creatine supplementation in conjunction with a good conditioning program can improve athletic performance in female collegiate volleyball players .”
Moving onto a 2006 study, a group of researchers investigated the combined effects of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue by using the physical working capacity in untrained men. Fifty-one men volunteered over 28 days, where they were split among four groups: placebo (PLA), creatine monohydrate (CrM), beta-alanine (b-Ala), and beta-alanine plus creatine monohydrate (CrBA).
The supplement was ingested four times per day for six consecutive days, then twice for 22 days before post-testing. Subjects were also required to partake in a continuous incremental cycle ergometry test. In the end, the researchers reported that “b-Ala supplementation may delay the onset of neuromuscular fatigue. Furthermore, there appeared to be no additive or unique effects of CrM vs. b-Ala alone on physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold .”
So far, studies revolved around the uses of creatine monohydrates. In search of answers regarding creatine ethyl ester, we stumbled upon a 2009 study that examined its cognitive effects. While the specifics on dosing and consumption have not been openly available, the researchers claim to have studied its impact on five cognitive tasks using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. This led them to conclude that creatine dosing induced improvements in the control group compared to the placebo group on several accounts. Conversely, the team highlighted that “these results require replication using objective measures of compliance .” To gain access to the complete publication, individuals can purchase a copy from the journal of Behavioural Pharmacology.
For those confused about whether creatine supplementation is best before or after a workout, a 2013 study might have the answer. This study aimed to determine the difference between pre versus post-exercise supplementation of creatine on body composition and strength. Nineteen healthy male recreational bodybuilders were recruited and split between the pre-and post-workout groups.
In the former case, subjects consumed 5g of creatine monohydrate immediately before a workout, whereas the latter took their dose right after. This continued over four weeks (five days per week). On non-training days, participants consumed at their convenience. As a result, it was settled that creatine consumption in conjunction with resistance exercise increased fat-free mass and stress. Furthermore, consuming creatine immediately post-workout is deemed more beneficial than pre-workout .
A 2018 study with a similar goal of assessing the effects of creatine on resistance training, but over eight weeks in male futsal players, uncovered positive results. Twenty participants were either placed in the exercise and placebo group or the exercise and creatine group. The latter underwent ingestion of 0.3g/kg during the loading phase and 0.1g/kg during maintenance. In general, they established that resistance training and creatine led to more significant increases in body weight, fat mass, and muscular strength, all while decreasing fat percentage compared to the exercise-only group .
Next up, we have a 2018 study examining the combined effects of creatine monohydrate or creatine hydrochloride and caffeine supplementation on body composition and performance. Sixteen individuals (male and female ranging between 20 and 30 years of age) were directed to one of three groups: CrM + Caf (20g per day for seven days + 5g per day for 21 days), CrHCl + Caf (6g per day for seven days + 1.5g per day for 21 days), and Placebo + Caf (20g of starch per day for seven days + 5g per 21 days). All subjects took part in four running sessions per week during the four weeks. After the four weeks, the researchers recounted, “either CrM or CrHCL supplementation works synergistically with acute CAF supplementation improving running performance .”
Understanding Creatine Dosing
A common approach witnessed from the research on creatine consumption was implementing a loading phase followed by a maintenance phase. Recall that animal-based creatine only fulfills 60 to 80% of our creatine stores in the muscles. Loading is often recommended to saturate these stores rapidly. As outlined , the loading phase entails a relatively large amount of creatine in a short period, whereas the maintenance phase entails delivering an accepted dose stretched over more extended periods.
For people interested in this strategy, splitting 20g across the day (four servings of 5g) for five to seven days is recommended. This can increase stores by 10 to 40%. Once the short period ends, individuals should return to taking one dose per day ranging between 2 and 10g daily. Other reported benefits include muscle gain and strength, improved performance, and injury prevention.
Whether such an approach is necessary boils down to setting goals and timeframe. The same source argued that lower doses once daily can be as effective at maximizing creatine stores; however, saturation will take slightly longer to attain. Finally, in terms of safety, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has since confirmed that taking up to 30g per day for five years is safe and has been well-tolerated by healthy individuals.
Side Effects of Creatine Supplement Debunked
Side effects of taking creatine supplements have caused a stir among diverse people. Some people insist that creatine should be avoided due to its health implications, while others believe it is a myth. So, which group has it figured out? Creatine has been established as a safe and well-tolerated supplement; however, any solution can anticipate side effects. One source stressed that mild side effects like dehydration, an upset stomach, and muscle cramps might be experienced . To what extent are those described above true? This is where yet another thought-provoking analysis comes into play.
In one piece, the author maintained support for ISSN’s ruling, arguing that creatine has been studied and used for decades only to deduce it as “one of the safest supplements on the market.” A study that looked at 52 health markers after taking creatine for 21 months reported no adverse effects, which is quite reassuring . Matter-of-factly, this supplementation is said to have been used to treat an array of health problems ranging from muscle loss and diabetes to concussions and neuromuscular disorders.
What about claims surrounding dehydration? Are those true? Since creatine has been demonstrated to alter the body’s stored water content, some dehydration might be experienced, but the shift is deemed minor. The same has been debunked about cramping as a side effect. Specifically, one of the most conclusive research projects on hemodialysis patients stressed that creatine reduced cramping incidents by 60%.
Our editorial team was initially concerned (as mentioned above) regarding the possibilities of kidney damage. At the time of writing, this has also been debunked. The author of the same piece  underscored that though creatine has been linked to rising creatinine levels, it does not imply damage to the liver or kidneys. Astonishingly, they have yet to land on a study of creatine use in healthy individuals providing evidence of harm. This is not to say that those with liver or kidney diseases are off the hook. Instead, said individuals must seek a healthcare professional’s guidance in creatine supplementation before proceeding.
Frequently Asked Questions About Creatine Supplementation
Q: What is creatine?
A: Creatine is a naturally occurring by-product of amino acids found predominantly within our muscle cell stores.
Q: Who is creatine suitable for?
A: Creatine may be suitable for people of all probable fitness levels (i.e., low to high intensity). That said, most studies have been conducted using healthy individuals, presumably free from health conditions. Thus, people with pre-existing medical conditions (kidneys, liver, blood, and diabetes) should consult a healthcare professional beforehand.
Q: In what way does creatine influence anabolic hormones?
A: Creatine is believed to increase the insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which helps control growth hormone secretion in the pituitary gland. Increased levels are beneficial for the normal development of the central nervous system and may protect individuals from cognitive dysfunction, cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative disorders .
Q: What are ATP levels, and why are they essential for muscle growth?
A: ATP is a high-energy molecule produced using excess energy. Its presence is fundamental for reducing muscle fatigue, increasing muscle strength, mass, and thickness, and ensuring that muscles are given a healthy dose of nutrients and oxygen.
Q: What foods are rich in creatine?
A: For people interested in taking the whole food approach and creatine supplementation, beneficial food sources include fish, meat, and animal products.
Q: What is the difference between creatine loading and cycling?
A: Creatine loading involves increasing creatine consumption over a short period (up to seven days) for maximum creatine stores in the muscles. This is often followed by a maintenance phase, which minimizes the dose and serving per day. In the case of creatine cycling, the goal is to prevent the body from adapting to the delivered concentration. Usually, a cycle encompasses a quick loading phase, followed by a maintenance phase between four to six weeks. Once the latter is completed, we have a pause phase where no creatine supplementation is taken (up to four weeks). Then this cycle is re-commenced however many times one chooses .
Q: Are creatine loading and cycling strategies necessary?
A: Neither loading nor cycling strategies need to be employed to see results. Of course, there will be a significant difference in how quickly results are attained, but at the end of the day, individuals can go about a consistent dose daily and still see a difference, as in the case of loading or cycling.
Q: Is creatine appropriate on rest/off days?
A: Yes, the purpose of taking creatine is to ensure that muscle stores are saturated. For people who stick to low doses, taking creatine for maintenance is a must, but obviously, it depends on each person and their respective goals.
Q: Is creatine effective with carbohydrates?
A: Yes, existing studies have reported that taking carbohydrates with creatine is likely to increase the rate at which muscles can absorb them. However, this doesn’t mean that a performance improvement can be anticipated. On average, 100 to 400mg of carbohydrates have been considered alongside creatine, but the exact amount will vary based on how much each person requires .
Q: Which creatine medium is better: powder, liquid, or pills?
A: Since most studies have considered powdered forms of creatine, it is generally trusted to be the most effective kind. On the other hand, Pills are deemed equally helpful only if the manufacturer at hand is of good quality. This argument rests in the mere fact that chemical alterations should not occur in pill or powdered creatine. Unfortunately, liquids aren’t as celebrated because a breakdown in creatine might happen, especially when subjected to liquids for far too long. Ultimately, it might be best to refrain from ready-to-drink creatine beverages until further notice.
Q: Is creatine effective in conjunction with vitamins and minerals?
A: For now, no interactions have been reported by stacking creatine with vitamins and minerals, but for safety reasons, we encourage seeking professional help.
Q: What is the difference between repeated-bout and single-bout exercises?
A: Repeated-bout exercises are repeated, thus having less impact because the body might become accustomed to the movement. A single bout is an exercise performed before or after practicing a motor task .
Q: Will creatine interact negatively with caffeine?
A: When taken at moderate doses, the combination is unlikely to result in a negative interaction.
Q: Is creatine useful as a fat burner?
A: No, creatine does not directly function as a fat burner. However, it might indirectly reduce fat percentage because of its intense muscle-building potential.
Q: What happens when you stop taking creatine?
A: Muscles may appear smaller because creatine tends to add water volume, but this doesn’t mean that individuals cannot maintain strength and muscle mass when they get off it. As long as one’s physical levels are up to par, results will not disappear [27, 28].
Q: Are there any long-term effects of taking creatine?
A: No, there aren’t any reported long-term effects of taking creatine.
Q: Will creatine stunt growth?
A: Creatine will not stunt growth. It has been shown to accelerate growth when taken alongside an appropriate diet and exercise regime.
Q: Is creatine helpful for women?
A: Yes, creatine can help women build lean muscle mass while enhancing their performance.
Q: Is creatine safe to take at night?
A: Since creatine does not contain any stimulants, taking it at night is fine.
Q: What is a creatine shuttle?
A: Creatine shuffle is another term for creatine phosphate. It is employed as an energy buffer in the muscle.
Q: What are my options for creatine supplementation?
A: Any of the top 9 creatine supplements in this guide are worthy options to surcharge muscle growth, power, and strength, among other realistic muscle-related goals.
The Top 9 Creatine Monohydrate Supplements in 2022 Final Thoughts
Ultimately, creatine supplementation is suitable for anyone looking to enhance muscular strength and growth. Although several myths and scares surround its consumption, they have all been debunked. Matter-of-factly, creatine is deemed entirely safe to take among healthy individuals. This cannot be stressed enough, as people diagnosed with medical conditions must be careful and go with a healthcare professional’s advice. Likewise, exceeding safe concentrations is frowned upon, as they may lead to unwanted side effects.
Initially, our editorial team approached this journey with skepticism, as the internet threw several warnings and curveballs regarding its uses. But after reviewing the works of the scientific community, we were convinced by its benefits. Nine solutions flourished using the devised ranking system. Most of them appear to deliver the studied dose of 5g of creatine monohydrate. Those with lower concentrations must be doubled down to see any results. Aside from dose, each brand’s commitment to consumer wellness, coupled with their willingness to educate, supported our decision to stand by these products. Thus, we are swayed by their worthiness.
Moving forward, individuals must reassess their health, weight management goals, and a period during which they would like to see positive changes. These facets will make it easier to narrow down our list some more. We hope our guide serves as a foundation for research regarding creatine supplementation. Until next time, enjoy the creatine stimulation as it has been proven to transform not only our minds and bodies but our lives as well!
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Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.