Choosing the Best Creatine Supplements for 2018 – Top 10 Brands

Build your muscles and get strong with these top 10 products

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Building strength, performing at our best and developing defined, vascular and aesthetically pleasing physiques requires incredible dedication, training and dietary discipline. It also requires additional supplementation to achieve the ideal results; this often takes the form of protein powders or vitamins, yet one of the most potent and powerful supplements available for building strong and healthy muscles is creatine, which is found naturally and also can be found in supplement form.

Creatine has been widely discussed within performance circles for years and has been used for decades in the lifting community. In this article, we’ll examine exactly what creatine is and what role it plays in training, as well your best product options for getting stronger with a little help from creatine!

What is Creatine?

It is a naturally occurring substance produced in the liver that delivers energy throughout the body. It’s primary role in terms of training and fitness is providing fuel to the ATP system, which is the primary energy system we use for short bouts of high intensity and power, such as heavy weight lifting, sprints and so on. Creatine is initially composed L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine, which is then converted by the body to create adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is our primary source for energy and power for high intensity work.

Unlike some supplements or products that may be synthetic compounds not normally found in the human body or nature, creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body and in many products, we consume every day, such as meat and fish.

Different Types of Creatine

The core ingredient of any creatine supplement is, of course, creatine. However, there are different forms of creatine, the most widely used and studied of which is creatine monohydrate. It is also widely regarded as the most effective and therefore for most cases it would be the recommended version to use.

Other alternatives have been created and implemented over the years such as creatine nitrate, creatine hydrochloride and creatine ethyl ester, yet monohydrate continue to show great results and has the most scientific backing and research.

Creatine supplements come in a variety of forms including both capsules and powder-based options, both of which have efficacy. The form of creatine will often be more a matter of personal preference for the user.

What Is Creatine Monohydrate?

If you are one of the many people who enjoys spending as much time in the gym as possible and chasing after your ultimate fitness goals, you may be familiar with this common ingredient in protein powders and some health foods. You may know that it’s supposed to help you perform better–but how? Let’s read on to find out.

Creatine [2] monohydrate is a synthetic, powdered preparation of creatine. Creatine is an organic compound found in animal meats (including fish) naturally, and also produced by our body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. An amino acid (building blocks that make up proteins), creatine is not to be confused with creatinine, a different biological compound.

What Is Its Biological Role?

Creatine monohydrate is ingested as a supplement to both our dietary intake and our body’s production of creatine. Creatine is transformed into phosphocreatine, which gets stored in our skeletal muscles.

Phosphocreatine is a cofactor, or necessary part of, the reaction that turns ADP (adenosine diphosphate) into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is our body’s most basic unit of energy. ATP does many jobs, but the muscle stores are depleted most quickly when we exert short bursts of intense effort. This particular type of action is fueled primarily by ATP, which then turns back into ADP, requiring yet more phosphocreatine to synthesize more ATP.

If you were to look at the process more linearly it would be something like this:

  • ingest creatine→ creatine is transformed to phosphocreatine
  • → phosphocreatine is stored in the muscles
  • → phosphocreatine is used to turn ADP into ATP for energy
  • → ATP is depleted when we use lots of energy in a short time
  • → ATP turns back into ADP
  • → the muscles need more phosphocreatine, and the cycle starts over.

Creatine can also help draw liquid into the cells that make up your muscle fibers, which helps them perform this process more efficiently and for longer period of time before all ATP store are depleted.

Who Is Creatine Best Suited For?

Since it is a naturally occurring substance, with the right dosage it can be a viable option for any fitness enthusiast. That being said, due to its role and efficiency in muscle and power development it is most often used by athletes in power sports such as football, sprinting, and baseball, or competitive weightlifting and training mediums including Olympic weightlifting, power lifting and physique competitors. For the average gym attendee or someone who does not work out for power and strength it may have less viability and be somewhat superfluous but can still be taken as a supplement in lower dosages.

Creatine for Bodybuilding and Muscle Gain

Creatine monohydrate is an extremely popular supplement [3] among certain types of athletes, particularly bodybuilders and elite athletes. That is because, to a large extent, the marketing claims of the supplement manufacturers are correct.

It can help you build muscle at an accelerated rate compared to working out alone. It can also increase your endurance. For instance, you are a weightlifter you may find you can do a few more reps per set. If you are a sprint, it can give you that extra edge to keep pushing for the last 3 or 4 seconds of your run at top speed.

Now, this will by no means turn you into a superhero, but for anyone trying to get into peak physical shape it is certainly another tool in your arsenal.

How & When to Take Creatine

Very often, creatine products may recommend beginning creatine usage with what is sometimes referred to as a “loading phase”, when you would take an excess amount of creatine for approximately a week, sometimes reaching 4-5 doses a day, to saturate the muscles with creatine and help the body adapt and filter it more effectively. Once the loading phase is completed, the dosage and usage will drop down to a more effective rate.

In addition, it is advised as with most supplements to cycle off of creatine periodically. Taking creatine for several weeks or months followed by a similar break from taking it is a common practice to improve the effectiveness of the supplement and to allow the body to avoid any form of long term dependency or chronic need.

Creatine Powder vs. Pills

Creatine supplements are available in both powder and pill form. Both operate similarly within the body and provide the user with similar results. The difference lies in the fact that powder supplements are friendlier to your pockets!

Creatine supplements in its powdered form are easier to consume when compared to that of the pills. After consumption, the powder quickly breaks down in the gut, undergoes transformation and provides the user with ready to use energy reserves.

The capsule form of creatine supplements allows the user with the benefits of mobility and convenience. One can just pop a pill of creatine with their favorite drink while they are out on a date!

Do Any Foods Contain Creatine?

Creatine is found in any animal protein, though the best sources are considered to be game meats (any animal hunted for sport or for food) such as elk, venison, etc.

How Much Creatine Do You Need?

Because your body is capable of making creatine on its own, there is no officially recognized required dosage of creatine per day. Most meat-eating adults make about 1g per day, and consume about 1g per day, for an average daily creatine intake of 2g. The general guideline [4] for creatine monohydrate supplementation is 5g per day, and it is cautioned not to consume more than 20g per day.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?

The maximum dosage recommended when supplementing with creatine monohydrate is 20g per day, and that dose is also recommended to be broken up into several servings. This is because after the biological processes that use creatine in our bodies, it is filtered through our kidneys and excreted as urine.

When we take too much at once, or too much in a certain time period, we overwhelm our kidneys. They become unable to keep up with the influx of discarded creatine, which begins to harm the kidneys. This can lead to permanent organ damage.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?

Creatine deficiency is only possible if you have one of three rare disorders that prevent your body from producing or using creatine. Collectively, these disorders are referred to as Cerebral Creatine Deficiency Syndromes.

These disorders are typically diagnosed in childhood because they can have a profound impact on development, as creatine is responsible for the production of ATP. Symptoms may include: seizures, hyperactivity, intellectual delays, speech delays, and more. For more information on this group of disorders, visit creatineinfo.org

Even when an ingredient is something that can help you, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what it is and what it does. Think of it this way: would you feed mystery food to your baby? Probably not. Equally so, it’s important to know what you’re putting in your body and to take control of your own nutrition.

Precautions

As with any supplement or health-related product, it is always advised to consult with a medical professional on if it is the right choice for you, and it is also always advised to follow the recommended dosing strategy by the product.

Common side effects of creatine supplementation can include gastrointestinal distress and bloating at times, as well as dehydration. It is commonly associated with issues with the kidneys, but the research has not clearly shown this and in fact in some cases has contradicted that popular notion. These concerns can be fairly easily mitigated by simply following the correct recommended dosage, and drinking large amounts of water. Creatine helps muscles absorb water therefore it can put the body at a hydration deficit if not taken correctly and if the user does not hydrate effectively. If you have any concerns on whether taking creatine is a risk for you despite its general status as a safe product, consult with your medical professional.

How to Pick a Good Creatine Supplement

Most creatine products will have little variability in their ingredients, generally it will just be creatine, therefore you’ll have to identify which version of creatine is the right choice for you and look for that option. When in doubt, creatine monohydrate is the best choice but other forms may be good options for you as well.

Be sure when selecting a product to review any additional ingredients aside from creatine, such as additional supplements, fillers, artificial additives etc. as these may carry their own side effects or dilute the quality of the product.

Some things to look for:

Brand Value and Reputation

It is wise to stick with reputed and well-known brands when it comes to choosing creatine supplements. Brand image, product reviews and customer feedback are some of the sectors that need to be scrutinized from the grassroots level.

Ingredients

As simple as it seems, this is the most crucial attribute that determines the popularity of a creatine supplement in the market. The best creatine supplements will be containing very few if not one single ingredient.

Value for money

When it comes to health supplements, one thing is for sure. They don’t come cheap. It would be wise to opt for a product that offers more benefits per serving than it actually costs! The package size, the ingredients and the name of the manufacturing company are some of the contributing factors that increase the value for money factor for any particular creatine supplement product.

Product Reviews

The effectiveness and success of a product depend on various contributing factors. It would be wise to go through product reviews and customer feedback for the manufacturing brand.

Products with consistent online ratings and excellent customer feedback are recommended all the while being vigilant for combing out the misinformation as well!

Top 10 Creatine Products

We have put together a list of our top 10 creatine supplements. Each one has a short breakdown of its highlights, primary ingredients and usages, as well as a brief profile for the company who makes the product.

Check out all 10 and look for the best option that not only comes highly recommended but fits your individual needs and desires for a creatine supplement. We hope you enjoy and find the best product for you!

1. Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creapure HMB Creatine

Transparent Labs Strengthseries Creatine Hmb

The StrengthSeries Creapure product is made by industry stalwart Transparent Labs, best known for their transparency in their products and ingredients. It is based on creatine monohydrate but also features HMB as well.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Contains 5,000mg Creapure brand creatine monohydrate.
  • Also contains 2,000mg HMB.
  • Has 5mg of BioPerine, which is an extract of black pepper fruit.
  • Has clean and pure ingredients as is synonymous with the Transparent Labs brand.
  • Absolutely zero artificial sweeteners, additives or other extraneous and superfluous ingredients added in.

Company Profile:

Transparent Labs is considered one of the highest regarded companies in the sports nutrition industry due to its emphasis on transparent practices and ingredients. They are well-known for clean and pure products without additional sweeteners and additives that tend to dilute the quality of products. They are a fast-growing company that has a strong scientific background and a well-deserved reputation of high-integrity products.

Why We Recommend It:

We feel that the Transparent Labs StrengthSeries Creapure HMB is the top value and product for creatine supplements due to the stellar reputation and practices of Transparent Labs, and the fact that this product is effective and clean with no additional or artificial ingredients, making it an effective and straight to the point option.

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2. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder

ON’s Micronized Creatine Powder is an effective product that specializes in simplicity. It has only one ingredient, creatine monohydrate, which is the most widely accepted and studied form of creatine and has been proven to deliver results.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 5g of Creatine per serving
  • No fillers, additives or artifical flavors added in which makes it a clean product that is also easily mixed in with most liquids.
  • Uses a micronized, Creapure brand that is imported from Germany.
  • It offers excellent value in price per dose.
  • A very popular product from an established and respected brand.

Company Profile:

Optimum Nutrition, sometimes referred to as ON, has been regarded as one of the largest and respected brands in the health, sport and fitness supplement industry. They offer a wide variety of products for fitness enthusiasts of all levels and are well-known for clean, effective and innovative products.

Why We Recommend It:

Micronized Creatine from ON is an excellent option for someone looking for a simple, effective option with great value to assist them with their strength and power goals. It is a clean and reliable product from a respected brand and a great value.

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3. Beast Sports Nutrition Creature

Beast Sports Nutrition Creature

Nutrition Creature is certainly that, as opposed to the simpler varieties on the market. Beast Sports’ creatine supplement combines 5 different forms of creatine for one of the most potent and innovative creatine supplements on the market.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Uses an innovative blend of 5 different forms of creatine for a well-rounded approach.
  • Each serving includes its 3,025mg Creature Advanced Creatine Matrix Blend.
  • Contains creatine monohydrate, buffered creatine, creatine magnesium chelate, creatine alpha-ketoglutarate 2:1, and creatine anhydrous.
  • Won the Creatine Supplement of the Year Award from bodybuilding.com in 2015
  • Very well reviewed, and provides great value per dose.

Company Profile:

Beast Sports Nutrition is one of the fastest growing companies on the market, and their signature product Creature has given them a loyal following and community of fitness enthusiasts and customers. It is an up and coming company in the industry with a very positive reception from its users.

Why We Recommend It:

Creature is one of the best products on the market for creatine powders, especially for those with more serious goals and ambitions in the gym. It is considered to be one of the most effective brands and is a great fit for the more serious lifter or trainer.

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4. Arnold Series Iron CRE3

Arnold Series Iron Cre3

Iron CRE3’s initial claim to fame will of course be its recommendation from the penultimate physique competitor Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. Yet Iron CRE3 comes by it for good reason, manufactured by notable industry manufacturer MusclePharm and it is regarded as one of the most powerful options for creatine. It uses creatine nitrate rather than monohydrate making it different than the standard creatine supplements commonly found.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Delivers 1g of creatine nitrate per serving.
  • Does not require a loading phase to be effective.
  • Is easily absorbed by the body.
  • Uses smaller doses making it easier and more convenient to mix.
  • Creatine nitrate is a more challenging version of creatine to produce, as such this product tends to be more expensive per dose than simpler alternatives.

Company Profile:

MusclePharm, one of the largest multinational sports nutrition companies, manufactures Iron CRE3 as part of its Arnold Schwarzenegger series based on the legendary physique competitor.  Founded in 2008, MusclePharm has rapidly become one of the larger companies in the industry and creates quality products for its customer base of men and women who love training.

Why We Recommend It:

Iron CRE3 is a great product as are most from MusclePharm. This product may be especially applicable for those that tend to have issues with bloating from more traditional creatine monohydrate-based products as the creatine nitrate base in Iron CRE3 is less prone to bloating issues.

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5. Dymatize Creatine

Dymatize Micronized Creatine

Dymatize, best known for their protein powder supplements, has designed a simple and effective product with their creatine supplement. It is made of pure micronized creatine monohydrate, and it delivers the effect and results desired without any additional frills or unnecessary extras.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Uses 100% pure creatine monohydrate.
  • Delivers 5g of micronized creatine monohydrate per serving.
  • The micronized nature of the product makes it easier for digestion and mixing with other drinks.
  • Reputable and well-known brand.

Company Profile:

Dymatize Nutrition has been in business since 1994, making it one of the longer standing companies in the sports nutrition industry. They are best known for their protein powders, but make a variety of reliable and effective products.

Why We Recommend It:

Dymatize Nutrition Creatine is an ideal option for someone who is looking for a simple and effective product that will get them the results they want without any extra’s. It is a solid and effective product with no additives, making it a reliable choice for someone looking for a good creatine powder.

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6. Promera Sports Con-Cret

Promera Sports Con Cret

Con-Cret by Promera Sports is a unique creatine supplement that uses pure creatine hydrochloride as compared to the more commonly used creatine monohydrate. It is formulated for improving workout sessions and ideal for bodybuilders or more serious lifters.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Each serving has 750mg of pure creatine hydrochloride (HCI)
  • It does not require a loading phase.
  • It is highly soluble and dissolves in water well making it a great option for mixing with drinks.
  • The micro-dosing strategy is based on body weight for a unique dosing approach.
  • Ideal for bodybuilders or those with concerns on bloating or water retention

Company Profile:

Promera Sports is a company that has started small in 2007 and grown to be a well-respected company in the sports and nutrition supplement field. They specialize in using cutting-edge techniques paired with high-quality ingredients to create products that get results.

Why We Recommend It:

Con-Cret is a great creatine supplement option for bodybuilders and those looking for aesthetic and vascular physiques. The creatine HCI has less bloating and water retention than competitors making this product ideal for anyone looking to add size without bloating.

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7. Universal Nutrition Creatine

Universal Nutrition Creatine

This simple yet effective creatine powder from Universal Nutrition is a no-frills product that delivers 100% pure creatine monohydrate for the results desired without all the extras or complications that can accompany products with extraneous ingredients.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Each serving contains 5g of creatine monohydrate per serving.
  • All of the creatine monohydrate is 100% pure micronized, making it easier for mixing and digestion purposes.
  • Uses the Creapure brand from Germany and one of the more respected brands.
  • Has no artificial sweeteners, fillers, or other ingredients making it a simple and trustworthy product.

Company Profile:

Universal Nutrition manufactures a variety of quality supplement products, they are a large and well known multinational sports nutrition company. Their main focus tends to be on traditional fitness supplements such as protein powders, but they also manufacture many health products as well for their varied customers. They have been in business 1977 making them one of the most trusted and respected brands in the industry.

Why We Recommend It:

This product brings a no frills approach and is an ideal choice for a creatine supplement that delivers results without any additional ingredients, fillers or other superfluous additions that may compromise its integrity, just 100% pure creatine monohydrate for improved results.

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8. MusclePharm Creatine

Musclepharm Creatine

MusclePharm, one of the industry’s top companies, produces this creatine supplement that blends 5 different forms of creatine for a well-rounded and potent product that is certain to get results and maximize your training.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Delivers 5g of creatine per serving.
  • It’s unique blend features 5 different forms of creatine:
    • Creatine nitrate
    • Creatine AAB
    • Dicreatine malate
    • Creatine magnesium chelate
    • Creatine mononhydrate
  • It’s unique and advanced formula is ideal for building strength and mass.
  • It is quick absorbing and unflavored, ideal for mixing.

Company Profile:

MusclePharm has rapidly become one of the top brands in the sport nutrition and health supplement industry since its inception in 2008. It is best known amongst the weightlifting community though their products are not exclusive to lifters; they are known for producing quality products that get results for all of their customers.

Why We Recommend It:

MusclePharm’s Creatine is a great product for serious lifters looking for a balanced creatine approach to help build strength and mass. It comes from a respected brand and offers value, quality and results, especially for the serious trainers.

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9. BSN Creatine DNA

Bsn Creatine Dna

BSN, one of the leaders in the sports nutrition industry and best known for its N.O. XPLODE line, is the producer of this quality and effective creatine supplement. It brings a simple and effective approach to creatine with pure micronized creatine monohydrate geared towards achieving your athletic goals.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Each serving has 5g of creatine monohydrate.
  • Contain 100% micronized creatine monohydrate.
  • No artificial flavors, fillers or unnecessary ingredients.
  • It is unflavored and soluble making it ideal for mixing with your drink of choice.
  • Well known and reputable brand.

Company Profile:

BSN is a leader in the sports nutrition industry and while they are best known for their popular N.O. XPLODE product line of pre-workout supplements, they are manufacture a variety of effective products for athletes and those looking to achieve their athletic goals. They have been in business since 2001 and have built a loyal following and respected brand.

Why We Recommend It:

Creatine DNA is a great product for athletes as it has no junk or unnecessary additions. It offers pure creatine monohydrate and gets the results desired. It is one of the more expensive items on the list, thus it is more of a premium product rather than a value buy.

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10. MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine

Muscletech Platinum 100 Creatine

MuscleTech’s Platinum Creatine uses HPLC tested creatine that is 100% pure micronized creatine monohydrate. That means it offers the creatine you need and the results you want without all of the extra ingredients or artificial additions. Its focus is on getting results in the gym with a pure and simple product.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • Uses HPLC-tested creatine for high quality.
  • 100% pure micronized creatine monohydrate.
  • Each serving contains 5g of creatine monohydrate.
  • Developed by a respected brand.
  • Flavorless and micronized for easy mixing.

Company Profile:

MuscleTech is one of the larger sports nutrition companies, having been in business for over 20+ years having started in 1995. They currently hold more than 50 U.S. patents and have a reputation as an innovator in their field as well as delivering quality products ti their loyal fan base.

Why We Recommend It:

Platinum 100% Creatine is a solid, simple and effective product from a respected brand and can be trusted to get you the results you are looking for from a creatine supplement. It is convenient and easy to use and delivers a simple yet effective approach.

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Carl Putman

Written by Carl Putman

Carl Putman is a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level and writer on fitness, health and supplements. Over the past decade, he has worked with a wide variety of clients ranging from professional athletes and world champions to youth and general population, as well as tactical practitioners. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Based in Florida, he continues to train and coach as well as write with a passion for making a positive impact for his clients and readers.

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