What is Creatine?
Creatine is a combination of 3 amino acids: glycine, arginine and methionine.
It’s essentially a legal, naturally occurring PED. It’s one of the few supplements where there’s no conflicting information on the subject.
It is THE number one supplement for strength performance.
In basic terms, creatine:
a) Increases the amount of ATP energy your muscles can produce. In short this means your body has more energy for short, explosive lifts. One’s that typically last no longer than 8 – 12 seconds.
b) Allows your muscles to retain water and remain more hydrated. This encourages protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth.
c) Help athletes recover quicker and take on a much improved training volume
Creatine definitively works and that’s why it’s so popular amongst strength athletes and bodybuilders. Not only does it increase your performance, but there are studies that have shown it can play a part in preventing neurological disease.
As one of the world’s most tested supplements, it’s one of the few we say is a ‘must have.’ Especially if you’re a vegetarian – as most animal products contain creatine, our liver and kidneys are able to create it.
As a vegetarian, your ability to create creatine is significantly reduced. So you’re already fighting a losing battle when it comes to performance and recovery.
Basically – the more phosphocreatine you have in your diet, the more work you’ll be able to put in. Even as an endurance athlete. Multiple studies have highlighted it’s ability to increase your glycogen storage potential.
Ideal for longer races and the intense sprints that are associated with endurance races.
What makes good Creatine?
As discussed make sure you buy creatine monohydrate.
Then make sure the product purity and label accuracy are top notch. Anyone offering blends or claiming to be something they’re not I would stay away from.
I’d also make sure each serving of the product contains around 5g of creatine, as that’s the recommended daily dose.
Then don’t pay over the odds – creatine isn’t an expensive supplement. Which given how effective it is is amazing.
Best Type of Creatine?
Well there are four main types of creatine on the market:
a) Creatine Monohydrate: The most studied and popular creatine, monohydrate is highly soluble and improved bioavailability make it the number one choice for most. It’s uptake process is far more efficient and because of that, it’s the number 1.
b) Creatine Hydrchloride: There are no published studies (that I can find) on Hcl on humans and it’s almost certainly inferior to monohydrate when compared to it’s bioavailability.
There have been studies that claim it to be more soluble and as such you could use a lower dose. Creatine occasionally can give users an upset stomach and if you suffer from that it could be worth trialling.
c) Kre-alkalyn: Creatine buffered with bicarbonate or alkaline ingredients. Some supplement manufacturers have added an alkaline to increase it’s potency and reduce bloating or stomach cramps.
But I’m pretty sure it’s a gimmick. This study found no increase in solubility, training adaptations or body composition when comparing a buffered creatine and creatine monohydrate.
d) Creatine Nitrate: Creatine bound to a nitrate molecule. And if you couldn’t work that out I can’t help you. Again I haven’t found any studies that suggest it’s either more soluble or more potent.
So just buy monohydrate.
The 7 Best Creatine Supplements in 2019
The best creatine has to have good quality ingredients, a high purity level, label accuracy and nutritionally relevant.
So to judge each one we scour online ratings and product reports. Each of the below products is then given a rating out of 5 based on all of the above.
When establishing these lists we scour third party sites, Labdoor and establish the quality of the product. Customer satisfaction, product quality, efficacy, label accuracy, cost and taste / solubility are all key factors in establishing our rating(s).
My Protein: Creatine Monohydrate
The ever present My Protein. Always a top scorer and with good reason.
5 grams of creatine per serving (and 1.37mg of creatinine) at such a reasonable price means you’re getting a great deal.
With absolute label accuracy you know what you’re going to get. An incredibly pure product which you can be completely confident in what you’re taking.
The blue raspberry flavour is my creatine of choice. I’ve never felt fuller or seen PRs as powerful when I’m not on the My Protein hype.
Bodybuilding.com: Micronised Creatine
Huge brands have very little room for error when it comes to product quality and accuracy.
With 100% label accuracy and almost perfect product purity you’re in good hands with Bodybuilding.com’s creatine.
You know what you’re getting and that’s vital!
A slight question remains around the product efficacy (i.e. producing the desired effect). But given the ingredient purity and quality, this should be more down the individual’s training habits than the product itself.
Muscle Tech: Creapure
With over 5 grams of creatine per serving and the exceptional product purity means it should score high on anyone’s list.
I tried and trusted brand that produces really high quality creatine. I personally love the sour apple flavour, but the fruit punch isn’t far behind.
They also have it in tablet form, which is still a 99.9% pure product. As all the top products should be.
Optimum Nutrition: Micronised Creatine
ON’s Micronised Creatine is a genuinely top quality product. The purity and nutritional value really can’t be beat and with 5.25g of creatine (+ 1.37mg of creatinine) you’re getting exactly what you need.
Labdoor studies highlighted that there are issues with the product labelling information and it may not be 100% accurate.
But given the quality and purity score I think we can agree it’s a product that is definitively effective.
RSP Nutrition: Creatine Monohydrate
Slightly more expensive than other leading brands, but 100% purity, so you know what to expect with RSP’s leading creatine.
Because the powder is so fine, it mixes incredibly easily. I’ve only tried the unflavoured version, so I can’t really comment on taste per se.
But there are usually deals on bodybuilding . com, so fill your boots when you can.
Bulk Powders: Creatine Monohydrate
My second favourite creatine supplement, Bulk powders creatine is a tried and tested, cost-effective machine.
It mixes so well, has been tested to the nth degree and has a flavour variety that I’ll never tire of.
The apple and lime is my particular favourite. But then I’m a morning guy. Wake up, teeth, quick fruit based creatine product and I’m ready to go.
Puts a little good morning zest in your step.
The Protein Works: Creatine Monohydrate
A thoroughly recommended product (and company), The Protein Works creatine is 100% pure and comes in 3 fruity flavours:
- Mixed berry (7/10
- Green apple spike (9/10)
- Orange burst (7.5/10)
All good in their own right, but I’m just a sucker for apple.
Hyper reliable, with excellent shipping (and returns policy), it;s essentially something for nothing. They’ll always refund it if you;re not satisfied.
But you will be!
I trust the companies. They always score highly on independent lab reports and their creatine supplementation is no different.
My Protein’s blue raspberry and TPW’s green apply spike win for me.
In terms of absolute purity, product efficacy and accuracy then Muscle Tech’s creapure is likely top of the list.
Bodybuilding.com’s creatine comes in tablet form and given the quality scores and average ratings, it’s hard not to have it at the top of any list.
My Protein creatine tablets would be my second choice with regards to efficacy (personal experience) and overall product quality / purity.
Tablets are a bit dull IMO, but to each their own I suppose.
Best Creatine for Muscle growth or Bulking?
In bulking season, your calorie intake will be much higher. Your overall volume of food, water (and possibly supplements) too.
For me I then like to go for an unflavoured version and mix it in with smoothies or shakes. A quick 1000 calorie shake is an effective way to get high quality nutrients into your system.
And 5g of creatine added to that won’t make a difference to the taste of it. And it’s easier than consuming even more liquid.
Because of the above I’d recommend RSP’s leading creatine.
Best Creatine for Cutting or Losing Weight?
Any supplement for cutting should follow a few simple principles:
- It should be as low calorie as possible
- The flavour should be excellent
- It should be a way to stave off cravings (if possible)