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After your standard whey protein powder, creatine may be the most popular sports supplement on Earth, and with good reason. A lot of supplements out there have a few promising studies suggesting they may improve some aspect of performance. Creatine has hundreds of them, and study after study has shown that among most people (a small percentage of are non-responders) it can have a significant effect on several areas of performance.
It’s perhaps best known for the aesthetic benefits. Creatine increases muscle size relatively quickly and while that’s in part due to an increase in muscle water content — a good thing, since it means we’re better hydrated — it does indeed appear to lead to actual hypertrophy over time. And bigger muscles aren’t just aesthetic: larger muscles can improve work capacity, explosiveness, fat oxidation, injury resilience, and recovery.
We put together the best creatine supplements on the market today based on user reviews and results.
1BulkSupplements Pure Micronized Creatine BEST OVERALL
Bulk Supplements makes a name for itself by offering cheap, pure, and simplistic supplements, and its creatine offering is no exception.
As you might guess, it has exactly one ingredient: creatine monohydrate. Lab testing confirms this fact; its creatine content is 100%—no binders, fillers, byproducts, flavorings, or colorants.
On top of this, BulkSupplements is careful enough with their manufacturing processes that they can guarantee the product is free of common allergens like gluten, dairy, yeast, and soy.
Other companies will sometimes cut costs by manufacturing other products, like soy protein, on the same equipment as a product that has no soy ingredients. While this is not a problem for the vast majority of people, it’s a nice touch if you’ve got allergies or sensitivities.
The usual drawbacks with unflavored powder are still a factor: creatine’s chalky taste can be off-putting, and it can be tricky to measure exact amounts with a scoop, but creatine doses are not usually super-precise—somewhere in the vicinity of five grams per day is a typical dosage, so you don’t need to be trickling grains onto a micro-scale to get the optimal effects.
2Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine 2d BEST OVERALL
The creatine supplement made by Optimum Nutrition is simple and straightforward powder-form supplement. Creatine monohydrate is its only ingredient; it passes laboratory analytical testing with flying colors. Its lab-determined creatine content is one hundred percent; no extraneous ingredients or fillers could be detected.
As with many other powder forms of creatine, Optimum Nutrition has micronized its product, meaning the powder is ground down into a very fine consistency. This is good both for absorption reasons and for practicality—it’s easier to mix into a protein shake, and it is also absorbed more readily by your body.
As a powder, it has the same benefits and drawbacks as other powder form supplements. It’s cheaper per serving than capsule-based creatine supplements, and it’s a good option for strict vegetarians because there is no gelatin capsule made of animal-sourced ingredients.
On the flip side, it’s harder to measure out the serving size you desire (scoops can be inaccurate), and you may not like the chalky, astringent taste of the creatine powder. Since the only ingredient in Optimum Nutrition Creatine is creatine, there’s no flavoring or sweetening.
A capsule, of course, doesn’t need flavoring because the creatine is stuck inside the capsule until it dissolves in your stomach.
3MyProtein Creatine 3rd BEST OVERALL
Chalk this one up as another in the no-nonsense category. It comes in several flavors, but the most popular variant is the unflavored creatine monohydrate, which comes in a simple foil pouch and is 100% creatine monohydrate by weight. It’s highly pure and very cheap per serving.
MyProtein also offers flavored variants which are a good choice if you can’t stand the taste of natural creatine. The ingredients of each specific flavor vary slightly, but most contain natural flavoring agents, sucralose, acesulfamine-K, and coloring agents.
Depending on your level of tolerance for other ingredients in your supplements, you’ll have to choose whether the flavored or unflavored versions are right for you.
MyProtein is made in a factory that does handle other allergen ingredients, which may include soy, milk, eggs, and gluten, so if you are extremely sensitive to any of these, you might want to look elsewhere, as there is some potential for cross-contamination.
While the protein does come with a scoop, MyProtein encourages you to use a scale to measure out your daily supplement servings, as scoops are not particularly accurate. This is an issue shared among all powder-form supplements, so if you’re serious about accuracy, definitely invest in a micro-scale.
4Integrated Supplements 100% Creapure
As the name suggests, the creatine supplement manufactured by Integrated Supplements has only one ingredient, and that’s creatine monohydrate.
Like some of its competitors, it is micronized, meaning it’s ground into a very fine powder that makes it easier to mix into liquids (but, unfortunately, also easier to make a huge mess if you spill it on the floor).
Integrated Supplements 100% Creapure also carries the distinction of holding a Labdoor “Tested for Sport” certification, meaning the product was purchased through a normal retail channel, then sent to an advanced biochemistry lab to test for any traces of contaminants or adulterants that could trigger a positive on a doping test.
This is valuable for anybody who competes in sports that may involve doping tests, like NCAA athletes, high-level triathletes, weight lifters, and natural body builders.
In the past, some supplements from less-than-scrupulous manufactures have been tainted with prohibited substances like steroid precursors which have triggered a positive drug test, so if this is a concern for you, definitely consider the Integrated Supplements creatine offering (1).
As with other simple, minimalistic creatine supplements, the cost per serving of 100% Creapure is quite low, so it’s hard to go wrong with this choice.
5NOW Sports Creatine Monohydrate
With its flashy branding and bright-orange bottle, you might think that the creatine supplement made by NOW Sports is another one of the maximalist formulations that tries to cram in extra ingredients and supplements to stand out from the crowd.
In fact, just the opposite is true: it’s another single-ingredient creatine monohydrate powder. It does well on independent lab testing, with fully 100% of its contents being creatine monohydrate by weight, and it contains no impurities or contaminants.
Its cost per serving is quite low, too, even in competition with less flashy and well-known brand names.
It does not appear to be micronized, so it may be a little trickier to blend into your protein shakes without getting clumps, but a good shaker bottle and whisk ball should make short work of that.
The creatine supplement from MusclePharm has one unique selling point, which is its use of a proprietary blend of different forms of creatine.
In contrast to your standard creatine supplement whose only active ingredient is creatine monohydrate, MusclePharm uses a six-part blend of various forms of creatine. In addition to creatine monohydrate, various other forms of creatine are included.
Predictably, MusclePharm claims that their proprietary blend of creatine is superior to the usual creatine monohydrate. And likewise, just as predictably, they point to in-house research they’ve done to support this claim; however, there’s a lack of independent scientific validation of this idea (2).
If you’re an evidence-based supplementation believer, it may be better to steer clear of MusclePharm Creatine simply for this reason: most independent, peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate the efficacy of creatine as a muscle-building and performance-improving supplement use plain old creatine monohydrate.
It may well be that the proprietary creatine blend used in MusclePharm works as well or better, but why be a guinea pig if you don’t have to?
Regardless, MusclePharm Creatine does well on lab testing, containing 100% creatine by weight (in its various forms), and contains no dangerous or watch-list ingredients.
7MET-Rx Creatine 4200
Met-Rx provides a creatine capsule supplement for those who hate the taste of powder form creatine or just want an easier way to take their daily dose while in training.
Each capsule contains 700 mg of creatine monohydrate, as well as a small amount of silica and magnesium stearate, which both serve as binders, stabilizers, and anti-clumping agents.
The capsule itself is made of gelatin, so its’ a no-no if you’re strictly against animal products. But capsule and binders aside, MET-Rx Creatine 4200 is highly pure: lab tests find that it’s essentially 100% creatine.
As is usually the case with capsules versus powders, the capsule form of a supplement is more expensive per serving. You have to pay for the extra manufacturing costs associated with precisely measuring the powder content of each capsule, plus the equipment to pack the pills and of course the materials cost for the gelatin and binders.
Still, the cost is reasonable, but if you’re a penny-pincher, pure unadulterated powder is definitely the way to go.
Among the capsule forms of creatine, MET-RX is one of the best, so if you find the convenience is worth a slightly higher price, by all means go for it!
8Naturo Nitro Creatine Chrome with Magnapower
This product is immensely popular, with hundreds of Amazon reviews and a place high atop the best-seller lists. If many of its competitors take a “minimalist” approach, Naturo Nitro takes the opposite.
Instead of providing straight creatine monohydrate, Naturo Nitro uses their own proprietary form of creatine called MagnaPowder, which is magnesium chelate of creatine. Each capsule provides 650 mg of creatine, along with 50 mg of magnesium.
This could be a boon, because many people are magnesium deficient as it is (3). Additionally, magnesium supplementation has been connected with higher levels of testosterone.
If you’re up for trying out new proprietary chemical formulations, Naturo Nitro Creatine Chrome might be worth a shot.
There’s no independent research on whether this magnesium chelate form of creatine is more efficient, better absorbed, or better tolerated than the standard creatine monohydrate, so realize you’re in uncharted territory. It is reviewed well, but if you want to play it safe and stick to what works—and we do know that creatine monohydrate works well—then this might not be your best choice.
Still, it’s one of the better capsule form creatine supplements on the market, making it a good choice if convenience is one of your top priorities.
As is typically the case, the cost per serving of creatine will be higher, both because the supplement is in capsule form and because of the proprietary chemical formulation.
9Twinlab Creatine Fuel Mega
TwinLab makes a capsule-based creatine supplement that also includes glutamine and taurine. Each capsule contains 833 mg of creatine, along with 333 mg of glutamine and 33 mg of taurine.
These other two active ingredients are supposed to help with building muscle and sustaining energy output during exercise—both taurine and glutamine are amino acids.
These two are both popular supplements among weight lifters, power sport athletes, and body builders, and at least one study found that they are more useful when combined with creatine (4). Regardless, that’s not the same thing as being better than just creatine.
In any case, if both of these are on your supplement regimen anyways, TwinLab Creatine Mega is worth a look.
As with all capsule supplements, the tradeoff is essentially one of cost versus convenience. It takes a few minutes to measure out a few scoops of powder, mix it into a protein shake, drink it, and (don’t forget!) clean out your protein shaker.
In contrast, it takes just a few seconds to pop a few creation capsules and move on. Of course, the cost per serving is higher, especially in this case because the supplement contains glutamine and taurine as well. Weighing the costs and benefits for yourself will tell you whether it’s the right choice for you.
10MuscleTech Platinum Creatine
With 400 grams of powder, this is a great value compared to many competitors. For a low price, you get 100% creatine powder with 5 grams of micronized creatine monohydrate per serving in an unflavored powder. Many customers noticed a decrease in muscle soreness during workouts using this powder. *In one clinical study, subjects using the dose of creatine found in one max serving of MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine gained an amazing 6 lbs. of muscle in just 6 weeks. (1) And in a separate study, test subjects increased their bench press strength by an impressive 18.6% in just 10 days! (2) Unlike other creatine formulas that provide a small, non-studied dose of creatine HCl, MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine delivers a full 5 gram dose of HPLC-tested creatine monohydrate that has been scientifically shown to build muscle and strength.
1. Peeters et al. 1999. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 13(1):3-9.
2. Selsby et al 2004. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 18(2): 311-315.