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5 Best Creatine Supplements (2021 Updated) Buyer's Guide

Supplements Considered 36
Supplements
Considered
Hours of Research 155
Hours
of Research
Reviews Examined 86
Reviews
Examined
Experts Interviewed 11
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Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 14, 2021

When it comes to supplements, creatine has become one of the ‘must have’ of all supplement regimes.

In this article, we are going to tell you all about creatine - what it is, how it works, and how you can benefit from taking it.

We'll also review the top products we recommend worth checking out.

Find everything you need to know on creatine supplements in one easy-to-read piece and why it’s an imperative supplement crucial to your muscle gains!

Our Top Creatine Supplements (2021)

1 - Transparent Labs Creatine HMB (Editor's Choice)

Transparent Labs Creatine

What Transparent Labs has done here is combine two highly effective supplements in the form of creatine monohydrate and β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (just call it HMB). And, this is not just some accident, but a decision made after assessing clinical trials.

The company has proven HMB to improve strength and muscle definition (1), while the creatine monohydrate will speed up muscle growth and recovery.

This all sounds promising, so I went and checked out online reviews. Most users are commenting that it provides quite a significant energy boost and recovery times are often cut in half.

Pros
  • Contains 5,000 mg of creatine monohydrate
  • Added 2,000 mg of β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (HMB)
  • Gluten-free and non GMO certified
  • No artificial sweeteners, coloring or preservatives
Cons
  • Only available in unflavored and Blue Raspberry

Essentially, you can work harder for longer, and then get straight back into the gym the following day without feeling a drop in performance levels.

This is our #1 recommend creatine supplement to help build your strength and muscles.

Get 10% off using coupon code:  TOTALSHAPE

2 - MuscleTech 100% Platinum Creatine

muscletech

MuscleTech 100% Platinum Creatine contains pure creatine monohydrate which helps to quickly improve your muscle cells' ability to restore ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary source of anaerobic energy. Higher ATP levels will give you the strength to train harder and recover faster.

One clinical study shows that the test subjects who consumed Platinum 100% Creatine Powder gained 6 pounds of muscles in 6 weeks.

Another study has proven that test subjects improved their bench press strength by 18.6% in just 10 days.

Pros
  • Made from 100% Creatine Monohydrate Powder
  • Provides high-intensity energy for pumped up workouts
  • Results are proven based on clinical studies
  • Fast absorbing supplement
  • Great tasting and mixes easily with any liquid
Cons
  • Caused slight headaches for some

3 - Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder

Optimum Nutrition thumb

This product is made with Creapure Creatine, a creatine monohydrate known for its extraordinary purity and potency. The powder is micronized, which means that it mixes easier and stays in liquid longer than other brands.

Like other creatine supplements on this list, is known to help increase muscle strength, improve performance especially in high-intensive exercise, and helps increase energy reserves while lessening protein breakdown.

This product is ideal when taken before and after workout.

Pros
  • Pure creatine monohydrate powder
  • Helps speed up muscle growth and recovery
  • Recommended to be taken before or after workout
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Might cause upset stomach

Optimum’s Micronized Creatine Powder is available from different sizes, definitely something that fits your budget.

4 - BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

bulksupplements

If you want to experience high-intensive workouts at the gym, you might want to try BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate Powder. This product is made to help give you the stamina you will need in bodybuilding, intense crossfits, and any strength training workouts.

Taking creatine supplements like this one along a healthy diet and regular workout, you will experience favorable muscle growth and increased overall performance in workouts.

Pros
  • Made from 99% micronized creatine monohydrate
  • Helps build lean muscle mass and recovers it for the next workout
  • Gluten-free and vegan-friendly
Cons
  • There are other creatine supplements with higher creatine content

This powdered creatine is also ideal for your pre and post workouts. It is made from 99.99% micronized creatine monohydrate that is sugar, yeast, and gluten-free, suited for those who are vegan-friendly.

5 - Battle Ready Fuel

Battle Ready Fuel Pre Workout Product

One of the more recent products I noticed at the gym is this Battle Ready Fuel. It’s a clever name, but it’s the ingredients that caught my eye.

Even if I'm not on a vegan diet, I have found that plant-based proteins seem to work better than animal products when it comes to building lean muscle mass.

But, the makers have taken this one step further by adding in some digestive enzymes and a lot of users have commented that this does seem to help speed up the protein absorption and processing.

Pros
  • Certified vegan product sourced from pea and hemp protein
  • 25.5g of protein in each serving
  • Soya free and no artificial sweeteners
  • Digestive enzymes added to help absorb protein and reduce fat storage
Cons
  • Only available in one flavor option: Peanut Butter

The idea is simple: the quicker you can get protein from your shake to your muscles, the faster your recovery and bulking time will be.

You may also want to check out our article on the best vegan creatine supplements, where we featured Battle Ready Fuel.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is also often referred to as creatine phosphate because once it reaches your muscle cells, a high-energy phosphate attaches to it. Thus, it brings about the chemical name of phosphocreatine (PCr) or simply creatine phosphate.

Creatine, a protein-like compound, is found naturally in muscle cells to produce energy during weight lifting or high-intensity training. It's a very popular supplement to take for muscle gain, enhanced strength, and improved physical performance.

It has been theorized that supplementing with creatine can lead to an increase in PCr in muscle by as much as 20%.

It can be found and sourced in high abundance from fresh meats and fish. It is synthesized in your body, largely in your liver, from the three amino acids, arginine, methionine and glycine.

Your muscle tissues need to source creatine from your bloodstream; therefore you must ingest potent forms of creatine for your body to use it.

Creatine supplements are most popular for their ability to help with:

  • Mass gain
  • Sporting performance
  • Endurance activity
  • Weight lifting
  • Powerlifting
  • And much more!

How Does Creatine Work?

Jack Black explaining in front of the blackboard

Creatine essentially allows the human body to perform muscular strength based exercises successfully.

See, the body actually has its own natural store of creatine readily available.

It’s a naturally occurring substance within the muscle cells of the body that lead to us being able to perform explosive, singular feats of strength (or in the case of traditional resistance training, sequences of singular exercises).

This is due to a chemical reaction, whereas Cr (the body’s free creatine stores) bond with the stored version of creatine (known as creatine phosphate, found in the muscle cells) to allow the body to create a muscular contraction when combined with ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and ADP (adenosine Diphosphate).

Basically, it is an important component that’s absolutely vital for lifting weights, especially at high levels of intensity.

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Any Side Effects?

Microscope in a laboratory

Before taking creatine supplements, we want to know if creatine bad for you. There’s no published literature to suggest it is unsafe.

That’s because It’s a naturally occurring compound found within the human body, so if it isn’t safe, we’d better all set out to start extracting it from within our muscle cells immediately!

You could instead take solace in the fact that it’s clearly not only very safe, but also very compatible with the human body. After all, the body couldn’t function without it.

So There Are No Risks At All?

Any risk from creatine supplements could potentially come about from excess loading of the product, i.e., completely ignoring the recommended serving suggestions on the packaging of your chosen creatine brand. It's generally considered right up there among the safest, along with mass gainers and whey protein.

Risk would come in the form of excess stress on the kidneys and liver due to having to process more than the “normal” amount of the compound, but with that said, there is absolutely nothing at all that is ever safe in excess - even water.

Diarrhea is also a reported side effect reported by some users, but it’s not often this will occur if dosage instructions are followed.

Simply put, it’s absolutely fine provided you don’t decide to take an entire tub at once in the pursuit of world-class level strong man style strength. In truth, at worst - you’ll probably just find yourself urinating more than normal. On that note, it only really works if you’re very well hydrated - so drink plenty!

Related Post: Does Creatine Go Bad? 

The 4 Types of Creatine

There are several different types of creatine available, all of which claim to produce roughly the same end result, in that they lead to enhanced performance with resistance and strength based exercises.

There are 4 types of creatine, which are:

  1. Creatine monohydrate - The most common variety of variety, in truth, is probably the most effective (in terms of proven results). It comes in powdered form, mixes with water and on the whole seems to respond well with most users (in that it provides positive results.)
  2. Micronized creatine - This is another form that is essentially a condensed form of creatine monohydrate. It supposedly absorbs more readily which leads to less risk of water retention under the surface of the skin (a negative side effect that some monohydrate users experience). It’s slightly more expensive than the much cheaper monohydrate, but considering for many people, the difference will be unnoticeable
  3. Creatine ethyl ester - Another popular choice. The great feature about this form is that the ester attached to the creatine molecules creates a highly positively charged absorption rate of almost 99%. It is guaranteed to directly infiltrate the muscles without any wastage. The bad news? It costs. You’ll be paying a lot extra for this super charged form.
  4. Creatine Kre-Alkalyn - It’s another form of creatine that has been bonded to an additional molecule for not only advanced absorption, but it also allegedly ensures that none of the molecules go to waste and are all in fact converted for their intended use once digested. So far, results have been positive for users, but sadly there have been no clinical trials to add some real substance to the claims. As you’d expect, it’s also super expensive.

What are The Benefits?

serious lady in lifting weights

Whether it's to improve your athletic performance or increase your muscle mass, creatine supplementation has been proven to be successful time and time again as long as you stick to regular usage.

Studies on the creatine benefits have repeatedly shown that supplementing your diet with roughly 20 grams of creatine monohydrate may elevate the total creatine content in your muscles by 10-20%, which is pretty significant really.

With more creatine in your muscles, you are better equipped to perform more explosive movements such as sprinting, rowing, and weight lifting.

Creatine Has Been Proven To Work…

doctor's thumbs up

It has also been suggested through sufficient evidence that ingestion of a carbohydrate source, for example tri-carb or dextrose with creatine supplements can effectively enhance intramuscular creatine uptake and glycogen.

Another great aspect of the positive effects of creatine is the fact that it is so adaptable – considering that explosive muscular power is the primary result that creatine delivers.

“The addition of creatine promoted greater mgains in fat/bone-free mass, isotonic lifting volume, and sprint performance during intense resistance/agility training.”
- Richard B. Kreider, Professor and Department Head, Health and Kinesiology

It can be applied for anything from powerlifting to mixed martial arts thus providing athletes all over the world with a readily accessible source to enhance their chosen sport.

It’s worth noting that explosive muscular power is used at varying intensities for almost every form of activity aside from aerobic exercise where the respiratory system is the primary fuel source.

As a result, you could experiment with creatine supplements for pretty much any form of exercise and it could enhance your performance drastically.

There aren’t many creatine supplements on the market today that can boast this level of adaptability for just about any form of physical endeavor; this is perhaps one of the main reasons why creatine has become so popular.

This varies greatly depending on the type being used, but in many cases it’s advised by the manufacturer that the user goes through a “loading phase", before tapering off and having a smaller dosage over a period of several weeks.

In truth? Have between 2.5 - 5 grams of creatine one hour before, and again immediately after training if you’re taking monohydrate.

You could also take any other form of creatine in this manner too without much detriment - as a rule of thumb this will suffice for most people without excessive waste during an often-unnecessary loading phase.

Related: How Much Water to Drink With Creatine?

When Is The Best Time To Take Creatine?

Your two options on how to take creatine supplements are during loading and maintenance phase, which both have their own benefits.

You can read the full article here: The Best Time to Take Creatine

Should I Take Creatine Supplements?

There is absolutely no guarantee that creatine supplements will work for you – but that could be said about any supplement or training regime. If you perform resistance training, and you want to break into new strength territories and develop more size, then creatine in any form is worth a try.

Stick with monohydrate to begin with, see how you progress, and if you experience any negative side effects or simply don’t see any results, then it might just be that you need a purer form to help guarantee more concrete results.

If none of them work, then at least you tried one of the most popular and proven supplements on offer and can now check it off the list.

It’s important to remember that anything capable of healthily and positively affecting the outcome of your training is always going to be a desirable addition to your arsenal.

Which Creatine Supplement Should You Choose?

After spending a month on each of the creatine supplements above and keeping a very detailed training diary, I took a closer look at the numbers. First of all, compared to no supplement, all of them improved my performance and recovery times.

But the one I found that was the most favorable of all was Transparent Labs Creatine HMB. And this was also confirmed by online reviews and conversations with some friends and colleagues at the gym.

Adding the HMB seems to give it that little edge that will allow you to workout harder without having to worry about your performance levels the next day.

Consider giving this product a try and keep track of your training data in close detail.

Our #1 Recommendation

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Pros
  • Contains 5,000 mg of creatine monohydrate
  • Added 2,000 mg of β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (HMB)
  • Gluten-free and non GMO certified
  • No artificial sweeteners, coloring or preservatives
Cons
  • Only available in unflavored and Blue Raspberry

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2 thoughts on “What’s the Best Creatine Supplement?
Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

    1. Hey Laura! To be honest, there’s not much of a big difference or advantage between the two. Creatine monohydrate, when “micronized”, makes it more easily mixed in water. There are no changes on its effectiveness and absorption though. But if you’re considering your budget, I would recommend creatine monohydrate because its micronized form is usually more expensive. Hope that helps!

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