Hit a plateau with your muscular gains? Do you want to reach the next level with your personal bests? Maybe its time you considered adding creatine to your supplement plan.
When it comes to supplements for gym goers, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts’ alike, creatine has become one of the ‘must have’ supplements and a staple part 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 3 products we recommend worth checking out.
Enjoy everything you need to know in one easy-to-read piece and why it’s an imperative supplement crucial to your gains!
The 3 Best Creatine Supplements Reviewed
Creatine per Serving
1. MuscleTech Platinum Micronized Creatine Powder
MuscleTech Platinum contains 100% pure creatine monohydrate which quickly improves 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 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. Sounds amazing, right?
This is our #1 recommend creatine supplement product to help build your strength and muscles. Don't believe us? Try it for yourself!
2. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine
This product is made with Creapure Creatine, a creatine monohydrate known for its extraordinary purity. The powder is micronized, which means that it mixes easier and stays in liquid longer than other brands.
It is known in increasing muscle strength, improves performance especially in high-intensive exercise, and helps increase energy reserves while lessening protein breakdown.
Discover the wonders of this product and its benefits during your workout. This is best taken before and after workout. Optimum’s Micronized Creatine Monohydrate is available from different sizes, definitely something that fits your budget.
3. Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate Powder
Do you want to experience high-intensive workouts every time? If yes, you will want to try this product. This Creatine Monohydrate Powder is made to give you the stamina you will need in bodybuilding, intense crossfits, and any strength training workouts.
Taking this supplement along a healthy diet and regular workout, you will have a remarkable muscle growth and increased overall performance in workouts.
This product is perfect for your pre and post workouts. It is made from 99.99% micronized creatine monohydrate that is sugar, soy, yeast, and gluten-free, suited for those who are vegan-friendly.
What Is Creatine?
A dietary, protein-like compound, creatine 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 is most popular for its ability to help with:
The Science Behind It All
Here’s the sciencey bit; the name is also often referred to as creatine phosphate, this is because once it reaches the inside of your muscle cells a high-energy phosphate attaches to it thus giving it the chemical name of phosphocreatine (PCr) or creatine phosphate for a simpler phrase.
When creatine joins up with phosphate in your muscles it becomes a high-energy molecule, which is a crucial component of creatine’s advantageous effects in the body, but why's that?
It’s because creatine provides the high-energy phosphate to generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is then used by your muscles for the prompt energy it requires for muscle contraction, for heavy weight lifting sessions, plyometrics or explosive cardio for example.
It has been theorized that supplementing with creatine can lead to an increase in PCr in muscle by as much as 20%.
How Does Creatine Work
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 themselves) 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.
Is Creatine Safe?
Before taking this supplement, 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 use 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.
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.
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!
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.
However, as with any other supplement, the manner in which it is produced can allegedly have a great effect on how well it can influence the outcome of your chosen sport.
There are 4 types of creatine, which are:
Let’s take a more in-depth look at what they do…
1. Creatine Monohydrate
The most common variety of variety, in truth, its 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 monohydrate - this supposedly means that it absorbs more readily and 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 however, which, considering for many people it isn’t going to create a world of difference, might just make it a slightly unnecessary choice.
3. Creatine Ethyl Ester
Another popular choice. What’s great about this form is that the ester attached to the creatine molecules creates a highly positively charged absorption rate of almost 99%, meaning 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, and if you already respond well to any of the aforementioned choices, there’s really no point in paying extra.
4. Creatine Kre-Alkalyn
Is the final choice on our list today – 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 - if you can get away with using and advancing your training with the cheaper options listed, you should.
Benefits of Creatine Will Enhance Performance
Supplementing with creatine to either improve your sporting performance or increase your muscle mass have 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 g·d-1 of creatine monohydrate may elevate the total creatine content in your muscles by 10-20%, which is pretty significant really.
This means that with more creatine in your muscles you are better equipped to perform more explosive movements such as sprinting, rowing and weight lifting.
Because creatine volumizes the cells, it also enhances the appearance of the muscles and makes them look bigger!
This is fantastic for anyone who performs resistance training where muscular hypertrophy is the primary goal as it enhances the foundations that are already in place.
Creatine Has Been Proven To Work…
A study by Richard B. Kreider concluded:
“The addition of creatine promoted greater gains in fat/bone-free mass, isotonic lifting volume, and sprint performance during intense resistance/agility training.”
Professor and Department Head, Health and Kinesiology
It has also been suggested through sufficient evidence that ingestion of a carbohydrate source, for example tri-carb or dextrose with creatine 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.
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 use for pretty much any form of exercise and it could enhance your performance drastically.
There aren’t many 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.
Creatine Side Effects
The risk of creatine use comes largely from extortionate use of the type that most people with common sense simply wouldn’t think about in the first place!
Still, the potential side effects of creatine are nowhere near as immediate as something like pre workout where an excessive dosage would be lethal, instead they could manifest given regular excessive usage.
As with any substance (including every day food and drink!) having too much will almost definitely lead to stress on the liver and kidneys as a result of them having to process an amount that they will deem to be excessive.
You’ll obviously get away with this a few times should you choose to be reckless, but if you do it over an extended period of time you’ll of course diminish their health.
Diarrhea is also a reported side effect reported by some users, but it’s not often this will occur if dosage instructions are followed.
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 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.
The Best And Most Trusted Manufacturers
There are thousands upon thousands of manufacturers producing supplements in the modern fitness industry, and some are better known than others.
This is for good reason too - some really don’t invest much in the quality of their products and instead rely on large masses of units being shifted over ensuring proven results for their users.
The following list below is a great start when looking for trusted manufacturers of creatine:
Quality VS Cost
Who do you choose? Well, if you want a combination of great quality and value, then Myprotein, The Protein Works and Bulk Powders are all fantastic choices.
What’s brilliant about these companies is that you can choose the quantity you want, and the quality giving you complete control.
It’s totally up to you as to whether or not you get normal monohydrate, or ethyl ester, or any other form of modern creatine being offered.
The purity of the products on offer by these guys is to be respected, all of which have been tested to stringent standards.
If you’re looking for a widely recognized commercial brand to spend your hard earned money on, and you don’t mind spending a little extra, then you’ll be incredibly satisfied with any offering by Gaspari or CNP.
Even if you don’t buy into names, one thing is for sure; these two companies will deliver a product that is not only stringently tested and highly effective, but the texture and taste will be pretty much unparalleled as well without too much unwarranted “padding” material for your body to process.
Great names that both produce great products.
Should I Take Creatine
There is absolutely no guarantee that creatine 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.
For that reason, you should absolutely find out whether or not this supplement should be your next addition.
Do you already take creatine? What’s your experience with the supplement and have you achieved noticeable gains by taking it?
MuscleTech Platinum 100% Creatine
Our #1 Creatine Supplement