The Best Creatine Supplements for Bulking, Focus, and More

We tried all different types of creatine products to help you find the best of the best.

We receive free products to review and may receive commissions on purchases made through our links. See our disclosure page for details.

After whey protein powder, creatine may just be the most popular supplement in a gym-goers pantry — and for good reasons. Most supplements have a handful of studies supporting their use, but creatine has hundreds of them, suggesting a strong effect on performance and body composition

Creatine mainly works by increasing one’s ability to perform more optimally in the gym. As a result, you’ll get stronger more quickly and build more muscle. Of course, it’s more nuanced than that. Below, we discuss the benefits of creatine and answer basic creatine questions. As for which creatine you should buy, we tried dozens of the best brands to land on these high-quality creatine picks that will serve a number of needs and preferences. 

Best Creatine Supplements

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended to diagnose, prevent, and/or treat health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine.

Best Creatine Supplements Video Review

Be sure to check out our best creatine video for an even more in-depth analysis of this classic performance supplement. 

Best Creatine Overall

Some creatine supplements have unnecessary ingredients, but the best creatine product on the market should probably have one or two useful additions. We think Transparent Labs’ strikes this balance perfectly for high-quality creatine.

Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB

The HMB, which stands for hydroxymethyl butyrate, is the main metabolite in the branched-chain amino acid leucine that prevents muscle protein breakdown. So, it helps you retain muscle, and it appears to do so more effectively than leucine alone. (4) One bonus is that combining HMB with creatine also appears to increase strength better than taking either supplement alone. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is delicious and contains no artificial sweeteners

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

A delicious creatine that adds HMB to possibly increase strength better than taking either supplement alone. Save 10% with code BARBEND10.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB

  • Those who don’t want a slew of unusual pre-workout ingredients.
  • People who want flavored creatine but don’t want artificial flavors and ingredients will be happy with this product.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB

  • Anyone looking for a stimulatory or ergogenic effect from their creatine.
  • Those who prefer unflavored creatine.

HMB is a fascinating area of creatine science, and there is indeed evidence that if what you want is creatine that encourages power while retaining muscle mass, this product from Transparent Labs is a great bet for getting you there.

[Related: Could Baking Soda Be The Best Workout Supplement You’ve Never Tried?]

Best Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is far and away the most science-backed form of creatine. If you’re just looking for nothing but pure, unflavored creatine at the best price, then look no further than Kaged Muscle’s CreaClear.

Kaged Muscle CreaClear

Each single-scoop serving provides five grams of microencapsulated creatine monohydrate that mixes clear into liquid in less than a minute. If you don’t know, CreaClear is a formula that’s considered to be ultra-soluble, meaning it mixes better into water and shakes better. Considering you’ll always mix creatine into something, that’s an important quality. Speaking of quality, Kaged Muscle’s formula is tested by Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice, so you can confidently know you’re ingesting what the label says. 

10% Off
KAGED Muscle CreaClear
KAGED Muscle CreaClear
KAGED Muscle CreaClear

Each 5.6-gram (single-scoop) serving provides five grams of microencapsulated creatine monohydrate. It comes unflavored and is free of banned substances. It dissolves entirely in less than a minute when mixed into liquid. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle CreaClear

  • Those who are looking for creatine without any artificial flavors or additional ingredients.
  • Anyone looking for fast-dissolving creatine that mixes clear and mixes well. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle CreaClear

  • Consumers who want flavors or amino acids in their creatine.
  • Folks who want to avoid added stimulants.

Basic yet effective should be CreaClear’s slogan. This formula delivers hyper-soluble creatine backed by third-party testing with no strings attached.

[Related: The Best Types Of Supplements For Performance, Weight Loss, And Health]

Best Creatine Pills

Pills are generally more convenient to carry around than powders, making them a great choice for travel.

Performance Lab Maintain

This formula is taken via pill, which isn’t everyone’s first choice, but they’re easy to travel with or throw into your gym bag. Also, Performance Lab has ensured that their pills are smaller than the industry standard, so they’re easier to swallow. Performance Lab boasts 3,000 milligrams of Creapure®, which is labeled as 83 percent creatine and focuses on extended-release to ensure that your muscles are replenished long after a training session.

Best Creatine Pill
Performance Lab Maintain
Performance Lab Maintain
Performance Lab Maintain

Pills offer more convenience than powders, and Performance Lab offers up an easier-to-swallow variety. 

Who Should Take Performance Lab Maintain

  • People who travel a lot or take their creatine before or after a workout. Pills travel better than powders, generally.
  • Folks who would rather take a smaller pill.

Who Shouldn’t Take Performance Lab Maintain

  • People who prefer pure creatine. This formula contains two other ingredients.
  • Those who are pill adverse. You do have to take a large pill dose.

If you’re on the go a lot, pills may be more convenient since you don’t need to haul a shaker bottle around. Also, the extended-release formula ensures your muscles are receiving a steady flow of muscle-building creatine. 

[Related: Intermittent Fasting 101: A Guide To Benefits, Muscle Gain, and More]

Best Post-Workout Creatine

For our post-workout pick, we went hunting for a high-end creatine product that’s focused on muscle retention. After a lot of digging, we landed on Legion’s Recharge, which contains an unusual metabolite that appears to work synergistically with creatine.

Legion Recharge

Legion Recharge is a great creatine product. It’s not just creatine monohydrate, which is the most research-backed form: one scoop also delivers l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery. There’s also some banaba leaf extract, which may help to increase insulin sensitivity and improve the way we digest carbohydrates. Finally: it’s completely naturally flavored, colored, and sweetened. 

Save 20%
Legion Recharge Creatine
Legion Recharge Creatine
Legion Recharge Creatine

A delicious, naturally flavored creatine with ingredients that may further aid recovery. Use code "BARBEND" for 20% off!

Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • If you want creatine with additives but no stimulants, this is a great “any time” recovery drink.
  • Folks who like flavored creatine. Recharge comes in Watermelon, Fruit Punch, or Strawberry Lemonade (though it’s also available in unflavored).
  • Anyone interested in the potential recovery and longevity benefits of l-carnitine l-tartrate (LCLT).

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Customers who just want plain creatine.
  • If you’re looking to save cash, this isn’t the cheapest creatine supplement out there.

This specific formula is geared towards muscle recovery, making it an excellent pick to take after a tough training session

[Related: I’m A Professional Powerlifter. Here’s What I Think About Bodybuilding]

Best Creatine HCl Supplement

Some prefer creatine hydrochloride, a more acidic form of creatine that may actually be easier on sensitive stomachs, as it’s closer to the pH of our stomach acid. Not all creatine hydrochloride is created equal, and we think Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl sits above the rest. 

Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl

Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl hits all the right notes. While it’s pricier than monohydrate, it’s a pretty reasonable cost for creatine HCl at about 35 cents per gram. Hydrochloride varies between 20 and 60 cents per gram, so Kaged Muscle’s product is right in the middle, and it has two big advantages: it’s naturally flavored with a tasty lemon-lime bent, and most importantly, it’s third-party tested for banned substances by Informed-Sport. This makes it a great pick for athletes. 

10% Off
KAGED Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
KAGED Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
KAGED Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride

A tasty option for folks who are looking for creatine hydrochloride. It’s third-party tested for banned substances and competitively priced. Use code BARBEND10 for 10% off your purchase. 

Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl

  • If creatine monohydrate gives you digestive discomfort, there’s anecdotal evidence that this form may digest more easily.
  • Competitive athletes who only take supplements tested by companies like Informed-Sport will be happy with this product. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl

  • There’s no good evidence that creatine hydrochloride is better than monohydrate for those who don’t get indigestion from monohydrate.
  • Folks who don’t want to spend extra on hydrochloride.

This creatine will digest more effectively than other formulas for better overall absorption. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it tastes great. 

[Related: Best Macros Calculator For Tracking Muscle Gain and Fat Loss]

Best Creatine For Women

A recurring theme when we talk to female athletes is a desire for supplements that improve performance without adding unnecessary bulk.

Performance Lab Maintain

So when looking for the best creatine for women, we wanted one without the extras. Look, creatine, for the most part, is creatine, so there aren’t many woman-specific features in pretty much any creatine supplement. That said, Performance Lab offers up smaller pills, which some women may find more pleasant to take, and an extended-release formula for “healthier” muscle growth and repair. It’s also a plant-based formula and is infused with prebiotics for gut health. 

Best For Women
Performance Lab Maintain
Performance Lab Maintain
Performance Lab Maintain

A smaller pill, longer release formula, and prebiotics make this a great pill option for women (and, really, anyone).

Who Should Buy Performance Lab Maintain

  • Women who may want to take a smaller-sized pill.
  • Anyone who follows a vegan diet, as these are plant-based.
  • Folks who want prebiotics in their creatine. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Performance Lab Maintain

  • People who don’t want to take six pills, which is Performance Lab Maintain’s serving size.
  • Those who would prefer creatine without prebiotics.

To be clear: Any creatine on this list will suit a woman just fine. That said, some women may prefer the smaller pill size and the focus on muscle repair with no extras. 

[Related: Nutrition For Bulking: 10 Tips For Intelligent Muscle Gain]

Best Creatine For Muscle Gain

Muscle growth occurs from various stimuli: do we include the creatine with the most calories, the most stimulants, or… other? We went with “other.” Here’s why. You can get calories from food, so you don’t need caloric creatine. (Plus, food tastes better.)

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

As for stimulants, those may help your performance, but that doesn’t mean they’ll help you gain muscle. Transparent Labs’ formula contains 1,500 milligrams of an ingredient called HMB, which can prevent lean muscle loss and decrease fat. Both are key factors when looking to chisel out a more impressive, envy-inducing physique

Save 10%
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

A specialized creatine that contains the ingredient HMB to preserve lean muscle mass. Save 10% with code BARBEND10.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Folks who want to hang onto muscle mass.
  • People looking to burn fat as they gain muscle mass.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • People who are more performance-focused and don’t need or want the muscle-specific benefits of the HMB.
  • Those who don’t want added stimulants in their creatine.

If you’re looking to gain muscle, all creatine is helpful — but some may be more helpful than others. So is the case with Transparent Labs’f formula that is specifically designed to include HMB for muscle retention. 

[Related: The Lifter’s Guide To Magnesium: What This Nutrient Does For Strength]

Best Creatine For Bulking

If you’ve been training for years, then you know it’s difficult to add even a little muscle to your frame. Creatine with muscle-building benefits can help you make the most out of your bulk.

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

What sets this creatine apart from others is the inclusion of HMB, a chemical that has proven fat loss and strength-building benefits. Most lifters push heavier weights when they’re in bulk, and so this formula may better help you gain more strength in addition to the common endurance-boosting benefits of creatine. It’s a win-win for lifters looking to bulk up big time. 

Save 10%
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Creatine can help you pump out more reps for more muscle, making it a great bulking supplement. Save 10% with code BARBEND10.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Lifters in a bulking phase who want to increase strength to build more mass.
  • Athletes who could benefit from strength training and need a supplement to support their efforts.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Those who would prefer a micronized creatine.
  • Penny pinchers. This is an expensive product for creatine.

Size requires strength, and strength requires the ability to push yourself. Creatine will allow you to eke out an extra rep, and this formula helps you hang onto muscle mass as a nice bonus. 

[Related: The Real Pros And Cons Of The Bodybuilding Lifestyle]

Best Micronized Creatine

Micronized creatine has been processed so that the granules are smaller and dissolves more easily in fluid. So which company makes our favorite form? This is a solid bet for the best-micronized creatine.

BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

It’s made in a Good Manufacturing Practices-certified facility which is also free from any major allergens, something many brands don’t offer. It’s also tested both in-house and by a third party for any impurities. A big bonus: once you order amounts of one kilogram or higher, it becomes just about the cheapest creatine you’re likely to find.

Best Micronized Creatine
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

This creatine is clean and simple. It comes with 2.5 grams of micronized creatine per serving.

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

  • Anybody who likes plain creatine.
  • Folks who want to buy their creatine in bulk and do so in the most economical way possible.

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

  • If you want to save money, this is a great option if you’re buying in larger amounts. If you’re buying 500 grams or less, there might be cheaper options.
  • This company has a well-earned reputation for making bags that don’t stay closed once they’re open. This is a dealbreaker for some customers.

BulkSupplements allows you to stretch your dollar far with their bulk offerings that are also free of impurities and unwanted allergens. 

[Related: 3 Ways To Find Your 1-Rep Max (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced)]

Best Creatine Chews

Powders are a pain to carry, and pills usually require you to take a handful — we think these chews are the most convenient option available.

Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews

As chewable tablets, they remove the need to have a source of water to consume creatine, which is a huge advantage when it comes to portability and, well, for those who might sometimes feel a little too lazy to get water — drop ’em in a ziplock bag and take with you anywhere. They contain four grams of sugar per serving, sure, but they’re free from artificial sweeteners, and they’re vegetarian-friendly.

Best Creatine Chews
Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews
Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews
Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews

This creatine supplement provides five grams of creatine monohydrate per serving in convenient chewable tablets. It are free from artificial sweeteners, vegetarian-friendly, and only contains four grams of sugar per serving.

Who Should Buy Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews 

  • Those who consume creatine on the go, like travelers, commuters, and of course, gym-goers.
  • People who like sweet supplements but want to avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Anyone who doesn’t always have a water bottle handy — these can be left on your work desk and consumed whenever.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews 

  • People who want absolutely no sugar in their supplements.
  • Customers who want a precise replication of candy — it’s a little chalkier than that.

There are a lot of worthy creatine capsules on the market that are a little easier to thrust into your pocket — these we recommend putting in a little baggy, so they don’t release creatine in your pocket. But the fact that they can be eaten without water and that they’re naturally sweetened puts them right at the top of our list.

[Related: Hypertrophy Training Sets And Reps]

Best Creatine For Mixing

This was also our top micronized creatine, which makes it a solid pick for the best option for mixing. Since it’s processed to assume smaller granule sizes, it dissolves easily in fluid.

BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

Made in a Good Manufacturing Practices-certified facility free from major allergens and is tested both in-house and by a third party for any impurities. If their good habits in production aren’t enough to convince you, perhaps having the most affordable price around when buying at least a kilogram will. What makes it great for mixing is the simplicity of the product — it’s just creatine monohydrate! Nothing else. 

Best Micronized Creatine
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate
BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

This creatine is clean and simple. It comes with 2.5 grams of micronized creatine per serving.

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

  • Those who want creatine without any additional ingredients.
  • Folks who are working with tighter budgets and want to buy in bulk.
  • People looking for small-granule creatine that mixes well into liquid.

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate

  • Anyone who wants to purchase 500 grams or less.
  • Those who don’t have a separate way to store their creatine as the pouches the product arrives in don’t reseal too well.

Simple and mixes like a charm, BulkSupplements lets you buy up to 25 kilograms worth of their creatine. Why? who knows, but it’ll save you in the long run. 

[Related: The 3 Most Common Types Of Training Periodization (And When To Use Them)]

Best Creatine for Focus

Creatine has interesting links to mental health — at least among those who don’t eat meat — but some creatine products have extra ingredients with even more purported cognitive benefits. (5) This is our favorite pick for mental benefits.

MuscleTech CELL-TECH

This is because it has a wide array of ingredients that includes taurine, which in addition to its potential effects on recovery, may also increase focus during a workout. The valine present in this product may have an effect on focus, which is why it’s included in so many branched-chain amino acid supplements.

Best Creatine Stack
MuscleTech CELL-TECH Review
MuscleTech CELL-TECH Review
MuscleTech CELL-TECH Review

Cell-Tech deserves its reputation as a particularly effective way to deliver creatine.

Who Should Buy MuscleTech CELL-TECH

  • If you prefer your creatine with an emphasis on cognitive performance, multiple ingredients in CELL-TECH may have links here.
  • Anyone who wants a boost of energy with their creatine will like the extra sugar in here — plus, it may improve the absorption.

Who Shouldn’t Buy MuscleTech CELL-TECH 

  • If a big hit of sugar isn’t what you want with your creatine, this isn’t the product for you.
  • Those who want creatine without any additional ingredients.

Offering more 10 grams of creatine per serving, CELL-TECH comes in four flavors — Fruit Punch, Grape, Orange, and Tropical Citrus Punch — and can be bought in an ample six-pound jug. 

[Related: The Best Foods And Supplements For Fighting Inflammation]

How We Decided Our Picks

Here are the factors we considered when choosing which creatine supplements made our list.

Supplement Type

There are pills, powders — both flavored and unflavored — and even creatine chews. Some supplements aren’t even pure creatine supplements, but rather intra-workout supplements that include creatine. We have included a variety of creatine types on this list so you can choose the supplement and delivery mechanism that best suits your needs. 

Price

Depending on what supplement type you choose, the price will vary. An intra-workout supplement that includes carbs, protein, and creatine will be more expensive than a pure monohydrate. That said, we sought out products we pick are priced either at or a little below market price. Supplements are nice to have, but they shouldn’t break the bank. 

Research

Creatine as a supplement is pretty straightforward. Science supports its use. However, there are different types of creatine, and so we’ve ensured that each supplement uses a science-backed creatine variety and, as important, that it’s dosed correctly. 

Creatine
Image via Shutterstock/itakdalee

[Related: How To Do The Romanian Deadlift For Lower-Body Size And Strength]

Before You Buy Creatine

If this is a brand new supplement for you, or even if it isn’t, there’s some info you should know before you add creatine to your daily routine. Read on for a few pro tips on this well-researched yet sometimes misunderstood product.

Some People Don’t Respond To Creatine

A small percentage of people, perhaps twenty percent, is called creatine non-responders: their bodies don’t uptake creatine the same way most people do. (6) It’s hard to know if you’re one of them until you start taking it; if your muscles don’t get bigger, there’s a decent chance that’s you. This is one of the reasons it’s great that creatine is so inexpensive: you’re not down too much money if you’re a non-responder. 

You Don’t Need to “Load” Creatine

It used to be fashionable to “load” creatine, taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week, then dropping down to five or 10 grams for a few weeks, taking one or two weeks off, and repeating.  

The idea with creatine is to take it every day until your muscles are “saturated,” and you’ll enjoy the ergogenic effects. Loading creatine may saturate the muscles a little more quickly, but it’s not necessary at all. You can take the standard five to 10 grams per day.

You Can Take Creatine Any Time of Day

This isn’t a pre-workout, and it’s not a stimulant. If you want to take it in the morning or the evening or pre or post-workout, go ahead. The effects of creatine, as mentioned, accumulate over a week or two, not an hour or two. 

You Can Have Creatine With Caffeine

Following on from the previous point, one study published in 1996 found that creatine didn’t increase power output when combined with caffeine. (7) However, many other, higher-quality studies (like double-blind, randomized trials) haven’t found this to be the case. If you have some creatine with your morning eggs and coffee, it’s no big deal.

Chat With Your Doctor First

Creatine is widely seen as safe, but it’s always smart to chat with your doctor before making any new additions to your supplement routine. This is especially true if your doctor is monitoring your creatinine levels, for instance, as taking creatine can throw them off a little. This doesn’t mean creatine harms your kidneys; rather, your doctor should know about your supplements.

What’s the Best Type of Creatine?

The general sentiment among nutrition experts is that creatine monohydrate is, for most people, the best bet. It’s the cheapest form, and more importantly, it’s the most well-researched. Hundreds of studies have been performed on creatine monohydrate, and there’s no evidence of ill effects, whereas many of the more novel forms of creatine have one or sometimes no studies supporting them.

Some people indeed experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate, and it’s possible that taking creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result.

That’s the long and short of it: monohydrate for almost everyone, hydrochloride if that gives you stomach issues. But if you’re curious about other kinds, check out these 10 kinds of creatine and what they all mean.

The Benefits of Creatine

Creatine is one of the few supplements on the market, with a whole bevy of studies supporting its effects on exercise performance and muscle growth. 

More Energy for Exercise

When you exercise, your body produces and uses what’s called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) — a molecule that is a key energy source for many functions. To create ATP, the body needs to tap into phosphocreatine. A creatine supplement helps to increase your phosphocreatine stores, thus providing the body with more ATP for more energy.  

A review of creatine for exercise performance found that creatine seems to pose no health risks and may boost performance in those who are performing max reps or sprints. (8)

man slamming medicine ball

[Related: The 3 Most Effective Workouts Splits For Strength Training]

More Power

Because of its ability to help the body produce more ATP, which is at-the-ready energy, creatine has been shown to directly improve power output by anywhere from five to 15 percent. (9) This implies that creatine can help you eke out another extra rep or two of moves that require full effort. For example, the bench press, medicine ball slams, and box jumps.  

More Muscle Growth

While creatine has been strongly linked to improved performance, some studies show that it can also help with muscle growth. This is in part due to creatine’s ability to help the body eke out extra reps, which, over time, will lead to more growth. But some studies have also found creatine to be linked to lean muscle gains. (10)

Do I Need to Load Creatine?

You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is five grams once or twice per day, but it’s sometimes suggested that one should “load” creatine by taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week of usage. This is then followed with three to four weeks of five grams per day, then a break for a week or two, then repeat. This may bring about more acute increases in strength and muscle size — creatine will “work” more quickly, in other words — but it’s not necessary.

While it’s sometimes advised that one should take a month off from creatine a few times a year, there’s currently not much evidence suggesting that’s necessary.

FAQs

What are the benefits of creatine?

Creatine has strong links to improve power output similar to pre workout — basically better performance in strength workouts. Among people who don’t consume much meat, supplementing creatine may also improve some areas of cognition. What many people take creatine for, though, is because it draws more water into the muscles, meaning it makes them bigger. That’s an aesthetic boost that many people enjoy.

Do I need to load creatine?

Not really. A lot of people suggest taking 20 to 30 grams per day for the first week, then dropping to five grams per day for about a month, then taking a week or two off and repeating the cycle. But taking five to 10 grams per day consistently seems to be just as useful. If you want the “bigger muscles” benefit of creatine as soon as possible, then loading for a day or two might be worth it.

How much creatine should I take?

The default dosage is five grams; when a supplement comes with a scoop, that’s how much it’ll provide you with. Some like to “load” creatine with 25-ish grams per day for a week, then dropping down to five-ish grams for a few weeks. This will saturated the muscles with creatine more quickly if you really need the benefits to set in quickly. But five grams per day, without loading, will work fine. 10 grams may be better for larger athletes.

What's the best type of creatine?

Creatine monohydrate is far and away the most researched and best supported form of creatine. Dozens and dozens of studies support it; no other form of creatine has more than five studies. There’s no evidence any of the other forms, like creatine hydrochloride, nitrate, Kre-Alkalyn, (and so on) are more effective. The main exception is if creatine monohydrate gives you stomach cramps. If this is the case, a form like hydrochloride or nitrate might be easier on your belly.

Do I need to take carbs with creatine?

No. There’s a little evidence that adding carbs makes the creatine absorb more quickly, but creatine isn’t a drug or stimulant that has an immediate effect — it’s something that you saturate the muscles with over a period of days and weeks. So it doesn’t really matter if your daily scoop absorbs faster or not.

References

  1. Green, AL et al. Carbohydrate Ingestion Augments Skeletal Muscle Creatine Accumulation During Creatine Supplementation in Humans. Am J Physiol . 1996 Nov;271(5 Pt 1):E821-6.
  2. Burke, DG et al. Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid Combined With Creatine Monohydrate on Human Skeletal Muscle Creatine and Phosphagen Concentration. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab . 2003 Sep;13(3):294-302.
  3. Gutierrez-Salmean, G et al. Effects of (-)-Epicatechin on Molecular Modulators of Skeletal Muscle Growth and Differentiation. J Nutr Biochem . 2014 Jan;25(1):91-4.
  4. Fernández-Landa, J et al. Effect of the Combination of Creatine Monohydrate Plus HMB Supplementation on Sports Performance, Body Composition, Markers of Muscle Damage and Hormone Status: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019 Oct; 11(10): 2528.
  5. Benton, D et al. The Influence of Creatine Supplementation on the Cognitive Functioning of Vegetarians and Omnivores. Br J Nutr . 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-5.
  6. Cooper, R et al. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012; 9: 33.
  7. Vandenberghe, K et al. Caffeine Counteracts the Ergogenic Action of Muscle Creatine Loading. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996 Feb;80(2):452-7.
  8. Bird SP. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: a brief review. J Sports Sci Med. 2003;2(4):123-132. Published 2003 Dec 1.
  9. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94. PMID: 12701815.
  10. Nissen SL, Sharp RL. Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Feb;94(2):651-9. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00755.2002. Epub 2002 Oct 25. PMID: 12433852.