After your standard whey protein powder, creatine may be the most popular sports supplement on Earth, and with good reason. Most supplements have a handful of studies supporting their use but creatine has hundreds of them, suggesting a strong effect on multiple areas of sports performance and body composition. So what’s the best creatine for your goals?

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. There’s also a significant amount of evidence that 5 to 10 grams a day also leads to improved power output (by up to 26 percent), muscular endurance, anaerobic capacity, and — among those who seldom eat meat — cognition. 

All of these benefits with no apparent health risks, creatine is a no-brainer when it comes to supplementing, particularly since it’s so darn cheap. We tried dozens of brands and found the following 5 creatine brands to top of their category.

Best Creatine

Read below for even more picks to find the best creatine for you!

Best Creatine: Legion Recharge

Some creatines have way too many unnecessary ingredients, but then again, the best creatine product on the market should probably have one or two useful additions. We think Recharge hit the absolute best balance. 

Legion Recharge Highlights

Legion Recharge was our favorite 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 muscle repair. 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. 

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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’d like their creatine to have some natural Watermelon, Fruit Punch, or Strawberry Lemonade flavoring will be glad to have the option. (Though it’s also available in Unflavored.)
  • Anyone who’s 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, know this isn’t the cheapest creatine supplement out there, although you can save 10% using the code BARBEND10.

We look forward to taking Recharge any time of day because of the refreshing natural flavor, and the LCLT is one of the most promising recovery supplements on the market.

Best Creatine Monohydrate: Muscle Feast Premium Creatine

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…

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine Highlights

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine is the best creatine monohydrate. For pure, unfiltered creatine it’s got everyone beat. A big factor is the fact that it uses Creapure®, a famously high quality product made in a dedicated, creatine-only facility in Germany where it’s regularly tested for banned substances. It’s also certified halal and kosher. In addition to that, it’s one of only four creatine products certified by third party testing company Labdoor. You simply couldn’t ask for more quality control for a creatine.

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine
Muscle Feast Premium Creatine
Muscle Feast Premium Creatine

Made with high quality Creapure® brand creatine, this is one of only four creatine products approved by third party testing website Labdoor.

Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine

  • Those who want the most rigorously tested creatine monohydrate on the market.
  • Ironically, folks who’s like to save money — this high quality creatine is also one of the cheapest.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine

  • Anyone who wants flavors or amino acids or stimulants added to their creatine.

We’ve seen a whole lot of creatine monohydrate supplements but none top the heights of Muscle Feast.

Best Creatine Stack: MuscleTech CELL-TECH

So what if you want to go the other way — you like creatine with bells and whistles, with additives that might add to or even enhance its effects?

MuscleTech CELL-TECH Highlights

A lot of products claim to be more effective than regular monohydrate and while that’s seldom true, CELL-TECH has the goods. There are two main reasons why: it combines creatine with 38 grams of carbohydrates and some alpha-lipolic acid. Some limited research has suggested that combining the two might be more effective at sending creatine to the muscles than plain old creatine.(1)(2) It also has branched chain amino acids and Vitamin C, which may help with muscle retention. and Vitamin C

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 Take MuscleTech CELL-TECH

  • If, particularly pre workout, you like some fast digesting sugar, this is a great supplement.
  • The carbs and the alpha-lipoic acid might improve absorption, if you worry about the absorption rate of regular creatine. 
  • The product also includes taurine, branched chain amino acids, and Vitamin C, all of which can help with workout performance and recovery.
  • If you like flavored creatine, this one comes in three different flavors.

Who Shouldn’t Take MuscleTech CELL-TECH

  • If you don’t have a sweet tooth or if you don’t want a lot of calories with your creatine, avoid — this delivers 150 calories per scoop, more than a can of Coke.

CELL-TECH is an iconic product from MuscleTech and while it’s the highest calorie creatine supplement we’ve seen, there is some data that the extra ingredients might improve recovery and performance. 

Best Creatine Pills: Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews

Taking creatine in pill form can be a really convenient way to get your daily dosage without needing a shaker bottle. Our top spot had an even bigger advantage: you don’t need any water at all.

Universal Nutrition’s Creatine Chews got our vote for the best creatine pill. 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 go get water — drop ’em in a ziplock bag and take with you anywhere. They contain 4 grams of sugar per serving, sure, but they’re free from artificial sweeteners and they’re vegetarian-friendly.

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

This creatine supplement provides 5 grams of creatine monohydrate in convenient chewable tablets.

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 a 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.

Best Creatine HCl Supplement: KAGED MUSCLE C-HCL

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. But they’re not all created equal!

Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl Highlights

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. 

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.

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 folks who don’t get indigestion from monohydrate. If regular creatine works for you, there’s no need to spend the extra on hydrochloride.

Best Creatine for Men: Legion Recharge

It’s tough to land on a best creatine for men, but from our own research, men typically prefer any supplement that might lend itself more toward muscle gain and fat loss. That’s why we landed on Recharge for this category.

Legion Recharge Highlights

Creatine makes your muscles bigger and more powerful — check. Recharge made the top spot here because the l-carnitine l-tartrate has links to improved muscle repair and control, particularly as we age, and there’s banaba leaf extract, which may help to facilitate fat loss through improved insulin sensitivity. Add all that to the fact that there are no artificial flavors or sweeteners and you’ve got a great creatine.

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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

  • Men who want to improve their recovery after tough workouts could do well to add this product to their repertoire.
  • Men who are concerned about their insulin sensitivity. (Although if this is a real concern, you should see a doctor.)

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Guys who just want regular creatine — Recharge costs more than plain old monohydrate and if that’s all you want, there are cheaper options on the market.

Best Creatine for Women: Muscle Feast Premium Creatine

A recurring theme when we talk to female athletes is a desire for supplements that improve performance without adding unnecessary bulk. So when looking for the best creatine for women, we wanted one without the extras.

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine Highlights

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine got our vote for best creatine for women. This is a tricky area to navigate, but broadly speaking most women’s supplements aim to minimize muscle gain in favor of fat loss. This is why we avoided Legion Recharge, as the l-carnitine l-tartrate it contains might contribute to muscle gain. In our experience, women prefer basic creatine, and this is the best there is.

Muscle Feast Pure Creatine
Muscle Feast Pure Creatine
Muscle Feast Pure Creatine

With no bells or whistles added, this is a stripped back, well sourced creatine without extra ingredients for muscle gain.

Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine  

  • Any athlete who wants the most reputable creatine on Earth at the lowest possible price. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine  

  • If you like extra ingredients for muscle gain or recovery, that’s not this — Muscle Feast’s product is simply pure creatine.
  • Anyone who likes their supplements bathed in a delicious flavoring will likely prefer a different creatine.

If you think you can’t beat plain old creatine or if you’re only convinced by its benefits and not those of other pre workout ingredients, then this is the best creatine for you. 

Best Creatine for Muscle Growth: Ghost Size

Muscle growth occurs from a wide variety of stimuli: do we include the creatine with the most calories, the most stimulants, or… other? We went with “other.” Here’s why.

Ghost Size Highlights

Ghost Size takes the cake for muscle growth. The key to this formula is epicatechin, an antioxidant found in chocolate and certain plants that is linked to a wide array of benefits. These include increased nitric oxide production, better oxygenation to the brain, and muscle growth: epicatechin appears to inhibit myostatin, which suppresses muscle growth, and the dosage found in Ghost Size is in line with studies that examined this effect.(3) There’s also betaine and beta-alanine, which have links to improved power output and endurance, respectively.

Ghost Size
Ghost Size
Ghost Size

A delicious creatine product with added ingredients for power and muscle retention.

Who Should Buy Ghost Size

  • Folks who want extra antioxidants and ingredients for workout recovery with their creatine.
  • People who want to improve their power and endurance — betaine and beta alanine are the most popular supplements for these purposes.
  • Anyone interested in a supplement that actually tastes like Sour Warheads. This product is delicious.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Ghost Size

  • If you don’t have much money to spend, the two-dollars-per-serving you’ll pay for Size will seem on the pricy side.
  • The beta-alanine produces a “tingly” sensation called paresthesia, of which not everybody’s a fan.

Bulking is a hugely complicated endeavor but we think Size is the creatine product that’s the most synergistic to this goal.

Best Creatine for Bulking: Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

For this section, we went hunting for a creatine product that’s focused on muscle retention. After a lot of digging, we learned about an unusual metabolite that appears to work synergistically with creatine.

Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB Highlights

Transparent Labs really did their homework. The HMB, which stands for hydroxymethylbutyrate, is the main metablite in the branched chain amino acid leucine that prevents the breakdown of muscle protein. Translation: it helps you to 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.

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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

  • If you want a little extra in your creatine to help retain muscle, but you don’t want a slew of unusual pre workout ingredients, this is a great fit.
  • People who want flavored creatine but don’t want artificial 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.

HMB is a fascinating area of creatine science and there is indeed evidence that if what you want is creatine that builds muscle power while retaining muscle mass, this is a great bet.

Best Creatine for Brain and Mental Benefits: MuscleTech CELL-TECH

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)

Muscle Tech CELL-TECH Highlights

This is our favorite pick for mental benefits. 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.

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.

Creatine’s link with mental health is an interesting one and while any creatine product will do the trick in that regard, CELL-TECH has an impressive variety of other cognitive enhancers, too.

Best Micronized Creatine: BulkSupplements.com Creatine

Micronized creatine has been processed in such a way that the granules are smaller and it dissolves more easily in fluid. So which company makes our favorite form?

BulkSupplements.com Creatine Highlights

This is a solid bet for the best micronized creatine. It’s made in a Good Manufacturing Practices-certified facility which is also free from any major allergens, something many brands can’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 cheapest creatine you’re likely to find.

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

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements.com Creatine

  • Anybody who likes plain creatine, knows they want to buy a lot of it, and wants to do so in the most economic way possible.

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements.com Creatine

  • 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.

Whether or not a creatine is micronized won’t make a significant difference to, say, your absorption or its benefits, but BulkSupplements.com still makes our favorite.

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, are called creatine non responders: their bodies just 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 5 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 saturated the muscles a little more quickly, but it’s not necessary at all. You can take the standard 5 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 to 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 is harming your kidneys, rather that 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.

It’s true that some people experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate, and it’s possible that taking a creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for a creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, the 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.

benefits of creatine

Do I Need to Load Creatine??

You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is 5 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 3 to 4 weeks of 5 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 a lot of evidence suggesting that’s necessary.

Best Creatine Summary

Whether you like plain old creatine monohydrate or the most complex creatine stack, whether you like pills, hydrochloride, or micronized, we think we’ve landed on the best list for your needs. For more information on each of the products, just make sure to click through to the full review of the best creatine:

Happy lifting!

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of creatine?

Creatine has strong links to improve power output — 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 5 grams per day for about a month, then taking a week or two off and repeating the cycle. But taking 5 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 5 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 5-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 5 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.