Creatine is a natural substance produced by your body that helps your muscles produce energy during high-intensity exercise and heavy lifting.
Creatine can also be found in seafood and red meat, though top creatine supplements contain much higher levels than in natural sources.
When taken as a supplement, creatine can help build muscle mass and improve exercise performance, making it especially popular with bodybuilders.
Creatine is a molecule closely resembling amino acids mainly located in your body’s muscles and the brain that is commonly used as a supplement to boost exercise performance and muscle gain. It has also been used to treat depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and congestive heart failure, though there is limited evidence that creatine benefits these conditions.
Creatine can be found in six forms, but creatine monohydrate – consisting of a creatine molecule combined with a water molecule – is by far the most common. Furthermore, most studies on creatine use creatine monohydrate, which we’ll discuss in this article.
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Creatine supplements are a convenient way to boost your creatine levels and boost your phosphocreatine stores – a form of stored energy – in the cells. After creatine enters your body, it binds with bonds with phosphate molecules to create phosphocreatine that helps produce ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate).
ATP is the body’s energy source and drives almost every bodily process, from metabolizing food to muscle function during strenuous exercise, so the best creatine supplements effectively boost your energy levels. Higher levels of ATP mean that your body can perform better during exercise, and creatine also alters cellular processes for increased muscle mass, recovery and strength, making it an excellent workout supplement.
While supplementing with creatine has many gender-neutral benefits, creatine has many unique benefits for women, as has been linked to improvements in strength, exercise performance and muscle mass, both before and after menopause. Furthermore, some research suggests that the best creatine supplements for women may help reduce mental fatigue and manage depression.
Although body builders and fitness freaks often use creatine, its benefits extend outside of the gym, as the best creatine supplements for women can help reduce body fat, boost energy, and improve bone health. That last point is especially important for women, as they are at a higher risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases later in life.
There have been hundreds of studies on the benefits of creatine, and the findings show that creatine boosts short and long-term muscle growth, including in sedentary individuals, older people, and athletes alike. What’s more, one study investigating the best creatine supplements in weightlifters found that creatine increased muscle fiber growth 2-3 times more than exercise alone.
Creatine can also improve strength, power, and performance during high-intensity exercise, so using one of the top creatine supplements could give you the edge you need to achieve your fitness goals. These benefits are mainly caused by your body’s increased ATP capacity, which improves your energy and performance on the cellular level.
As discussed above, creatine supplements help boost muscle gain, exercise performance, and post-exercise recovery in all kinds of people, even if you’re not a fitness fanatic. Additionally, there is limited evidence that creatine may improve brain function and decrease muscle loss in older adults, contributing to healthy aging.
However, while creatine may improve short-term memory and slow muscle loss, even the top creatine supplements aren’t a miracle drug for the effects of aging. In short, creatine is one of the most popular – and effective – supplements for exercise performance, but it may have other health benefits, such as improved brain function and healthy aging.
Creatine is incredibly well-tolerated, and extensive research has not found any significant negative effects, even in long-term studies lasting up to 4 years. While many people report mild side effects (such as headaches and nausea) when taking large doses of creatine, they usually pass as soon as the body acclimates to the dosage.
Because women tend to have a lower body mass than men, many of the best creatine supplements for women contain lower concentrations of creatine to improve absorption.
Some bodybuilders use extremely large doses of creatine (usually as creatine monohydrate powder) so even the best creatine supplements are bound to cause some issues in a large enough dose. Regardless, some people are concerned that creatine may cause bloating or kidney damage in high doses, though there is very little evidence to support these claims:
Creatine is the most effective supplement for improving your muscle gain and strength, and is fundamental in the bodybuilding and fitness communities for a reason. There are hundreds of clinical studies into the benefits of creatine, and plenty of evidence to prove that the top creatine supplements are safe, effective and highly beneficial.
Furthermore, creatine benefits people looking to get fit, especially as it improves exercise performance, post-exercise recovery and muscle growth. With extensive research, a stellar safety profile and surprisingly effective results, there are many reasons to recommend creatine supplements, whether you’re a bodybuilder or average joe.
Creatine is most effective when it is stored in your muscles, so many people start supplementing with a ‘loading phase’ of high 20g doses over 5-7 days to rapidly increase muscle stores of creatine. When loading with creatine for muscle growth, we recommend splitting the 20g daily dose into 5-g servings to minimize the risk of stomach upsets and eating carb or protein-based meals to improve absorption.
After the loading period, the recommended dosage is 3-5 grams a day to maintain levels of creatine in your muscles, so we recommend finding the top creatine supplements in your price range and incorporating them into your daily routine. While taking creatine, you should try to stay hydrated throughout the day, as it pulls water into your muscle cells, but there’s little else to worry about, and it’s highly unlikely that you will suffer serious side effects if you take more.
Creatine is an essential supplement for bodybuilders and athletes to improve muscle gain, performance, and recovery, though not all supplements are created equal. Because there are so many options available, we took the time to find our top creatine supplements, and here are our 4 picks for the best of the best:
With a hearty 5g of pure creatine monohydrate in each serving, this unflavored creatine powder is easy to mix into food and drinks and is micronized for improved absorption. For these reasons, we believe that Optimum Nutrition’s offering is one of the best creatine monohydrate powders on the market.
When looking to maximize exercise performance and muscle gain, many of the best creatine reviews recommend their own blend of supplements, but the Jacked Factory has saved you the trouble. This blend of creatine monohydrate, betaine anhydrous, L-carnitine-L-tartrate and black pepper extract designed to jumpstart muscle recovery and growth, and it features a refreshing watermelon flavour that’s sure to make your post-workout drink more enjoyable.
This creatine monohydrate powder is 3x times purity tested and produced in an American GMP-certified facility to give you pure creatine with added probiotics to promote stomach health, so you know you’re getting the real deal. And another reason Old School Labs are one of the top creatine brands in the US is their money-back guarantee: if you don’t see results, you’ll get your money back!
Nutricost’s creatine monohydrate powder does exactly what it says on the tin, as it contains nothing but high-quality, non-GMO, vegetarian and gluten-free creatine. Furthermore, each bottle contains a scoop and 500g (or 100 servings) of high-quality micronized creatine monohydrate, so you can enjoy creatine benefits for a long time without restocking.
Creatine is easily one of the safest, most effective and cheapest dietary supplements you can take and has various benefits for exercise, boosting performance, muscle gain and recovery. Creatine monohydrate is one of the most common forms in supplements and has the most studies backing its benefits, so it is almost definitely the best choice when using creatine for muscle growth.
While almost everyone could benefit from creatine supplements, it is recommended for older adults, vegetarians and vegans, who are more vulnerable to muscle wastage and tend to get less creatine from their diet. So, whether you’re considering trying creatine for the first time or looking for the best creatine supplements to stock up on, we hope you enjoyed this article and found our tips helpful.
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