Last Updated on September 16, 2020 by James Matthews
Creatine is one of the most widely used nutritional supplements for several reasons. Not only does creatine offer benefits that are actually supported by research, it is also very cheap. You will not need to spend half of your paycheck on a creatine supplement.
There are very few risks with creatine, and the rewards are real. While the studies done on creatine are small, there are quite a few of them that suggest consistently positive outcomes. Creatine is an affordable and easy addition to your supplement regimen and help you reap the most reward from every workout.
What are the benefits of creatine?
While there are many benefits to adding a creatine supplement to your daily routine, there are three specific reasons most people decide to explore creatine:
After whey protein, creatine is the most well studied nutritional supplement available. When you combine that with its affordability, you end up with a product that many people are comfortable using. That makes it even better when you consider the research that shows just how effective it can be.
Creatine is consistently shown to increase the size of muscles. This will make your biceps pop that much higher when you flex and can add the visible bulk that you are looking for. It’s a great way to add to the impact of your existing workouts.
Creatine is also shown to improve muscle performance. This means that adding creatine to your diet can increase the amount of weight you can lift and improve your endurance. While these claims are not as well supported as the increased muscle size research, there is enough to believe it to be true.
The third commonly accepted benefit of creatine is improved cognitive function. Cognitive function is basically how well your brain works and how clear you can think. Since creatine has been shown to improve muscle performance, it is believed that it may also improve thinking ability period since creatine works with the ATP in your cells it is believed that it can also improve your thinking. This is especially true when creatine supplements are paired with a plant-based diet.
What kinds of creatine are there?
This is a bit of a trick question. There is really just one kind of creatine, however it can be bonded to numerous things. It is usually bonded with water but also pairs well with hydrochloride. These create the two most common forms of creatine: Creatine monohydrate and Creatine HCl (creatine hydrochloride). The are far from the only forms of creatine that you may encounter, though.
Creatine monohydrate is by far the most well-researched of the forms of creatine. Because this creatine is bonded with water, it uses that water to enter the muscles. While this does a great job adding to the visual bulk of the muscle, for some people it also causes a feeling of bloating and sometimes can cause digestive issues. It is the most affordable form of creatine, though some people complain that the larger particle size makes it harder to dissolve the powder in liquids.
Creatine hydrochloride is sometimes called clean creatine HCL. It is often used in a lower dose than the monohydrate form of creatine. It is a smaller molecule that dissolves more easily in most liquids. Many people find that it does not cause the gut or digestive issues that they sometimes experience with the monohydrate form. It is important to note that create an HCL is not as well-researched as creatine monohydrate.
The list of other forms of creatine is long and varied. Each of them has some pros and cons but none of them have been researched the way creatine monohydrate has. While all these options will get you the creatine that your muscles will benefit from, they may not be quite as effective as creatine monohydrate. The upside is that each of these options tend to cause less disruption in the gut then the water-based creatine monohydrate.
- Creatine pyruvate
- Creatine alphaketoglutarate (creatine-AKG)
- pH-buffered creatine
- Creatine magnesium chelate
- Creatine citrate
- Creatine ester
- Creatine gluconate
- Creatine malate
While most of these forms of creatine can be found in pill or capsule form, their powder forms typically dissolve better than creatine monohydrate. They may be slightly more expensive, but they provide a great option for those who love the benefits of creatine but are not satisfied with their physical response to the monohydrate form.
How should I use creatine?
Creatine can be taken any time of day, though many directions will suggest that you take your creatine immediately after your workout. Ultimately, you can take it whenever it best suits you. There are a few guidelines you may want to stick with though.
You should consume 5 to 10 grams of creatine per day to receive the best benefits period this might vary slightly if you are taking a form other than creatine monohydrate. For the most part, this 5 to 10 gram guideline is a good starting point though.
Creatine is best absorbed by your body when consumed with simple carbohydrates and plenty of water. This is especially true of creatine monohydrate period since it is water that carries that creatine into the muscle tissue, you’ll want to make sure your body has plenty of water to make that transfer.
While some people load their creatine intake by starting with 30 to 40 grams per day for a week and then taper down to the five to 10 grams per day this is not recommended by most professionals. There are some concerns that high doses of creatine can harm the kidneys, liver, and other organs.
Is creatine better in pills or powder?
So long as the capsules or pills are of good quality, it shouldn’t matter which form of creatine you prefer. Once the creatine hits your stomach, it is absorbed through your digestive system along with whatever other molecules it is bound to.
This means that it really doesn’t matter if it comes down your digestive system mixed with juice or in a gelatin capsule. That said, you do want to ensure that any capsule forms of creatine and you use are going to quickly dissolve and release the creatine into your system.
Capsules – premeasured, convenient, and digest the same as powder. These are a great option for people who want to be able to carry a single day’s dose of creatine with them to spread out their consumption throughout the day. Since the capsules are premeasured, you’ll easily be able to determine exactly how many doses that you have remaining, too.
Powder – makes it easier to adjust your dose. For those who are experienced with creatine and want to be able to easily adjust their intake, the powder form may be the better choice. This is also a good option for vegans and anyone else who wants to avoid the gelatin that the capsules are typically made out of.
What are the best creatine pills?
Once you have an idea of the kind of creatine that will work best for you, we’ve compiled a collection of the best of all worlds. This list includes mostly pills, since that’s the best option for those just starting to use creatine, but there is one powder form we recommend.
Micronized Creatine Capsules
For those who follow a keto diet and lifestyle, this may be a great choice for you. Optimum Nutrition has specifically formulated this creatine monohydrate to be a keto – friendly way to get 2.5g of pure creatine in each capsule. A standard two pills will allow you to meet the recommended dose of 5 grams of creatine monohydrate for your day.
Of course, if you prefer the higher dose of 10 grams per day, you can easily increase your dose to two capsules twice each day. It has also been tested for banned substances and has been proven safe to use while competing. While Optimum Nutrition recommends taking your creatine just after your workout, it can really be consumed at any time of day.
Since Optimum Nutrition has been creating supplements for more than 30 years, you can be confident that this is a high-quality creatine pill. It has been certified by GMP and has no fillers or additives. It is important to note that this creatine does include gelatin, since it comes in capsule form. This means that those who follow a strict vegan diet may want to consider other options.
Crazy Muscle Three-atine
This creatine pill supplement by Crazy Muscle offers a very unique blend of three kinds of creatine. While it does contain the same creatine monohydrate as most other supplements, it also has creatine alphaketoglutarate (Creatine-AKG) and creatine pyruvate. Basically, this means that the creatine is bonded to a variety of three different molecules.
Given the wide range of questions and discussion about the best form of creatine to consume, using a supplement that includes 3 different kinds could be a great way to cover more of your basis. This may also be a great option for those who find that creatine monohydrate causes bloating or upsets their gut.
By including the well-studied creatine monohydrate, Crazy Muscle ensures that you will see the results that research suggests can come from adding creatine to your diet. By partnering it with two other kinds of creatine, the impact on your gut may be reduced and your chances for ingesting the best form of creatine may be considered improved.
Kre-AlkalynEFX pH-Correct Creatine Monohydrate
This supplement stands out as the only creatine capsule that has been adjusted to ensure a pH of 12-14. EFX Sports makes these creatine pills pH-correct to ensure that they remain stable when mixed with any liquid. Their concern is that any creatine with a pH of less than 7 will be less potent, and therefore less effective, when mixed with highly acidic liquids.
Since both juice and stomach acid are highly acidic, using a creatine pill that is adjusted to ensure that the pH is compatible may make it easier for you body to use it efficiently. Those who swear by EFX Sport’s pH-Correct Creatine Monohydrate notice a greater benefit to their muscle size and performance.
Also known as the “Original Purple Cap,” this bottle of 240 capsules offers you 120 servings of creatine monohydrate that is 99.9% pure. It was created by Dr. Jeff Golini and is free of all banned substances. This makes it easy to enjoy the benefits of creatine while competing worry-free.
This is made by bulksupplements.com and is made in an FDA registered facility. It has been manufactured to cGMP standards and is Lab Verified. Bulksupplements.com also gets their supplements tested by a third party. This means that you can be confident that you are getting the best quality creatine without fillers, additives, or other nonsense.
This is a great option to purchase creatine in bulk. The powder can be spooned into any smoothie or mixed with water or juice. It is also a great option for those who may want to pack their own capsules while ensuring that you are getting a pure, high-quality creatine.
This package is a resealable pouch with 1 kg of pure creatine monohydrate. It does not include any other ingredients which means that it is free of sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, and gluten. This makes it a great choice for people with food sensitivities.
Whatever creatine supplement that you decide is right for you, you will likely see improved size in your muscles. This should also come with improved performance and may even include some clearer thinking skills. Creatine has been found to pair well with the whey protein staple that so many athletes already use and may also benefit from being taking while you eat some simple carbs.
Creatine is one of the most well-researched and one of the most affordable supplements available. There really is no down-side to adding it to your workout. It has been proven safe and effective, but it won’t destroy your bank account.