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By Nader Qudimat / Sep 4, 2017

You've heard of creatine. 

You've probably used it.

But you've got no idea what to take as there's so many.

Creatine is one of the most researched bodybuilding compounds out there. 

It's been proven over and over again to be an effective strength and muscle builder.

​But there's so many forms, supplements and recommendations out there. 

​It can get confusing as every supplement company as their own version of what a creatine supplement should look like. 

Click here to see our top ranking creatine supplement...

Most of them don't even have the most researched form of creatine (creatine monohydrate). 

So to avoid the marketing fads and wasting your money, we've come up with a top 10 list for you to use. ​

Top 10 Creatine Supplements For Muscle Growth

10. Con-Cret by Promera Sports

Ingredients:

  • Creatine Hydrochloride HCI

Con-Cret is a popular choice for creatine, though it does use quite an simple formula. 

It uses creatine but the very high quality and pure form, hydrochloride, which is a pure and a highly soluble compound. ​

You can get the powder or pill version of this.

​Now if you leave this sitting for a while, you may find the powder at the bottom of the bottle to hardened. But you can easily break it up with a fork or something. 

Ingredients:

  • Creatine Monohydrate

If you're anything like us, you like to cut through the crap and get to the point. 

With Bulk Supplements, you can buy each ingredient in bulk and save money in the process.

Arguably you can have more money by not spending anything on supplements but if you're lifting and you want to get the most out of your training, creatine monohydrate is one of the few supplements that you need to have. 

With nearly 10,000 reviews on Amazon, and a solid overall rating, there's no way you won't enjoy this creatine.

Also this uses micronized creatine​ so you will not have any trouble mixing it.

Ingredients:

  • 5g Creatine Monohydrate

Cellucor is another solid company that produces top notch supplements.

Their creatine is fairly priced and uses a simple formula consisting only of creatine monohydrate.

This is different than most creatine supplements as it contains micronized that is more broken down so it will mix much easier and you won't taste it in your shake. ​

Ingredients:

  • Dicreatine Malate
  • Magnesium Creatine Chelate
  • 2g Betaine Anhydrous
  • 2g L-Taurine
  • 500mg L-Tyrosine

Controlled Labs is one of the most known companies out there and they create high quality supplements that do as they claim. 

From White Flood to Green Magnitude, they are known for putting out classic supplements that are recommended constantly throughout the bodybuilding community.

Green Magnitude combines 2 different forms of creatine to ensure you're getting the most out of it.

Your muscles will appear bigger and you won't need to load on this creatine (or any creatine for that matter).

Ingredients:

  • 25g Dextrose
  • 5g Creapure
  • 100mg Grapeseed Extract
  • 224mg Electrolytes

If you've ever had a creatine with juice, then you will know the combination is quite effective. 

Use dextrose and you'll find creatine doing a much better job.

With 25g of dextrose, 5g Creapure, and grapeseed extract for an even bigger insulin response and electrolytes for rehydration, you'll undoubtedly benefit from strength and muscle gains. 

This is like the much better and affordable version of Cell-Tech. 

It is a simple formula but effective nonetheless and you can't go wrong with it. 

Ingredients:

  • Creapure (Creatine Monohydrate)
  • Di-Creatine Malate
  • Creatine Anhydrous 
  • Crea-Tona (Buffer Creatine)
  • Creatine Gluconate
  • Banaba Leaf Extract
  • Cinnamon Bark
  • Biotin
  • Chromium Picolinate

Crea-Ten contains ten different forms of creatine. 

Yes you read that correctly. Ten.

It has the most popular forms of creatine, from Creapure to Anhydrous and more. 

It also uses different ingredients to enhance insulin sensitivity as well as absorption.

Whether you're a non-responder to creatine or a hardgainer who wants to make gains as soon as possible, you'll likely enjoy Crea-Ten.​

Ingredients:

  • 5550mg Creapure (Creatine Monohydrate)

Most creatine supplements get it wrong by complicating the formula and having unnecessary ingredients that would only make it expensive. 

CreaPure by MuscleFeast uses one and only one ingredient, you guessed it: CreaPure​

Creapure is even better than the popular and well researched form, creatine monohydrate. 

The reason for this is because it is a high quality form of creatine that is manufactured in Germany. This form is much more pure and does not contain any impurities or contamination's. ​

And if it means anything to you, Labdoor (they test supplements for impurities and quality) rates this creatine as number 1 for quality. 

You can mix it this with dextrose and use it after your workout, or simply add a serving to your pre workout mix.

Ingredients:

  • 3.4g Creatine Monohydrate

Optimum Nutrition is not only the go-to brand for protein, but creatine as well. 

Their creatine monohydrate is micronised so it can mix easily and it's also 99.9% pure, so you know you're getting a pure form of creatine without breaking the bank. 

There are no "other ingredients" like fillers or artificial flavors, this is as natural as you can get to a creatine supplement. 

Ingredients:

  • Creapure (Creatine Monohydrate)
  • Di-Creatine Malate
  • Creatine Anhydrous 
  • Crea-Tona (Buffer Creatine)
  • Creatine Gluconate
  • Banaba Leaf Extract
  • Cinnamon Bark
  • Biotin
  • Chromium Picolinate

Creature is an all-in-one creatine supplement that combines several different forms of creatine. 

While you really only need the monohydrate form, the forms chosen in Creature are high quality so even if you're a non-responder to regular creatine, you should feel the benefits from this one. 

You won't need to mix this with juice as it has a few ingredients to help drive creatine into your muscles and also will help increase insulin sensitivity. ​

Ingredients:

  • 5g CreaPure Creatine Monohydrate
  • 2g HMB
  • 5mg BioPerine

Transparent Labs has done it again another fantastic supplement to add on a top 10 list. 

Now instead of just regular creatine monohydrate, Creatine HMB uses a super pure and high quality ingredient called CreaPure.

This form of creatine is much more cleaner, it's also regulated so you can use it without risking possible contamination and taking in random impurities that can be found in supplement powders.

Next up we have HMB, also known as β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate. 

HMB is similar to creatine and leucine, as it can help enhance recovery by helping repair damaged muscle tissues. It also decreases post workout soreness so you can get back to training faster. 

BioPerine is basically black pepper, it'll help enhance the bioavailability and absorption of the ingredients here. 

Overall, you'll feel primed and recover faster than before with Creatine HMB. 

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What is Creatine and How Does it Works?

Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid made up of the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine.

It plays a key role in replenishing lost energy.

When you eat, your body turns food into Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP), the main form of energy that we use for explosive, short term activities.

These powerful, anaerobically produced energy reserves are quickly exhausted.

The actual muscle contraction is fueled by the phosphates that are derived from ATP.

When a phosphate splits off from ATP as a result of muscle exertion, Adenosine DiPhosphate (ADP) is formed.

ADP needs an additional phosphate to return it to the energy releasing ATP state and refuel additional bursts of strength.

This is where creatine comes in.

Creatine bonds with a phosphate inside muscles to form PhosphoCreatine, or PCr.

This additional phosphate immediately replenishes the lost phosphate in ADP to form ATP.

This process allows another powerful energy burst without having to wait on the slow process of ATP metabolism through cellular respiration.

The bottom line is that creatine allows bodybuilders and weight training athletes, sprinters and other trainers to quickly replenish their energy reserves so that they can do more work and make more rapid gains in mass and performance.

Does it work?

Creatine is the most studied athletic performance supplement in the world.

The results of those studies are conclusive and show that it is able to do the following:

  • Increase fat free muscle mass
  • Improve one rep max strength
  • Enhance muscular endurance
  • Improve anaerobic power

What are creatine supplements?

Creatine is available in several supplementary forms.

The most common is creatine monohydrate, which is creatine with a molecule of water.

Creatine monohydrate supplements are used by the body the same way that it uses creatine derived from meat sources once digested.

The only difference is that the body does not have to break down before delivering creatine to the bloodstream and then to the muscles.

As a dietary supplement, creatine is available in powder, caplet, tablet, gel and formula forms.

The powdered form is the most recommended.

Creatine powder can be mixed with nearly any liquid including water, juice and milk.

It can also be added to a protein or pre-workout shake.

Creatine supplements are made through a chemical reaction which is carried out between sodium or potassium sarcosinate and cyanamide.

A pH buffer, such as hydrochloric acid or carbonic acid, is then typically used to balance the solution. 

Best form of creatine

The vast majority of scientific research on creatine performance has focused on creatine monohydrate.

Monohydrate is the least expensive form of creatine and has the best bioavailability.

Other forms that have been marketed as being better than monohydrate have actually been shown to quickly degrade into the waste product creatinine.

The best form of Creatine is that produced by German company AlzChem AG and marketed as CreaPure.

Other Creatine Forms

Alternatives to creatine monohydrate include:

  • Creatine ethyl ester
  • Creatine phosphate
  • Creatine citrate
  • Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL)

Kre-alkalyn

Two forms that are worth checking out are Creatine HCL and Kre-alkalyn.

These are both bonded forms of creatine, which means that a molecule has been bonded to the creatine.

This is done to lower the pH of the creatine, making it more acidic.

This increases the absorbability of the creatine in the intestines.

The bonding also allows these forms to mix better than monohydrate.

The makers of these versions claim that, as a result of the increased absorbability, you only need to take about half as much of the creatine than you would if you were taking monohydrate (2.5 grams compared to 5 grams).

It is also claimed that these two versions (HCL and Kre-alkalyn) result in less conversion to the waste product creatinine.

How does creatine affect the brain?

The energy enhancing benefits of creatine have been shown to improve neuromuscular functioning.

A 2003 study, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences found that six weeks of creatine supplementation at 5 grams daily given to 45 vegetarians greatly improved their cognitive functioning.

The study authors concluded . . .

Results agree with previous observations showing that brain creatine levels correlate with improved recognition memory and reduce mental fatigue.

There are also some very promising studies which suggest that creatine supplementation has a beneficial effect on neuromuscular diseases such as Muscular Dystrophy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

A large number of studies have shown that creatine also has the ability to protect the brain from neurotoxic agents.

Benefits of taking creatine

Creatine is used to help athletes, bodybuilders and others to achieve a range of goals.

These include increasing strength levels, building muscle mass, enhancing athletic performance, improving cognitive ability and combating disease.

Creatine is also beneficial as a dietary supplement for vegans and vegetarians in order to replenish the creatine in their muscles that is absent with a meatless diet.

Recent studies have also suggested that creatine may be an antioxidant.

It has properties that give it the ability to inhibit the damaging properties of free radicals.

Creatine has also been shown to aid in the treatment of several muscular, neuromuscular, neurodegenerative and neurological diseases. 

Creatine benefits for bodybuilding

Creatine indirectly leads to increased muscle mass because it provides more energy for the muscles during workouts and exercise.

At first many creatine users notice an increase in muscle size, known as volumizing.

This increase in muscle size at the onset of creatine use is actually due to the fact that creatine absorbs water, and so retains additional water in the muscle.

Newly hydrated muscles appear larger and can make a bodybuilder look bigger and bulkier overall.

And, contrary to a popular myth, the increase in intra muscular water retention does not lead to an increase in water retention through the rest of the body.

The result is that a bodybuilder actually appears more ripped when using creatine.

Creatine allows bodybuilders to achieve more reps when training.

This allows for greater stress on the working muscle group, enhanced time under tension leading to the creation of micro-tears within the muscle fiber.

These micro-tears are the key to muscle growth s rest and proper post workout nutrition (i.e. high protein) will allow you to rebuild the fiber a little bigger than it was before. 

Benefits for Weightlifters

Weightlifters will experience an immediate increase in strength ability when using creatine.

The reason is that it prolongs their explosive strength ability.

Without ATP they will quickly lose a phosphate after about 30 seconds of maximum exertion.

Creatine immediately replaces a phosphate to allow the maximum energy exertion to continue for another 10-15 seconds.

That allows for the performance of another one or two repetitions

Vegetarians

Creatine supplements are completely vegan and vegetarian friendly.

They are created from synthetic sources, which are far more cost effective than using animals sourced creatine.

The main dietary sources of creatine are meat, fish and dairy products.

As a result, vegans and vegetarians are usually lacking in creatine.

Supplementing with creatine allows allows them to safely bring up their creatine levels.

Vegans and vegetarians who are bodybuilders or others wanting to take the supplement for enhanced athletic performance should take a slightly higher dosage than non vegetarians in order to both bring their normal levels up and to provide the strength enhancement benefits for their gym training.

We recommend that they take up to 7 grams per day.

Can women take creatine?

Creatine supplementation is not bad for women.

There is a pervading myth that creatine supplementation will lead to fat gain for women.

Creatine does not contain fat.

What’s more, creatine usage leads to the growth of eam muscle tissue which burns fat because your body uses more fuel to move.

Many women are also afraid that creatine supplementation will make them bloated.

This is not the case.

What it will do is to cause your muscle to retain more water.

This will make the muscle look fuller.

However, the rest of the body will not retain water as a result.

In fact, you should actually drink more water when you are taking creatine in order to replace the amount that is drawn into the cell and to stay hydrated. 

Side Effects

Common side effects

Numerous scientific studies have proven creatine to be a safe short-term supplement.

Preliminary long-term studies have not found any dangerous side effects related to prolonged creatine use.

However, debate exists over the potential side effects of creatine use.

While some claim that creatine use leads to muscle cramping, this may well be the result of dehydration as a result of more water being drawn into the muscle cell.

Other side effects that have been reported are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling
  • Bloating

The FDA has received just 32 complaints over adverse reactions to creatine use in the last decade.

Nine of them have been substantiated.

Contrary to the myth, creatine use has never been shown to adversely affect the kidneys.

How to avoid the side effects

The main way to avoid creatine side effects is to stay hydrated in order to counter the water retaining effects of creatine within the muscle cell.

You should increase your daily water intake by about a liter (35 ounces) each day when using creatine.

You should also keep to the recommended daily dosage of 3-5 grams (vegans and vegetarians can go up to 7 grams).

How to take creatine

Creatine should be taken daily, including on your non workout days.

The recommended clinical dosage is 3-5 grams per day, with 5 grams being typical for bodybuilders.

It doesn’t matter what time of day you take the supplement, as it is not a workout stimulant.

Is Creatine Loading Necessary?

When creatine first came onto the market, the idea of loading became popular.

Loading involves taking a higher than normal dose for the first 5 days of use in order to saturate the muscles.

So, for the first 5 days, people would take 20 grams per day instead of 5 grams.

Then they would bump down to 5 grams as their maintenance level.

However a lot of people found that the extra amount led to gastrointestinal problems including bloating and diarrhea.

Fortunately, research seems to indicate that a loading phase is not necessary.

A 1996 study compared a loading versus non loading creatine supplement regimen in 31 healthy male subjects.

The subjects loaded for 6 days at 20 grams per day followed by a maintenance level of 2 grams for a further 30 days.

Muscle creatine levels went up by 20% and the participants got stronger and increased lean muscle mass.

The same group was then given 3 grams per day without a loading phase.

The researchers noted a similar increase in strength and muscle.

They concluded:

The ingestion of 3 grams Creatine/day is in the long term likely to be as effective at raising tissue levels as this (20 gram loading) higher dose.

When Can I Take Creatine?

It does not matter what time of the day you take your creatine supplement.

The idea is to keep topping up your muscle creatine levels so that they are ready to go into action when your body calls upon them.

Take it when it is most convenient for you.

Your powdered creatine can be taken with a glass of water or added to your protein shake. 

Do I need to cycle?

There are a number of supplements that, when taken for a prolonged period of time, inhibit the body’s own natural production of the ingredient.

This is especially the case with anabolic steroids which can inhibit the body’s natural production of testosterone.

For this reason, users cycle their supplementation in order to prevent the natural production slowdown.

There is no such danger with creatine.

Your body will not slow down its natural production when you take the supplement.

For this reason, you should continue taking creatine at the recommended dose of 5 grams per day in order to keep the muscle cell saturated.

If you are a fighter or other weight class athlete, you may wish to cycle off creatine in order to attain your required weight. This is because creatine’s water retaining ability may cause a slight weight gain. 

Can creatine be taken while cutting?

Creatine supplementation is an important supplement for fat loss.

When you are cutting you will be reducing your caloric consumption. This presents the potential for loss of muscle mass.

Creatine supplementation allows you to train harder for longer, so that you can maintain, and even increase, your muscle mass while you are cutting.

Creatine supplementation has the added fat burning benefit of increasing the metabolism.

This is the result of the enhanced hydration properties of creatine.

What To Look For In A Creatine Supplement

To get the best creatine, it is important to understand how it is made, packaged, marketed and sold.

It is not uncommon to find the same exact creatine in two different bottles at two different prices.

This is because many companies get their creatine from the same source.

The consumer ultimately pays for high-level marketing, fancy packaging and other expenses associated with bringing the product to market.

As a result, a higher price does not necessarily mean a better product.

The key consideration when looking for top quality creatine is the quality of ingredients.

It should be 100% creatine, without any added fillers or contaminants left over from the manufacturing process.

A source of creatine that is very highly regarded as the most pure is branded as Creapure and is manufactured by the German company AlzChem AG.

CreaPure is the most widely studied form of creatine. 

A large number of companies source their creatine from AlzChem AG.

Do I need to look for it in a pre workout supplement?

It is a good ideas to look for a pre workout supplement that contains creatine.

It will combine creatine with a number of other ingredients.

One that is especially beneficial, and that works synergistically with creatine, is beta-alanine.

One potential problem with using a pre-workout is that may combine the ingredients into a proprietary bens, so you do not know the exact amount of creatine that you are getting.

What to avoid

Do not take creatine during a workout.

It will produce a dehydrating effect, which will inhibit performance.

If you have been taking 5 grams of creatine daily, you will already have saturated the muscle cell with the substance, so there is no need to take it as an intra workout supplement.

Do not exceed the daily stated dosage of creatine.

Many scientific studies have established the ideal daily dosage as between 3-5 grams.

If you take more creatinine than is recommended, you will waste the extra creatine as it is lost through the digestive process. 

Forged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulk smashes it into this puny site.

Being an ex-hardgainer, he has no choice but to keep training until he has surpassed in every way imaginable.

You can follow Nader on Twitter (@DieselFitt).

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