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Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements on the market, thanks to its impressive benefits for performance and strength.
It’s also widely available. Research from 2017 estimated that creatine supplements pull in around $400 million in sales annually around the globe.
With so many options available, finding a high quality supplement can be challenging.
Here’s everything you need to know about our picks for the best creatine supplements, chosen because they contain the most effective form of creatine as well as their manufacturing and testing practices taken to ensure purity.
A note on price
General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher price range.
Generally, prices range from $0.10–$3.13 per serving, or $8.21–$56.37 per tub, package, or bottle, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
We selected the best creatine supplements using the following criteria:
Quality: We included products that are made from quality ingredients and contain few or no additives, fillers, or artificial colors or flavors.
Transparency: We chose products that adhere to health claims and labeling requirements per Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. All products are manufactured in facilities that adhere to CGMPs established by the FDA.
Credibility: We vetted all products to ensure they are produced by medically credible companies that follow ethical, legal, and industry best standards. Additionally, all products have been reviewed by a registered dietitian.
Testing: We chose products that are third-party tested for purity and safety. Some products are also certified for sport. Most products we chose are third-party tested (except one that is produced in a third-party certified facility), but not all are certified for sport.
Dose: We looked for products that provide doses appropriate for sports performance based on current research.
Price: We included products to suit a range of budgets.
Reviews: The products below have mostly positive online reviews.
Creatine is a compound produced by your body and found naturally in a variety of foods, including:
It’s also a widely used supplement. Creatine monohydrate, which consists of a creatine molecule paired with a water molecule, is one of the most common and best-researched forms of creatine, according to research from 2021.
It’s used as a standalone supplement and is sometimes added to other sports supplements, such as pre-workout drinks, alongside other ergogenic aids, including caffeine and amino acids.
Experts generally recommend taking creatine supplements daily, either before or after working out, and using a higher dose for the first 5–7 days, followed by a maintenance dose thereafter.
Some supplements combine creatine with other compounds intended to increase absorption or boost performance, such as:
Creatine can increase levels of phosphocreatine, a compound your body uses to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Your body breaks down ATP for energy.
One of the most commonly reported side effects of creatine is a short-term increase in fluid retention, which may be the result of creatine’s osmotic properties.
Creatine supplementation has also been consistently associated with weight gain, especially during the loading phase. However, this may be due to increases in muscle mass and water retention rather than an increase in body fat.
Some other anecdotal side effects often reported with creatine supplementation are:
kidney or liver problems
However, according to the 2017 position paper on creatine by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), there is no compelling scientific evidence that the short-term or long-term use of creatine monohydrate (up to 30 g/day for 5 years) has any harmful effects on healthy individuals.
Additionally, the ISSN notes that both short- and long-term supplementation with creatine is considered safe and effective for improving exercise performance and preventing or reducing the severity of injuries.
If possible, you can also choose supplements that have undergone third-party testing and are certified by an organization such as NSF or Informed Choice to ensure safety and quality.
Some companies may also provide a COA upon request, which offers detailed information about the purity and potency of products.
If you’re a competitive athlete, you might choose a product that is certified safe for sport. Organizations such as NSF and Informed Sport provide certifications that ensure products are free of substances that are banned by most professional sporting organizations.
Useful supplement shopping guides
Check out these two articles to help make supplement shopping a breeze:
While no particular brand of creatine is proven to be more effective than all others, creatine monohydrate is the form of creatine that is most researched and considered the gold standard. For that reason, we only chose products that use creatine monohydrate in their formulas.
Research shows that creatine is safe and effective for healthy adults, even if you take it every day.
Creatine is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. The FDA GRAS notice for creatine monohydrate suggests that a daily dose of around 3 g in addition to normal dietary creatine is unlikely to pose a risk to healthy adults.
Once you stop taking creatine, your body’s levels of stored creatine may decline, which could lead to changes in energy levels, strength, and body composition.
Creatine is safe and effective, even for beginners. Experts generally recommend starting with a loading phase of 20–25 g per day for 5–7 days and then using a maintenance dose of 3–5 g per day thereafter.
Most creatine supplements are calorie-free or very low in calories and are, therefore, unlikely to contribute enough calories to cause weight gain.
However, one of the most common side effects of creatine is water retention in the first few days of supplementation. While you might see your weight increase initially, studies included in a 2021 research review suggest that creatine doesn’t cause long-term water retention or subsequent weight gain.
Creatine has also been linked to increases in muscle mass, which could lead to an increase in weight.
Because creatine in the blood is an important measure for liver and kidney function, a fact sheet from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health advises people at risk of kidney problems to check with their health care providers before using creatine and be carefully monitored while using it.
Additionally, it’s important people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any prescription medications, especially medications that affect blood sugar levels consult a healthcare professional before adding creatine to their wellness routine.
Creatine supplements are available in a variety of forms, flavors, and dosages.
When searching for the right product for you, be sure to check the ingredient label and dosage carefully.
Ideally, it’s wise to purchase products that have undergone third-party testing or have a COA available upon request.
Last medically reviewed on November 16, 2023
How we reviewed this article:
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