Best Creatine Supplements: The Top of 2020
The best creatine supplements are are an absolute staple to any supplement stack you see in virtually any athlete or bodybuilders stack who knows what they’re doing.
Want to boost muscle growth? Creatine.
Want to improve your muscle strength? Creatine.
Want to boost power? Creatine.
Want to improve your athletic performance? Creatine.
Want to increase lean body mass? Creatine.
A high quality pure creatine supplement is just one of those supplements that seems to be good all around, for whatever goal you’re working towards.
And that’s all well and good, but what exactly is the best creatine powder and why is the best creatine supplement necessary to my stack?
In this article, we look at the best creatine powder options on the market, along with some of the more pressing issues regarding creatine supplements.
- 1 What is creatine?
- 2 What does creatine do?
- 3 Different types of creatine supplements – and what is best
- 4 So, what is the best creatine?
- 5 The benefits of adding the best creatine supplement to your stack
- 6 Creatine increases aerobic work capacity
- 7 Improve muscle mass with creatine
- 8 Enhance recovery with creatine
- 9 Creatine offers neuroprotection
- 10 Caffeine with your creatine? Maybe not…
- 11 What is the best creatine on the market?
- 12 Final Words on the Best Creatine Powders
What is creatine?
While you commonly see it in supplement form, creatine powder is actually a molecule that your body produces in the liver and kidneys from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine (i.e. when you eat protein, some of those amino acids are used to synthesize creatine, while others are used to build proteins). Creatine powder nutrients are also a naturally occurring non-protein amino acid found in red meat and seafood.
Creatine powder is one of the most popular ergogenic aids used my gym-goers and has consistently been shown to increase intramuscular creatine concentrations. This may explain some of the observed training performance adaptations after supplementing with creatine powder. Interestingly enough, creatine does more than just boost performance.
Creatine powder has also been shown to enhance:
- Post-workout recovery
- Injury prevention
- Injury rehabilitation
- Concussion and/or spinal cord neuroprotection
For the best results, it’s recommended you have 3 – 5g of creatine monohydrate per serving.
And while you may be thinking “okay great, I can just use creatine as a sub for eating mounds protein if the protein is converted into creatine anyways”—hold on, not so fast. Just like every other supplement you’re taking, creatine isn’t a sub for any source of food. The best creatine supplements are merely there to complement a healthy diet and a good training program.
What does creatine do?
The reason why the best creatine powder is such a popular supplement among people looking for increase muscle building capabilities is because of its role in energy availability. About 95% of what’s in creatine powder is found in skeletal muscles, with small amounts also found in the brain and testes, and about 2/3 of the intramuscular creatine powder comes in the form phosphocreatine (PCr), which we’ll talk about shortly.
Roughly 1–2% of intramuscular creatine is degraded into creatinine and excreted in the urine, which means 1-3g of creatine needs to be replenished daily to maintain creatine stores. Keep in mind that not all of this creatine is obtained through supplements; about half of your creatine stores come from diet, while the remaining 50% of creatine is synthesized in the body.
But in terms of why you should add creatine powder to your supplement stack, here’s what you need to know:
ATP is the working form of energy in your body; it’s needed to power nearly every process in your body, and without it, your body can’t run.
Here is where the best creatine powder comes into play…
The fuel needed to rephosphorylate ADP into ATP to supply working muscles is largely dependent on the amount of phosphocreatine (PCr) in the muscles, which remember, is produced from creatine. As phosphocreatine levels become depleted with intense activity, energy availability starts to decline also because of a lack of ATP regeneration needed to meet the demands of high intensity exercise. As a result, your max effort wasn’t at the same level as it was when you started your workout.
When you supplement what the best creatine supplement you can find, however, you’re supplying the building blocks needed to increase muscle levels of phosphocreatine, increase ATP resynthesis, and increases work capacity.
Different types of creatine supplements – and what is best
Here are a list of some the best creatine supplements on the market at the moment. These range from as niche as pure micronized creatine monohydrate powder to as well known as creatine ethyl ester.
Below, we’ll go through some of the more popular options and what we believe to be the best to add to your stack.
The form of creatine you’ll most commonly see in supplements is pure creatine monohydrate (CM). Creatine powder is absorbed first into the blood with levels peaking around 60 minutes after ingestion, and then is taken up by target tissues to increase levels of muscle creatine.
Several studies have showed that supplementation with pure creatine monohydrate increases concentrations of muscle creatine and phosphocreatine by anywhere from 15 to 40%, and also appears to enhance anaerobic exercise capacity and increase training volume, which results in improvements in muscle strength, power, and muscle mass.
It’s been shown to be most beneficial for high intensity, intermittent activity, which appears to be the result of increases in phosphagen levels.
You should be looking at taking 3 – 5g of creatine monohydrate per serving.
Pure micronized creatine monohydrate powder
Another common form of creatine monohydrate you’ll see is micronized creatine monohydrate. Micronized creatine monohydrate simply means that the creatine is micronized creatine powder, or mechanically processed, to improve water solubility. Enhanced water solubility therefore improves your body’s ability to absorb the micronized creatine powder and effectively utilize it.
In short, micronized creatine powder is easier to absorb. With the advancements in creatine monohydrate, we’re seeing more and more micronized creatine powder on the market that is high quality.
You should try to take 3 – 5g of creatine monohydrate (micronized) per serving.
Creatine hydrochloride, also shorted to creatine HCl, is another popular form of a creatine supplement you’ll see. Creatine HCl gained popularity due to having higher absorption rate than creatine monohydrate, but there have been few studies conducted in the efficacy of this form of creatine. As such, Creatine HCL not the best creatine supplement you can use for muscle building, recovery or other fitness uses.
Creatine salts are the simple combination of creatine with organic acids to form creatine salts, which are combined to create a synergistic effect or enhance the properties of creatine itself. For example, combining creatine with pyruvic acid improves aerobic metabolism and lowers blood lactate levels.
Creatine citrate, as well, has been shown to improve performance by increasing anaerobic working capacity, which appears to delay the onset of neuromuscular fatigue, as well as raise ventilatory threshold during intensity interval training.
Creatine ethyl ester
Creatine ethyl ester is another form of creatine that has been shown to be superior to creatine monohydrate. However, in comparison to micronized creatine monohydrate powder, it degrades rather quickly to creatinine when exposed to low pH levels, like in the stomach, making the bioavailability less than that of creatine monohydrate.
Studies have shown that creatine ethyl ester supplementation does not promote greater total muscle creatine levels in comparison to placebos or creatine monohydrate, does not improve training adaptations, and does not improve body mass, fat-free mass, strength, or sprint performance.
So, what is the best creatine?
When it comes to the best creatine for you to use, we have to give it to Creatine Monohydrate. It is the best option out of all of these forms of creatine.
Not only are there are a huge range of studies of studies on it showing it to help improve performance as well as muscle recovery – this is a form of creatine with the most innovation.
Being on the market for so long there are fantastic forms of creatine out there such as CreaPure which is designed to be well-balanced in terms of pH which can help mitigate problems usually associated with the best creatine supplements such as bloating and gastric distress.
If you’re looking for the best creatine supplements, we recommend that it is something that is using CreaPURE creatine monohydrate powder.
The benefits of adding the best creatine supplement to your stack
Creatine supplements can come in two main forms: creatine monohydrate powder, or creatine monohydrate capsules. Finding the best form that works for you can mean you’re getting the best workout imaginable and achieving the best results from your training.
Creatine increases aerobic work capacity
While creatine supplementation has been shown to be highly beneficial for anaerobic, intermittent exercise, it may have a benefit on aerobic performance.
Endurance activates lasting more than 150 seconds rely a process called oxidative phosphorylation to provide energy. As the activity surpasses that 150 second mark, the benefits of creatine on ATP regeneration declines, but what’s interesting is that creatine supplementation may actually elicit a change in substrate utilization for energy production, possibly leading to an increase in muscle endurance and athletic performance.
Other studies show that creatine monohydrate supplementation may also decrease blood lactate accumulation with low-intensity aerobic activity, thereby improving both lactate threshold and ventilatory threshold.
Improve muscle mass with creatine
Muscle gain is one of the most talked about benefits of creatine supplementation. The gains in muscle mass often seen with creatine supplementation may be the result of an improved ability to perform high-intensity exercise due to increased availability of phosphocreatine to enhance ATP synthesis, thereby allowing the individual train harder and promote greater muscular hypertrophy.
Not only this, but when combined with heavy strength training, creatine helps to increase concentration of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 has a direct anabolic effect on skeletal muscle, and may enhance proliferation and differentiation of muscle stem cells by mediating most of the growth-promoting effects of circulating growth hormone, thereby resulting in increased muscle hypertrophy.
In one specific study, participants were put on a creatine loading protocol using 0.25g of creatine per kilogram of lean muscle mass for 7 days, followed by 0.06g of creatine/kg lean body mass for 49 days, or a placebo for 8 weeks, in addition to strength training. Compared with the placebo group, the group supplementing creatine saw greater increases in IGF-1 and body mass.
Enhance recovery with creatine
Supplementing with creatine may also improve your body’s ability to recovery from strenuous exercise. Consuming creatine in combination with glucose has been shown to improve both creatine and carbohydrate retention in muscle.
Since replenishing glycogen stores may be the most important factor in promoting recovery and preventing overtraining during intense periods of training, creatine supplementation may be beneficial to maintain optimal glycogen levels and improve recovery of athletes that deplete large amounts of glycogen during training.
What’s more, creatine may also reduce the extent of muscle damage caused by intense physical activity. Athletes supplementing with micronized creatine monohydrate appear to have reduced levels of cytokines and markers of inflammation 2, 3, 4, and 7 days into recovery. It also may decrease levels of prostaglandin E2, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, and reduce increases in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).
Taken together, creatine supplementation can help athletes enhance glycogen loading, reduce inflammation after strenuous exercise, and tolerate higher volumes of training, thereby promoting greater recovery.
Creatine offers neuroprotection
It’s not doubt that many sports come with some hard hits to the head, and if you’re not wearing protective head gear (or even if you are), protecting your brain is really important.
Many studies have shown creatine supplementation to elicit a neuroprotective effect, thereby helping to attenuate some of the damage associated with concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI), potentially by reducing neuronal cell death.
Caffeine with your creatine? Maybe not…
It’s a combination you commonly see in a lot of pre-workout supplements, but as it turns out, if you’re downing a bunch of caffeine with your creatine supplement, you may not actually be absorbing much creatine at all, or it may not be giving you the best benefits creatine supplements are known for…
How’s that for some headline news?
Creatine has primarily been shown to be effective for enhancing short-term bouts of high intensity and intermittent exercise, while caffeine has been shown to be an effective ergogenic aid for both anaerobic and endurance exercise, which is why you commonly see them taken together. They have no pharmacokinetic interactions and both elicit benefits by means of their own pathways.
But here’s the problem.
Caffeine intake may blunt the ergogenic effects of creatine loading, decreasing strength and force production.
One study, specifically, published on the effects of caffeine on creatine action looked at oral creatine supplementation with a combined creatine and caffeine supplementation on muscle phosphocreatine (PCr) levels and strength performance of healthy male volunteers. Over the three conditions, muscle ATP concentration remained the same, but interestingly, torque production was not altered by the combination of creatine and caffeine, but increased with creatine alone. The results of this study showed that creatine supplementation increased muscle concentration of PCr and significantly improves strength performance during intense intermittent exercise, but these results are blunted by the addition of caffeine.
It’s important to keep in mind though, that there are also several studies available that combine creatine and caffeine, and still receive favorable benefits on strength and power production. However, if you’re looking to stick to the safe side, separate out your consumption.
What is the best creatine on the market?
CreaPURE ph10 is one of the best creatine supplements you can find on the market, which is what you’re getting in Performance Lab Maintain.
The way we chose this product is that we were looking for an option which that:
- Contains Creapure
- Vegan Friendly
- GMP Certified
- Caffeine Free
- No Synthetic Additives
- Gluten Free
- No Artificial Flavors (Unflavored Creatine Preferably)
- Non GMO
- Allergen Free
- Contains No Banned Substances
And we found all of that in Performance Lab Maintain. Unlike other Creapure Creatine Monohydrate supplements, you only take Performance Lab Sport Maintain on your rest days to get maximum results.
Our #1: Performance Lab SPORT Maintain
Performance Lab Maintain is the best creatine powder pills we’ve come across on the market and is ideal to take on rest days as a post workout supplement. Vegan, non GMO, allergen free – the works, this is the king of the best creatine supplements and as pure as it gets.
Using Performance Lab SPORT Maintain you can help promote:
- Restoration of depleted muscles – Give your body the nutrients it needs to grow on rest days.
- Full day support – 12 hours of nourishment for growth and recovery per serving
- More power output – Increase creatine intake for a stronger session next time you train.
- Keeps muscles at optimum creatine levels – Ensure your muscles are fully topped up while resting to get the best results.
Which is definitely the kind of support that you need between your sessions.
You can find out more about Performance Lab SPORT Maintain on their website linked below:
Performance Lab SPORT Maintain Ingredients
Here’s the breakdown of the ingredients in this creatine monohydrate powder per serving:
- NutriGenesis Iron – 2.5 mg
- Creapure pH10 (99.5% pure pH-balanced Creatine Monohydrate powder) – 3000 mg
- SR CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine – 1600 mg
Below, we’ll go into more detail about each ingredient in this creatine supplements arsenal and how it it can help you improve both performance and recovery.
NutriGenesis Iron is a nature-identical easier to absorb form of Iron compared to other options that you typically find in a vitamin and mineral supplement.
But why do you want Iron at all in your creatine? Because you lose a lot of it while you train, mainly through your sweat. By dropping your iron levels, you reduce your blood’s overall ability to carry oxygen throughout your body. This can reduce your overall exercise capacity, and impede on your overall performance.
There’s even some research that links Iron supplementation to an increased overall strength, endurance and power output. It’s a good one to have in this creatine monohydrate powder – and one that is typically overlooked in other creatine powders.
Creapure is the gold standard in creatine powders. I tcan help to raise muscle atp energy to help growth and power, as well as boost the synthesis of proteins, stem cells and growth factor which all build muscle. In addition it can also help with oxidative stress and myostatin which are known to limit your body’s repair and growth of muscles.
One of the side effects often experienced with pure micronized creatine monohydrate consumption is bloating and gastric discomfort. CreaPURE pH10, however, is 99.5% pure creatine monohydrate that is pH-balanced to boost bioavailability and minimize the typical gastrointestinal side effects experienced with consuming creatine.
This creatine is designed to recharge ATP energy used to power muscle fibers during high intensity activity, stimulate IGF-1 to promote lean muscle and strength development, and buffer lactic acid to extend muscle exertion.
SR CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine
Finally, SR CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine (SR standing for Sustained Release), another underlooked option in creatine powders as a post workout:
This is a form of beta-alanine that works well as both a post and pre workout supplement. To get the best out of this nutrient, it’s good to keep your body loaded with it to aid muscle recovery and overall performance. ST CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine has been seen to stay in and nourish your muscles for up to 12 hours – whereas the more common Instant Release forms are done in around 3.
So, how does it support muscle recovery? SR Carnosyn helps this via potent antioxidant activity which can help reduce the effect of muscle-damaging free-radicals which are created during your session.
It also helps to inhibit protein-damaging advanced glycation end-products which are also known as AGEs.
SR CarnoSyn can also help work as a muscle alkalizing pH regulator which helps to reduce the overall impact of muscle-damaging acids. There’s a lot of support from this amino acid here.
But not only does it effectively support your recovery, it can also help to boost your performance. It has been seen to help improve overall muscle working capacity for strength and endurance.
Most of this is achieved by increasing your muscles’ time to failure by cutting down acidosis and increasing your muscles buffering capacity.
Combined with the other ingredients in this supplement and the creatine per serving, it’s a great option for muscle growth, strength and power.
Performance Creatine Maintain: 5 Fast Facts
- It’s creatine in pill form – Easy to manage and no messing around with powder scoops.
- You only take this creatine on rest days – It’s a post workout creatine that helps recovery and muscle support for the next session.
- It’s $34.00 a bottle – This is around a month’s supply if you have 10 rest days a month, discounts are sometimes available on individual boxes, but if you buy a 3 month supply, you’ll get a fourth box absolutely free.
- It’s completely vegan – There are no banned substances, gluten free and the cleanest, high quality creatine complex and post workout we’ve seen on the market.
- Formulated in a way that helps both muscle growth and recovery – Supports overall performance and power.
You can find out more about this creatine supplmenets benefits on the Performance Lab site below:
Final Words on the Best Creatine Powders
In our opinion, for the best creatine powders on the market – you need to be looking towards Creatine Monohydrate, it’s ideal for muscle building and the arguably the best creatine complex out there. With that in mind, CreaPure Creatine Monohydrate is an incredibly potent unflavored creatine that is the best version of creatine monohydrate.
The best creatine complex to get the most out of CreaPure is Performance Lab Maintain. This is a creatine supplement that also contains Beta Alanine and Iron to fuel your muscles on your off days and give them that additional nourishment to grow stronger and also recover faster.