Top 4 Best Creatine Supplements – Complete Guide | ExtensivelyReviewed

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Once you ingest the creatine through supplement or through natural production of the body, it forms a natural process and as a result, creatine phosphate is produced. Now there is a bit of biochemistry involved, but we will try to keep it as simple as possible. You should be aware of the fact that ATP, an acronym for Adenine Tri-Phosphate, is the energy source for our body. Our body follows the process of producing this energy source, ATP, while oxidizing fat or protein. Since ATP is the body’s energy source, all the other processes of our body are actually fueled by ATP. In fact, it might sound counter intuitive but ATP also helps in producing ATP itself. But how does ATP work? Well, once the phosphate group is hydrolyzed, the energy turns into provided energy.

Once the process of hydrolysis is completed, the heat energy is dissipated and it is this heat energy which sort of drives different body processes. For example, muscle contraction is one of the body processes that is driven by heat energy. Because one phosphate is hydrolyzed, the ATP is no longer ATP; it has become ADP which is an acronym for Adenine Di-Phosphate. So basically, hydrolysis of ATP releases heat energy and ADP. The latter is basically a byproduct of this reaction and therefore is not of much use in the body processes. But this ADP can be rendered useful if it is somehow converted into ATP again. And you guessed it right! In the whole scheme of things, creatine plays a crucial role here. The creatine basically provides the phosphate group to ADP which triggers the reformulation of ATP. That is how ATP forms ATP as mentioned earlier. Creatine, in this way, boosts the production of ATP and as a result of this the stores of ATP increase. Since, this ATP is basically stored energy you are able to train and exercise harder. More importantly, your stamina also increases.

Another important thing about creatine that is worth noting is that it is also a fuel source apart from ATP. Scientifically, the first choice of using an energy source for the body is not ATP, but creatine phosphate. Basically once you engage in any anaerobic activity, like weightlifting, your body will scour the stores of creatine phosphate. In other words, taking supplements will boost your stores of creatine phosphate and you will have plenty of energy for exercise and workouts. But the story does not end here as there is another important anabolic property about creatine that plays a substantial role in the whole process. Basically creatine is also capable of hydrating different muscle cells. And when the hydration of muscle cells happen, few other things set into motion. Firstly, the process of protein synthesis increase. Secondly, the production of ions also goes up. Due to the fact that cells have more water, ions will try to keep the level of concentration same. Owing to the higher concentration of ions, the process of protein synthesis also again goes up.

Common Questions Regarding Safety

Despite all the benefits of creatine, many people still avoid using creatine muscle supplements because of the safety concerns. In this section, we will try to address those concerns and see if they are true or not. However, we should be candid about the fact that creatine is one of those things that have recently become part of the mainstream market. In other words, we are not completely sure about the health implications which it may cause in the long run. On the other hand, it is also important to keep in mind that any side effect of using creatine has yet to come out in the open. Different studies have explored the side effects of creatine, but there was no negatives to be found. Research on creatine has been going on since its introduction, which was 8 years ago, and there is no dangerous side effect discovered so far. This means a great deal to the users of creatine and it is quite safe to say that it is fully covered in terms of the safety aspect. It is quite ironic that people who talk about the possibilities of its side effects are the ones who engage in drinking and other unhealthy activities.

Does it Damage Kidneys?

Again, we refer back to our previous discussion on different studies that have been conducted so far to discover the negative health implications of consuming creatine. No study has revealed any side effects on kidney or liver because of consumption of creatine. It is worth pointing out that there is a lot of misinformation out there and rogue media is playing its role in spreading false information about the usage of creatine to promote other dangerous products. However, it is still worth exploring a bit about this false claim scientifically.

The concerns that people have normally with regards to consumption of creatine basically revolves around the capability of kidney to filter blood. There has been a confusion on our part because of our inability to understand detailed science. Normally, a kidney problem is marked by the higher presence of creatine, which many believe happen because of supplement consumption of creatine. However this is quite a misconception born out of ignorance and false knowledge because this creatine has no hazardous effects on your body. If there were any harmful side effects because of supplementation of creatine, there would be piling evidence to support this claim. So, it is quite safe to say that creatine actually does not seem to play any role in damaging kidneys nor in the hampering of filtration of blood. Besides, one also has to look at the studies that support creatine supplementation.

Does it Cause Gastrointestinal Distress?

This is another major concern that new users of supplement has. We established earlier that creatine covers all the safety aspects, yet it is important to candidly admit that there is truth in this concern. Supplement consumption of creatine can cause GI distress, but it is quite minor in nature and nothing serious. More importantly, this happens very rarely and a very small percentage of people who use the supplements have expressed this complaint. Normally, this GI distress mainly happens when you consume creatine too much. Otherwise, stomachaches with the consumption of supplements is a rare phenomenon. One word of advice in this aspect is that you don’t consume creatine with empty stomach, which is probably the cause of any discomfort reported.

If you still remain unconvinced, then there is a remedy that manufacturers have come up with. Basically, creatine is formed in a much micronized form which allows greater solubility and thus reduces the chances of having gastrointestinal distress. More importantly, it also allows for faster absorption. So if you are looking for creatine supplements it would be a good idea to look for reduced forms of creatine which are readily available in the market.

Does it Cause Dehydration?

This is another concern which many people show for the consumption of the creatine supplement. To address this concern, it is important to realize that there is no study nor any data to support such conclusions. Similar to this concern, many people have also expressed worry about creatine causing cramps and muscle aches. This again is not true at all, but for the sake of knowledge let’s explore this a bit.

If we scientifically explore this, creatine supplementation actually increases body water, many people propose. This runs opposite to the actual concern because owing to increase of body water the hydration status basically remains normal. So it is safe to say that there is no evidence that links creatine supplementation with dehydration. The consumption of creatine also does not have any impact on the temperature of body. In terms of science, regulation of temperature and hydration status are closely related processes. If you know little about the science of work out, you would know that our body temperature goes up during exercise. Excessive increase in temperature could prove harmful to the human body. Creatine supplementation actually helps counter this increase in temperature; this has been proven from the research of San Diego State University. In addition to this, there are other studies as well which highlight the positive impact in terms of performance enhancement, especially in humid climatic conditions. To conclude, there is no research that links creatine supplementation with dehydration or cramping of muscles.

What About Compartment Syndrome?

Before we go into the other scientific details of creatine consumption and its relation with compartment syndrome, it is important to understand what this syndrome actually is. People commonly refer to Compartment Syndrome as a condition in which there is excess amount of pressure in the muscles. When a person consumes creatine in excess amount there is a possibility of transient surge in the pressure. However, if you follow the recommended dose of creatine supplementation there is no chance that you would suffer from this condition. In simple words, the condition of Compartment Syndrome makes a lot of sense theoretically since fluid retention can be caused due to increased usage of creatine. Theoretically, it is possible but more often than not reality is quite different from theory.

Normally this syndrome is commonly caused because of the body has suffered from trauma or injury. Sometimes compartment syndrome happens very late after the trauma due to lack of proper blood flow to the muscle tissue. If this situation happens, it is extremely important to get treatment or otherwise injuries to tissues can happen. If you closely follow football you might have come across the news that creatine usage caused compartment syndrome. However, when we test the robustness of the evidence it does not prove the relationship. There is another article that was published in a well-renowned journal which reported a case of bodybuilder who suffered from this acute syndrome. But again let’s look at the facts. He has been working out for five years and was consuming excessive amounts of creatine for almost a year. Reports say that he was consuming more than five times as compared with the recommended dose. Even with the excessive supplementation of creatine, it is hard to conclude that it causes Compartment Syndrome because one needs to look at other factors as well. For instance, he might be training the wrong way. Similarly, you also need to look at other supplements and medicines he was using. The research remains inconclusive in this context. Researchers did observe a small increase in pressure but after sometime things became normal.

Does Creatine Consumption Cause Rhabdomyolysis?

Before we test the credibility and find out the truth of whether creatine supplementation is a cause of Rhabdomyolysis or not, it is worth exploring what this condition actually is. This is basically a state where a person experiences a breakdown in terms of his or her skeletal muscles and as a result the creatine levels are elevated. This concern mainly came about as a result of the article that was published in the NYT some time ago. Obviously it was not supported by any scientific evidence and people who are well-versed in this topic treated it like misinformation. The article did give example of football players, but when we talk about establishing a relationship, the whole process of looking at the evidence needs to be scientific and based on statistics. The evidence presented in the article did not hold up to the scrutiny and therefore should not be considered as the base of this argument.

However this does not mean that this condition does not happen at all. In fact, people who train very hard for longer periods of time in extremely hot and humid weather conditions can suffer from this condition. Players who enroll themselves in training camps often fall prey to this condition without any consumption of creatine. This is exactly what happened in the case of high school football players. There was a blunder on the part of investigators and they wrongly associated this syndrome with the increased levels of creatine. In short, there is no scientific backing that links creatine supplementation with Rhabdomyolysis. This does not mean that creatine enzyme levels do not go up when you consume supplement. They certainly do, but the elevated do not even come close to what can be caused due in Rhabdomyolysis condition. Besides, we have several research studies that lend credence to the safety of creatine supplementation when we talk about kidney functions. If we analyze these studies in this context there is actually no room for Rhabdomyolysis occurring due to supplementation of creatine. In fact, if anything it has positive health implications.

Does Creatine Supplementation Cause Weight Gain?

Weight gain is a very important reservation that needs to be fully addressed before we move to discussing other aspects. Avoiding weight gain, for some people, is top most priority and if creatine supplementation is the cause of that then what is the whole point of it. In this regard, it is important to note that supplement intake can cause no more than 3 percent increase in the weight. This normally happens during the first days of consumption because of the increased concentration of water in the muscles. This could easily be countered by lowering your dose.

Basically, the increase in the water weight causes the increase in weight gain. And this is something that is supported by scientific inquiry. But it is important to be very clear about the fact that creatine supplementation itself is not the cause of all weight gained in the process of bodybuilding. Scientific evidence shows that it does increase weight, but on a very initial stages of consumption. But if you back this consumption of creatine supplement with hardcore training and drill,s you will be able to achieve lean body mass, which is a dream of every bodybuilder. The body composition will definitely improve with the consumption of creatine and the body fat will go down. The scientific reason link between creatine supplementation and lean body mass comes from larger stores of ATP. ATP, as mentioned earlier, is the source of energy for carrying out bodily functions and with larger stores it is possible to increase the intensity of training.

Is Loading Necessary?

There is no straightforward yes or no answer to this question. It really depends on your requirements and objectives that you are trying to achieve with the creatine supplementation. So if you want to see faster results, then you could go for loading. To put things into perspective, let’s look at the results which you could achieve with the recommended dose of five grams. If you continue to use this dosage for around thirty days, you will see results in the form of lean body mass. On the other hand, if you beef up the dosage to, let’s say 20 grams for 5 days, you will be able to see results very quickly because of the quick saturation of muscle cells. You could continue with the maintenance dose of no more than 5 grams from then onward for the rest of creatine supplementation.

Closely related to this question is that of cycling. Again, there is no necessity of doing this, but it can definitely help. You should be aware of the fact that there is an internal equilibrium which a human body maintains. While this equilibrium can be swayed in your favor, this happens on a temporary basis. In simple words, while you can see quick results by taking excessive supplementation of creatine, which would increase the phosphate creatine stores, but after a while this phenomenon is going to stop and the body will return back to its internal equilibrium. This natural process has its own benefit because once this happens, the body puts a lid on the production of creatine phosphate. Your body will then be again ready to take excessive amounts of supplementation for quick results. You should carefully note that this is something that is unproven scientifically. Practically, cycling is used by a lot of professionals though. Still, this was an important question that needed to be addressed.

What Are The Different Types of Creatine?

Now that we have fairly addressed the primary concerns expressed by the new users of creatine supplementation, it would be a good idea to explore its different types and see how they are different from each other.

Creatine Monohydrate

This is the first type of creatine and it is considered as the most original source. The recommended consumption of this creatine supplementation is around 15 to 20 grams per day in the dosage of 5 grams. This regimen could be continued for 5 days and from then on you need to intake only 1 dosage of 5 grams per day. This type of supplement is normally ingested with the sugar for proper absorption. Some users of this supplement have reported some minor side effects, but overall scientific research shows a lot of positive health implications. Its consumption and usage is quite widespread.

Let’s also explore some of the reasons why it is so commonly used. Before we do that, it is important to highlight solubility aspect of this supplement. Unlike other supplements, it is quite hard to dissolve and you might get a little flustered. And you know how important full assimilation is for it to work. That being said, many people are quite confused about what ‘dissolve’ actually means in this situation. Many people confuse in suspension solution with a dissolved solution, although there is a clear difference between the two. The in suspension solution is the one in which you can’t feel powder at the bottom, but the whole mixture feels gritty. On the other hand, dissolved solution is one in which you neither see the powder at the bottom nor you can feel any grittiness in the mixture. Visibly, in the dissolved mixture you don’t see any remains of the powder and there is a certain clarity in the whole mixture.

As mentioned earlier, one of the problems with this supplement is that it is difficult to dissolve. There is a very simple solution to counter this problem. The solution is that you heat up the water before putting the supplement in it. You do not need to actually boil the water, warming up the water would be fine. Once it has reached the desired temperature, you can put this warm water in a cup and then add your supplement powder. Once you start stirring you would notice that it isn’t resisting you like before and it would be dissolved in no time. While some people do run into the problem of dissolving this supplement, a lot of people don’t. People who don’t have any problem with the dissolution should follow the standard practice of dissolving the Creatine Supplement.

Creatine Citrate

The next creatine that is worth the discussion is creatine citrate. Owing to the presence of citrate in this supplement, it is quite easy to dissolve this one. If we look at the effectiveness and results, they are no better than creatine monohydrate. Also, the absorption is quite the same too.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

This is another type of creatine supplement. The unique aspect about this supplement is that in terms of grams, you don’t need to consume much. Unlike creatine monohydrate, you also don’t need any sugar for better absorption. This is basically a newer version of creatine supplement and you will find that it does away with the side effects of creatine monohydrate. The recommended dose is 2-3 grams a day. Some people prefer to take this dose twice a day which is alright and does not cause any side effect.

Buffered Creatine

This is one of the most popular types of creatine supplements. It is also commonly referred to as Kre-Alkalyn. The surprising aspect about this sreatine is that its patented. The research on this supplement is basically related with speed of conversion of creatine into creatinine. For those of you who are unaware of this, it is basically a byproduct and is considered a waste of original creatine. During the whole process, this byproduct is produced which is filtered in our kidneys and finally goes out of our body in the form of urine. Now this form of creatine helps in making this process fast which affords a lot of benefits to its users. In terms of dosage, the consumption of couple of grams twice a day would be enough.

To wrap up our discussion on this section, there are many other types as well namely tri-creatine malate, micronized creatine, creatine nitrate, creatine magnesium chelate, creatine hydrochloride, creatine pyruvate and conjugted. Different creatine types have different properties and health implications so it would be a good idea to explore a bit more before you buy one. Now that we have discussed the main types of creatine, it would be a good idea to also review some of the actual product offerings in the market so that you are able to make an informed decision. Below we review some of our favorite creatine supplements, rated based on price, taste, subjectively perceived results, and the ease at which it dissolves in water. There are creatine supplements in pill form, but they tend to be substantially more expensive than their powder counterparts. If you really can’t stand the powder, you can always buy yourself some gelatin capsules and fill them yourself, not only will you get the same results but you’ll save a ton of money.

1. Optimum Nutrition Unflavored Creatine Powder Review

This product basically avails the first type of creatine that we discussed in the previous section. More than 90% of this supplement is composed of creatine monohydrate. It is also worth noting here that this creatine is micronized and CreaPure. For those of you who are unaware, this is basically referred to the purest type of monohydrate creatine supplement. Due to the fact that it is micronized, the dissolution process becomes all the more simple and easy. Suffice is to say that in terms of effectiveness this creatine supplement product is far better than others.

Once you ingest this supplement, you will notice that it is quite flavorless. But once you dissolve it in water you will be able to tell its distinct taste. Many people who are into bodybuilding like to take protein after work out. It would be a good idea to add this supplement in the protein. As mentioned earlier, creatine by nature is a bit problematic in terms of its dissolution, but that shouldn’t discourage you from using this supplement. You should use this supplement in the servings of 5 grams, which is normally the amount of recommended dose. The label of the product definitely encourages you to do loading of doses especially in the start but it is not necessary to follow this instruction. It all comes down to your personal goals.

Now is the time to dispel another myth that surrounds the creatine supplementation. No, you will not feel a major change in terms of strength with the first dose of this creatine supplement. To see major results, you need to regularly take creatine with a balanced diet and, obviously, hard training. Once you follow the complete regimen for few weeks you will start noticing the results and you will be able to do the last most grueling reps which you weren’t able to do before.

Since this product is of exceptional quality, you shouldn’t be concerned about the price. If you experience side effects in the form of bloating or other minor changes you shouldn’t be too concerned as the body takes a bit of time getting used to creatine supplementation. Very few people actually experience these minor side effects.

2. Controlled Labs Green Magnitude Creatine Review

This is another creatine supplement product that could really boost your strength and deliver results. This supplement is basically composed of two types of creatine, namely Tyrosine and Taurine. Due to these two types, it could give you a bit of extra boost. While you could use this supplement just like any other, professionals recommend using it before the workout because of Taurine and Tyrosine.

The biggest benefit of this supplement as compared to taking creatine monohydrate is that it does not entail those minor side effects and is therefore completely safe. Its composition is undoubtedly a bit advanced and therefore it does not cause any water retention or water bloating.

Owing to the complexity of its composition, you could get results in a matter of days without doing any preloading. You not only gain strength just like with creatine monohydrate, but you also do away with the problem of water retention in the muscles. To sum up our discussion on this product, it is worth the money as it is quite effective and does not accompany any negative side effects.

3. Bulk Supplements Pure Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder Review

As evident from the name, it is primarily composed of creatine monohydrate. Some people find the lack of flavor of this supplement a bit repelling. If you encounter such problem with this supplement you could try taking it with the protein shake. Unlike other creatine monohydrate supplements, it comes in the form of a very fine powder and therefore gets easily dissolved in water. Besides, it is extremely affordable. In short, it contains all the quintessential features of a good supplement.

If you are looking for a good mix value and price then no other supplement beats this one. It is the cheapest creatine supplement available in the market which also contains all the essential performance attributes of a top-notch supplement. In terms of its quality, it is unparalleled and that is why it is considered among the top ten supplements that both professionals and amateurs could take to boost strength and stamina.

In light of all this, it is highly recommended to all those people who have this dream of achieving lean body mass. There is no other product that offers such high quality at such low price.

4. All Max Creatine Monohydrate Review

This is another top of the line creatine supplement that is highly recommended to both professionals and to all those people who engage in some sort of sports. Now let’s get to the specifics of this product. On your first intake, you would notice that it does not have any fowl taste that could put you off. More importantly, it is micronized which means it will easily dissolve in water and the absorption of it would also be effortless. This supplement is basically composed of creatine monohydrate, which we know is the purest form. If you encounter any difficulty in mixing this then you could always mix it up in a shaker bottle for better dissolution. You could also use this supplement with protein shake or other liquid of your choice. Mixing it with other liquid would also ease its dissolution. Just make sure there is no powder at the bottom of the flask or cup.

With this supplement, you could follow the recommended dose of 5 grams per day. In terms of loading, it is not necessary for you to beef up its consumption earlier on. Similarly, cycling is also not necessary with this creatine supplement. Another feature of this product offering is that it does not cause bloating or water retention in the muscles. All in all, you could achieve pretty decent results by using this supplement post or pre-work out depending on your personal preference.

To conclude our discussion on these creatine supplements, I hope you will be able to appreciate different supplements and their benefits. Gone are the times when people consider taking supplements hazardous. It has become more of a necessity these days to achieve such quick results. The key is to follow the instructions in terms of recommended dosage to avoid any potential long term side effects. So, achieve that lean body mass starting today with creatine supplementation.

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