Creatine is a popular supplement that you can take to improve your muscle growth. It is naturally occurring and can be found in meats, fish, and eggs.
Creatine supplements are made from the compound called creatinine which is a by-product of protein.
It has been studied a lot over the years with some mixed reviews on efficacy, benefits, and risks. That being said, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of creatine and help you make the best-informed decision.
Benefits of Creatine
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in muscle tissue that can be converted into creatine phosphate.
The benefits of creatine (or claims) are many. Proponents say it delays the onset of fatigue and improves high-intensity exercise performance by providing energy to the muscles quickly via the creatine phosphate pathway. It also improves muscle mass, reduces fat mass, and enhances cognitive function.
Currently, the most common way to take it is in powder form or as a pill.
You can get creatine from foods like beef liver, salmon, tuna, or red meat since they have small amounts of it in them, but often it’s recommended that you take a supplement if you need that quick burst of energy.
The most sought-after benefits of creatine include:
- Improved perfomance and recovery time
- Helps prevent or reduce the severity of injury
- Increases fat-free muscle mass during training
- Helps athletes manage heavy training loads
There are some studies that suggest taking creatine may help reduce the impact of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease or muscular dystrophy, diabetes, aging, osteoarthritis, brain health, and fibromyalgia.
Cons of Creatine
Creatine appears to be relatively safe. There were early concerns about the impact on the kidneys and liver, but recent studies have disproven those worries. Still, there are some undesirable side effects of creatine you should know.
1. You’re very likely to gain weight.
Depending on your goals, that might be a good thing. But if part of your fitness journey involves shedding those extra pounds, creatine might not be for you.
2. Results can take a while.
Depending on your existing creatine levels, it can take up to a month to see any results.
3. Negative interactions with caffeine.
There are some emerging studies that suggest combining caffeine with creatine can weaken its efficacy. Additionally, consuming more than 300mg of caffeine while on creatine can worsen the progression of Parkinson’s (although more research is needed).
Is Creatine Safe?
In short, probably! Most of the serious health risk claims previously associated with creatine supplements have been dispelled. However, there is a caveat.
The safety claims of creatine are only valid for people who do not exceed the daily recommended amount and are choosing creatine products that have undergone third-party safety testing. Additionally, creatine supplements are not generally intended for long-term use.
Also, keep in mind that creatine supplements are not regulated by the FDA and it is important to discuss any potential negative reactions with your existing medication or supplements with a medical provider before taking them.
Top 5 Creatine Supplements
Here are the top five creatine supplements on the market (in no particular order) with a variety of features and benefits to consider. We’ve included a mix of pills and powders for you to choose from.
1. Crazy Muscle Creatine Pills
- EXPERIENCE 3 TYPES OF CREATINE IN ONE POWERFUL FORMULA: Monohydrate, Alphaketoglutarate and Pyruvate
- GAIN A FULLER PHYSIQUE FASTER: Our innovative blend of 3 creatines maximizes creatine absorption
- PROPEL PERFORMANCE: Whether you build power in crossfit, size in bodybuilding or an endurance runner
- BOOST POST WORKOUT RECOVERY: Recharge muscle growth after epic workout sessions to build bulk muscle
- SUPER CONVENIENT: Creatine capsules only have 700 vs 1,667 milligram pills; take creatine on the go
2. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder
- 5 grams pure creatine monohydrate per serving
- Supports increases in energy, endurance and recovery
- Maximum potency supports muscle size, strength, and power
- Supreme absorbency micronized to get the most out of each dose
- Unflavored can be mixed in your favorite beverage with ease - Product does not come with a scoop
3. BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized) – Creatine Powder
- INCREASED MUSCLE MASS* - Creatine is one of the most widely-used bodybuilding supplements. Our Creatine Monohydrate mixes easily and dissolves quickly, effectively contributing to increased muscle mass.*
- PROMOTES WEIGHT GAIN*- Has been taken by gym-goers for years as a preworkout or postworkout to promote weight gain in men and women.* Athletes have reported larger and fuller muscles due to increased intracellular fluid.
- BOOSTS ANAEROBIC STRENGTH* - Often taken as a preworkout to help boost anaerobic strength, possibly enabling more total work or volume in a single training session.* This is a key factor in long-term muscle growth.
- SUPPORTS BRAIN AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION* - Creatine monohydrate powder has been used to support the brain and cognitive function.* Adequate creatine levels in the brain may support memory and may improve mental fatigue.*
- VEGAN FRIENDLY- Best creatine to use as a vegan pre-workout. Certified vegan, with no fillers or additives. 100% pure micronized creatine monohydrate. Our flavorless powder makes for easy mixing into smoothies, juices, popsicles, and more!
4. MET-Rx Creatine 4200
- One 240 count bottle of MET-Rx Creatine 4200 Pre or Post Workout Supplement
- Creatine monohydrate capsules can increase your strength and power during your workout and your post workout recovery (1)
- Creatine supplements can enhance the ability to produce higher muscular force for increased reps during lifting (1)
- Each creatine supplement capsule is easy to swallow and convenient to take pre or post workout
- Muscle supplements are packed with 4200 mg of HPLC Pure Creatine Monohydrate per serving to help increase strength and power (1)
5. Genius Creatine Powder
- Forget Generic Creatine - 5 Grams of Creapure monohydrate combines with beta alanine to support muscle building results that you can both see and feel.
- A New Kind of Post Workout - CarnoSyn beta alanine and AstraGin offer natural muscle recharging support and bioavailability.
- Build Mass Naturally - Our formula offers a post workout supplement with no artificial fillers or dyes.
- More Than a Bodybuilding Supplement - Creatine may also raise cellular energy levels and can support brain function.
- American Made - Formulated, tested, and manufactured only in the United States.
Final Thoughts on Creatine
For the most part, creatine appears to have more pros than cons, although you should consult with a trained medical professional before using it. Depending on your goals and specific nutritional needs, creatine might be able to help you make some serious gains and improve brain health.