So, you are looking for a supplement that can help you build strength and add muscle?
You have come to the right place.
Creatine is the best supplement you can buy (legally) to increase muscle and strength and it is my own personal go-to supplement for all things bodybuilding and fitness. Why? Because it works!
I personally choose creatine well above any other supplement out there. In this article, you will find out why. But first, let’s go over what creatine is and how it works.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a compound that is made naturally in the body and helps us supply energy to cells, particularly muscle cells. Creatine is made in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys and is secreted into the blood for transport to muscles and tissues that have higher energy demands. The chemical name is methylguanine-acetic acid. It is formed from the amino acids glycine, L-arginine, and L-methionine. While the body produces much of its own creatine, you can also get it through eating certain foods like red meat and fish.
As a supplement creatine has become popular with athletes and anyone else looking for a way to increase strength, endurance, and overall performance. It is by far the most researched supplement on the planet and it is the one that works the best of the supplements that you can buy legally.
The Benefits of Creatine
There are many benefits of taking creatine that are not all muscle and strength related, let’s take a look at some of the main ones.
- Enhanced Muscle Volume – That’s fancy talk to mean it makes your muscles bigger. This study found that creatine ” enhanced fat-free mass, physical performance, and muscle morphology in response to heavy resistance training”. Creatine has also been shown to increase IGF-1 which is a key muscle-building hormone.
- Increased Strength – This is one I can personally vouch for. Creatine increases your muscles ATP production which increases strength and power. This 4 week study found an 18-lb (8-kg) increase in bench press 1-rep max and 20% greater workload at a lower weight. This study also found that taking creatine dramatically increased power when doing half rep squats. If you still aren’t convinced here is yet another study, this was a 9-week study where they gave creatine to college football players. The results were strength increases in the bench press, squat, and power clean as well as increases in high-intensity anaerobic capacity as high-intensity anaerobic peak power. I think I have made my point.
- Enhanced Brain Function – Studies have shown that creatine can improve short-term memory as well as performance under time constraints.
- Helps depression – Studies show that creatine is a significant help when taken with an antidepressant to fight depression. Study found here.
Main Types of Creatine
These are the main types of creatine out there. Creatine monohydrate is still the king in my opinion and is what I use but there are other good types out there.
Creatine Monohydrate is by far the most studied form of creatine, one of the most popular, and it is usually the least expensive. It actually gets its name from having one molecule of water bound to each molecule of creatine. It was the German Olympic lifting teams that originally started using creatine monohydrate (among other things). To date, no other form of creatine has been proven to be better than creatine monohydrate.
Creatine HCL has become another one of the more popular forms of creatine today. The main advantage of this one over the others is that it is more soluble than the others and uses a much smaller dose. This can help with any intestinal problems some people may have with creatine monohydrate.
Creatine Malate comes in two forms, di or tri which refers to the number of creatine molecules that are attached to the Malate. Some believe that this can boost ATP, because of how quickly it can dissolve in water. This one is another one that can be good for people who have trouble digesting creatine monohydrate. Recommended dosing is usually the same as it is with creatine monohydrate as well.
Creatine Citrate is a creatine is that it uses citric acid instead of malic acid for the bonding. Some researchers believed that doing so would provide greater muscular energy. This was found later to not to be the case. Creatine Citrate has been shown to be only 40% creatine. Making it not the best choice for creatine delivery.
Creatine Kre Alklyn
This form of creatine is made at a higher ph and has been patented by the manufacturer. The reason for the higher ph was to make it more easily absorbed by the body. This, however, has never really been proven. This form of creatine is most likely going to be in pill form.
Creatine anhydrous is creatine monohydrate with the water molecule removed. It provides slightly more creatine per gram than Creatine Monohydrate but has never really been shown to be more effective.
This one is creatine that is suspended in some kind of liquid. It has been shown to be ineffective because over time it will turn to creatinine which, although the name sounds similar to creatine, doesn’t work. Creatine needs to be in powder or pill form to work effectively.
Micronizing creatine is a fancy way of saying they have made the particles smaller. By making the particles smaller it increases the surface area and can make for better absorption.
When to Take Creatine?
There are a few schools of thought on when to take creatine. Either before a workout, after a workout or whenever during the day. Research shows that the “take it whenever” group is wrong. The best time is either before or after your workout with research giving a slight edge to post-workout, but that isn’t 100% conclusive. So long as you take around the time you workout you should be good. I take it post-workout myself.
What to Mix Creatine With?
For me personally I always mix creatine with water. However, creatine absorption is increased by a quick spike in insulin so we suggest Gatorade/Powerade mixed with water or even Kool-Aid watered down. Fruit juices don’t work as well because they mainly contain fructose, which will not cause an immediate spike in insulin which is needed. There might be a few health nuts that will come at us for suggesting such drinks, this is our opinion and what we recommend. It works.
Other Key Ingredients:
These are some of the other key ingredients the manufacturers will add to the creatine to give it an extra punch. Watch out for companies that use too many extra ingredients though. They tend to be a jack of all trades master of none.
- HMB – Has been shown to increase size and strength
- Bioperine – Increased bioavailability which means better absorption
- Betaine Anhydrous – Has also been shown to increase strength
- Taurine – Works with beta-alanine and has been shown to decrease next-day muscle soreness
- Cinnulin – Helps with cell uptake of the creatine
My Experience With Creatine
As I said in the introduction, creatine is my go-to supplement for muscle and strength building, nothing else really comes close.
My first time using creatine was back around 1999 or 2000 which is before some of the people reading this were even alive. Wow!
I can’t remember what kind it was or even where I got it from although it was probably GNC since my girlfriend at the time who is now my wife worked there.
I was skeptical but I figured “what the heck” and gave it a shot. I didn’t even bother with the loading phase nor did I take it like I was supposed to. I think I did a serving every other day if memory serves me correct. I was in my early 20’s and broke so I thought I would try to make it last. I also figured they would tell you to take more than you actually needed just so you had to buy more.
Between the skepticism and the fact that I didn’t do a loading phase (which was mandatory back then) and the fact that I was taking about half as much I was supposed to I figured there was no way it would work.
But it did…
After about 45 days or so my bench press had shot up by about 50 lbs from around 350 to about 400 and all of my other lifts went up as well.
The thing is, my ego kept telling me that I was just a beast and that the creatine had nothing to do with it. I hadn’t even taken it correctly how could have made that much of a difference? By the time the creatine was gone though I had started to admit to myself that the creatine must have been at least partially responsible for my strength increases.
Sure enough, once the creatine ran out my strength slowly returned to where it was before I had taken the creatine. My ego also shriveled like a grape turning into a raisin. It had been the creatine all along.
I have taken it several times since then and have had similar results each time. The stuff works, really well.
Top 5 Creatine Supplements for Muscle and Strength
Now that you know what the advantages of creatine are and the different forms, which products should you turn to? There are enough different creatines out there to make your head spin. We have done the work and have you covered though.
Here are the top five creatine supplements to choose from.
1 StrengthSeries Creatine HMB
At the top of our list of creatine supplements available is StrengthSeries Creatine HMB from Transparent Labs. This product is designed for fitness professionals and strength athletes and has been researched extensively. It uses only the highest quality proven ingredients to help promote strength, size and speed.
Creatine HMB contains 5 grams of creatine monohydrate along with 2 grams of HMB making it a superior muscle and strength builder. These two together are a beast of a combination. HMB, like creatine, has been shown to increase strength, lean body mass, and decrease fat mass when used along with resistance training. It has also been shown to have boost oxygen capacity in endurance athletes. This combination is what sets this product apart from the rest and makes this an absolute beast of a product.
In addition, Creatine HMB contains a nice dose of Bioperine which gives the product a higher bioavailability. Having a higher bioavailability means the ingredients are more easily absorbed by the body. This will help you get the maximum effect. You also won’t get filler ingredients with this one like you do with many others. These guys really took it to another level with this one and we feel it is the best creatine on the market today.
- Great Price
- No loading phase
- 5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate
- 2 grams of HMB
- Uses Bioperine for higher bioavailability
- No proprietary blend
- Use “TL10” at checkout to save 10%
- Only available online on the manufacturer website
Visit transparentlabs.com for more information on this product.
2 Battle Ready Fuel Creatine
This creatine monohydrate supplement powder is designed to increase physical performance in high-intensity exercise.
Creatine monohydrate is a no-brainer for building muscle and increasing athletic performance. But not all supplements are created equal. Battle Ready Fuel packs in premium ingredients, but also comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. The company is that sure that their product is the best.
Battle Ready Fuel, unlike other ‘fakes’ on the market, consists of 100% pure creatine monohydrate… with NOTHING ADDED! No thickeners, no fillers, no impurities… just raw, muscle-building power in its pure form.
It’s also a 100% vegan-friendly product. It’s easy to mix and take, and is so pure that it does not even contain any flavorings! If you want it to taste a certain way, you can mix it into your protein shake every day. That’s what we would do!
Here are the biggest upsides and downsides.
- Excellent price
- Offers a lot of value for the cost
- Pure creatine monohydrate powder – no fillers or flavorings
- 100% vegan-friendly
- Pure creatine monohydrate is backed up by hundreds of official studies
- Comes with free shipping and a 100% money-back guarantee
- There are not a ton of reviews for this product online yet, so visibility is a little low
- At this current moment, you won’t find this product offline
3 Powerbuild by Jacked Factory
Next up we have Powerbuild by Jacked Factory. This one is another really nice muscle-building creatine that is a bit less expensive than our first selection.
This one gives you 3000 mg of Creatine Monohydrate per serving. That’s not it though, they also use generous doses of beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, BCAAs and L-Carnitine L-Tartrate for serious muscle and strength building.
This product is a post-workout creatine supplement that is made to maximize recovery, reduce muscle soreness, stimulate lean muscle growth and increase muscle strength and power. What’s there not to like about that?
Powerbuild also uses natural flavor and sweetener and doesn’t contain any dyes or fillers. Overall it is a really nice product that you won’t regret buying.
- Less expensive
- 3000 mg of Creatine Monohydrate
- Also uses friendly doses of beta-alanine, betaine anhydrous, BCAAs and L-Carnitine L-Tartrate to build muscle
- Uses natural sweeteners and flavors
- No dyes or fillers
- Only available on the manufacturer’s website
- No savings when buying in bulk
Visit www.jackedfactory for more information on this product
4 Cell Tech Hyper-Build by Muscletech
Next, on our list of best creatine supplements, we have a really nice one in Cell-Tech Hyper-Build. This one boasts 5 grams of creatine monohydrate but on top of that, they also added 7 grams of branched chain amino acids. BCAA’s will increase the protein synthesis in the muscle so this is a nice bonus that will help you add muscle. It also contains Taurine which has been shown to reduce muscle soreness the day after a tough workout when used in conjunction with BCAA’s. They also included electrolytes to help replace those that can be lost with a good workout.
Overall this is another really good creatine supplement, the reviews are good and they used some nice ingredients. The only thing not to like about this one is they used artificial flavoring and the cost per serving is a bit above average.
- Uses 5 grams of monohydrate
- Includes BCAA’s for protein synthesis
- Taurine for reduced muscle soreness
- Good reviews
- Uses artificial flavors
- High cost per serving
Visit www.muscletech.com for more information on this product
5 Naked Creatine
Next up we have Naked Creatine. This is another pretty good creatine. They use a highly pure and fast dissolving creatine monohydrate, Naked Creatine doesn’t use any artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors and it is also GMO-free. This one is just nice and pure creatine without any extras you may not want. This product is as the name implies, naked, meaning nothing was added to it, it’s creatine monohydrate and only creatine monohydrate.
- Uses pure creatine monohydrate
- No artificial flavors or colors
- Good Reviews
- Flavorless, can be unpleasant to some
- Some say it’s difficult to mix
Visit nkdnutrition.com for more information on this product.
That does it for the top five creatine supplements available on the market right now, our favorite being StrengthSeries Creapure HMB. It has a great combination of a large dose of creatine monohydrate paired with HMB that really knocks it out of the park. If you are looking to take it to the next level, this one will get you there and then some.
Just don’t forget, no creatine will be as effective unless it is also paired with a good workout plan and a solid diet. It isn’t a magic bullet or anything like that but if you put the work in the results will definitely come and will likely be better than you have ever had.
Ryan is a former college wrestler and lifelong fitness fanatic. He has run half marathons, done mud runs, placed in body transformation contests, coached wrestling and now coaches girls soccer. Not to mention he has also tried literally hundreds of supplements over the years and has a vast and thorough supplement knowledge. He has written for Muscle & Strength, Testosterone Junkie, The Sport Review and other publications. He is also the editor in chief of this website. Feel free connect with him on his LinkedIn page below.