The Best Creatine Supplements for Muscle Growth, Mixing, and More

We tried every different type of creatine product to help you discover the best of the best.

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After whey protein powder, creatine may be one of the most popular supplements in a gym-goers’ pantry — and for good reason. Most supplements have a handful of studies supporting their use, but creatine has hundreds of them, suggesting a strong effect on performance and body composition

Creatine mainly works by increasing one’s ability to improve power output in the gym. As a result, you’ll get stronger more quickly and build more muscle. Of course, it’s more nuanced than that. There are numerous types of creatine on the market, with the most common and well-researched one being creatine monohydrate.

As for which creatine you should buy, we tried and reviewed dozens of top brands to land on the best creatine supplements that serve a number of needs and preferences. Below, we discuss the benefits of creatine and answer common questions related to this popular supplement. 

Best Creatine Supplements

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended to diagnose, prevent, and/or treat health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine.

Best Creatine Supplements Video Review

Be sure to check out our best creatine video for an up-close and personal look at each of the picks on our list.

Best Creatine Overall

Some creatine supplements have many unnecessary ingredients, but the best creatine product on the market should probably just have one or two useful additions. We think Jacked Factory Growth Surge strikes this balance perfectly for high-quality creatine.

Jacked Factory Growth Surge

Growth Surge contains more than just creatine. It offers 2.5g of betaine, two grams of carnitine, 5mg of black pepper extract, and three grams of creatine monohydrate. These ingredients are meant to help reduce fatigue, improve recovery, and increase muscle growth after your workout. This powder comes in five fruity flavors, as well as one unflavored powder. And while the unflavored option doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners or flavorings, all of the other fruity flavors do, which is something to be aware of if you are trying to avoid artificial ingredients. This product also may cost a little more than basic creatine supplements — but with the extra helpful ingredients, we think it’s worth its price tag. 

Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge

This post workout supplement from Jacked Factory boasts a dose of creatine for muscle growth, l-carnitine l-tartrate for muscle recovery, and betaine anhydrous for power output. It also comes in a variety of flavors, from Watermelon to 'Swoleberry'.

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Those who want a few helpful ingredients along with their creatine will appreciate the additional betaine and carnitine here. 
  • People who want a solid (but not over-the-top) three gram dose of creatine monohydrate. 
  • Anyone who prefers a powder supplement over a capsule. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Anyone looking for a pre-workout that contains creatine will want to steer clear of this post-workout supplement.
  • Those who prefer a standalone creatine supplement can find more basic options out there.
  • If you’re on a budget, this product may be a little out of your price range. 

You can take creatine at any time of the day, but if you like to take it after you workout, this post-workout supplement is ideal. With a couple extra helpful ingredients (carnitine and betaine), this product is the full package. 

[Related: Could Baking Soda Be The Best Workout Supplement You’ve Never Tried?]

Best Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is far and away the most science-backed form of creatine. If you’re looking for an effective creatine monohydrate, then look no further than Transparent Labs Creatine HMB, which combines creatine monohydrate with HMB.

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

The HMB, which stands for hydroxymethyl butyrate, is the main metabolite in the branched-chain amino acid leucine that prevents muscle protein breakdown. So, it may help you retain muscle, and it appears to do so more effectively than leucine alone. One bonus is that combining HMB with creatine monohydrate also appears to increase strength better than taking either supplement alone. Transparent Labs Creatine HMB packs 5,000mg of creatine monohydrate per serving — plus, the blue raspberry flavor is delicious and contains no artificial sweeteners

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

We like that this product includes hydroxymethyl butyrate, the main metabolite in leucine that prevents muscle protein breakdown. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is tasty, and the blend contains no artificial sweeteners.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Those who want the added muscle-specific benefits of HMB in their creatine supplement.
  • People who want flavored creatine but don’t want artificial flavors and ingredients.
  • Anyone who is looking specifically for a creatine monohydrate, rather than a creatine HCl.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Anyone looking for a stimulatory or ergogenic effect from their creatine supplement, as this product is stim-free.
  • Those who prefer a capsule supplement will want to look elsewhere. 

HMB is a fascinating area of creatine science. There’s evidence that if you want creatine that promotes power output while retaining muscle mass, the addition of HMB to creatine monohydrate that we see in this product from Transparent Labs may be a great way to get you there.

Best Pre-Workout with Creatine

With creatine, consistency is key, so it doesn’t particularly matter what time of day you take it. But sometimes, it’s easiest to stick to a supplement if you do have a specific time of day you take it — this pre-workout can help with that. 

Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite with Creatine

It’s not necessary to take creatine right before your workout in order for it to be effective, but if you already take a pre-workout, taking one with creatine can be a great way to combine the two supplements and simplify your regimen. Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite with Creatine contains 3,000mg of creatine monohydrate, 2,000mg of creatine nitrate (a potentially more soluble form of creatine monohydrate), 10,000mg of citrulline, 3,200mg of beta-alanine, 2,500mg of betaine, and 1,500mg of carnitine. 

On top of these typical pre-workout ingredients, you’ll also find a high 388mg dose of caffeine (that’s about as much as you’ll get in two cups of coffee), and 500mg of coconut water powder, which can help with hydration. This blend comes in Fruit Punch, Glacier Grape, and Strawberry Lemonade, but there are only 20 servings per container, and at just under $60 per jug, this is definitely one of the most expensive options on this list.

Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite
Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite
Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite

Pre-Kaged® Elite provides nine patented ingredients with 35 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 1,000 micrograms of vitamin B12 in a single 36-gram scoop. Each serving is 25 calories and includes caffeine, taurine, l-citrulline, beta-alanine, l-tyrosine, and two types of creatine.

Who Should Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite with Creatine

  • Those looking for a pre-workout blend that contains creatine will like this product. 
  • If you’re looking for a high dose of citrulline, this pick contains 10,000mg per serving. 
  • Athletes who exercise in the morning will appreciate the 388mg of caffeine here. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Pre-Kaged Elite with Creatine

  • Anyone who wants just one form of creatine should opt for a different product.
  • Buyers on a budget will want to look for a less expensive formula. 
  • If you’re looking for creatine on its own, this is not the product for you. 

This pre-workout formula is extensive and offers not only creatine, but an array of helpful pre-workout ingredients, as well — including a high dose of both citrulline and caffeine. It’s a bit pricey, but if it’s an effective pre-workout you’re after, this is a great option. 

Best Creatine For Muscle Growth

Creatine on its own has many studies that suggest that it can be linked to increased muscle growth. The addition of HMB in this one though might help with that even more than plain creatine monohydrate.

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

While creatine (and other stimulants) on their own may help boost your performance, that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll help you gain muscle. Transparent Labs’ formula contains 1,500 milligrams of an ingredient called HMB, which can prevent lean muscle loss and decrease fat. Both are key factors when looking to build muscle and increase strength.

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

We like that this product includes hydroxymethyl butyrate, the main metabolite in leucine that prevents muscle protein breakdown. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is tasty, and the blend contains no artificial sweeteners.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Folks who want to hang onto muscle mass, especially those on a cut, may benefit from the addition of HMB in this product.
  • People looking to burn fat as they gain muscle mass. HMB is the main metabolite in leucine that prevents the breakdown of muscle protein.
  • Anyone who prefers a blue raspberry flavored powder creatine supplement.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • People who are more cardio-focused may not need or want the muscle-specific benefits of the HMB.
  • Thrifty shoppers looking for a low-cost creatine. There are cheaper, simpler products on this list for you.
  • Those who don’t want added stimulants in their creatine.

If you’re looking to gain muscle, all creatine is helpful — but some may be more helpful than others. So is the case with Transparent Labs’ formula that is specifically designed to include HMB for muscle retention. 

[Related: The Lifter’s Guide To Magnesium: What This Nutrient Does For Strength]

Best Post-Workout Creatine

For our post-workout pick, we searched for a high-end creatine product that’s focused on muscle retention and improving strength and power. After a lot of digging, we landed on Jacked Factory’s Growth Surge post-workout, which contains ingredients that may work synergistically with creatine.

Jacked Factory Growth Surge

Jacked Factory’s Growth Surge is a great creatine product. It’s not just creatine monohydrate, which is the most research-backed form: One scoop delivers l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery. There’s also 2.5 grams of betaine anhydrous per serving, which may help to increase strength and power output. Growth Surge’s formula also sports black pepper extract, which can help with absorption.

Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge

This post workout supplement from Jacked Factory boasts a dose of creatine for muscle growth, l-carnitine l-tartrate for muscle recovery, and betaine anhydrous for power output. It also comes in a variety of flavors, from Watermelon to 'Swoleberry'.

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • If you want creatine with additives but no stimulants, this is a great “any time” recovery drink.
  • Folks who like flavored creatine and multiple options to choose from — this comes in Black Cherry, Watermelon, Blueberry Lemonade, or… wait for it… Swoleberry (though it’s also available unflavored).
  • Anyone interested in the potential recovery and longevity benefits of l-carnitine l-tartrate (LCLT).

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Customers who just want plain creatine without the extras can find a more basic option.
  • If you’re looking to save cash, you can find creatine monohydrate for cheaper than this product.

This creatine formula from Jacked Factory is specifically geared towards muscle recovery, making it an excellent supplement to take after a tough training session

[Related: I’m A Professional Powerlifter. Here’s What I Think About Bodybuilding]

Best Tasting Creatine

Sometimes all you need to stay hooked on a supplement is a great tasting product. We think this pick takes the cake in that department. 

Legion Recharge

This product contains no added sugars, and comes in four delicious flavors — Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, and Strawberry Lemonade — which is one of its biggest selling points. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to find a great tasting product without artificial flavoring, but Legion Recharge is tasty, and naturally flavored and sweetened.

Legion Recharge may be a bit pricier than some other creatine supplements — like a simple creatine monohydrate — but it’s still fairly reasonable for a full post-workout supplement. You’re not only getting 5g of micronized creatine (which is creatine that has been broken down to potentially help with digestion), but you’re also getting 2.1g of carnitine, and 10.5mg of corosolic acid (which can help enhance post-workout amino absorption).

Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge

Legion Recharge is a well-rounded option that includes a solid dose of creatine monohydrate, along with l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery.

Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • Users who want a product that tastes great to help them stay committed (and dare we say excited to stick to) to their supplement regimen. 
  • Athletes who want a product that is naturally flavored and sweetened.
  • If you’re looking for an easier-to-digest creatine supplement, this product’s micronized form may be helpful. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Anyone who wants a standalone creatine product will want to opt for a supplement that doesn’t contain other post-workout ingredients. 
  • Folks who are looking for a cost-effective creatine supplement may want to find a plain monohydrate.

This creatine not only tastes great, but it may also be digested more easily than monohydrate, and contains other helpful post-workout ingredients — so the little extra money you’re paying per serving is worth it on multiple fronts. 

Best Creatine for Bodybuilders

Since bodybuilders are generally looking to enhance strength and gain muscle, creatine is a solid supplement (one could argue it’s a staple) to add to their regimen. This pick comes in a highly soluble form.

Kaged Creatine HCl

This creatine comes in the form of creatine hydrochloride, which may be easier to digest than creatine monohydrate. Since creatine monohydrate may cause stomach upset for some, creatine HCl is a great alternative option. Kaged Creatine HCl contains 750mg of creatine HCl. While this dosage may seem lower than the others on this list, it’s because this product’s solubility can allow you to take a smaller dosage for the same potential level of effectiveness. 

The only other ingredients in this product are natural flavors, stevia, and sucralose (or just vegetable cellulose for the capsule version), which make this a pretty lean, straightforward supplement. You can buy this creatine in a Lemon Lime powder, or in vegetable capsules — but if neither of those options are for you, you may need to look elsewhere, as there are no other flavors (or an unflavored powder) available. 

Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride

This is a tasty option for folks who are looking for creatine hydrochloride in either pill or powder form. It’s third-party tested for banned substances and competitively priced.

Who Should Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • Bodybuilders who are looking to increase their muscle mass, preserve their gains, and decrease their body fat. 
  • Anyone looking for a product that can absorb effectively.
  • Those who like lemon lime flavors, or are okay with taking their creatine in capsule form. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • Folks who want a creatine supplement that contains additional pre- or post-workout ingredients.
  • Those who prefer a wider selection of flavored powders — this product only comes in Lemon Lime. 

Kaged Creatine HCl may be better digested than creatine monohydrates. For bodybuilders who want something that can absorb effectively, and support their work, this is a great option. 

Best Creatine For Bulking

If you’ve been training for years, then you know that every ounce of muscle added to your frame is a major milestone. Creatine with muscle-building benefits can help you make the most out of your bulk.

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

What sets this creatine apart from others is the inclusion of HMB, a chemical that studies suggest is highly linked to fat loss and strength-building benefits. (4) Most lifters push heavier weights when they’re bulking (mass does move mass, after all), so this formula may help you gain more strength in addition to the common endurance-boosting benefits of creatine. It’s a win-win for lifters looking to bulk up big time. 

Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

We like that this product includes hydroxymethyl butyrate, the main metabolite in leucine that prevents muscle protein breakdown. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is tasty, and the blend contains no artificial sweeteners.

Who Should Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Lifters in a bulking phase who want to increase strength to build more mass will appreciate the HMB in this product.
  • Athletes who prioritize strength training and need a supplement to support their efforts.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

  • Those who would prefer a micronized creatine for faster absorption.
  • Penny pinchers. This product is slightly more expensive than others on the market, though one can argue that the addition of HMB makes it a more robust supplement.

If you’re looking to build muscle and bulk up, then you’ll need to push yourself. Creatine may allow you to eke out an extra rep, and this formula can help you build and hang onto muscle mass as a nice bonus. 

[Related: The Real Pros And Cons Of The Bodybuilding Lifestyle]

Best Creatine For Mixing

This is one of the best micronized creatines on the market, which makes it a solid pick for mixing. Since it’s processed to assume smaller granule sizes, it can dissolve easily in fluid.

Legion Recharge

This creatine from Legion is micronized, so it mixes nearly instantly in water without clumping. It also contains added post-workout ingredients, so in addition to the 5g of creatine, you’ll also find 2.1g of carnitine, and 10.5mg of corosolic acid. The price point is also quite fair at under $1.00 per serving (though you can find cheaper options out there). You can choose from Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, and Strawberry Lemonade, all of which are great mixed into just water. 

Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge

Legion Recharge is a well-rounded option that includes a solid dose of creatine monohydrate, along with l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery.

Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • Those who want other helpful post-workout supplements along with their creatine.
  • People looking for small-granule, micronized creatine that mixes well into liquid.
  • Anyone who wants to mix their creatine into just water will appreciate the four tasty flavors here. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Athletes who prefer to use plain creatine monohydrate will want to look elsewhere, as this is micronized creatine. 
  • Anyone who doesn’t want to pay for additional post-workout ingredients can find cheaper creatine supplements out there.

This micronized creatine mixes like a charm, and it comes in four different flavors that all taste great in water — plus, the high five-gram dose of creatine doesn’t hurt either.

[Related: The 3 Most Common Types Of Training Periodization (And When To Use Them)]

Best Creatine for Men

We think this creatine supplement is particularly great for men who want a solid supplement to take after their intense gym sessions to potentially help with muscle growth and recovery.

Jacked Factory Growth Surge

Jacked Factory Growth Surge is a full post-workout supplement. It contains 3g of creatine monohydrate, 2.5g of betaine, 2g of carnitine, and 5mg of black pepper extract, which may help all the ingredients absorb a little better. This product isn’t for men who just want plain creatine — it’s for athletes who want to make the most of their time in the gym, as the carnitine may help with fat burn, and the betaine may help with overall power output and endurance on top of the creatine’s potential boost in muscle growth. It comes in four flavors — Blue Raspberry, Cherry Limeade, Fruit Punch, and Swoleberry — as well as one unflavored option. 

Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge
Jacked Factory Growth Surge

This post workout supplement from Jacked Factory boasts a dose of creatine for muscle growth, l-carnitine l-tartrate for muscle recovery, and betaine anhydrous for power output. It also comes in a variety of flavors, from Watermelon to 'Swoleberry'.

Who Should Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Men who want a solid post-workout supplement will like the creatine, carnitine, and betaine here. 
  • Customers who are looking for multiple flavor options — you can choose from four flavors and an unflavored option here. 
  • Gymgoers who want a supplement that may help with factors outside of muscle growth. The carnitine here can help you lean out and the betaine may help with power output. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Jacked Factory Growth Surge

  • Those who want a basic creatine monohydrate will want to look elsewhere. 
  • Folks who aren’t looking to spend a lot of money on their creatine supplement can find cheaper options. 

If you’re looking to supplement your hard gym sessions with a solid post-workout supplement, Growth Surge contains 3g of creatine and comes in four flavors, as well as an unflavored option. 

Best Creatine Pills

Pills are generally more convenient to carry around than powders, making them a great choice for travel and people who are always on the go. 

Kaged Creatine HCl

Kaged’s C-HCl comes in the form of both creatine powder and creatine pills. The pill form is easy to travel with or throw into your gym bag. Also, Kaged Muscle boasts 750mg of creatine hydrochloride per capsule — hydrochloride can be absorbed by your body quicker and easier than creatine monohydrate, so while you may take 5g of monohydrate, 750mg of hydrochloride can be equally as effective.

A great perk with hydrochloride is that there’s evidence that this supplement absorbs better than monohydrate (1), which makes it a solid pick for athletes worried about effectiveness. Each serving is just a single capsule, and you can buy bottles of 75 capsules. Plus, the capsules are made of vegetable cellulose, so this product is vegan-friendly.

Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride

This is a tasty option for folks who are looking for creatine hydrochloride in either pill or powder form. It’s third-party tested for banned substances and competitively priced.

Who Should Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • People who travel a lot or like to throw their creatine in the gym bag to take pre- or post-workout.
  • This product is ideal for folks who would rather take a pill than go through the rigamarole of mixing a powder to consume their supplement.
  • If you’re looking for a hydrochloride over a monohydrate creatine supplement, this is a great option.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • Those who don’t want to spend extra on hydrochloride may want to go for a less expensive monohydrate.
  • Those who are pill adverse are better off opting for a powder supplement. 

If you’re on the go a lot, pills may be more convenient since you don’t need to haul a shaker bottle around. Also, each two-pill dose ensures you’re receiving 2.5g of pure creatine.

Best Creatine for Cutting

If you’re cutting, you’re likely looking for a creatine supplement that is easily absorbed, effective, clean, and doesn’t cause any bloating — this pick is all of the above.

Kaged Creatine HCl

Though hydrochloride is generally pricier than monohydrate, it’s for good reason. Kaged Muscle’s C-HCI Creatine Hydrochloride can be more easily absorbed than creatine monohydrate, potentially helping your body boost athletic performance faster and more effectively. At 35 cents per gram, this product is on the lower end of the price range for creatine hydrochlorides, and it’s third-party tested for banned supplements and peace of mind. Bonus: Its natural lemon-lime flavor tastes just like lemonade, so it’s refreshing at any time of the day.

Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride

This is a tasty option for folks who are looking for creatine hydrochloride in either pill or powder form. It’s third-party tested for banned substances and competitively priced.

Who Should Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • Those who get digestive discomfort from monohydrate and prefer creatine hydrochloride. 
  • Anyone who wants a product that is third-party tested for peace of mind. 
  • Those who want a product that can be absorbed more easily.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • Customers looking for a more reasonably priced creatine supplement. 
  • Athletes who want more than one flavor to choose from. 

While Kaged Muscle’s C-HCI Creatine Hydrochloride is a little pricier than more basic creatine monohydrates, it’s easier on the digestive system, and can potentially absorb faster for better athletic performance. 

Best Creatine for Beginners

If you’re just starting out and looking for an easy-to-digest product that can potentially help boost your athletic performance, this pick may be easier on the stomach than others.

Legion Recharge

Though creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular forms of creatine on the market, it can be harsh on the stomach for some. If you’re just starting out, this may be a bit of a turn off, which is where this product comes in. Legion Recharge contains 5g of micronized creatine, which is creatine that has been broken down further to potentially help with absorption and digestion.

This product can also act as a full post-workout supplement as it contains 2.1g of carnitine and 10.5mg of corosolic acid in addition to the creatine. If you’re just looking for a plain creatine to start out on your fitness journey, this may not be for you. But if an easy-to-digest post-workout supplement with a high dose of creatine is what you’re after, this product could be a great fit.

Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge

Legion Recharge is a well-rounded option that includes a solid dose of creatine monohydrate, along with l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery.

Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • Anyone just starting out on creatine who’s looking for an easy-to-digest supplement. This product is micronized creatine, which may be more easily absorbed. 
  • Those who want a post-workout supplement will appreciate the added ingredients here. 
  • Folks who prefer fruity flavors will like the four options here — Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, and Strawberry Lemonade.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Customers who are looking for the most cost effective creatine supplement can find cheaper options on the market. 
  • Athletes who prefer a regular creatine monohydrate to start since it is the most research-backed form of creatine on the market. 

Legion Recharge contains micronized creatine, which can potentially be more easily absorbed than other forms of creatine — this may make this particular product more appealing to beginners who want to stay away from plain creatine monohydrate, which can upset the stomach. 

Best Creatine HCl

Some prefer creatine hydrochloride, a more acidic form of creatine that may actually be easier on sensitive stomachs, as it’s closer to the pH of our stomach acid. Not all creatine hydrochloride is created equal, and — yes, here it is again — we think Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl sits above the rest. 

Kaged Creatine HCl

Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl hits all the right notes. While it’s pricier than monohydrate, it’s a pretty reasonable cost for creatine HCl at about 35 cents per gram. Hydrochloride varies between 20 and 60 cents per gram, so Kaged Muscle’s product is right in the middle, and it has two big advantages: It’s naturally flavored with a tasty lemon-lime bent (you can get unflavored too), and most importantly, it’s third-party tested for banned substances by Informed-Sport, which makes it a great pick for athletes. 

Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride
Kaged Muscle C-HCl Creatine Hydrochloride

This is a tasty option for folks who are looking for creatine hydrochloride in either pill or powder form. It’s third-party tested for banned substances and competitively priced.

Who Should Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • If creatine monohydrate gives you digestive discomfort, there’s anecdotal evidence that this form may digest more easily.
  • Competitive athletes who only take supplements tested by companies like Informed-Sport will be happy with this product. 
  • If you like the taste of lemon-lime, you’ll like this product’s flavor.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Creatine HCl

  • Those who don’t get indigestion from monohydrate — there’s no specific evidence that hydrochloride is a better overall supplement than monohydrate. It’s simply easier to digest. 
  • Folks who don’t want to spend extra on hydrochloride.

This creatine may digest more effectively than other formulas for better overall absorption. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the lemon lime flavor tastes great. 

[Related: Best Macros Calculator For Tracking Muscle Gain and Fat Loss]

Best Creatine For Women

A recurring theme when we talk to female athletes is a desire for supplements that improve performance without adding unnecessary bulk. So when looking for the best creatine for women, we sought one with ingredients that could help with this. 

Legion Recharge

Creatine, for the most part, is creatine, so there aren’t many women-specific features in most plain creatine supplements. That said, this particular creatine supplement is a full post-workout supplement, and comes with a dose of carnitine, as well — this ingredient can be helpful with lean muscle growth as it may help with fat burn. You’ll also find corosolic acid along with the high 5g dose of micronized creatine (which may be easier on the stomach than other forms of creatine).

Additionally, this product is naturally flavored and sweetened, which may be appealing to women who want to avoid artificial ingredients. It comes in four fruity flavors, and while it’s not the cheapest option on the market, it’s also not the most expensive you’ll find out there.

Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge
Legion Recharge

Legion Recharge is a well-rounded option that includes a solid dose of creatine monohydrate, along with l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery.

Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • Women who want a product that can help with lean muscle growth will appreciate the creatine and carnitine here. 
  • Anyone who wants a form of creatine that may be easier to digest — this product contains micronized creatine. 
  • Folks who want a full post-workout supplement rather than just a creatine supplement. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Athletes who prefer a pill might want to opt for another creatine on this list — this product comes in powder form.
  • Those who are looking for a more straightforward creatine supplement should opt for a basic creatine powder or capsule.

To be clear: Any creatine on this list will suit a woman just fine. That said, some women may prefer the added carnitine, digestibility, and natural flavors here. 

How We Decided Our Picks

Here are the primary factors we considered when choosing which creatine supplements to place on this list.

Supplement Type

There are pills, powders — both flavored and unflavored — and even creatine chews. Some supplements aren’t even pure creatine supplements, but rather intra-workout supplements that include creatine. We have included a variety of creatine types on this list so you can choose the supplement and delivery mechanism that best suits your needs. 

Price

Depending on what supplement type you choose, the price will vary. An intra-workout supplement that includes carbs, protein, and creatine will be more expensive than a pure monohydrate. That said, the products we picked float right around the market price. Supplements are nice to have, but they shouldn’t break the bank. Luckily, creatine is one of the most affordable supplements on the market.

Research

As creatine is absorbed by the body, it draws water into the muscles, and as muscles become more saturated, creatine can potentially help improve power output in the gym. It is generally thought that creatine supplementation may promote a faster rebuilding of adenosine triphosphate (ATP — an energy molecule in the body’s cells) in between workouts. With more energy for your next session, creatine may help increase performance in resistance training and high-intensity work. (3)

Creatine
Image via Shutterstock/itakdalee

While creatine may seem straightforward, there are actually many different types of creatine on the market. We’ve double-checked that each supplement uses a science-backed creatine variety and — just as important — that it’s dosed correctly. [Related: How To Do The Romanian Deadlift For Lower-Body Size And Strength]

Before You Buy Creatine

If creatine is a brand new supplement to you, or even if it isn’t, there’s some info you should know before you add it to your daily routine. Read on for a few pro tips on this well-researched, yet sometimes misunderstood product.

Some People Don’t Respond To Creatine

A small percentage of people, perhaps twenty percent, is called creatine non-responders: Their bodies don’t uptake creatine the same way most people do. (4) It’s hard to know if you’re one of them until you start taking it. This is one of the reasons it’s great that creatine is so inexpensive: You’re not down too much money if you’re a non-responder. 

You Don’t Need to “Load” Creatine

It used to be fashionable to “load” creatine, taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week, then dropping down to five or 10 grams for a few weeks, taking one or two weeks off, and repeating. The goal in this method was that taking a lot of creatine for a week or two would increase muscle stores quickly, then by significantly decreasing the amount you’re taking, you’d maintain the high levels you built up, and then do it all over again. (5) The idea with creatine is to take it every day until your muscles are “saturated,” and you’ll enjoy the ergogenic effects. Loading creatine may saturate the muscles a little more quickly, but it’s not necessary at all. You can take the standard five to 10 grams per day. If you are consistent with your supplementation, this saturation will build up naturally over time — there’s no need to rush it with loading. (6)

You Can Have Creatine With Caffeine

Following on from the previous point, one study published in 1996 found that creatine didn’t increase power output when combined with caffeine. (7) However, many other, higher-quality studies (like double-blind, randomized trials) haven’t found this to be the case. If you have some creatine with your morning eggs and coffee, it’s no big deal.

Chat With Your Doctor First

Creatine is widely seen as safe, but it’s always smart to chat with your doctor before making any new additions to your supplement routine. This is especially true if your doctor is monitoring your creatinine levels, for instance, as taking creatine can throw them off a little. This doesn’t mean creatine harms your kidneys; rather, your doctor should simply know about your supplements you’re taking.

What’s the Best Type of Creatine?

The general sentiment among nutrition experts is that creatine monohydrate is, for most people, the best bet. It’s the cheapest form, and more importantly, it’s the most well-researched. Hundreds of studies have been performed on creatine monohydrate, and there’s no evidence of ill effects, whereas many of the more novel forms of creatine have one or sometimes no studies supporting them.

Some people indeed experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate, and it’s possible that taking creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result. That’s the long and short of it: monohydrate for almost everyone, hydrochloride if that gives you stomach issues. But if you’re curious about other kinds, check out these 10 kinds of creatine and what they all mean.

How Much is Creatine?

The price of creatine varies depending on which type of creatine you buy, and what other supplements are included in the product. The good news though? Creatine is a very inexpensive supplement compared to others on the market. Creatine monohydrate is the most basic form of creatine, and is generally going to be the least expensive. Creatine hydrochloride can potentially absorb better than creatine monohydrate, which can be more desirable for some athletes who want a product that’s easier on the stomach, and who are looking for the effects to kick in faster. Creatine HCL tends to be a little more expensive than monohydrate for that reason. At the top of the charts is creatine that’s enhanced with other supplements (like HMB). These creatines tend to be the priciest because their potential effects can be more powerful and nuanced than those of plain creatine taken on its own.

Though the prices vary, the general price range tends to be anywhere between 10 and 80 cents per gram, or $20 to $45 per box or bottle depending on the number of servings in the container and the type of creatine you’re buying.

The Benefits of Creatine

Creatine is one of the few supplements on the market with a whole bevy of studies supporting its effects on exercise performance and muscle growth. 

More Energy for Exercise

When you exercise, your body produces and uses what’s called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) — a molecule that is a key energy source for many functions. To create ATP, the body needs to tap into phosphocreatine. A creatine supplement helps to increase your phosphocreatine stores, thus providing the body with more ATP for more energy. A review of creatine for exercise performance found that creatine seems to pose no health risks and may boost performance in those who are performing max reps or sprints. (8) [Related: The 3 Most Effective Workouts Splits For Strength Training]

More Power

Because of its ability to help the body produce more ATP, which is at-the-ready energy, creatine has been shown to directly improve power output by anywhere from five to 15 percent. (9) This implies that creatine can help you eke out another extra rep or two of moves that require full effort — for example, the bench press, medicine ball slams, and box jumps.

More Muscle Growth

While creatine has been strongly linked to improved performance, some studies show that it can also help with muscle growth. This is in part due to creatine’s ability to help the body crank out extra reps, which, over time, will lead to more growth. But some studies have also found creatine to be linked to lean muscle gains. (10)

When Should I Take Creatine?

Since creatine can help pull water into your muscle cells, taking creatine with water is the best way to ensure you’re giving the supplement the tools it needs to slay the job. Plus, without water, creatine monohydrate may cause cramping or stomach discomfort. The effects of creatine accumulate over time — the longer you consistently take creatine, the more consistently saturated your muscles will be. If you want to have particularly saturated muscles during exercise, creatine can be taken 30 to 45 minutes before or after exercise. However, studies have shown that taking creatine post-workout is better overall for body composition and strength. (11)

Do I Need to Load Creatine?

You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is five grams once or twice per day, but it’s sometimes suggested that one should “load” creatine by taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week of usage. This is then followed with three to four weeks of five grams per day, then a break for a week or two, then repeat. This may bring about more acute increases in strength and muscle size — creatine will “work” more quickly, in other words — but it’s not necessary. While it’s sometimes advised that one should take a month off from creatine a few times a year, there’s currently not much evidence suggesting that’s necessary.

Final Word

Creatine works by drawing water into your muscles, and this hydration over time can potentially provide more power to boost athletic performance. You can choose from creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride, or creatine with added supplements — all will generally have the same effects; you just need to decide which one will suit your lifestyle and workout regimen best. Once you’ve weighed your options, let this list be your total guide to all things creatine — what it can be used for, what you should consider before buying, what you’re going to pay for it, etc. After all, we’ve already used these best creatine supplements to do the heavy lifting here, so why should you have to?

FAQs

What are the benefits of creatine?

Creatine has strong links to improve power output similar to pre workout — basically better performance in strength workouts. Among people who don’t consume much meat, supplementing creatine may also improve some areas of cognition. What many people take creatine for, though, is because it draws more water into the muscles, meaning it makes them bigger. That’s an aesthetic boost that many people enjoy.

Do I need to load creatine?

Not really. A lot of people suggest taking 20 to 30 grams per day for the first week, then dropping to five grams per day for about a month, then taking a week or two off and repeating the cycle. But taking five to 10 grams per day consistently seems to be just as useful. If you want the “bigger muscles” benefit of creatine as soon as possible, then loading for a day or two might be worth it.

How much creatine should I take?

The default dosage is five grams; when a supplement comes with a scoop, that’s how much it’ll provide you with. Some like to “load” creatine with 25-ish grams per day for a week, then dropping down to five-ish grams for a few weeks. This will saturated the muscles with creatine more quickly if you really need the benefits to set in quickly. But five grams per day, without loading, will work fine. 10 grams may be better for larger athletes.

What's the best type of creatine?

Creatine monohydrate is far and away the most researched and best supported form of creatine. Dozens and dozens of studies support it; no other form of creatine has more than five studies. There’s no evidence any of the other forms, like creatine hydrochloride, nitrate, Kre-Alkalyn, (and so on) are more effective. The main exception is if creatine monohydrate gives you stomach cramps. If this is the case, a form like hydrochloride or nitrate might be easier on your belly.

Do I need to take carbs with creatine?

No. There’s a little evidence that adding carbs makes the creatine absorb more quickly, but creatine isn’t a drug or stimulant that has an immediate effect — it’s something that you saturate the muscles with over a period of days and weeks. So it doesn’t really matter if your daily scoop absorbs faster or not.

References

  1. De França, Elias & Avelar, Bruno & Yoshioka, Caroline & Santana, Jeferson & Madureira, Diana & Rocha, Leandro & Zocoler, Cesar & Rossi, Fabrício & Lira, Fabio & Rodrigues, Bruno & Caperuto, Erico. (2015). Creatine HCl and Creatine Monohydrate Improve Strength but Only Creatine HCl Induced Changes on Body Composition in Recreational Weightlifters. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 06. 10.4236/fns.2015.617167. 
  2. Gufford BT;Sriraghavan K;Miller NJ;Miller DW;Gu X;Vennerstrom JL;Robinson DH; (n.d.). Physicochemical characterization of creatine n-methylguanidinium salts. Journal of dietary supplements. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22432515/. 
  3. Examine.com. (2021, February 4). Creatine – health Benefits, Dosage, side effects. Examine.com. https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/. 
  4. Cooper, R et al. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012; 9: 33.
  5. Hall M, Trojian TH. Creatine supplementation. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2013 Jul-Aug;12(4):240-4. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31829cdff2. PMID: 23851411.
  6. Examine.com. (2018, September 27). Do i need to load creatine? Examine.com. https://examine.com/nutrition/do-i-need-to-load-creatine/. 
  7. Vandenberghe, K et al. Caffeine Counteracts the Ergogenic Action of Muscle Creatine Loading. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996 Feb;80(2):452-7.
  8. Bird SP. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: a brief review. J Sports Sci Med. 2003;2(4):123-132. Published 2003 Dec 1.
  9. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94. PMID: 12701815.
  10. Nissen SL, Sharp RL. Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Feb;94(2):651-9. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00755.2002. Epub 2002 Oct 25. PMID: 12433852.
  11. Antonio, J., & Ciccone, V. (2013). The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10, 36. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-36
  12. Green, AL et al. Carbohydrate Ingestion Augments Skeletal Muscle Creatine Accumulation During Creatine Supplementation in Humans. Am J Physiol . 1996 Nov;271(5 Pt 1):E821-6.
  13. Burke, DG et al. Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid Combined With Creatine Monohydrate on Human Skeletal Muscle Creatine and Phosphagen Concentration. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab . 2003 Sep;13(3):294-302.
  14. Benton, D et al. The Influence of Creatine Supplementation on the Cognitive Functioning of Vegetarians and Omnivores. Br J Nutr . 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-5.