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Best Creatine Powder to Build Muscle and Strength

7 Creatine Powders Reviewed

94 Hours of Research

48 Reviews Examined

3 Experts Interviewed

David | A Lean Life

Published by David Williams

As an engineer, David loves technical product comparison and analyzing the data to assess top products.

Table of Contents

If you spend some time in the gym, you might have wondered what is the best creatine powder to amplify results. Creatine powder has become a mainstream staple for many a fit folks trying to maximize their workout results.

In this article, we’ll review the top creatine powders on on the market today, and the pros and cons of each. We’ll also cover everything creatine: what creatine is, the best ways to take it, the benefits of creatine, side effects, and how it can help your fitness regimen. 

So if you’re training hard, eating well, and recovering, but you can’t seem to get the results you’re hoping for, you are not alone. It happens to everyone, and plateaus sometimes pass on their own. But certain cases call for action, especially if you’ve been feeling stuck for many weeks in a row. And sometimes even months and years.

To that end, we’ve put together this post to compare the six best creatine powders and help you make the right choice to kickstart progression again. Let’s dive in!

CRN-5 Best Creatine Powder

Ultimate CRN-5

Ingredient Quality

Price

5.0
5/5
4.6
4.6/5

Overall Score

4.8
4.8/5
Thorne Creatine

Thorne Creatine

Ingredient Quality

Price

5.0
5/5
4.4
4.4/5

Overall Score

4.7
4.7/5
Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder

Optimum Nutrition Creatine

Ingredient Quality

Price

4.8
4.8/5
4.4
4.4/5

Overall Score

4.6
4.6/5

1. Crazy Nutrition Ultimate CRN-5 Creatine Powder

CRN-5 Best Creatine PowderUltimate CRN-5 Creatine Powder is produced by Crazy Nutrition. They are quickly become a very strong leader for top quality in the supplements industry. Their creatine powder, Ultimate CRN-5, is top-notch in every respect.  

Ultimate CRN-5 contains 5 unique creatines, so your body won’t build a tolerance to a single creatine, which can make gains more challenging over time. When you create tolerance to one creatine, you find yourself needing to supplement to achieve the same gains. 

This is where the unique power of Ultimate CRN-5 comes in. Having the 5 unique creatines working in tandem reduces the chance for building tolerance. This is a top-rated quality by those serious about lifting, gains, and PR’s, and they are seeing the promised results.

Just one scoop of this powerhouse creatine will support increased muscle growth and quicker recovery.

Pros

Cons

2. Thorne Creatine

Thorne CreatineThorne Creatine is produced by Thorne Research. They have built a solid reputation for quality and results. As with other creatine supplements, Thorne Creatine provides support for energy production, building lean body mass, muscle endurance, and power output.

Its edge among many other competing creatine powder supplements? Thorne Creatine is NSF Certified for Sport. It is trusted by athletes, coaches, dietitians, and regular consumers, too.

It goes through four rounds of testing and is manufactured by its own company, Thorne Research. So you can expect exceptional standards with Thorne Creatine. 

More than 2,400 reviews with an average of 4.7 stars is pretty convincing evidence that this creatine supplement stands tall among much of the competition. You’ll find other creatine powders with more quantity of reviews, but not many with higher marks.

Pros

Cons

3. Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder

Optimum Nutrition Creatine PowderUnless you’ve just started taking fitness supplements, you’re probably familiar with the Optimum Nutrition brand. Well-known for their high-quality Gold Standard protein powders, ON is a company that carries a lot of weight in the fitness industry.

As with their protein powders, ON also makes some fantastic creatine powder. Specifically, they offer pure creatine monohydrate, which is affordable and incredibly effective. With over 38,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.6 out of 5, it’s safe to say that people love this creatine.

ON’s Micronized Creatine Powder is touted for its purity and potency, and is micronized. This means the particles are smaller, and hence liquifies better for improved absorption. So if you’re mixing manually you won’t have to worry (as much) about clumping in the base.

Pros

Cons

4. MuscleTech Platinum Creatine

MuscleTech Platinum CreatineMuscleTech is another reputable brand in the fitness industry. As with the previous creatine supplements on our list, MuscleTech’s platinum supplement is also beneficial and worth considering. Most notably, this creatine consists of 100 percent pure monohydrate, which means each dose is entirely made of creatine. 

Like other creatine powders on the market, this one also delivers fantastic benefits, improves ATP regeneration, allows us to train harder, and hopefully make quicker progress in the gym.

Some research also finds direct benefit from supplementing with MuscleTech, though the effects are only studied in the short run. 

In any case, with over 24,000 reviews on Amazon (most of which are positive), it’s safe to say that MuscleTech is a safe bet.

Pros

Con

5. Bulk Supplements Creatine

Bulk Supplements CreatineBulk Supplements is another company that’s been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years. 

Specifically designed to build stamina and speed up recovery, their creatine product is fantastic. Unlike other products on the market, this supplement is made of 99 percent micronized creatine monohydrate. Supposedly, that improves absorption and allows the body to use a greater percentage of it.

Similar to Optimum Nutrition’s creatine, this product also has a stellar rating on Amazon. With over 25,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.6 out of 5, it’s safe to say that people love it.

Pros

Con

6. MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate

MyProtein Creatine MonohydrateMyProtein is a relatively new company that took the fitness world by storm and showed the old dogs that new players can make an impact. Specifically, MyProtein are known for their high-quality protein powders, but their creatine monohydrate shouldn’t be overlooked.

It’s a concentrated creatine dose, it’s affordable to get, and it’s proven to improve performance and speed up recovery. What more could a person ask for?

Unlike some products on the market, MyProtein’s creatine also mixes well with water or juice, making it easier to consume. However, it doesn’t taste that well, which we can say for most creatine products on the market.

Pros

Cons

7. Transparent Labs Creatine

Transparent Labs CreatineWhat do most creatine powders on the market offer? That’s right – a good dose of creatine. What makes Transparent Labs different is the formula they’ve chosen for their creatine product. Specifically, Transparent Labs has combined creatine with another product that shows a lot of promise – β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate, or HMB for short.

Interestingly, the company didn’t simply decide to put these two ingredients together. They held human trials to determine the synergistic qualities of both products, which gave birth to their unique product idea.

Here is how it works:

HMB supposedly improves muscle strength and can lead to fat loss, thus improving definition. At the same time, creatine speeds up recovery and improves our ability to build new muscle.

Pros

Cons

But Why Bother With Creatine, Anyway?

If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering why creatine gets so much praise. For one, because creatine is one of the best-researched supplements on the market, proven to deliver many benefits with minimal side effects. And second, creatine is cheap, and you don’t have to bother with timing it perfectly.

Your body is in a constant state of breaking down adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules for energy. It then has to regenerate them, so it can continue to do function. As we train, our need for ATP skyrockets as much as 1000-fold. We typically reach exhaustion because our demand for ATP outgrows our ability to generate it. Then, by taking a break, the body produces an ATP reserve, and we can do another set or round.

Acceleration of ATP

As we supplement with creatine and saturate our muscles, we primarily store it as phosphocreatine. When we exercise and break down large numbers of ATP, they get converted to adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine swoops in, donates its phosphate group, thus accelerating the production of ATP from ADP. 

As a result, we can train a bit harder and do more work. We also feel a bit stronger, which benefits our training and hopefully allows us to make slightly quicker progress in the gym.

In essence, if you want to maximize your gym results, creatine is the most affordable and best-studied supplement you should consider.

Best Creatine Powder

Knowing the best creatine powder to assist with muscle growth is key. All of us like to stay fit and be physically active. We love to take that hike around the park, ride the bicycle, or even run a few laps to get that cardio going. But did you know that our muscles get worn out when we perform repetitive tasks over a period of time? 

Muscle exhaustion, also known as muscle fatigue, is very common for body-building enthusiasts, sports athletes, and ordinary people. Even you who might be sitting on your desk reading this! 

As common as it may be, muscle fatigue is more severe for people exposed to strenuous activities such as exercising, running, and weightlifting.

As a result, our bodies produce more energy, causing an increased amount of breakage on muscle and tissues. However, there are several supplements to help in maintaining our muscles’ health.

What is Creatine?

Best Creatine Powder for Getting LeanCreatine is a synthetic compound found in our body responsible for storing energy that our body will use in return. Energy storage happens when creatine attaches to a phosphate molecule, forming creatine phosphate.  It helps give strength and energy to muscle cells for them to perform well.

You’ve probably come across ads or seen a bottle labeled creatine in your local health food store. Perhaps some celebrities, professional athletes, or even your next-door neighbor might be talking about how creatine has helped them gain muscle, improve their athletic performance, or recover from workouts faster. But what is it, and how does it work?

Creatine Is Found Naturally in the Body

It is a substance found naturally in the body, primarily in muscle tissue. It is also found in the brain, liver, and heart in small amounts. The body produces creatine from three amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine. About 95% of it gets stored in skeletal muscle.

It allows muscles to produce short but powerful bursts of energy. While it’s naturally occurring, sometimes your body needs more, especially for high-intensity activity. You can get it in abundance from meat and fish, but you’ll need to eat a lot to see any benefits. Most people who want to improve their athletic performance or build muscle opt for a creatine supplement instead.

Creatine can also be consumed from protein-rich products such as fish, meat, chicken, pork, beef, beans, and the like.  However, the amount of creatine we can get from these is only half of what our bodies can not make. 

Creatine is known in the bodybuilding and sports community as the cheapest and safest supplement to take. It is also easy to include in their busy schedules while also enjoying their benefits from taking creatine.

Creatine Supplements

Creatine supplements are widely available in the market and have various them to choose from. They come mostly in powder form and have different flavors to choose from. It can easily be made into your favorite after-workout juice or shake. Make sure to know the difference in taking powder vs pills, and the important advantages of powder (Hint: absorption).

However, knowing the right supplement for you is a must to fit your choice best. As creatine provides you more than enough energy to do your physical tasks that require muscle strength, it also renders the benefits of maintaining muscle growth and recovery. (1)

Creatine has a lot of known types. There may be many of them but let us be more familiar with the most well-known ones. Click to see other types of creatine.

How Does Creatine Work?

Creatine is a vital substance in energy metabolism. It helps supply energy to cells by serving as a reservoir of phosphate molecules that can regenerate Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), particularly in the muscle cells. ATP is the body’s primary source of energy. When ATP gets broken down, it releases a phosphate molecule, which then binds to creatine to form phosphocreatine (PCr).

As such, this process provides energy for muscle contractions. When your muscles run out of ATP, they can turn to PCR for an immediate energy source. During short, high-intensity activities, like sprinting or lifting weights, your body uses ATP for energy.

While your body can store enough ATP for about 10 seconds of activity, it needs to replenish its supply. That’s where creatine comes in. It helps resynthesize ATP, so your muscles can continue working. Taking a supplement increases the amount of PCR in your body, which can help you perform better during short bursts of activity.

Benefits of Creatine

Benefits of CreatineCreatine has a variety of benefits for different types of athletes.

Increases Anaerobic Threshold

Creatine increases your anaerobic threshold. This is the point at which your body can no longer produce energy fast enough to keep up with the demand of your activity. You get tired and have to slow down when you reach this point.

Reduces Lactic Acid Buildup

It also reduces lactic acid buildup. Lactic acid is a waste product that your muscles produce when they don’t have enough oxygen to generate energy aerobically. It causes stiffness and fatigue.

Delays Muscle Fatigue

Creatine delays muscle fatigue. And this is key, because muscle fatigue results from the depletion of your ATP stores. Creatine provides your body with a reserve of energy to delay muscle fatigue and help you power through your workout.

Supports Muscle Growth

Creatine helps you build muscle by providing your muscles with the energy they need to grow. You create tiny tears in your muscles each time you lift weights. For your muscles to repair and grow, they need energy. Creatine provides just that, allowing you to build muscle mass.

Improves Cognitive Function

Research has shown that creatine can improve memory, focus, and mental energy. It is beneficial for both athletes and non-athletes alike! However, if you’re a fitness nut, this is where the real benefit is!

Is Creatine Proven to Work?

Yes, there is much scientific evidence to support the use of creatine. Most studies show that it is safe and effective for healthy people. For example, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) shows that creatine monohydrate supplementation can improve brain performance. (2)

Since the brain needs ATP for energy, the researchers believe that by providing it with phosphocreatine, creatine can help improve brain function. It also aids the brain’s work by increasing mitochondrial function and dopamine levels.

Additionally, another study by the NLM has found that creatine can help lower blood sugar levels and hence fight against diabetes. The 12-week clinical trial shows that it increases the functions of the molecule (4 (GLUT-4) that transport glucose into the muscle cells.

Another study by the NLM found that supplements can help add muscle mass. In the 6-week controlled experiment, participants who had taken creatine added an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kg) more muscle mass than those who didn’t. (3)

Since creatine directly influences ATP production, it can drastically improve high-intensity exercise performance. This includes:

  • Strength
  • Sprint ability
  • Ballistic power
  • Muscle endurance
  • Muscle mass
  • Resistance to fatigue
  • Brain performance
  • Recovery

However, there are some risks involved, as with any supplement. Talk to your doctor before starting creatine or any other supplement.

Are There Side Effects With Creatine?

Side Effects of CreatineCreatine is among the most researched supplements on the market. It’s generally safe and effective for most people. But that does not mean it’s free of side effects.

Most supplements aren’t under the same standards or regulations by the FDA as medications. That means it’s hard to know what is in them and what amounts.

Research is yet to conclude all the potential long-term side effects of creatine supplements, especially in young people. Youth taking them on many occasions do so without medical supervision. It can be dangerous as they might take more than the recommended amount and put too much strain on their kidneys.

Like everything done in excess, too much creatine can be harmful. Although most healthy people can take creatine supplements safely, some exceptions exist. If you have any chronic health conditions or take medication, check with your doctor first.

Some users may experience gastrointestinal issues, like bloating and diarrhea, when they first start taking it. Others may experience adverse effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Fever
  • Kidney problems
  • Rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach upset
  • Headache
  • Weight gain

When taking creatine, ensure you drink enough water to prevent dehydration, as it can cause your muscles to retain moisture. Also, no matter how healthy you feel, consult a doctor before starting any supplement, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Different Types of Creatine

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine MonohydrateThis form of creatine is the most common and well-studied among the other types. Studies also show that creatine monohydrate has the best record when it comes to safety intake. It is also the easiest form to find and cheapest.

This is the most common and cheapest form. It’s also the most researched and probably the most effective. It comes in powder form, and you can mix it with water or juice.

Creatine monohydrate is composed of a creatinine molecule and a water molecule. Muscle mass and formation are based on its capacity to absorb water. Creatine monohydrate helps in the absorption of water in the muscle cells, increasing their mass and growth. (4)

Creatine Hydrochloride or Creatine HCL

Creatine hydrochloride (or HCL) is often compared to creatine monohydrate, and is considered by some superior when it comes to water solubility. When dissolved in water, creatine HCL leaves almost no sediments and is easily mixed with water. 

This form is supposed to be more easily absorbed by your body than creatine monohydrate. But there is little evidence to support this claim. It comes as a powder that you mix with water or juice.

However, it may have promising results, but not enough studies have been conducted to fully support its benefits.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

Creatine Ethyl Ester is a more expensive and less researched form of creatine. Manufacturers claim that the ester attached to the creatine makes it more absorbable. It directly infiltrates your muscles without wastage.

Buffered Creatine

This form of creatine is also known as Kre-Alkalyn – buffered creatine monohydrate. It is a form of creatine that has added magnesium to make it easier to be absorbed when taken, which also helps in reducing stomach bloating. Much like the creatine HCL, there are not enough studies to fully validate the benefits and value.

Creatine Magnesium Chelate

This is a newer, more expensive form of creatine. It’s bound to magnesium, thought to make it more absorbable. One study on two groups suggested that it might be just as effective as the monohydrate.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey Protein Powder

This supplement is most commonly known as “protein powder.” Like creatine, whey protein powder is widely known and used among athletes. While creatine is an organic compound found in the body, whey protein is found in most dairy products. Click to learn more about creatine vs. protein powder.

Protein powder assists in performing high-intensity workouts, building lean muscle, and recovery assistance. 

But these powerhouse powders do contain a decent amount of calories. So if you’re overweight and trying to get lean, make sure to watch the calories! And you might consider a TDEE calculator to make sure you stay on track. 

Conclusion

We all yearn for a fit and toned body, don’t we?  

Creatine is a valuable supplement that helps in boosting our body’s strength, growth, and wellness. More than physical health and benefits, some scientific studies also have that creatine helps in neurological health.

And knowing the best time to take creatine powder is also an important consideration. To maximize the impact, make sure to take it at the right time!

Keep in mind that these powerhouse supplements alone are not enough to make the magic work. The right diet, consistent exercise, and self-discipline are all cornerstones in achieving a lean and healthy physique.

Click to see our top creatine powders.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

References

  1. English, N. (2021). 13 best Creatine supplements on the Market (2021 UPDATED). BarBend. https://barbend.com/best-creatine-supplements/.
  2. Rae, C., Digney, A. L., McEwan, S. R., & Bates, T. C. (2003, October 22). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proceedings. Biological sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/
  3. RL;, N. S. L. S. (n.d.). Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: A meta-analysis. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12433852/
  4. Creatinine. Creatinine – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (2010). https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/creatinine#.