The Best Creatine Supplements of 2022 for Strength Training

Klean Athlete Klean Creatine is pure creatine and is NSF Certified for Sport

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Creatine is a compound that supplies our muscles with energy. Our bodies produce creatine naturally, and it can also be found in meat, poultry, fish, and dietary supplements. Creatine supplements are not necessary, but research shows that they may be beneficial for active individuals, especially those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets.

Creatine supplements can increase our stores of creatine, which can delay fatigue and enhance performance when we’re engaging in high-intensity, short-duration exercise. For activities such as weight training or sprinting, that can contribute to improved muscle mass and strength. Creatine supplementation may also improve post-exercise recovery and help with injury prevention.  Research does not demonstrate direct improved performance with creatine supplements for prolonged endurance sports such as cycling or distance running. However, many of these endurance athletes use weight training to help improve performance and prevent injury, and creatine supplementation may support those workouts.

When evaluating different creatine supplements, we consulted registered dietitians with additional training in sports nutrition, including Francesca Castro, MS RD. When deciding which creatine supplement to purchase, “it is important to look for a third-party certification, such as NSF, or to do your own research into the company. You should also look for creatine monohydrate, since this is the most studied form,” says Castro. In addition to outside testing and form, we recommend checking ingredients, dose, and price.

Verywell Fit Approved Creatine Supplements

  • Best Overall: Klean Athlete Klean Creatine is our top choice because it is free from artificial flavors, sweeteners, and coloring and is NSF Certified for Sport. It is unflavored, so it can be mixed with a liquid of choice.
  • Best Chewable: Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews are a ConsumerLab-approved convenient creatine supplement that can be taken on the go.

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine, to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Since creatine supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA, the quality of the brand is even more important to ensure a safe product. If you are a competitive athlete, we recommend choosing a creatine supplement that is third-party tested to avoid potentially consuming prohibited substances. 

Are Creatine Supplements Beneficial?

The impact of creatine supplements on short-term, high-intensity exercise performance is well documented. The degree of performance enhancement from creatine supplements may vary among individuals. It can depend on different factors, such as body size and the amount of creatine consumed in the diet. 

Those who may benefit from creatine supplements include:

  • Athletes who engage in strength training: Strength and power athletes who engage in regular strength training may benefit from creatine supplementation. Research shows that supplementing may increase performance during maximal effort, resulting in increased muscle mass and strength, enhanced recovery, and greater training tolerance.
  • Athletes who need to sprint intermittently: Athletes who play sports that require intermittent sprinting with quick recovery, such as soccer, football, basketball, and tennis, may benefit from creatine supplementation. Performance of high-intensity or repetitive exercise may be increased by 10% to 20%.
  • Vegetarians and vegans: Since creatine can be found in animal products, those following a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet may have lower stores of creatine in their muscles. Due to these initially lower stores, vegetarians and vegans may experience greater gains in muscle creatine content from creatine supplementation when paired with resistance exercise, which can result in enhanced exercise performance.
  • Older Adults: Age-related muscle loss can negatively impact our ability to perform activities of daily living. Some research shows that when older adults pair creatine supplementation with resistance training, it can support healthy aging by enhancing muscle mass, strength, and functional performance.
  • Those with creatine synthesis deficiencies: There are a group of inborn errors that reduce the body’s ability to synthesize creatine, which can affect the brain and result in neurodevelopmental delay. Creatine supplementation may result in some improvement among those with with certain deficiencies such as glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency and guanidinoacetate methytransferase (GAMT) deficiency.

Who May Not Benefit from Creatine Supplements

While creatine supplements are generally considered safe, there are some people who should consult a healthcare provider before adding a creatine supplement:

  • Those under 18 years of age: Many studies demonstrate the safety of creatine supplements in an adult population, yet few studies have examined creatine use among adolescents who are interested in improving athletic performance. While the research done to date seems to indicate that creatine supplementation among healthy adolescents can be well tolerated, more research is needed.
  • Those with kidney disease: The risk of kidney injury with creatine supplementation is low, even among those with existing kidney disorders. However, the safety of creatine in those with kidney disease has only been validated in short-term studies, so if you have kidney disease, you should consult with a healthcare provider.

Best Overall: Klean Athlete Klean Creatine Unflavored

Klean Athlete Klean Creatine Unflavored

Amazon

Pros
  • NSF Certified for Sport 

  • Non-GMO

  • No artificial colorings, flavors, or sweeteners

Cons
  • Slightly more expensive than other unflavored creatine powders

Klean Athlete is a trusted company in the world of athlete supplements. Like all of their products, their creatine supplement is NSF Certified for Sport, meaning the company tests for substances prohibited by sports organizations. That is particularly important if you are a competitive athlete, but it is a plus for everyday athletes as well. The products are also non-GMO and do not contain any artificial colors, flavorings, or sweeteners.

Klean Athlete Klean Creatine contains only creatine monohydrate, the most studied form of creatine, and no other ingredients. You can mix it into water or another liquid of choice. Since it is unflavored, you can easily add it to different recipes. We recommend adding it to a smoothie with carbohydrate-containing foods, such as fruit or oats, as an optimal post-workout snack. In addition to enhancing the taste, it may be beneficial, because carbohydrates may increase muscle uptake of creatine.

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 5 g | To use: Mix 1 scoop into 8 oz of water or another liquid of choice, and take with carbohydrate-containing food or beverage

Best for Athletes: Thorne Research Creatine Powder

Thorne Research Creatine Powder

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • NSF Certified for Sport

  • Free from artificial flavors, dairy, and soy

  • Mixes well with liquids

Cons
  • Might not dissolve well

Thorne Research is known for producing high-quality supplements, and its creatine is no exception. Thorne creatine undergoes rigorous third-party testing and is NSF Certified for Sport, so if you are a competitive athlete, this may be a trustworthy choice.

This creatine powder contains 5 grams of unflavored micronized creatine monohydrate per scoop. Micronized creatine is typically easy to mix into water or another liquid of choice, which can sometimes be an issue with other creatine supplements. The manufacturers recommend using this creatine 30 to 90 minutes before or after exercising. 

Thorne creatine does not contain any ingredients aside from creatine monohydrate. It is also free from dairy, soy, and gluten.

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 5 g | To use: Mix 1 scoop into 8 oz of water, juice, or another liquid of choice

Best Chewable: Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews 5g of Creatine Monohydrate Delicious Grape Wafers

 Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews

Amazon

Pros
  • ConsumerLab Approved

  • Chewable form

  • for use on the go

Cons
  • Contains artificial flavors

Many creatine supplements come in powdered form, which you may find does not always mix well with liquid. Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews are creatine supplements in chewable form, so you can avoid this issue. Chews may be a convenient option if you are on the go and are not able to mix a powder into a liquid. They are also approved by ConsumerLab, one of our top third party testers.

Each serving of 4 chewable tablets contains 5 grams of Creapure,® a brand name of creatine monohydrate made by AlzChem, a German company. This brand of creatine monohydrate is sometimes more expensive due to claims that it is purer than other forms and therefore more effective. However, our sports dietitians did not find evidence backing these claims, so whether you want to seek out Creapure specifically is up to you.

These chews contain 4.5 grams of added carbohydrates in the form of sugar, which may enhance your body’s ability to absorb creatine. While this is a small amount of sugar, if you need to monitor your blood sugar levels, you may want to factor this in. 

If you are vegetarian or vegan, take note that the chews are colored using carmine, a pigment made from the crushed shells of the cochineal insect, which may or may not fit into your dietary preferences. These chews contain artificial flavors, which you may prefer to limit. They come in two flavors: grape and orange.

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 5 g | To use: Take four chewable tablets daily

Best Budget: BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate Powder - Pre Workout with Creatine - Micronized Creatine - Vegan Pre Workout - Pre Workout Women - Creatine Powder

BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate Powder

Amazon

Pros
  • ConsumerLab-approved

  • Budget-friendly

  • Free from additives

Cons
  • Unflavored

If budget is a top priority, BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate may be a good choice. This creatine supplement is less expensive than many other creatine supplements on the market. BulkSupplements.com's creatine is also free from added sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, and additives.

Their creatine comes in powdered form in amounts ranging from 100 grams per bag to 25 kilograms, so you can purchase according to your needs. The powder is micronized, meaning that the particles have been made smaller to allow for easy mixing. The company also produces vegetarian or gelatin capsules, in case you prefer that form. In addition to providing a certificate of analysis with each product, BulkSupplements.com creatine is ConsumerLab-approved.

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 5 g | To use: 2 tsp once to twice daily, preferably before a workout

Best Vegan: Gnarly Nutrition Creatine, Unflavored

Gnarly Nutrition Creatine

Amazon

Pros
  • NSF Certified for Sport

  • Creatine is only ingredient

Cons
  • Expensive

Gnarly Creatine is an NSF Certified for Sport creatine powder that contains Creapure creatine monohydrate and no other ingredients. It is free from artificial flavors, sweeteners, gluten, and soy. 

This creatine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, who may benefit from creatine in particular. If you follow a vegan diet, your starting creatine stores may be lower, since creatine can be found in animal products. Using a high-quality creatine powder along with resistance exercise may support enhanced exercise performance.

Each bag of Gnarly Creatine contains 90 servings, so it should last you for a while. This unflavored powder can be added to a liquid of choice or to a carbohydrate-containing smoothie.

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 5 g | To use: Mix 1 serving with 8 oz beverage of choice

Best Pre Workout: Proven4 Sport Pre Workout Drink Powder for Men and Women, Energy from Creatine Beta Alanine, NSF Certified Supplements for a Clean Preworkout, Cherry Limeade, 30 Servings

Proven4Sport Pregame Formula Cherry Limeade

Amazon

Pros
  • NSF Certified for Sport

  • Contains caffeine, B vitamins, and beta alanine

Cons
  • Lower dose of creatine per serving

If you are looking for a flavored creatine supplement that will give you a pre-workout boost, Proven4Sport might be a good option. This powder contains 150 milligrams of caffeine per serving, which studies show may enhance exercise performance. It comes in four flavors including cherry limeade, blue raspberry, fruit punch, and watermelon.

In addition to creatine and caffeine, Proven4Sport contains added B vitamins to support energy metabolism, along with beta alanine, an amino acid that may delay fatigue and improve exercise performance. Proven4Sport is also NSF Certified for Sport, so it has been tested for substances banned by sports organizations. Note that it contains 2 grams of creatine per serving, which is a lower level than in other products. 

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 2 g | To use: Add 1 scoop to 8 oz of liquid before working out

Best Tasting: Muscle Feast Creapure Creatine Monohydrate Powder

Pros
  • Comes in several flavors

  • Free from artificial flavors and sweeteners

  • Contains L-carnitine

Cons
  • Contains stevia, which some may find too sweet

Legion Recharge contains 5 grams of micronized creatine monohydrate per serving. In addition to creatine, this post-workout supplement contains 2.1 grams of L-carnitine per dose. L-carnitine is an amino acid involved in energy production. According to some small studies, it may help improve muscle repair and lessen soreness post-workout.

Many creatine supplements are unflavored, which can make them challenging to take. Legion Recharge comes in several flavors, including strawberry lemonade, blue raspberry, grape, and an unflavored version that is lightly sweet. It does not contain artificial sweeteners or dyes, but it is sweetened with stevia. Legion uses Labdoor for third-party testing and provides a Certificate of Analysis for each bottle of Recharge so you can see what is in it.

The manufacturer recommends mixing one serving into 10 to 12 ounces of water and drinking it alongside your post-workout meal.

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 5 g | To use: Mix one serving with 10 to 12 ounces of water, and take with your post-workout meal. On non-training days, take with largest meal.

Best Capsules: Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Capsules, Keto Friendly, 2500mg, 200 Capsules

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules

Amazon

Pros
  • Capsule form for convenience

  • Micronized creatine for easy absorption

Cons
  • Expensive

If you are not a fan of powders or chews, Optimum Nutrition makes a creatine supplement in capsule form. It allows for the added convenience of being able to take your creatine on the go, without having to mix it into liquid.

The recommended dose is two capsules of creatine monohydrate, taken twice daily with a meal. Optimum Nutrition offers bottles with 100, 200, and 300 capsules, so you can decide on an amount that is right for you. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you should note that these capsules contain gelatin. While convenient, these capsules are also a more expensive choice.

Form: Creatine monohydrate | Dose per serving: 2.5 g | To use: Take two capsules with a meal twice daily

Final Verdict

Our top choice for a creatine supplement is Klean Athlete Klean Creatine, because it does not contain any additives, flavors, or sweeteners and is NSF Certified for Sport. For a chewable option, consider Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews—this supplement is third-party verified and convenient for when you are on the go.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements. You can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here.

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest-quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party-tested and certified by one of three independent, third-party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab. 

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

What to Look for in a Creatine Supplement

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party-tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  • Third party testing does not test to see whether a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure that the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  • Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  • The third-party certifications we trust are: ConsumerLab, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by any of these three organizations. 
  • Sometimes, products tested by these three companies are more expensive in order to try to offset the cost their manufacturers pay for certification.
  • Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and contacting it and its testing lab to determine their protocols and decide whether you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

If you are an athlete engaging in competitive sports, choosing a creatine supplement that has been third-party tested is particularly important. Creatine is broken down in the body into creatinine, a waste product that our kidneys remove. In addition to testing for banned substances, third-party testers such as ConsumerLab test for creatinine, since a high-quality creatine supplement should not contain it. Most creatine supplements are sold in solid form, since creatine can become unstable in liquid and degrade into creatinine over time. 

Form

Creatine supplements typically come in powdered, pill, capsule, chewable, or liquid form. Most creatine supplements are solid in a solid form, though, because creatine is unstable in liquid, and creatine liquids might not provide enough creatine to be beneficial.

Various forms of creatine can be found in supplements, with the most popular and well-studied one being creatine monohydrate. Creatine is also available in other forms, including creatine ethyl ester, creatine magnesium chelate, micronized creatine, creatine hydrochloride, and creatine malate.

Ingredients and Potential Interactions

It is essential to read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement carefully so you can know which ingredients are included, and how much of each, relative to the recommended daily intake of each ingredient. Please take the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and any other supplements and medications you may be taking.

Certain creatine supplements contain added ingredients meant to further enhance strength and endurance. They may include the amino acids glutamine or taurine; however, research on the impact of these amino acids on athletic performance remains mixed.

Some creatine supplements also contain caffeine. Short-term caffeine supplementation may improve exercise performance, but some research shows that chronic supplementation may blunt the effects of creatine.

Creatine products may also contain added carbohydrates. Creatine levels build more quickly when taken with carbohydrates or carbohydrates plus protein. You can, however, also pair creatine with carbohydrate-containing foods, such as fruit and yogurt or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

Be aware of products that contain proprietary blends, because they often do not list the amount of creatine contained. 

Creatine Supplement Dosage

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine, to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and to understand which dosage to take.

General recommendations for increasing creatine stores are to take 5 grams, or around 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight, for five to seven days, split up into four doses. Once stores are saturated, they can be maintained by taking 3 to 5 grams per day.

Larger individuals may need to ingest 5 to 10 grams per day in order to maintain creatine stores. When taking creatine, it is important to drink water along with carbohydrates or carbohydrates and protein, to promote greater retention. Once stores are elevated, it can take around four to six weeks to return to baseline.

Higher doses, for longer periods, may be needed if you are taking creatine for certain disease states, in which case you should consult with a healthcare provider.

How Much Is Too Much?

Creatine is generally safe for healthy adults to use for weeks or months and potentially for years. Studies consistently demonstrate the safety of creatine supplementation. Reactions to creatine supplements are rare but may include muscle stiffness, cramps, weight gain, and GI upset.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does creatine cause hair loss?

    There is no current research that directly connects creatine to hair loss. This misconception stems from one study on creatine supplementation among college-aged male rugby players, in which they experienced an increase in the hormone DHT, which has been linked to some occurrences of hair loss. These results have not been replicated in other studies, so current evidence does not indicate that creatine supplementation results in hair loss.

  • When should I take creatine?

    Research is mixed regarding creatine timing. Some studies suggest greater benefits when creatine is used after exercise, compared to before, although more research is needed.

  • Does creatine make you gain weight?

    Creatine supplementation leads to water retention, which can result in some weight gain during early phases of supplementation. It also may help support increased muscle mass, so there may be associated weight increases. We recommend focusing on change in strength, exercise capacity, and how you feel rather than the number on the scale.

  • How do I creatine load?

    General recommendations are to start with a loading dose of 15 to 20 grams of creatine per day, split into four doses, for five to seven days, to be is followed by a maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams per day. Larger individuals may need up to 10 grams per day to maintain stores.

  • Is creatine a steroid?

    Creatine is a compound that is naturally produced by the body. It provides us with energy, which may increase exercise volume and therefore support muscle growth. While the performance outcomes of steroids and creatine may have some overlap, creatine is not a steroid. Steroids are regulated by the FDA and may not be taken without a prescription.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Tamar Kane, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and marathon runner. She is the founder of Tamar Kane Nutrition, a virtual practice that focuses on helping runners learn to fuel their running and their lives.

Tamar has her master's degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Teachers College Columbia University and specializes in working with plant-based athletes. Her goal is to help people understand how to properly fuel their bodies (and supplement if needed!) to optimize performance and wellbeing.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Tamar Kane, MS RD
Tamar is a former combat fitness instructor in the Israel Defense Forces.Tamar is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with Master's in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.Tamar is the founder of Tamar Kane Nutrition, a nutrition practice that supports athletes.