Creatine is a tripeptide that is naturally occurring and stored in our muscles. A tripeptide is a peptide that is made up of three amino acids joined by two or three bonds. The three amino acids that make up creatine are:
Since creatine acts as fuel to our muscles, we need it to function properly. It provides us with the energy we need to move. If we have satisfactory levels of creatine in our system, we are capable of so much more than we think.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine targets the processes associated with muscle contraction. This process is fueled by ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. Typically, you have enough ATP to last approximately 10 seconds. However, through creatine supplementation, you are providing your body with additional phosphate molecules, which increases the production of ATP. This means that your workout intensity and athletic performance is improved.
There are many studies that have indicated creatine increases energy efficiency, increases training intensity, and improves recovery rates. Yes, with creatine supplementation, you can improve your overall performance during your workouts and your recovery after.
Benefits of Creatine Supplementation
Creatine is one of the most widely studied substances. Most of these studies have revealed the many benefits of creatine supplementation. Here are just a few of the benefits that have been verified:
- Builds muscle/increases muscle mass
- Maximizes lift and sprint speeds
- Improves athletic performance
- Reinforces joint health
- Improves recovery
- Improves cognitive performance and health
- Balances glucose levels
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Protects brain functioning
There are also some indications of other benefits, including anti-cancer properties- but this has not yet been verified.
Who Needs to Use Creatine?
Experts indicate that creatine can be beneficial for all ages and most health conditions, but not everyone will get maximum benefits from it. You will be able to benefit from supplementing with creatine if any of the following apply to you:
- You want to bulk up
- You want to increase muscle mass/maximize muscle gains
- You want to reach your full strength potential
- You want to improve your recovery time
- You want to improve your cognition, brain power, and focus
- You want to push past your fitness plateaus
You need to know that creatine is available in both capsule and powder form. Most people choose the powder form. However, there are some that find capsules to be easier to use, so that is always an option. If you choose the powder, simply combine one scoop with a glass of water before and after your workout.
Side Effects with Creatine Supplementation
As stated previously, creatine is a naturally occurring substance in your body. It fuels your muscles, which gives you the ability to do so much.
Generally, participants in creatine-related studies have not experienced any detrimental side effects. There have been some reports of stomach upset, but that can be eliminated by spreading out the dose into several smaller servings instead of taking it all at once.
Weight gain is another potential side effect that has been reported. However, the reason for this is that creatine increases muscle mass. Muscle weighs more than fat, so the scale will go up. However, don’t be alarmed- the point of creatine supplementation is to increase muscle mass. You will lose a little when you stop because some of it is water weight, due to creatine pulling water into the muscle cells.
Of course, if you have a severe medical condition such as high blood pressure or liver or kidney disease, you will want to have a discussion with your doctor before you decide to add creatine to your fitness routine.
6 Types of Creatine
There are 6 different types of creatine.
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Creatine Ethyl Ester
- Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL)
- Buffered Creatine
- Liquid Creatine
- Creatine Magnesium Chelate
In most creatine supplements, there is only one type of creatine. However, you will find some on the market that include 3 to 5 different types. Following, we will discuss the 6 types of creatine:
Creatine monohydrate is the most common type of creatine and is known for its enhancing properties. Since it’s the most common, it’s also the most affordable. Plus, it’s one of the most widely studied forms of creatine.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
In an effort to increase the bioavailability of creatine, the ethyl ester, or CE, version of creatine is used. Some argue that this type of creatine is easier for the body to digest than creatine monohydrate. However, studies indicate that there’s no clear difference between the two.
Creatine Hydrochloride, or HCL
Creatine hydrochloride, or Creatine HCL, is created when creatine atoms are bound to hydrochloride atoms. This form of creatine is water soluble, which means your body can absorb it easier. Some experts believe that creatine HCL is better than creatine monohydrate.
Buffered creatine has a higher pH level than creatine monohydrate. The two most common buffered creatine products on the market are Kre-Alkalyn and Crea-Trona. Since it has a higher pH, there are some who believe buffered creatine is more effective than creatine monohydrate, but studies don’t show any significant difference between the two.
There are some studies that indicate liquid creatine is more bioavailable than other forms and therefore easier for your body to absorb. These studies are small, so more research is needed. However, there are some people who find this form of creatine easier to use.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate
Creatine magnesium chelate, or chelated creatine, is a form of creatine where a creatine molecule is bound to a magnesium molecule. There are some who believe this is easier to absorb than other forms of creatine. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove this.
When it comes to creatine, the monohydrate version is the most popular and is widely available. Research does indicate that creatine monohydrate version is the best. However, they are all pretty much the same as far as what they do: increase muscle energy, which maximizes performance.
Top 5 Best Creatine for Bulking Reviews
At this point, you’ve gained a better understanding of creatine, how it works, and the various types. Now, we’re going to review what we feel are the top 5 best creatine supplements for bulking. Our goal is to help you find one that will work for you.
XWERKS is a health supplement company based in Florida. They are well-known for their quality products and their creatine is no different. XWERKS Lift is everything you would expect in a creatine product and more. It is 100% pure micronized creatine monohydrate.
Since most research indicates that creatine monohydrate is the best type, XWERKS didn’t want to try to reinvent the wheel. They just went with what the research says instead of trying to create something new and different.
Each serving of XWERKS Lift offers a high dose, that is 5 grams of pure creatine monohydrate. You can combine it with a protein shake, smoothie or anything else you use while working out.
A package of XWERKS Lift costs around $49 and you’ll get 80 servings. Since the dosage is so high per serving, this is one of the best values on our list. As mentioned, XWERKS is well-known and respected in the industry for producing high quality fitness supplements.
NSP Nutrition Muscle Power Creatine
NSP Nutrition was founded by Vince Gironda in 1972. It is all-natural bodybuilding supplement company committed to producing Golden Era formulations for Golden Era results. According to their website, you don’t have to be a body builder to benefit from their products. They believe that good health is for everyone.
Their Muscle Power Creatine invigorates your muscles to burn fat and increase strength quickly. It also promises to increase overall muscle mass. It is comparable with other creatine supplements in both price and quality. It costs $28 for 60 servings, which is just under $0.50 per serving. Each serving of Muscle Power Creatine contains 5 grams of creatine.
This is one of the best options on the market for anyone that wants to increase their strength with a 100% creatine formula with 0 additives.
Beast Sports Creature Creatine
Beast Sports has been in the industry since 1995. They believe that “beast mode” is the moment when your mind connects to your willpower and your spirit connects to your strength- which leads you to your body reaching its full potential. This company is committed to creating safe and effective formulas. Their products are third-party tested and produced in the USA in an FDA-inspected facility.
Their creatine formula stands out from the rest of the options on the market because of their catchy name and unique labeling. Creature Creatine comes in several delicious flavors: cherry limeade, beast punch, pink lemonade, and citrus.
According to their website, Creature Creatine gives users an unfair advantage to leveling up their athletic performance. Their formula promises to allow you to quickly build lean muscle by increasing bench reps and improving speed. It is one of the most effective supplements on the market and can help you maintain your efficiency for longer.
There are five types of creatine in Creature Creatine:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Di-creatine malate
- Creatine gluconate
- Crea-Trona (94% creatine & 6% buffering agent)
- Creatine anhydrous
Beast Sports promises that their Creature Creatine will help you quickly gain strength, build up muscle mass, facilitate a quicker recovery, and improve strength over the long term. Plus, the cost is about the same as many of the other options: $30 for 60 servings.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
Optimum Nutrition was founded in 1986 in the United Kingdom. Since that time, they have been focused on helping athletes achieve their goals and have maintained high quality standards. That being said, their Micronized Creatine Powder falls right in line with the rest of their products.
Micronized Creatine Powder by Optimum Nutrition is one of the most popular creatine supplements on the market. Like the other options on our list, it provides 5 grams of creatine monohydrate per serving. This facilitates ATP recycling, explosive strength, muscle growth, stamina, and workout efficiency.
Not only does this creatine supplement have 5 grams of creatine per serving, it contains 0 calories and 0 carbs. There are no unnecessary additives in this formula. One of the reasons this formula is so special is because it comes in a variety of sizes:
- 30 servings
- 60 servings
- 120 servings
- 240 servings
- 400 servings
According to their website, Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder is the gold standard when it comes to creatine supplements. Prices start at $10.99 for a 30-serving package and go up from there.
Elm & Rye Creatine
Elm & Rye is a higher end bodybuilding supplement company. Their creatine formula has carved out a niche for themselves. Supplementing with this product increases muscle growth, improves performance, and decreases fatigue during HIIT workouts. Like the other supplements listed here, Elm & Rye Creatine promotes growth and healing of muscle, increases energy levels, and endurance.
The reason this product is unique is because it’s capsules instead of a powder. It is much more convenient to take and each capsule contains 1,400 milligrams of creatine. Capsules are easier to take and can be used on the go. You don’t need to mix them into anything else. Simply take them and get on with your day.
FAQs about Best Creatine for Bulking
In the world of bodybuilding supplements, there are often questions that come up. Since creatine falls within this category, there are often questions about it. Below, we’re going to explore some of the most frequently asked questions about creatine for bulking.
What exactly is creatine?
This is probably the most common question that comes up. Creatine is a chemical that is created within your body and used by your muscles- including your brain to generate energy through the creatine phosphate energy pathway. In addition to creating energy, creatine also stimulates muscle growth.
Your brain can also use creatine for energy and there is some research indicating that creatine supplementation during stressful events may be beneficial for your brain.
Why use creatine?
Creatine is used by your muscles to produce a lot of power in a short amount of time and when taken over the course of weeks or months and combined with resistance training, creatine can increase muscle mass and strength. You will see more results with supplementation than without.
One of the most common reasons that people supplement with creatine is because it can synthesize new muscle tissue. Of course, even if your goals are short-term, creatine can help you reach them.
Many people believe that you have to be an athlete to use creatine supplements, but anyone can use it. In fact, there are some studies that indicate muscle mass in older adults can be increased through creatine supplementation and a resistance training program.
Is creatine potentially bad for you?
When it comes to health and fitness supplements, creatine is about the closest you will get to perfection. The efficacy of it has been studied closely and proven. It has also been proven to be safe with few side effects.
Creatine has been shown to be effective for athletes and the elderly populations with zero adverse reactions. The safety of creatine over the long term has been proven through regular blood samples to check for damage to the kidneys or liver. At this time, there is no indication of toxic events in long-term use.
At this time, creatine is only recommended for adults ages 18 and over. This is not due to indications that it might be harmful for children, but due to a lack of research.
Do you need to take creatine?
When it comes to improving muscle mass and strength, creatine is one of the safest and most effective supplements. However, that does not mean that it’s ideal for everyone. If you are an athlete and your focus is on cycling or running, creatine really won’t help much- but if you are into sprinting or weightlifting, it will help.
Also, though it’s true that creatine has been shown to help improve brain health, the cognitive benefits are limited to stressful situations, such as sleep deprivation, high altitudes, or recovering from a head injury. If you are not in a stressful situation, you may find it more beneficial to try nootropics.
Does creatine impact your kidneys?
In the beginning, there were a few skeptics when it came to creatine. It was believed that, when taken over an extended period of time, it could have a negative impact on the kidneys. The assumption was that creatine consumption would create HCAs, which are toxic compounds, and cause damage to the kidneys.
However, research is clear that there is no change in biomarkers for kidney health to indicate kidney damage. Therefore, as long as you are healthy, you should not have any issues with creatine supplementation.
On the other hand, there are no studies that indicate how creatine affects those who already have kidney disease. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with kidney disease or you are in renal failure, it’s probably best if you do not use creatine supplements.
What are the risks associated with creatine?
Research indicates that there is little risk when it comes to creatine, even if taken over an extended period of time. There are some reported side effects, such as cramping- but these have not been able to withstand scrutiny.
Also, though creatine does cause users to retain water, this really isn’t a danger. Also, as we have mentioned, children under the age of 18 and those who have been diagnosed with kidney disease should not be using creatine. However, this isn’t due to the potential for harm, but due to a lack of research.
How safe is creatine?
Out of all of the supplements you can use to improve strength and increase muscle mass, creatine is safe. After all, research shows that it’s a natural substance that is found in your muscles and also in foods such as shellfish, chicken, or beef.
According to the latest statements from international sports science research, creatine is 100% safe and effective. It does what it promises to do with little to no side effects or other issues.
Can bodybuilders use creatine supplementation?
Creatine supplementation is popular among bodybuilders, especially if they are trying to bulk up by quickly increasing muscle mass. Many times, bodybuilders use loading/unloading strategies, since the water retention aspect works against their goals when trying to cut body fat or when preparing for a competition.
When should you take creatine?
Research indicates that creatine needs to be taken multiple times during the day. In fact, some studies say up to 5 times a day is ideal. However, three doses spread out throughout the day is enough to give you the benefits you are looking for.
What is meant by “creatine loading”?
“Creatine loading” is a strategy where creatine is taken in such a way that it quickly builds up in your system. Then, even after dropping to a lower dose, the levels remain high. In days 1 through 7, you will take 0.3 grams of creatine per kilo of body mass and 3 to 5 grams per day.
That being said, different experts have different opinions. Still, the strategy is the same: take a high dose for several days then drop to a lower dose to maintain creatine levels.
When it comes to bulking up, creatine is one of the most popular supplements to use because it is formulated to increase muscle size while decreasing fat. There are several types of creatine, but creatine monohydrate seems to be the most popular and the most readily accessible. It has been proven safe and effective. In this article, we’ve explained more about creatine and also given you 5 options to try.
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