Creatine monohydrate is the original creatine. It requires a loading phase of 4-5 doses for about 5 days. There are now 7 types of creatine products on the market. Most athletes and bodybuilders find that creatine monohydrate works just as well as anything. If you don’t mind the loading phase, save yourself the cash of paying a premium for some new “breakthrough” formula. Straight monohydrate powder is extremely economical. What is the best creatine monohydrate product on the market right now? Let’s find out.
In this article, we talk about how creatine works, types of creatine, the pros and cons, and then review the best creatine monohydrate powders.
Best Creatine Monohydrate Products of 2016
What is the best creatine monohydrate powder on the market this year? We review the most popular, best creatine supplements and discuss why they are worth your money.
Bulk Supplements is a solid manufacturer known for pure bulk supplements. Their standardized and lab tested creatine monohydrate is one of the best creatine products we’ve come across. You’re looking at about $0.02 cents per gram which is about as cost effective as you can get. It comes in 9 sizes so you can pick exactly how much you need for your cycle. This is pure creatine powder, no fancy additives or special ingredients. That also means its vegan, kosher, Non-GMO, free of gluten dairy and sugar. Can’t get any more pure than that.
This is another 100% pure creatine monohydrate product. Like the BulkSupplements product, it is about $0.02/gram. It does not contain any fillers nor additives. Serving size is 1 scoop (5000mg per serving). There are exactly 100 servings in this container. If you’re bad at math, that makes things a lot easier when your planning out your supplement plan. Day one through day five you’ll take 1 scoop four times. After that you enter the maintenance phase of the cycle where you’ll take 1 scoop daily. Pretty simple. For improved results, you’ll want to drink about a cup of juice per every scoop.
This powder is Raw Barrel’s “no bull” creatine monohydrate. This will last you about 100 days. You’re paying a bit more for this creatine it comes in about $0.04 cents a gram which still is pretty inexpensive in the long run. Raw Barrel makes pharmaceutical grade products so the premium may well be worth it. Another cool thing about Raw Barrel is their “better than money back guarantee.” That means if you decide you don’t like the product, even halfway through your creatine cycle, they will give you your money back no questions asked. You don’t even need to send the rest back. Plus if you buy two you get free shipping, which may compensate for paying an extra 2 cents a gram.
MuscleTech’s Platinum creatine is one of BodyBuilding.com’s top 10 creatines of 2015. If we had to choose, this would get our award as well for the best creatine supplement 2015. MuscleTech’s creatine undergoes HPLC testing making sure each container is chock full with high grade, concentrated micronized creatine. HPLC is high performance liquid chromatography, a fancy description for an effective chemistry test that is used to quantify the contents of a mixture. True to their brand name, that’s for sure. The bottom line is that this is high quality creatine for about $0.03 cents a gram.
Optimum Nutrition has been in the supplement game for awhile now. They are probably best known for their top tier whey protein product. We’d say most of their product lines are excellent, and they have a state of the art manufacturing facilities in the US. Their creatine monohydrate is the best seller in creatine nutritional supplements. It is pure creatine monohydrate, no special complex or anything like that. We found that this creatine mixes extremely well with water, more so even than other products mentioned. You won’t find any nasty clumps at the bottom of your shaker bottle, that have to be coughed down after the fact.
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine is usually purchased as a powder and mixed with liquid. This mix is easily absorbed by the body to be used right away. Creatine is documented to increase the body’s ability to create energy rapidly. This extra energy means more sets, reps, and ultimately faster results. If you can get 1-2 more reps every set, or move up 5 pounds per set, you’re muscles will get bigger than the guy who isn’t taking creatine.
Muscles store creatine as creatine phosphate. This is an integral part of the ATP-CP energy system (aka phosphagen system). ATP is the fastest energy source for muscle cells during high intensity training. Naturally your body has a small reserve of creatine to convert to ATP but that only lasts about 3 to 15 seconds. By supplementing with creatine, your reserve of creatine can last minutes. The bottom line: the more creatine available, the more that will be used for energy, enabling you to train longer and harder. Creatine is an osmotically active substance. What does that even mean? It means creatine aids in pulling extra water into your muscle cells. This in turn increases protein synthesis (faster rebuilding of the muscles). Creatine actually occurs naturally in fish and meats, but you’d have to eat a lot to get as much as you would from a supplement.
Research over the years has demonstrated that creatine is most effective for high-intensity training. Explosive activities, big lifts, athletic training that requires short bursts of effort such as football all benefit greatly from creatine. What sort of results should you expect? Experts all agree that it is impossible to say for sure. Creatine has different effects on each individual because of their unique genetic composition. Obviously if your diet is crap it is not going to work. You can’t sit on your couch and beer bong creatine powder all day and expect to get big. It must be combined with a solid diet and workout regime.
Is Creatine Safe?
Research indicates creatine is safe. It is not going to kill you and ruin your kidneys. Over 15 years of widespread use has solidified its place as one of the go to supplements. There is some anecdotal evidence that there are negative sides such as kidney damage, heart problems, dehydration, and a slew of other unpleasant conditions. The keyword here is anecdotal. It is highly doubtful that creatine is the root cause of these problems. All that aside, creatine is perhaps the most studied sports supplement of all time. Published, scientific studies have not found it to be unsafe. As long as you have healthy functioning kidneys and are over the age of 18 trainers and health experts give you the green light on taking creatine.
Does Creatine Make you Gain Weight?
One of the most common questions about creatine is “does creatine make you fat.” Well at the very least we know one thing for certain. If you take creatine, you will gain weight. Paul Greenhaff is a professor of body science at the University of Nottingham in England. He says the initial weight gain is about 2 to 4 pounds during the loading phase of creatine monohydrate. For other types of creatine you’ll also get about 2 to 4 pounds during the first week of use. Any weight gains past that are due to the increase in workload you can handle, meaning subsequent weight gains are in the form of lean muscle mass.
Types of Creatine: What is the Best Type of Creatine?
The best creatine? Research has shown that powder is the way to go. Liquid creatine and creatine ethyl ester also known as CEE mostly break down in the blood system before impacting the muscles. Sports scientists recommend 100% pure creatine powder, keep it simple. Many brands will stuff electrolytes and other ingredients but you don’t need those, they do little to increase performance. The only thing that may enhance the effect of creatine is fruit juice. The fruit sugars raise insulin levels in the human body. This helps increase creatine uptake into the muscles.
One of the best things you can do for your gains is buy the best stuff you can afford. Cheap creatine will not dissolve well and you’ll notice residue at the bottom of your glass or mixing bottle after you drink it. If you consistently notice this, get a different brand. As far as fruit sugars go, find a supplement or drink that’s about 60 grams of carbs per 100 grams of product. Once you find two products that work stick with them and you’ll be optimizing your gains.
Here are the most popular types of creatine on the market. Is there a best type of creatine? Well, there are some types and brands you should stay away from. In our opinion the best creatine is a high quality creatine monohydrate product. You’re paying a reasonable cost, and you’re still reaping all the rewards of the supplement. That’s not to say there aren’t other great creatine products in the other classifications.
#1 Monohydrate Creatine
The original creatine. Of course with monohydrate creatine, you need to do a loading phase of about 5 days. Each of the five days you’ll take 4 doses at about 5 grams of creatine per dose. For optimal uptake to the muscles, combine creatine monohydrate with sugar.
#2 Micronized Creatine
Exactly the same stuff as creatine monohydrate. As the name implies, this is just monohydrate creatine but further processed to reduce average particle size. Supporters claim this improves absorption and that it mixes more thoroughly with water. Just like with creatine monohydrate there is a loading period of about 5 days where you’ll take about 6 servings daily. This decreases to two servings a day after the initial 5 day loading period. Many creatine powders are now micronized because the manufacturing process has become very low cost.
#3 Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE)
The nice thing about ethyl ester is that there is no loading period. Most people also claim you don’t need to take sugar with it as well. Ethyl ester comes in both pill and powder forms. Typically you’ll take about 3 grams twice a day of this stuff. Most users found it to be no more effective than creatine monohydrate, but a heck of a lot more expensive.
#4 Liquid Creatine
People that have any idea of what they are talking about will tell you to stay away from liquid creatine. It used to be popular, but it was discovered that it is not stable in the blood stream. That means most of it doesn’t end up where it belongs: your muscles. We don’t recommend this version.
#5 Conjugated Creatine
This type of creatine is the hot new trend being led by the popular product Con-Cret by manufacturer Promera. Where as micronized creatine is smaller in particle size, conjugated creatine is more concentrated per particle. That means lb for lb, conjugated creatine contains more creatine than other types. The same benefits as others are toted such as better absorption and less side effects. The nice thing we must admit about this creatine is that you don’t need to take nearly as much, the typical dose is about 1/4 a teaspoon.
So is the hype behind these new products warranted? Are they really much improved over the standard monohydrate? Is their a best form of creatine? Most experienced bodybuilders will tell you they see no real difference (besides the beating their wallet takes). Of course, you could always try all the types out there and see if you feel like a god on one of them. But it is going to be hard to measure differences in results. By all means, we always suggest to try a few versions and see what you think. You can’t really go wrong with a high quality creatine product, you’ll get the benefits of creatine on all of them, and that means accelerated muscle gains.
How Does Nitric Oxide work with Creatine?
Nitric oxide is a gas produced by the human body. The amino acid arginine is responsibile for the creation of nitric oxide. This cell molecule is involved in many of the body’s functions including the control of nutrient delivery. It initiates hemodilation which is the widening of the blood channels. That’s why people taking an NO supplement usually talk about their ridiculous pumps. If you’ve got the vitamin, protein, and creatine bases covered the next best step is a nitric oxide supplement. This is a great stack for results, especially those who do not want to use steroids/pro hormones/test boosters. The way NO enhances the pump sensation is a great way to carry momentum through your exercise routines. When the blood channels are widened, nutrients are delivered faster to the muscles and waste products are removed faster. That means you’ll get faster recovery between sets, culminating in a better workout.