Now, there’s no doubt about it, creatine is the single most effective muscle building supplement on the market, period. No other natural muscle building ingredient out there is backed by more research and more real-world evidence than this one. Creatine increases strength and performance, it volumizes the muscle cells, and it helps you transform your body at a faster rate.
1. Which is the best form of creatine?
There’s an endless number of different creatine forms that supplement companies are adding into their formulas these days. There’s creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride, creatine citrate, creatine serum; the list just goes on and on.
The truth is there hasn’t ever been a single study conducted that has ever shown any of these so called, “Advanced” forms of creatine to be superior to the original creatine monohydrate.
Don’t be fooled by the marketing hype. Monohydrate is still king, and it’s also the most cost effective! The only thing to make sure of is that you choose a product that contains micronized creatine monohydrate.
This form of creatine has been broken down into finer particles that have more surface area. As a result, they dissolve easier, they absorb better and they’re less likely to cause stomach discomfort.
2. How much should you take?
Don’t be fooled into thinking you need 10 grams of creatine or more per day to get results. It’s just another marketing tactic to sell you more product. Another creatine marketing trick is known as “creatine loading phase”, which is a 4-5 day method where you generally will consume about 15 grams to 20 grams of creatine per day, split over about three to four doses.
For most people, 3 grams per day is sufficient to fully saturate the muscles with creatine; 1 teaspoon is equal to 5 grams, so taking less than 1 teaspoon per day will be enough. Stick to this dosage consistently and you’ll achieve full creating saturation in around 3 weeks.
3. What is the best time to take creatine?
Now, there’s two main recommendations that you probable hear often.
- take your creatine before your workouts
- the second is to take your creatine immediately after your workouts
The truth is that it actually makes no practical difference when you take it. First of all, creatine has no immediate acute effects. Once your body has reached full creatine saturation, that creatine is always readily available for your muscles to use anytime they need it. For that reason, there’s no specific benefit to taking creatine pre-workout.
Secondly, no matter when you take your creatine, it’s always going to be eventually absorbed by the muscles. So, taking creatine post-workout, may allow for faster absorption, but faster absorption doesn’t necessarily provide any unique advantages.
At the end of the day, it’s not going to make any difference. In the morning, with lunch, pre-workout, post-workout, even before bed. Just take your 3 grams of creatine each day whenever you feel like it.
4. What should you mix your creatine with?
The standard practice here has always been to mixed creatine with a high sugar drink like a grape juice, Gatorade, etc. The idea is to use the simple sugars to spike your insulin levels, which will in turn increase the absorption of the creatine. This is another well-accepted creatine method.
The reality is that the body is incredibly effective at the process of digestion and absorption. And regardless of what you mix your creatine with, it will still eventually find its way to your muscle tissue. So, mixing your creatine with simple sugars, may allow for faster absorption. But again, faster absorption doesn’t give you any distinct advantage.
If you’re not careful in tracking your carbohydrate intake, those calories can easily add up. Again, the bottom line here is to just mix your creatine with whatever you want, juice, tea, crystal lite, water, it really doesn’t matter.
5. What other ingredients should you combine it with for the best results?
Creatine on its own is great, but if you want even better results, we recommend combining your 3 grams of creating with 3 grams of beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that also boosts strength and performance, but through a different pathway than creatine does.
Beta-alanine works by buffering hydrogen ion to the muscle cell, which are responsible for that burning sensation you feel when you train. This reduces fatigue and prolongs the point of muscular failure.
The research has shown that creatine and beta-alanine actually have synergistic effects when you use them together, and deliver benefits notably higher than when either one is used on its own.
Let’s recap this creatine guide:
#1 stick to micronized creatine monohydrate
#2 use 3 grams per day which is a bit less than a teaspoon
#3 take your creatine at any time of the day you want
#4 mix your creatine with whatever liquid you want
#5 combine your creatine with 3 grams of beta-alanine for even better results
4 Best Creatine Supplements for Muscle Building and Cutting Phase
- Creatine Monohydrate – Bulk Supplements
- Creatine HCL – Kaged
- Creatine Capsules – Huge Supplements
When cutting, creatine can support and preserve your muscles by retaining and allowing water into your muscle cells. This promotes muscular growth and protects muscle fibers from damage.
Drinking lots of water when cutting is crucial for this reason as well. During your cutting cycle, it guards against muscle deterioration or injury due to dehydration during your cutting cycle.
According to this study, 4 weeks of rigorous exercise during the cutting phase along with creatine supplementation increased body fat percentage, muscle strength, and power output.
Best overall creatine for cutting
One of the few supplement companies that prioritizes pure micronized creatine monohydrateis is Bulk Supplements. This choice offers the best value for your money and if you are allergic to additives that other brands include in their creatine.
Best overall creatine HCL with zero fillers.
Even though Kaged Muscle Creatine C-HCl has minimal ingredients, it’s a high-quality creatine supplement, especially given its low dosage and affordable pricing for a creatine hydrochloride.
Best creatine pills for cutting.
Creatine capsules from Huge supplements are one of the best brands for creatine capsules. If you don’t like mixing the powder or if you’re constantly on the go, creatine capsules from Huge Supplements are just as affective as the powder form.