Best Creatine For Beginners: Bought & Tested (2024)

October 6, 2023

Navigating the creatine landscape as a beginner is like walking through a deserted minefield. One wrong step can lead to wasted money, seeing no performance gains. Multiple wrong steps, and you may inadvertently be ingesting banned substances and impurities.

I've been taking creatine for over a decade and recommend it to the amateur and professional athletes I work with. I'm taking the guesswork out of it so you, as a beginner, know you're getting a quality creatine supplement.

Header
Lift Big Eat Big Creatine

Best Creatine For Beginners

Bulk Supplements Creatine

Best Budget Creatine For Beginners

Best Flavored Creatine For Beginners

Product

Size

250 g

100 g - 5 kg

534 g

# of Servings

50

20 - 1000

60

Creatine per Serving

5 g

5 g

5 g

Price

Best Creatine For Beginners Lift Big Eat Big

The two main factors I look for in a creatine supplement are the transparency of ingredients and no fillers or additives. It's why we created the Lift Big Eat Big Creatine Monohydrate.

It's perfect for beginners dipping their toes into sports supplements because of the complete transparency in creatine quality. We share our Certificate of Analysis (CoA), which details the testing of our supplement for impurities and that our creatine really is creatine.

Creatine Certificate of Analysis

It is 100% creatine monohydrate as it is Creapure® brand and has been regularly tested to produce 99.9% pure creatine [1][2]. It is considered the gold standard of creatine, as proven by our CoA [3].

If you find cheap creatine brands on Amazon, you risk taking creatine with impurities or banned substances. Especially since only 8% of creatine supplements on Amazon are tested for these [3].

Good luck getting their Certificate of Analysis to ensure you get a quality creatine monohydrate. In addition, Lift Big Eat Big uses no additional fillers or additives, making it completely flavorless. All you get is pure creatine monohydrate.

Regarding price, you can purchase one tub of 50 servings for $39.99, which is $0.80 a serving. You get an even better deal when you take the 3-tub bundle, giving you 150 servings for $99 and free shipping within the USA. That's $0.66 per serving.

Pros

  • Transparent testing showing 100% pure creatine monohydrate.
  • Uses the gold standard Creapure® creatine.
  • Completely flavorless.
  • Free shipping within the USA.
  • Bundles can save you more money.

Cons

  • Only available flavorless.

Best Creatine For Beginners - Lift Big Eat Big 100% Pure Creapure® Creatine Monohydrate

Best Budget Creatine For Beginners

Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate

Best Budget Creatine For Beginners

A little can go a long way if you're on a college budget. Bulk Supplements are a trusted, NSF-certified, and FDA-registered cGMP manufacturing and distribution facility. They are a wholesale distributor who branched into the consumer market.

So you can purchase small quantities, such as 100 g pouches of creatine to tons if you're storing your own for the zombie apocalypse. It's completely flavorless, so you can dry scoop it if you're not mixing it in your daily protein shake.

Bulk Supplements creatine monohydrate is excellent for beginners on a budget because the more you buy, the cheaper it is. You can buy a 3 years supply for $145.         

That is not a typo. A 5 kg bag is 1000, 5 g servings. The only issue is the bag will likely lose its resealability, which I've found with my pouch, so you're better off storing it in your own container.

Pros

  • Buy a lot of creatine in bulk at a budget price.
  • Lab tested for purity.

Cons

  • The pouch will lose its ability to reseal properly, so it will need to be stored in its own container if buying in bulk.

Best Budget Creatine For Beginners - Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate

Best Flavored Creatine For Beginners

Legion Recharge Post-Workout

Flavorless supplements work for people who mix them in other flavored drinks. Some want to drink their creatine in water with flavor. Flavored supplements are easier to get down for beginners as it's like drinking juice.

Legion Recharge ticks all the boxes. Third-party tested for impurities, creatine monohydrate, and made in the USA in NSF-certified, FDA-inspected, and cGMP-compliant facilities.

Further, they don't use artificial flavors or sweeteners and instead are naturally flavored with stevia. They've also added L-carnitine, intending to be taken post-workout, as L-carnitine may reduce muscle soreness when taken after a workout [4].

Regarding flavors, you have sour candy, strawberry lemonade, fruit punch, and watermelon. I'm a sour candy kinda guy with this creatine, and it's a nice break from drinking water throughout the day.

Pros

  • Lab tested for banned substances.
  • No artificial flavors or sweeteners.
  • Multiple flavors to keep your palette fresh.

Cons

  • Mixing it in other smoothies and drinks is difficult since it's flavored.
  • Has L-carnitine, which may be found in your other supplements, resulting in a double dose.

Best Flavored Creatine For Beginners - Legion Recharge Post-Workout

Best Informed-Sport Creatine For Beginners

Bare Performance Nutrition Creatine Creapure Formula

As a beginner in competitive sport, you must comply with drug testing protocols. To be safe, always look for a banned substance tested or informed sport tick as it certifies it has been third-party tested for any banned substances.

Bare Performance Nutrition Creapure Creatine has this and is tested for banned substances, giving you the clean tick. Being sourced from Creapure®, you know it's 99.9% creatine monohydrate.

It's flavorless and mixes well in whatever liquid you want to take creatine.

Pros

  • Informed sport third-party tested so you have peace of mind that you won't fail a drug test.
  • Sourced from Creapure® for the highest purity.

Cons

  • You pay a little extra for the creatine because of the incurred cost of third-party testing.

Best Informed Sport Creatine For Beginners - Bare Performance Nutrition Creatine Creapure Formula

Best Creatine Gummies For Beginners

Swoly Creatine Gummies

Best Creatine Gummies For Beginners

Let me start by saying there's nothing special about gummies versus powder or capsules. There's no evidence to suggest it's more absorbable or easier to digest.

However, some of you may want creatine in a gummy format, and Swoly makes the best on the market.

For beginners, gummies are easier to take on the go as you don't need to find somewhere to mix powder. Further, they taste better than plain powder. Supplements are an acquired taste, so a gummy form is a way to ease into a new flavor profile.

Each serving is 5 gummies containing 4 g of creatine. This is slightly below the 5 g servings you get from powdered forms but is still within the 3 - 5 g range to improve performance.

Each serving also contains 4 g of carbohydrates, so if you're dieting hard for a physique competition, this may be an issue.

Pros

  • Easy to take your creatine when on the go.
  • No mess of scooping powders.

Cons

  • Less creatine per serving than powders.
  • Contains carbohydrates you may not want to take from your diet.

Best Creatine Gummies For Beginners - Swoly Creatine Gummies

Can You Take Creatine As A Beginner?

You can take creatine as a beginner lifter, one of the most effective performance-enhancing supplements. However, no supplement is a magic bullet; instead, it is the icing on the cake of good sleep, nutrition, and training.

How To Pick The Best Creatine For Beginners

Purity

Creapure® is the gold standard tested at 99.9% pure creatine monohydrate. Where possible, look for this brand in your creatine product. Our top pick by Lift Big Eat Big and Informed Choice creatine choice uses Creapure®, which are good options.

Ensure the creatine you're buying is tested, and they show you the report. Very few companies do, and it's even worse on Amazon.

Type

The only creatine you should consider is creatine monohydrate. As quoted in Science Direct, “all alternative forms of creatine [monohydrate] found in this investigation utilize marketing hyperbole to sell their products” [3].

Here's a list of the different types of creatine companies will try to sell you:

  • Buffered or KreAlkalyn Creatine Monohydrate
  • Di-Creatine Malate
  • Creatine Gluconate
  • Creatine Anhydrous
  • Magnesium Creatine Chelate
  • Creatine Phosphate
  • Creatine Alpha-ketoglutarate
  • Creatine Pyruvate
  • Creatine Citrate
  • Creatine Hydrochloride
  • Free Acid Creatine (Creatine HCL)
  • Tri-Creatine Malate
  • Creatine Ethyl Ester
  • Creatine Nitrate
  • Creatine Ethyl Ester Malate
  • Creatinol-O-Phosphate

Unfortunately, none have the evidence supporting them like creatine monohydrate does, which maximally saturates the muscle [1].

Of these, 7 have no evidence to support bioavailability, efficacy, and safety, and another 7 have limited evidence.

The last two are creatine HCL and creatine anhydrous, which likely act similarly to creatine monohydrate.

Powder vs. Capsules

Capsules may make sense if you travel often and want to take creatine pills on the go. But for long-term use, they don't make sense.

You must take a boatload of creatine capsules to hit the 3 - 5 g dose. Second, capsules usually cost more, and you typically get less than a month's supply in a bottle.

Powders are superior since you get more at a better price and can get multiple months within a single pouch.

Price

Creatine monohydrate is a relatively cheap and cost-effective performance-enhancing supplement. Because of this, companies have found a way to increase creatine prices by using other forms of creatine for marketing.

Other forms of creatine sell for over double the price per gram compared to creatine monohydrate [3]. This is deceptive marketing to push “new” forms of a supplement and create higher margins.

That's why choosing a quality creatine monohydrate is best for you and your wallet. However, you can't go too cheap as that's likely a sign there's very little quality assurance.

How To Take Creatine For Beginners

There are two strategies for taking creatine as a beginner—a loading and non-loading strategy. Whichever you use will depend on whether you need performance changes quickly.

The loading strategy involves taking 20 g a day for 6 days. This can be split into 3-4 smaller doses each day to make it easier to stomach. After this, taking 2-5 g maintains creatine muscle saturation [5].

The non-loading strategy involves taking 3-5 g every day. Increasing muscle creatine saturation takes up to 28 days [5]. I recommend not loading and just taking 3-5 g daily and making it a habit unless you're in a rush.

Best Time To Take Creatine For Beginners

It doesn't matter when you take creatine as long as you take it daily. The little research suggests that taking creatine after exercise may be better for muscle growth but not strength [6].

However, we don't know how quickly creatine is taken to the muscle, and we know that creatine does not have a stimulatory effect, so from a practical standpoint, take it whenever you are going to remember each day.

Frequently Asked Beginner Creatine Questions

Is Creatine Safe?

Creatine is safe and effective. It is the most studied sports supplement, with evidence showing it's well tolerated when taken within the recommended dose [7]. This is within young to older individuals, meaning, as a beginner, it's safe to use.

Should You Take Creatine On Rest Days?

You should take creatine on rest days to maintain muscle creatine saturation. If you miss a day, it's no problem, but you should maintain a daily habit.

Can Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

Creatine does not cause hair loss, and no evidence suggests it does. It's an old myth based on one study that saw an increase in DHT, which people extrapolated to potentially losing hair. But this was still within the normal range.

Summary

As a beginner, it’s important to see through the marketing. It’s why Lift Big Eat Big 100% Pure Creapure® Creatine Monohydrate is our top pick because of the transparency and purity of ingredients.

However, if you're looking for an informed sport creatine as a beginner competitive athlete, choose one with the tick.

References

  1. Kreider, R. B., Jäger, R., & Purpura, M. (2022). Bioavailability, efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of creatine and related compounds: A critical review. Nutrients, 14(5), 1035.
  2. Jäger, R., Purpura, M., Shao, A., Inoue, T., & Kreider, R. B. (2011). Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino acids, 40, 1369-1383.
  3. Escalante, G., Gonzalez, A. M., St Mart, D., Torres, M., Echols, J., Islas, M., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2022). Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and cost of alternative forms of creatine available for purchase on Amazon. com: are label claims supported by science?. Heliyon, 8(12).
  4. Yarizadh, H., Shab-Bidar, S., Zamani, B., Vanani, A. N., Baharlooi, H., & Djafarian, K. (2020). The effect of l-carnitine supplementation on exercise-induced muscle damage: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 39(5), 457-468.
  5. Hultman, E., Soderlund, K., Timmons, J. A., Cederblad, G., & Greenhaff, P. L. (1996). Muscle creatine loading in men. Journal of applied physiology, 81(1), 232-237.
  6. Forbes, S. C., & Candow, D. G. (2018). Timing of creatine supplementation and resistance training: A brief review. Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, 1(5).
  7. Antonio, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Gualano, B., Jagim, A. R., Kreider, R. B., ... & Ziegenfuss, T. N. (2021). Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 13.
About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

Want More Great Content?

Check Out These Articles