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The 12 Best Creatine Supplements on the Market

We tried dozens of creatine products to land on the best of the best.

We receive free products to review and may receive commissions on purchases made through our links. See our disclosure page for details.

After whey protein powder, creatine may be may just be the most popular supplement in a gym-goers pantry — and for good reason. Most supplements have a handful of studies supporting their use but creatine has hundreds of them, suggesting a strong effect on performance and body composition

Creatine mainly works by increasing one’s ability to perform more optimally in the gym. As a result, you’ll get stronger more quickly and build more muscle. Of course, it’s more nuanced than that. Below, we discuss the benefits of creatine and answer basic creatine questions. As for which creatine you should buy, we tried dozens of brands to land on 12 picks that will serve a variety of needs. 

Best Creatine Supplements

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for the diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine.

Best Creatine Supplement Video Review

Be sure to also check out our best creatine video, for an even more in-depth analysis of this classic performance supplement. 

Best Creatine Overall

Some creatines have unnecessary ingredients, but then again, the best creatine product on the market should probably have one or two useful additions. We think Recharge hit the best balance. 

Legion Recharge 

Legion Recharge was our favorite creatine product. It’s not just creatine monohydrate, which is the most research-backed form: one scoop also delivers l-carnitine l-tartrate, which may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and improve recovery. There’s also some banaba leaf extract, which may help to increase insulin sensitivity and improve the way we digest carbohydrates. Finally: it’s completely naturally flavored, colored, and sweetened. 

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Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • If you want creatine with additives but no stimulants, this is a great “any time” recovery drink.
  • Folks who like flavored creatine. Recharge comes in Watermelon, Fruit Punch, or Strawberry Lemonade. (Though it’s also available in Unflavored.)
  • Anyone who’s interested in the potential recovery and longevity benefits of l-carnitine l-tartrate (LCLT).

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Customers who just want plain creatine.
  • If you’re looking to save cash, know this isn’t the cheapest creatine supplement out there.

We look forward to taking Recharge any time of day because of the refreshing natural flavor, and the LCLT is one of the most promising recovery supplements on the market.

Best Creatine for Muscle and Strength

For this section, we went hunting for a creatine product that’s focused on muscle retention. After a lot of digging, we learned about an unusual metabolite that appears to work synergistically with creatine.

Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB 

The HMB, which stands for hydroxymethylbutyrate, is the main metabolite in the branched-chain amino acid leucine that prevents the breakdown of muscle protein. So, it helps you to retain muscle, and it appears to do so more effectively than leucine alone. (4) One bonus is that combining HMB with creatine also appears to increase strength better than taking either supplement alone. Plus, the blue raspberry flavor is delicious and contains no artificial sweeteners.

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Who Should Buy Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB

  • If you want a little extra in your creatine to help retain muscle, but you don’t want a slew of unusual pre-workout ingredients, this is a great fit.
  • People who want flavored creatine but don’t want artificial ingredients will be happy with this product.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Transparent Labs’ Creatine HMB

  • Anyone looking for a stimulatory or ergogenic effect from their creatine.

HMB is a fascinating area of creatine science and there is indeed evidence that if what you want is creatine that builds muscle power while retaining muscle mass, this is a great bet.

Best Creatine Pills

Pills are generally more convenient to carry around than powders, making them a great choice for travel.

Performance Lab Maintain

Performance Lab boasts 3,000 milligrams of Creapure®, which is labeled as 83% creatine, and focuses on extended-release to ensure that your muscles are replenished long after a training session. This formula is taken via pill, which isn’t everyone’s first choice, but they’re easy to travel with or throw into your gym bag. Also, Performance Lab has ensured that their pills are smaller compared to the industry standard, so they’re easier to swallow. 

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Who Should Take Performance Lab Maintain

  • People who travel a lot or take their creatine before or after a workout. Pills travel better than powders, generally.
  • Folks who would rather take a smaller pill.

Who Shouldn’t Take Performance Lab Maintain

  • People who prefer pure creatine. This formula contains two other ingredients.
  • Those who are pill adverse. You do have to take a large pill dose.

Best Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is far and away the most science-backed form of creatine. If you’re just looking for nothing but pure, unflavored creatine at the best price, then look no further.

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine 

For pure, unfiltered creatine Muscle Feast Premium Creatine has everyone beat. A big factor is that it uses Creapure®, a famously high-quality product made in a dedicated, creatine-only facility in Germany where it’s regularly tested for banned substances. It’s also certified halal and kosher. In addition to that, it’s certified by third-party testing company Labdoor. You simply couldn’t ask for more quality control for creatine.

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Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine

  • Those who want the most rigorously tested creatine monohydrate on the market.
  • Ironically, folks who’s like to save money — this high-quality creatine is also one of the cheapest. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine

  • Anyone who wants flavors or amino acids or stimulants added to their creatine.

We’ve seen a whole lot of creatine monohydrate supplements but none top Muscle Feast.

Best Creatine Stack

So what if you want to go the other way — you like creatine with bells and whistles, with additives that may enhance its effects?

MuscleTech CELL-TECH 

A lot of products claim to be more effective than regular monohydrate and while that’s seldom true, CELL-TECH delivers. It combines creatine with 38 grams of carbohydrates and some alpha-lipoic acid. Some limited research has suggested that combining the two might be more effective at sending creatine to the muscles than plain old creatine. (1)(2) It also has branched-chain amino acids and Vitamin C, which may help with muscle retention. 

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Who Should Take MuscleTech CELL-TECH

  • People who may benefit from the extra energy that the carbohydrates in this product provide.
  • CELL-TECH also includes taurine, branched-chain amino acids, and Vitamin C, all of which can help with workout performance and recovery.
  • If you like flavored creatine, this one comes in three different flavors — Icy Rocket Freeze, Fruit Punch, and Orange

Who Shouldn’t Take MuscleTech CELL-TECH

  • If you don’t have a sweet tooth or if you don’t want a lot of calories with your creatine. CELL-TECH delivers 150 calories per scoop, more than a can of Coke.

CELL-TECH is an iconic product from MuscleTech and while it’s the highest calorie creatine supplement we’ve seen, there is some data that the extra ingredients might improve recovery and performance. 

Best Creatine Chews

Powders are a pain to carry and pills usually require you to take a handful — we think these chews are the most convenient option available. 

Universal Nutrition’s Creatine Chews 

As chewable tablets, they remove the need to have a source of water to consume creatine, which is a huge advantage when it comes to portability and, well, for those who might sometimes feel a little too lazy to go get water — drop ’em in a ziplock bag and take with you anywhere. They contain 4 grams of sugar per serving, sure, but they’re free from artificial sweeteners and they’re vegetarian-friendly.

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Who Should Buy Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews 

  • Those who consume creatine on the go, like travelers, commuters, and of course, gym-goers.
  • People who like sweet supplements but want to avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Anyone who doesn’t always have a water bottle handy — these can be left on your work desk and consumed whenever.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Universal Nutrition Creatine Chews 

  • People who want absolutely no sugar in their supplements.
  • Customers who want a precise replication of candy — it’s a little chalkier than that.

There are a lot of worthy creatine capsules on the market that are a little easier to thrust into your pocket — these we recommend putting in a little baggy so they don’t release creatine in your pocket. But the fact that they can be eaten without water and that they’re naturally sweetened puts them right at the top of our list.

Best Creatine HCl Supplement

Some prefer creatine hydrochloride, a more acidic form of creatine that may actually be easier on sensitive stomachs, as it’s closer to the pH of our stomach acid. But they’re not all created equal!

Kaged Muscle’s C-HCL

Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl hits all the right notes. While it’s pricier than monohydrate, it’s a pretty reasonable cost for creatine HCl at about 35 cents per gram. Hydrochloride varies between 20 and 60 cents per gram, so Kaged Muscle’s product is right in the middle and it has two big advantages: it’s naturally flavored with a tasty lemon lime bent, and most importantly it’s third-party tested for banned substances by Informed Sport. This makes it a great pick for athletes. 

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Who Should Buy Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl

  • If creatine monohydrate gives you digestive discomfort, there’s anecdotal evidence that this form may digest more easily.
  • Competitive athletes who only take supplements tested by companies like Informed Sport will be happy with this product. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Kaged Muscle’s C-HCl

  • There’s no good evidence that creatine hydrochloride is better than monohydrate for folks who don’t get indigestion from monohydrate. If regular creatine works for you, there’s no need to spend the extra on hydrochloride.

Best Creatine for Men: Legion Recharge

It’s tough to land on the best creatine for men, but from our own research, men typically prefer any supplement that might lend itself more toward muscle gain and fat loss. That’s why we landed on Recharge for this category.

Legion Recharge Highlights

Creatine makes your muscles bigger and more powerful — check. Recharge made the top spot here because the l-carnitine l-tartrate has links to improved muscle repair and control, particularly as we age, and there’s banaba leaf extract, which may help to facilitate fat loss through improved insulin sensitivity. Add all that to the fact that there are no artificial flavors or sweeteners and you’ve got a great creatine.

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Who Should Buy Legion Recharge

  • Men who want to improve their recovery after tough workouts could do well to add this product to their repertoire.
  • Men who are concerned about their insulin sensitivity. (Although if this is a real concern, you should see a doctor.)

Who Shouldn’t Buy Legion Recharge

  • Guys who just want regular creatine — Recharge costs more than plain old monohydrate and if that’s all you want, there are cheaper options on the market.

Best Creatine for Women

A recurring theme when we talk to female athletes is a desire for supplements that improve performance without adding unnecessary bulk. So when looking for the best creatine for women, we wanted one without the extras.

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine 

Muscle Feast Premium Creatine got our vote for best creatine for women. This is a tricky area to navigate, but broadly speaking most women’s supplements aim to minimize muscle gain in favor of fat loss. This is why we avoided Legion Recharge, as the l-carnitine l-tartrate it contains might contribute to muscle gain. In our experience, women prefer basic creatine, and this is the best there is.

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Who Should Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine  

  • Any athlete who wants the most reputable creatine on Earth at the lowest possible price. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Muscle Feast Premium Creatine  

  • If you like extra ingredients for muscle gain or recovery, that’s not this — Muscle Feast’s product is simply pure creatine.
  • Anyone who likes their supplements bathed in a delicious flavoring will likely prefer different creatine.

If you think you can’t beat plain old creatine or if you’re only convinced by its benefits and not those of other pre-workout ingredients, then this is the best creatine for you. 

Best Creatine for Muscle Growth

Muscle growth occurs from a wide variety of stimuli: do we include the creatine with the most calories, the most stimulants, or… other? We went with “other.” Here’s why.

Ghost Size 

Ghost Size takes the cake for muscle growth. The key to this formula is epicatechin, an antioxidant found in chocolate and certain plants that is linked to a wide array of benefits. These include increased nitric oxide production, better oxygenation to the brain, and muscle growth: epicatechin appears to inhibit myostatin, which suppresses muscle growth, and the dosage found in Ghost Size is in line with studies that examined this effect. (3) There’s also betaine and beta-alanine, which have links to improved power output and endurance, respectively.

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Who Should Buy Ghost Size

  • Folks who want extra antioxidants and ingredients for workout recovery with their creatine.
  • People who want to improve their power and endurance — betaine and beta-alanine are the most popular supplements for these purposes.
  • Anyone interested in a supplement that actually tastes like Sour Warheads. This product is delicious.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Ghost Size

  • If you don’t have much money to spend, the two-dollars-per-serving you’ll pay for Size will seem on the pricy side.
  • The beta-alanine produces a “tingly” sensation called paresthesia, of which not everybody’s a fan.

Bulking is a hugely complicated endeavor but we think Size is the creatine product that’s the most synergistic to this goal.

Best Creatine for Focus

Creatine has interesting links to mental health — at least among those who don’t eat meat — but some creatine products have extra ingredients with even more purported cognitive benefits.(5)

Muscle Tech CELL-TECH 

This is our favorite pick for mental benefits. This is because it has a wide array of ingredients that includes taurine, which in addition to its potential effects on recovery, may also increase focus during a workout. The valine present in this product may have an effect on focus, which is why it’s included in so many branched-chain amino acid supplements.

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Who Should Buy MuscleTech CELL-TECH

  • If you prefer your creatine with an emphasis on cognitive performance, multiple ingredients in CELL-TECH may have links here.
  • Anyone who wants a boost of energy with their creatine will like the extra sugar in here — plus it may improve the absorption.

Who Shouldn’t Buy MuscleTech CELL-TECH 

  • If a big hit of sugar isn’t what you want with your creatine, this isn’t the product for you.

Creatine’s link with mental health is an interesting one and while any creatine product will do the trick in that regard, CELL-TECH has an impressive variety of other cognitive enhancers, too.

Best Micronized Creatine

Micronized creatine has been processed in such a way that the granules are smaller and it dissolves more easily in fluid. So which company makes our favorite form?

BulkSupplements.com Creatine 

This is a solid bet for the best-micronized creatine. It’s made in a Good Manufacturing Practices-certified facility which is also free from any major allergens, something many brands can’t offer. It’s also tested both in-house and by a third party for any impurities. A big bonus: once you order amounts of one kilogram or higher, it becomes just about the cheapest creatine you’re likely to find.

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Who Should Buy BulkSupplements.com Creatine

  • Anybody who likes plain creatine.
  • Folks who want to buy their creatine in bulk and do so in the most economic way possible.

Who Should Buy BulkSupplements.com Creatine

  • If you want to save money, this is a great option if you’re buying in larger amounts. If you’re buying 500 grams or less, there might be cheaper options.
  • This company has a well-earned reputation for making bags that don’t stay closed once they’re open. This is a dealbreaker for some customers.

Whether or not creatine is micronized won’t make a significant difference to, say, your absorption or its benefits, but BulkSupplements.com still makes our favorite.

How We Decided The Best Creatine Supplements

Here are the factors we considered when choosing which creatines made our list.

Supplement Type

There are pills, powders — both flavored and unflavored — and even creatine chews. Some supplements aren’t even pure creatine supplements, but rather intra-workout supps that include creatine. We have included a variety of creatine types on this list so you can choose the supplement and delivery mechanism that best suits your needs. 

Price

Depending on what supplement type you choose, the price will vary. An intra-workout supp that includes carbs, protein, and creatine will be more expensive than a pure monohydrate. That said, we sought out products we pick are priced either at or a little below market price. Supplements are nice to have, but they shouldn’t break the bank. 

Research

Creatine as a supplement is pretty straight forward. Science supports its use. However, there are different types of creatine, and so we’ve ensured that each supp uses a science-backed creatine variety and, as important, that it’s dosed correctly. 

creatine supplement

Before You Buy Creatine

If this is a brand new supplement for you or even if it isn’t, there’s some info you should know before you add creatine to your daily routine. Read on for a few pro tips on this well researched, yet sometimes misunderstood product.

Some People Don’t Respond to Creatine

A small percentage of people, perhaps twenty percent, is called creatine non-responders: their bodies just don’t uptake creatine the same way most people do. (6) It’s hard to know if you’re one of them until you start taking it; if your muscles don’t get bigger, there’s a decent chance that’s you. This is one of the reasons it’s great that creatine is so inexpensive: you’re not down too much money if you’re a non-responder. 

You Don’t Need to “Load” Creatine

It used to be fashionable to “load” creatine, taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week, then dropping down to 5 or 10 grams for a few weeks, taking one or two weeks off, and repeating.  

The idea with creatine is to take it every day until your muscles are “saturated” and you’ll enjoy the ergogenic effects. Loading creatine may saturate the muscles a little more quickly, but it’s not necessary at all. You can take the standard 5 to 10 grams per day.

You Can Take Creatine Any Time of Day

This isn’t a pre-workout and it’s not a stimulant. If you want to take it in the morning or the evening or pre or post-workout, go ahead. The effects of creatine, as mentioned, accumulate over a week or two, not an hour or two. 

You Can Have Creatine With Caffeine

Following on from the previous point, one study published in 1996 found that creatine didn’t increase power output when combined with caffeine. (7) However, many other, higher-quality studies (like double-blind randomized trials) haven’t found this to be the case. If you have some creatine with your morning eggs and coffee, it’s no big deal.

Chat With Your Doctor First

Creatine is widely seen as safe, but it’s always smart to chat with your doctor before making any new additions to your supplement routine. This is especially true if your doctor is monitoring your creatinine levels, for instance, as taking creatine can throw them off a little. This doesn’t mean creatine is harming your kidneys, rather than your doctor should know about your supplements.

What’s the Best Type of Creatine?

The general sentiment among nutrition experts is that creatine monohydrate is, for most people, the best bet. It’s the cheapest form and more importantly, it’s the most well-researched. Hundreds of studies have been performed on creatine monohydrate, and there’s no evidence of ill effects, whereas many of the more novel forms of creatine have one or sometimes no studies supporting them.

It’s true that some people experience stomach cramps when they consume creatine monohydrate, and it’s possible that taking creatine with a different pH — usually creatine hydrochloride — can have a different effect on stomach acid and make for creatine that digests more easily. As far as we know, the easier digestion doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more effective or that you need less of it to achieve the desired result.

That’s the long and short of it: monohydrate for almost everyone, hydrochloride if that gives you stomach issues. But if you’re curious about other kinds, check out these 10 kinds of creatine and what they all mean.

The Benefits of Creatine

Creatine is one of the few supplements on the market with a whole bevy of studies supporting its effects on exercise performance and muscle growth. 

More Energy for Exercise

When you exercise, your body produces and uses what’s called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) — a molecule that is a key energy source for many functions. To create ATP, the body needs to tap into phosphocreatine. A creatine supplement helps to increase your phosphocreatine stores, thus providing the body with more ATP for more energy.  

A review of creatine for exercise performance found that creatine seems to pose no health risks and may boost performance in those who are performing max reps or sprints. (8)

man slamming medicine ball

More Power

Because of its ability to help the body produce more ATP, which is at-the-ready energy, creatine has been shown to directly improve power output by anywhere from five to 15 percent. (9) This implies that creatine can help you eke out another extra rep or two of moves that require full effort. For example, the bench press, medicine ball slams, and box jumps.  

More Muscle Growth

While creatine is shown to strongly improve performance, some studies show that it can help with muscle growth, too. This is in part due to creatine’s ability to help the body eke out extra reps, which, over time, will lead to more growth. But some studies have also found creatine to be linked to lean muscle gains. (10)

Do I Need to Load Creatine?

You don’t have to, but you can. The typical creatine dose is five grams once or twice per day, but it’s sometimes suggested that one should “load” creatine by taking 20 to 25 grams per day for the first week of usage. This is then followed with three to four weeks of five grams per day, then a break for a week or two, then repeat. This may bring about more acute increases in strength and muscle size — creatine will “work” more quickly, in other words — but it’s not necessary.

While it’s sometimes advised that one should take a month off from creatine a few times a year, there’s currently not a lot of evidence suggesting that’s necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of creatine?

Creatine has strong links to improve power output — basically better performance in strength workouts. Among people who don’t consume much meat, supplementing creatine may also improve some areas of cognition. What many people take creatine for, though, is because it draws more water into the muscles, meaning it makes them bigger. That’s an aesthetic boost that many people enjoy.

Do I need to load creatine?

Not really. A lot of people suggest taking 20 to 30 grams per day for the first week, then dropping to five grams per day for about a month, then taking a week or two off and repeating the cycle. But taking five to 10 grams per day consistently seems to be just as useful. If you want the “bigger muscles” benefit of creatine as soon as possible, then loading for a day or two might be worth it.

How much creatine should I take?

The default dosage is five grams; when a supplement comes with a scoop, that’s how much it’ll provide you with. Some like to “load” creatine with 25-ish grams per day for a week, then dropping down to five-ish grams for a few weeks. This will saturated the muscles with creatine more quickly if you really need the benefits to set in quickly. But five grams per day, without loading, will work fine. 10 grams may be better for larger athletes.

What's the best type of creatine?

Creatine monohydrate is far and away the most researched and best supported form of creatine. Dozens and dozens of studies support it; no other form of creatine has more than five studies. There’s no evidence any of the other forms, like creatine hydrochloride, nitrate, Kre-Alkalyn, (and so on) are more effective. The main exception is if creatine monohydrate gives you stomach cramps. If this is the case, a form like hydrochloride or nitrate might be easier on your belly.

Do I need to take carbs with creatine?

No. There’s a little evidence that adding carbs makes the creatine absorb more quickly, but creatine isn’t a drug or stimulant that has an immediate effect — it’s something that you saturate the muscles with over a period of days and weeks. So it doesn’t really matter if your daily scoop absorbs faster or not.

References

  1. Green, AL et al. Carbohydrate Ingestion Augments Skeletal Muscle Creatine Accumulation During Creatine Supplementation in Humans. Am J Physiol . 1996 Nov;271(5 Pt 1):E821-6.
  2. Burke, DG et al. Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid Combined With Creatine Monohydrate on Human Skeletal Muscle Creatine and Phosphagen Concentration. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab . 2003 Sep;13(3):294-302.
  3. Gutierrez-Salmean, G et al. Effects of (-)-Epicatechin on Molecular Modulators of Skeletal Muscle Growth and Differentiation. J Nutr Biochem . 2014 Jan;25(1):91-4.
  4. Fernández-Landa, J et al. Effect of the Combination of Creatine Monohydrate Plus HMB Supplementation on Sports Performance, Body Composition, Markers of Muscle Damage and Hormone Status: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019 Oct; 11(10): 2528.
  5. Benton, D et al. The Influence of Creatine Supplementation on the Cognitive Functioning of Vegetarians and Omnivores. Br J Nutr . 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-5.
  6. Cooper, R et al. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012; 9: 33.
  7. Vandenberghe, K et al. Caffeine Counteracts the Ergogenic Action of Muscle Creatine Loading. J Appl Physiol (1985) . 1996 Feb;80(2):452-7.
  8. Bird SP. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance: a brief review. J Sports Sci Med. 2003;2(4):123-132. Published 2003 Dec 1.
  9. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94. PMID: 12701815.
  10. Nissen SL, Sharp RL. Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Feb;94(2):651-9. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00755.2002. Epub 2002 Oct 25. PMID: 12433852.

1 thought on “The 12 Best Creatine Supplements on the Market”

  1. I think the majority of supplements are more marketing than true training aids (of course many users don’t really train at a level where they’d get a benefit), though creatine is one that is effective along with a heavy training regimen, though more is not necessarily better.

    Reply

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