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The Best Creatine Supplements: Plus, Benefits, Side Effects And Creatine Loading Explained

Expert advice on this sports supplement, including when you should take it, creatine loading, and creatine monohydrate versus other types

Nick Harris-Fry
25 Nov 2021

Black Friday Deals On Creatine Supplements

The trick to getting your supplement game on point is to stock up so you never run out. It'll not only mean you can avoid countless trips to the local health shop, but you'll save a lot of money if you buy in bulk. Get your order in during the Black Friday sales and you're guaranteed to save even more money.

SiS – 40% Off Everything (apart from Beta Fuel)

For Black Friday SiS isn’t holding back, with 40% off almost everything across the site. That includes the 400g Unflavoured Creatine Powder, now £6, and 180 Creatine Monohydrate Tablets for £14.99. If you spend £40 you’ll also get a six-pack of limited edition candy apple gels in the bargain.

Browse SiS creatine products

PhD – 50% Off Everything

When a brand sticks a blanket 50% off across its whole site for Black Friday you know there are going to be some great deals to be had. If you’re looking to stock up on creatine while the price is low PhD are selling 90 Creapure Capsules for just £3.50. Time to make some space in the bathroom cupboard.

Browse PhD creatine products

Maximuscle – Up To 40% Off Everything

You need to do some searching to find the best offers in the Maximuscle Black Friday sale, but there are some fantastic deals to be had if you do. As well as Maximuscle's popular 1,260g Cyclone All-in-One Protein Powder for Strength for £26.30, you can also get the full 40% saving on a 300g tube of Creatine Monohydrate (£15).

Browse Maximuscle creatine products

Creatine closely follows whey protein in the list of most popular sports nutrition products. It’s convenient, it’s backed up by thorough research and it’s a valuable part of nutrition for plenty of athletes – but it also commonly features in health scare stories. It’s been blamed for everything from shortening your temper and bloating your stomach to kidney problems and even increasing your risk of cancer.

So before you decide whether to take it or not, check out this expert advice from sports dietitian Chris Cashin, speaking on behalf of the British Dietetic Association.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a compound that is produced by the body, mainly in the liver, that consists of the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. It is used in the muscles to produce energy. It can be obtained from food – primarily fish and meat. Vegetarians and vegans can obtain the amino acids to make creatine as long as they eat a wide range of plant-based foods – not supplements.

How long has it been used as a sports supplement?

It has been used for more than 20 years and was certainly around when I trained as a sports dietitian in the late 1990s.

What are the benefits of using creatine?

It improves energy production, enabling you to exercise for longer and and recover faster. It is also thought to promote protein manufacture and muscle mass increases, known as hypertrophy.

Who can benefit from using it? Is it only really for very serious athletes?

Anyone who weight trains or does any sport that involves high-intensity movements such as sprints, jumps and throws will benefit. I find it is commonly used in sports like rugby and football. It has been widely researched and some studies have shown that it does not work at all in some people – that may be up to 50% of people. You will not know unless you try it! It does increase cell volume and some people report weight gain, therefore it is rarely used in weight category sports.

How often should you take it?

It is usual to start with a five-day loading dose where you take four 5g doses and after that a maintenance dose of 2g per day. Most people do not have any side effects although some notice water retention. There are studies that have used some different doses but this is the method most commonly seen. It is generally suggested that you take it in cycles of three to four months and then have a break for a month.

Studies have not conclusively shown when is the best time to take it, but it may be best taken after a meal and with 40-100g of carbohydrate. While there are no major side effects apart from weight gain there have been anecdotal reports that it can cause muscle cramping, gastrointestinal upsets and muscle damage. I have found that when athletes report these side effects they’re taking an incorrect dose – usually too much!

When buying creatine is there anything you should look out for on ingredient lists?

Creatine monohydrate is the most commonly used form of creatine. It dissolves easily in water and is generally cheaper. There is no evidence that creatine in any other form is better absorbed – this would include serum, citrate and phosphate. You should look out for protein bars or other supplements that have it added, because more is not better!

Chris Cashin is the lead on sports nutrition at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, where there is a new Master’s course in Sport and Exercise Nutrition

Best Creatine To Buy

Optimum Nutrition Micronised Creatine Powder

Creatine monohydrate can sometimes give your shake an unappetising gritty texture to your shake, which will do you no harm but isn’t exactly pleasant. If you’re looking to avoid that then this micronised powder might be your best bet, because it dissolves more quickly and easily than standard creatine supplements. Each serving contains 3.4g of creatine, so you’ll need to add another half scoop or so if you’re in a loading phase where you’re taking 5g a day.

Buy from Optimum Nutrition| £16.99 for 634g

Bulk Creatine Monohydrate

There’s no real need to get too fancy with your creatine, so this bargain powder will be an attractive option for many. You get a kilo of unflavoured creatine monohydrate for around a tenner. Job done.

Buy from Bulk | £14.99 (currently reduced to £11.99)

Myprotein Creatine Monohydrate Unflavoured Creatine Tablets

If you’re struggling to fit your tub of creatine powder into your gym bag with all the other powders you need to make your post-workout shake, consider creatine tablets instead. Each contains 1g of creatine monohydrate, so it’s easy to get your dose exactly right. They’re not the easiest to swallow whole, but break them up a bit and you can wash down the unflavoured tablets easily enough with your protein shake.

Buy from Myprotein | £14.99 for 250g

The Protein Works Creapure Creatine Monohydrate

Most creatine powders are 99.9% pure creatine, which is more than pure enough for most people, but if you’re seeking that little bit extra then Creapure creatine is worth considering, since it has a reputation for being one of the purest forms going. This powder is 99.99% pure creatine and each serving contains 5g.

Buy from The Protein Works | £9.49 for 250g

USN Creatine Anabolic

Unless you enjoy the process of putting together a pre-workout shake by combining different powders yourself, it’s more convenient to buy one product that contains everything you need. USN’s Creatine Anabolic powder contains 6g creatine and a hefty 34g of carbohydrates to help provide the energy needed for your training, with magnesium and zinc also thrown into the mix to delay fatigue setting in.

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