Choosing the Best Vegan Creatine Supplement
Unlike many fitness supplements on the market, creatine is one of the only supplements that research has proven to have a definite positive effect on workout performance.
In addition to its helpfulness in the gym, the consumption of creatine has also been tied to increased cognitive performance and decreased depression, especially in those who avoid animal products - talk about a helpful supplement!
While many creatine supplements are more or less rebranded versions of the same, the BulkSupplements product stands out because it is completely flavorless, pure, doesn’t have any of the unpleasant gastric side effects or packaging frustrations as many other brands on the market.
But don’t just take our word for it - read below to discover why you should add a creatine supplement to your plant-based diet, and which product is right for you.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a molecule made from the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine - it’s present in almost all cells and acts as stored energy.
Most of the creatine in the body is consumed through diet (usually meat, eggs, and fish) or created by your liver, but your body only stores a limited amount at any given time. Once those stores have been used up, say, during an intense workout, your body must turn to glucose or fatty acids to keep producing energy.
However, by supplementing directly with a liquid or powdered creatine, the amount stored in the body increases, with a significant amount in your muscles, which are carrying out the exercise.
As a result of the increased amount of readily available energy, performance is improved. Research shows that supplementing with creatine improves strength, endurance, and reduces fatigue and recovery time.
Even better, especially for bodybuilders and athletes, a huge benefit of creatine is building muscle more quickly. It does this by increasing the amount of water in muscle cells, which not only makes them larger but also makes changes regarding the nitrogen balance within them. This is great news for people with fitness goals related to both strength and aesthetics, as it will help you move more weight more quickly during your workout, and make your muscles pop.
It’s also worth noting that the results of the work you’ve done while taking creatine continue even after you stop supplementing (though it’s healthy to supplement due to creatine’s positive effects on cognition). If creatine helps you lift heavier weights, that exercise is going to grow your base strength - so, when/if you stop taking the supplement, your muscles are still stronger and more capable than they would have been if you hadn’t been taking creatine.
The benefits of creatine are ideal for gymgoers, but can athletes who choose to forego meat, dairy, and fish reap the same benefits from the supplement? In short, absolutely - as long as you’re selecting a supplement that is not derived from animal products.
Is My Creatine Supplement Vegan?
While dietary creatine comes mostly from animal products, the creatine used in supplements is almost always vegan-friendly.
Synthetic creatine is made from sarcosine (or its salts) and cyanamide, which are combined in a reactor with catalyst compounds to turn them from two separate chemicals into a safe supplement for human consumption.
The dried creatine is milled into a powder for maximum absorbability. The techniques for milling the creatine differ, which produces different products of varying solubility and bioavailability.
Your Best Bet For Vegan Creatine
The main thing for plant-based athletes to look out for is creatine capsules - while the creatine itself is usually vegan, gelatin is often used to create the soft capsule. Because gelatin is made from the boiled skins, tendons, and connective tissue of cows and pigs, soft gels that use gelatin in their capsules wouldn’t even be vegan-friendly. To be safe, stick with a powder supplement and avoid the inclusion of any gelatin in your supplement.
Top 5 Vegan-Friendly Creatine Supplements
While most creatine supplements are 100% vegan-friendly, some are definitely better than others. Each of the following supplements below is good for plant-based diets, available on Amazon, and a recommended product.
BulkSupplements - Pure Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder
As mentioned earlier, this supplement by BulkSupplements is our #1 pick for vegan-friendly creatine.
Made from 99.99% pure micronized creatine monohydrate, this product is lab tested for verification and purity, provides high-intensity energy for tough workouts, increases strength and power, and is non-GMO.
Because it’s micronized, the supplement has the superfine texture of powdered sugar and mixes beautifully in water or your favorite recovery drink.
The creatine is unflavored, which means you can mix it in plain water, almond milk in a smoothie, or with other supplements without having to worry about competing flavors or even noticing it’s there.
The powder comes in a no-frills plastic bag, so you aren’t paying a premium for fancy packaging and creating waste with huge empty tubs.
What We Love
Above all else, the BulkSupplements creatine is a great value for your money - with no fancy packaging, flavors, or fillers, every penny of your purchase is going toward pure micronized creatine monohydrate.
Reviewers note that they experience very few side effects with this supplement, and don’t feel as bloated with the BulkSupplements brand as they have with others.
Additionally, the neutral flavor of this drink allows users the flexibility to mix it into just about any medium, savory or sweet, and the texture is so fine it practically disappears into liquid. This supplement is a perfect union of a bang for your buck, effective, and easy to take.
The only downside reviewers report with this vegan creatine supplement is that the fuss-free packaging also means that it doesn’t come with its own scoop in the bag.
If you don’t have a food scale at home, it can be frustrating to try to measure out the amount of creatine needed in a serving, so it may be a good idea to invest in a small food scale so you can weigh out exactly how much of the supplement you need.
Raw Barrel - Pure Creatine Monohydrate Powder
Raw Barrel’s powdered creatine monohydrate is micronized for fast absorption - the fine particles are quickly absorbed by muscles to provide quick and efficient energy for your workout.
The creatine is 100% pure, pharmaceutical grade, and laboratory tested - the lack of fillers and flavorings mean the supplement contains “no bull”!
The powder is completely flavorless and dissolves quickly, allowing you to mix it into any liquid, sweet or savory.
The supplement comes in a 100-day supply tub and includes a lifetime warranty from the company.
Each serving contains 5 grams of 100% pure creatine monohydrate and should be mixed with juice, water, or a carbohydrate drink.
What We Love
There is nothing worse than adding a supplement to a drink and having to choke down a chalky, gritty liquid before your workout.
Thankfully, the texture of Raw Barrel’s vegan friendly creatine is silky smooth, blending well with water, juice, or protein shakes to the point of users not knowing it’s there. Amazon reviewers also appreciate the ebook included with the purchase with fitness tips.
Some reviewers were frustrated that this powder comes in such a large tub, but the supplement only comes up to the halfway point. This creates a lot of unnecessary packaging waste. Other users also noted that they were able to see a difference in workout performance with this product, but it was not as pronounced as they would have liked. Your mileage may vary!
NOW Foods - Creatine Powder
This creatine monohydrate from NOW Foods is a vegan-friendly ATP Energizer that is free of yeast, wheat, corn, soy, milk, additives, and preservatives.
The product is completely natural and unflavored, and is a good deal for the quality, so you can still make gains in the gym, even if you’re on a tight budget.
This creatine supplement comes in a 2.2-pound tub and is clearly marked “vegan” on the front of the packaging, so you don’t have to sweat the source of the supplement.
The supplement does not come with a scoop, so you’ll need to use a teaspoon or a simple food scale to measure out the amount of product you need.
What We Love
In addition to the budget-friendly price of this supplement, users report feeling an almost immediate burst of energy when taking this creatine, which has been helpful during workouts and improving cognitive function.
Many reviewers note that this has been a staple in their fitness regimen for years, and appreciate how useful this particular brand of creatine has been.
Amazon reviewers noted a difference between the “old” formula and the new formula, which is made in China. Users reported a strange taste, smell, and side effects from the new formula, as well as a change in consistency.
Some reviewers reported feeling achy after using the Chinese formula, so take caution when trying this. In the event the company goes back to sourcing their creatine from the United States, this could be another good option for vegans in search of a creatine supplement.
Jarrow Formulas - Creatine Monohydrate Powder
Manufactured in Germany, Jarrow Formulas Creatine powder enhances muscular performance, has purity assured by HPLC, and advertises itself as vegan-friendly.
Like many Jarrow Formulas supplements, the creatine monohydrate is flavorless, which allows it to be mixed with any liquid - even your morning coffee - so you can adapt it to your tastes that day and won’t get bored the way you might with a strong-flavored creatine like berry or watermelon.
The creatine comes in a wide-mouth tub that includes a scoop so you can portion out exactly the amount you need.
The supplement contains no flavors or fillers, making it another budget-friendly, good-value product.
What We Love
This supplement is a great deal - it’s extremely affordable, perfect for those pinching pennies and college students, but doesn’t sacrifice quality regarding taste and texture.
Many reviewers pointed out that this supplement exceeded their expectations as far as the quality for the amount paid, as it was smooth and fine instead of chunky and gritty as one might expect from a lower-cost supplement.
Amazon reviewers noted that this supplement was effective, but caused some gastric distress. Some users reported feeling especially bloated (even more than to be expected from this type of supplement), minor reflux issues, and stomach troubles. Use caution if you’re prone to gut problems.
Micro Ingredients - Pure Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder
The micronized creatine monohydrate from Micro Ingredients is a 100% pure powder supplement that contains no additives, preservatives, or GMOs.
The product is lab tested and packed in an FDA registered facility in California and is flavorless, odorless, and can be mixed with hot or cold liquids.
The micronized powder takes just a few stirs to dissolve completely in the liquid of your choice.
Each serving is roughly a teaspoon and contains five grams of creatine.
What We Love
This supplement is super no-frills, as it contains only micronized creatine monohydrate and is shipped in a bag rather than a plastic tub.
Amazon reviewers appreciate that the bag is resealable and easy to use, and note that this product dissolves well in water and works as expected.
Some reviewers noted that, in addition to seeing a difference in the gym, the supplement has helped with general muscle soreness, including back pain.
This supplement comes in a no-fuss bag, which is great for not producing much packaging waste, but makes things get a little messy, since the powder is so fine and unruly.
Some Amazon reviewers have had to transfer the powder to a tupperware or other airtight container, and the transfer process was a little difficult and got powder all over the kitchen. Use caution when transferring this supplement to another vessel.
More Than Just a Bodybuilding Supplement
Taking a vegan-friendly creatine supplement has been shown to enhance cognition in vegetarians, but not omnivores of normal cognitive capacity.
This implies that a diet that does not include meat, eggs, or fish (the usual sources of dietary creatine) may be inherently deficient in creatine (just mildly, as creatine can be made by the body).
So, while protein is not a problem for vegans and vegetarians, even those that aren’t athletes can benefit from a good, plant-based creatine supplement, as creatine deficiency is associated with depression and decreased cognitive ability.
Is a Vegan Creatine Supplement as Effective as Eating Meat?
When omnivores get creatine through the foods they eat, they are getting it from products like meat, eggs, and fish, with the highest concentration found in steak with five grams of creatine per 1.1 kilograms of meat.
However, only eating meat doesn’t guarantee that someone won’t be deficient in creatine, as the creatine in meat is absorbed four to eight times more inefficiently than the creatine from supplements.
Additionally, you’d have to eat massive amounts of meat, which has been linked to cancer, to reach your recommended levels of dietary creatine. In these cases, the health risks associated with eating large amounts of meat are going to vastly outweigh any pros that come with the creatine from these foods.
In addition to less efficient nutrient absorption, the necessary cooking of meat deforms part of the creatine contents, breaking the molecule down into the toxic N-methylacrylamide. When compared side by side, creatine supplements - vegan or otherwise - are better in almost every way when compared to dietary creatine, regarding health and bioavailability.
We should also address the idea that supplements somehow devalue the “validity” of a certain diet - many people have a negative view of supplementation, and feel that a vegan (or any) diet that utilizes anything other than strict dietary nutrition is somehow cheating. In reality, as long as a supplement is safe, there is nothing wrong with using that supplement, along with a healthy, varied diet, to reach certain nutritional goals, especially in the case of something like creatine where a supplement is actually more effective than the dietary sources of that nutrient.
What Should I Look for in a Creatine Supplement?
Creatine supplements come in pill, capsule, powder, or liquid form, but the consensus is that the liquid serum isn’t very effective compared to the other types due to how creatine breaks down when it’s mixed with water.
If you absolutely must take the liquid creatine, try to keep it cold and consume as close to mixing as possible.
Forms of Creatine
There are various forms of creatine available on the market, but creatine monohydrate is the form used in most scientific studies. It’s the gold standard of creatine, safe, and has been used for decades. Creatine monohydrate is your best bet for reaping the benefits of this supplement, but there are other types of creatine you can experiment with, including creatine citrate, creatine ethyl ester, micronized creatine, creatine nitrate, creatine magnesium chelate, buffered creatine, creatine hydrochloride, creatine malate, and creatine pyruvate.
Unless you have very specific needs and knowledge about the type of creatine you need, or you want to experiment with the effects of different types of creatine on your workout, stick with a tried-and-true creatine monohydrate.
As the standard dosage of creatine is ~5 grams per day, it’s easiest to get a supplement that delivers 5g of creatine per serving - that way, you have extra insurance that you’re topping off your creatine stores and able to perform at maximum capacity.
Don’t worry about the chance that you might consume extra creatine throughout the day - because the diet doesn’t include animal products, vegans consume very little creatine through food, and creatine is generally not a problem for your liver or kidneys unless you have a kidney injury or are at risk for kidney problems.
Whether you’re a vegan athlete or just looking to create a healthier plant-based diet, a creatine supplement should have a place in your day-to-day routine.
Because nearly all powdered creatine supplements are synthetic and not derived from animals, you don’t have to forego increased performance in the gym, better cognition, and a happier brain just because you choose not to consume meat, eggs, or fish.
In fact, by taking a creatine supplement, you are absorbing creatine more efficiently than those who choose to get their creatine through meat and other animal foods alone.
Take the advice of decades of scientific research and give creatine a spot in your supplement lineup. You’ll enjoy the almost immediate energy, reach your fitness goals more quickly and efficiently, and top off your stores of this brain-boosting nutrient, all in a compassionate and animal-friendly way.