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Hitting a plateau with your vegan gains in the gym?
Maybe you should try out creatine.
Instead of being propelled by marketing and advertising gurus, this compound is backed up by more than 700 scientific studies and provides results that speak for themselves.
If you want to find out more about creatine, its advantages, and picking the best-quality creatine powder, then look no further!
(Or if you're just looking for a great vegan creatine supplement, below are my top picks)
Our Top Vegan Creatine Picks (2020 Updated)
OUR #1 RATED
OUR #2 RATED
OUR #3 RATED
1. Transparent Labs Creatine HMB (Editor's Choice)
StrengthSeries Creatine HMB is a creatine supplement that the company claims will enhance strength, increase endurance, prevent lean muscle loss, and decrease fat mass, making it easier for you to lose fat and gain muscle on a vegan diet.
The supplement is free from nasty stuff like artificial colors, fillers, additives, and sweeteners, making them apt for people who are trying to eat a vegan diet without consuming unhealthy stuff.
The formula of this supplement contains creatine monohydrate, HMB, and BioPerine, helping to increase absorption and bioavailability.
From my own experience, I had great results with this as I could pump out an extra rep or two that I normally wouldn't, plus new personal bests were being consistently hit.
Also, fellow online customers seemed to be really pleased with the product too, which is always a good sign.
2. Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder
Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder is my second top pick for a vegan creatine supplement as it's guaranteed cruelty-free, highly effective for boosting strength, endurance and muscle mass gain.
Made from the highest quality CreaPure (which is guaranteed to be free from impurities and contaminants).
Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder is a cruelty-free, no-frills supplement made from the highest quality CreaPure creatine (guaranteed free from impurities and contaminants).
What makes me thrilled about this supplement is the minimalistic ingredient list: 100% CreaPure Creatine. No flavors, artificial sweeteners, colors, or any other stuff. Personally, I've found that the micronized powder used in this product is really gentle on the stomach. It also mixes more easily and stays in solution longer than non-micronized powders.
You can easily stack this unflavored powder with other products; for instance, a plant-based pre-workout product, water, juice, or anything you want. Each serving (one teaspoon) of this product provides the daily recommended five grams of creatine.
Users report the expected effects of a good creatine supplement: some water retention, physique and strength gains at a faster rate with no adverse effects.
This creatine supplement is great if you want:
3. BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate
This BulkSupplements product is one of the best creatine monohydrate products on the market, allowing you to fuel your muscles and boost your gains without consuming animal products or a bunch of protein powders.
With this micronized creatine powder, you can effectively increase your muscle power and overall speed.
This makes it very popular for full-on sports like powerlifting and boxing where only the best vegan creatine will suffice!
BulkSupplements always offer their protein powders and creatine supplements at a fair price, and this is no exception.
I've used their products quite a fair bit over the years and never had a problem with them.
4. Genius Creatine Powder
The rather humbly named “Genius Creatine Powder” is known for its ability to help build your muscles quickly and speed up the recovery process when making gains.
Genius Creatine is one of the few natural sources of creatine that you’ll find on the market, containing a unique blend of German CreaPure, Magnapower and Creatine HCL for optimized bodybuilding.
This is one of the best types of creatine supplement also due to its SR Beta-Alanine content, which is proven to help you perform more reps when working out.
The best part about this product, apart from the gains, is the taste. It's one of the best tasting creatine supplements I ever had, and it mixes easily.
5. Battle Ready Fuel
I love the ever-so-slightly patronizing subheading under this product on its website – “Gain More Muscle With Creatine - It’s Science!”
This powder is pure creatine, so you can rest assured that you’re giving your body nothing but the ingredients it needs to build and maintain muscle.
There are no fillers of any kind in this powder, which is something I really appreciate.
The creatine powder is totally flavorless, which is brilliant because you can mix it into anything without affecting the taste.
On that note, I found that it mixed really well into my smoothies and I didn’t notice much change in taste either.
How Exactly Does Vegan Creatine Work?
Creatine (CNCH₂CO₂H) is an organic compound found in animal foods but not in fruits and vegetables. Although creatine can be produced by the liver, vegans have lower amounts of this compound in their muscles.
For a vegan, creatine supplements are significant. Compared to nonvegans, vegans who take creatine supplements find improvement in physical performance and brain function.
There's a lot of misconceptions regarding creatine supplements. So let's try and sort out what creatine is, and what it isn't (hint: it's not steroids)
Hold on to your seat because it's about to get science-ey.
Our cells and muscles are fueled by ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. During short bursts of intense exercise, this energy source in the form of ATP only lasts for so long and needs to be replenished.
Enter creatine. Creatine is a component of the naturally occurring substance phosphocreatine (PCr) which is found in both the muscles and brain.
PCr contains high-energy phosphate groups which can be donated for the production of new ATP molecules = more energy.
Yeah, that's the good stuff.
Now listen up plant-eaters:
Creatine can be synthesized by the body using the three amino acids methionine, glycine, and arginine. Our endogenous production is somewhere in the ballpark of 1 gram per day. In addition to this creatine synthesis, omnivores have another supply of creatine in the form of meats and fish (1).
A kilogram of flesh contains about 4-5 grams of creatine (2).
Because vegans lack preformed creatine in their diet, we also have lower concentrations when compared to omnivores. Due to the body's innate capacity to synthesize creatine, you won't die, but you don't get to enjoy the full benefits that come with filled-up creatine stores. Now, fortunately, this can easily be remedied with creatine supplementation (3).
As noted above, creatine helps cellular energy needs and provides the fuel required for muscular contractions. Dietary creatine, in the form of supplements, reliably increases the body's creatine pool (4).
This has several pretty awesome performance-enhancing benefits that you can take advantage of as a bodybuilder, strength athlete, or gym-goer.
And perhaps not as widely recognized, but very remarkable, are the brain-enhancing effects associated with creatine intake.
Increased Anaerobic Endurance
So, creatine supplementation increases total creatine and phosphocreatine levels, resulting in a greater energy buffer to be used for exercise.
These elevated PCr levels translate into greater anaerobic working capacity. To put it simply, you’ll be able to do more reps of high-intensity exercises, such as high rep (10-15) strength training and repeated sprints or similar activities (5).
Increased Strength and Body Composition
One study had nineteen resistance-trained men randomly assigned to either creatine or a placebo group and then put on a heavy resistance training program for 12 weeks (8).
The creatine group saw a strength increase in bench presses and squats (24% and 32%, respectively) vs placebo (16% and 24%).
A meta-analysis on the subject showed that creatine supplementation, combined with resistance training, resulted in an average +8% and +14% more performance on 1RM strength and endurance strength, respectively, compared to the placebo groups (9).
And in addition to the strength gains, creatine resulted in a 6.3% increase in fat-free mass compared to placebo at 3.1%. That's double the rate of gains!
Speaking of gains, one review summarizing all creatine studies done between 1969 and 2001 showed a 0.36% increase in net lean mass gains and a 1.09% increase in strength gains (10).
These results can be attributed to the increased anaerobic endurance and rapid ATP regeneration between sets - which means that you can maintain higher training intensity and improve the quality of workouts.
Creatine doesn't only enhance performance in the gym and make you buff, it makes you buff it also somehow makes you smart.
As mentioned, phosphocreatine is not only found in skeletal muscle but also in the brain.
It plays an important role in supplying energy to the various parts of this important organ - indicating an important role of creatine in influencing brain performance and function.
One study, where 45 vegetarian young adults took 5 grams of creatine per day for 6 weeks, showed that creatine supplementation had a significant positive effect on both working memory and intelligence (11).
Another study found that creatine supplementation can counter the effects of sleep deprivation. It enhanced the mood state and had a positive effect on tasks that place heavy stress on the prefrontal cortex (12).
Now here's where things get serious:
Impaired energy production in the brain is thought to contribute either directly and/or indirectly to the development of neurodegenerative disorders.
Thus it has been hypothesized that creatine, by helping to improve energy pathways, may prove to be useful as a therapeutic intervention for diseases such as Huntington's and Parkinson's disease (13).
Combine creatine with an algae omega-3 supplement to really supercharge your brain!
Why Vegans Especially Should Take Creatine
A 2003 study on creatine should be particularly interesting for vegan bodybuilders. 19 vegetarians (3 vegans) and 30 omnivores were randomly assigned to either the group: vegetarian + creatine, vegetarian + placebo, omnivore + creatine or omnivore + placebo (14).
As expected, measured creatine levels in the vegetarians were significantly lower compared to the omnivores. After 8 weeks on a resistance-training program, all the subjects taking creatine had seen an increase in lean muscle mass and strength compared to placebo.
Now here's the juicy part - The most dramatic effect was seen in vegetarians on creatine, seeing greater increases in muscle concentrations of total creatine and phosphocreatine and gaining 2.4 kg of lean tissue vs 1.9 kg for non-vegetarians using creatine.
Are There Any Side Effects from Creatine?
Creatine as a supplement is remarkably well-studied and safe. You might notice a small bodyweight increase when taking creatine - which is completely harmless and a result of transient water weight retention (15).
Anecdotally, some people experience gastrointestinal disturbances. If this is a major problem for you, I would try to take the creatine with meals.
Overall there is no scientific evidence that suggests that creatine would be harmful to otherwise healthy individuals. Athletes taking creatine for up to 5 years showed no adverse effects on kidney function (16).
Now people with kidney damage and/or high risk for developing kidney problems due to diabetes or genetics are best off avoiding creatine.
How to Effectively Supplement Creatine
Buy the best creatine monohydrate you can find. Don't bother with any other form of creatine – monohydrate is the variety used in the majority of studies and is proven to produce good gains.
First, you should have a loading phase where you take 25g every day for 5 days. Then you take 5 g once per day forever. That's it (17).
What we’re doing here is developing fully saturated intramuscular stores of creatine which help to fuel your muscles over time. By starting with a loading phase, you can hit the ground running with your creatine consumption.
What to look for in a vegan creatine?
So how do you find the best creatine supplement for you? Well, first of all, you need to look at the delivery method in the supplement you buy.
Is it a pill, capsule, powder, or perhaps even a liquid? If you’re looking to steer clear of animal products, we would recommend the powder, as capsules can be coated in gelatin, which is derived from pigs or cows.
Furthermore, it has been found that the liquid serum creatine isn’t very effective when it comes to different types of creatine and their performance (18).
You’ve probably already noticed us droning on about creatine monohydrate powders, and this is because creatine monohydrate is the most effective form of creatine.
Creatine monohydrate is the most studied version of this formula and is the type that is most commonly used by vegan athletes around the country.
Micronized vs. Not
According to TotalShape.com, the micronized powder is what you should be aiming for. This is because it has been broken down into tiny (hence the “micro”) pieces, making it easier for the powder to be dissolved into water.
Essentially, micronized creatine is just smaller and easier to absorb that its bigger sibling, although both types have the same mass-building properties.
Free of contaminants
Sadly, a lot of the best creatine supplements suffer from problems with contaminants. For example, a survey conducted in Italy found that 50% of creatine products contained detectable mercury and other organic contaminants (19).
Some brands have dedicated themselves to keeping their products contaminant-free, with CreaPure, a German product, is especially known for its stringent manufacturing processes which ensure vegan contaminant-free creatine at all times.
What is the best vegan creatine on the market?
The best vegan creatine on the market is only available in synthetic form as all natural creatine can only be derived from animals. Transparent Labs Creatine HMB is one of the best options available.
Should you take creatine every day?
No, you should not take creatine every day. On rest days or days with low-intensity training, your liver will produce enough to cover your needs.
Can creatine increase testosterone?
No, creatine cannot increase testosterone levels, but some research studies have suggested that it can improve its effectiveness.
What is vegan creatine supplement made from?
Vegan creatine supplements are generally made from synthetically created sources in labs. Chemically they are the same, and your body will treat them equal to natural animal-based creatine.
Should I take creatine before or after a workout?
You should take creatine before a workout, as this gives your body the chance to absorb it in time for the post-workout recovery. If you have a very long training session planned, then you can also take it halfway through.
My Top Recommended Creatine for Vegans
Is creatine vegan? Where does creatine come from?
I hope I’ve managed to clear up some of the confusion surrounding creatine, especially within the vegan community.
And I'm happy to recommend Transparent Labs Creatine HMB as my favorite vegan creatine product!
This product is guaranteed to be free from contaminants and nasty additives, helping you to easily increase your strength and endurance when hitting the gym.
This 100% pure formula uses cell-swelling creatine to optimize protein synthesis in your body, making it the ultimate solution to getting ripped in the gym without consuming animal products!
Best Vegan Creatine Supplement
PS. If you found this helpful make sure to share it with others!
PSS. Get swole and make sure to check out the main information hub on vegan supplements.
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