When you start getting serious about training, you might hear a lot about creatine.
Creatine is a supplement— also a naturally occurring element found in muscle tissue — that aids muscular contraction and endurance.
People who train take creatine for better performance in the gym, better strength gains, and water retention in the muscles for a fuller aesthetic.
Because many of us naturally consume some creatine when eating meat, some vegans might choose to supplement their diet with a little extra... especially if they train. And while synthetic creatine itself is vegan friendly, there are still a few considerations to keep in mind while shopping for the best creatine for vegans.
Below we'll dive in to what to look for, along with my top picks and recommendations.
Here's a quick overview, first:
What to look for in a creatine supplement for vegans
It seems totally counter-intuitive.
After all, creatine is a substance specifically found in meat, muscle tissue, veins, and the like.
So how can it possibly be vegan?
Today, most creatine supplements are created synthetically, and therefore are completely free of animal products.
So you should be safe with most creatines on the market. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind while shopping:
- Powder: Creatine monohydrate is synthetically made, and thus totally vegan-friendly. Taking it in pill or capsule form, however, may not be. Gel capsules often contain gelatin (an animal product), though not always. It's best to steer clear of capsules for this reason and stick to powdered creatine.
- Monohydrate vs Nitrate: Monohydrate is a more pure form of creatine, where nitrate has well, nitrate, added to it. Nitrate absorbs quicker and is alleged to have better performance benefits. Overall, the evidence is unclear and nitrate has been studied far less. You'll likely want to stick with creatine monohydrate.
- Micronized vs Not: When a creatine is advertised as micronized, that just means the powder particles have been broken down into smaller units. This helps solubility and makes it a little easier to mix into your favorite drink. It doesn't change much else about the absorption or the effectiveness of the creatine.
- Additives: You'll often find small amounts of creatine inside preworkout energy drinks with caffeine and other compounds. If you're a vegan simply looking to supplement your diet with creatine, all of that other stuff is unnecessary and will only get in the way. And if you're a lifter looking to get the maximum benefit of creatine, best to take it in its pure form without any extras.
With all of that out of the way, let's dive in to my top picks and recommendations.
Best budget creatine for vegans: Muscle Tech Platinum Creatine
Overview: If you're interested in just plan old simple, yet effective, creatine, it's really hard to beat the price tag on Muscle Tech Platinum. One jar comes with 80 5g servings of pure creatine monohydrate, micronized to mix easily into your favorite beverage.
Grams per serving: 5g
Why we like it: There's no need to get fancy. Muscle Tech gives you high-quality, pure creatine monohydrate for one of the lowest prices around. It's flavorless and mixes easily into water or juice, and reviewers note that the taste is just fine and pretty easily disguised in whatever you choose to mix it with. To properly load Muscle Tech creatine, you'll want to take one scoop 4 times per day for the first 3 days... after that, just one serving of 5g of creatine powder each day (usually after you work out) should give you some pretty incredible results in the gym.
Potential drawbacks: Some reviewers noted that the creatine didn't dissolve well in water. There may also be some physical side effects in select few people depending on how your body responds to the supplement.
Best mid-range creatine for vegans: Integrated Supplement 100% Pure Creatine
Overview: Integrated Supplements takes a lot of pride in their manufacturing process, and even has a patented process down for the way they produce their creatine monohydrate, claiming that it's some of the purest that money can buy. One jug of this amazing stuff contains about 200 5g servings. It costs a bit more than Muscle Tech, but if quality is your thing, you'll likely want to spend the extra money.
Grams per serving: 5g
Why we like it: A lot of companies make what they call "pure creatine," but the definition of that term can vary. Lots of small impurities can slip in during the manufacturing process and, while generally they aren't a huge deal (unless you're buying REAL cheap creatine), you'll get the best results from the purest creatine possible. This compound from Integrated Supplements is one of the best on the market when it comes to purity. It's effectiveness is second to none, and the purity of the stuff, some reviewers say, really helps with any of the common creatine side effects like headaches and bloating. This is really, really high quality stuff.
Potential drawbacks: More expensive option. Some reviewers noted higher appetite while on this creatine, which could hinder weight loss if that's your goal.
Best high-end creatine for vegans: Legion Recharge Post Workout
Overview: Far more than a "pure creatine," Legion Recharge is a multi-function postworkout supplement that'll help you get amazing recovery and performance. It's probably not the best pick if you're JUST looking to add more creatine to your diet, but if you want to boost your strength and performance, it's definitely worth considering. A jug of fruit punch, watermelon, or flavorless Recharge has about 60 servings of postworkout.
Grams per serving: 5g
Additives: Yes (L-Carnitine, L-Tartrate, Corosolic Acid)
Why we like it: Recharge is a full recovery blend. Not only does it have the standard (5g) amount of creatine in each serving, you also get a nice boost of L-Carnitine (helps with cellular generation), L-Tartrate (helps your muscles absorb nutrients), along with Corosolic Acid (helps with carb absorption for energy and recovery). Best of all is that the powdery drink mix is naturally flavored and not jam packed with artificial sweeteners, making Recharge an excellent all-around choice for lifters and other high-intensity workout folks. All of that, and it's still 100% vegan friendly and come with a full money back guarantee if you don't like your results. Hard to beat all of that.
Potential Drawbacks: The additives and high quality make it the most expensive option on this list. It's not a pure creatine and you may not be interested in some of the other compounds present in Recharge.
Most creatine supplements on the market are vegan friendly, as long as the creatine is synthetically processed and in powder form. (Powdered tablets are OK too, just be aware of gelatin based pills.)
There is a ton of scientific research indicating the performance and health benefits of taking creatine, and most of the alleged side effects have yet to be proven. Adding creatine into your diet as a vegan, or anyone who trains hard, is definitely worth a trial run, at least.
Hopefully the research above will help on your quest to find the best creatine for vegans!
For me, the best choice here is going to be the Integrated Supplements Pure Protein (Amazon link). It's nothing but the best quality creatine for a reasonable price and nothing more. It should give you everything you need.
Is creatine vegan friendly?
For the most part, yes! Even though it's a natural compound typically found inside meat (and that's how most people get the creatine they need... by eating meat), you can buy creatine that's made synthetically without the use of animal products, and it can be quite effective.
It's important to avoid capsule form creatine, which may contain gelatin. Go for a powdered version to be sure the supplement is free of animal products. Also double check the label or product page, and when in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly to make sure.
How is vegan creatine made?
Creatine is created inside the body and in the body of animals through natural processes that occur inside the kidneys.
But synthetic or vegan creatine can be manufactured completely synthetically, using sarcosine and cyanamide (not cyanide!). Essentially, salts and other chemical compounds are combined in a reactor in proper proportions, heated and pressurized to form crystals, and then filtered and milled into a powder.
What are the best vegan creatine brands?
Again, most lab-made creatine monohydrate is vegan friendly as long as it doesn't come in a gelatin capsule, so you should be pretty safe with most brands.
But as I've recommended above, I really like Muscle Tech, Legion, and Integrated Supplements for super high quality stuff that you can trust.
Can you get creatine from plants?
Unfortunately, no. Creatine is only produced inside the bodies of animals and typically found in meat-based foods.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you'll likely need to supplement with synthetically made creatine monohydrate, especially if you're into strength training, bodybuilding, or other athletics.
You also can't get creatine from eggs, only in fully formed muscle tissue.
The foods highest in creatine are beef, salmon, and tuna, along with many other meats.