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Let’s play a word association game. What do you think of when you hear the word “creatine”? If it’s muscled up gym bros chugging pre-workout and not re-racking their weights at the gym, well, we’ve got some good news for you.

Creatine has some pretty awesome potential benefits for women, and not just for woman athletes, either — so it’s time to elevate creatine’s status from mere pre-workout to a truly powerful overall wellness supplement.

Here’s why we love creatine, along with some of our favorite creatine supps.

Creatine is a chemical that occurs naturally in your muscle cells. It’s made from the amino acids (protein building blocks, JIC you don’t remember from high school bio) glycine, methionine, and arginine, and it helps your muscles more effectively harness energy.

As a supplement, studies show that it’s great for boosting strength, improving performance in high intensity activities, and promoting exercise recovery. The one-two punch of creatine supplementation and resistance training is a great way to build muscle, too.

And according to Kelly Jones, MS, RDN, CSSN, sports dietitian and founder of Student Athlete Nutrition, creatine may have some benefits for menopause, depression, bone health, and cognition, as well.

OK, give us ALL the creatine.

We put all of our products through a vigorous vetting process to check for unsupported health claims and shady business practices. But to take it a step further, we also chatted with Jones and Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, private practice dietitian and diabetes educator to create a list of MUST HAVES for a good creatine supplement for women:

  • Pure creatine monohydrate. There are other types of creatine available, but creatine monohydrate is the one you want. “This is the type shown in research to have benefits,” explains Jones. She adds that there’s no need for extra ingredients — creatine can stand on its own thanks to its evidence-based benefits, and many of the extra ingredients only tend to be marketing hype, anyway.
  • No bad stuff. Look for an option that has minimal ingredients and does not contain fillers, artificial sugars, or other additives,” Thomason says. Keep it simple and keep it real.
  • Third-party certification. The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements as closely as medications, so it’s important to look for companies that have pursued some external validation that their product is legit. There are tons of third-party, independent labs that do this, but Jones recommends looking for creatine products that are NSF for Sport or Informed Sport certified. These certs ensure that the product is not only legit, but contains no banned substances and is squeaky clean for competitive athletes.

Best overall creatine supplement for women

Onnit Creatine Monohydrate

  • Price: $$$
  • Supplement type: powder
  • Creatine type: creatine monohydrate
  • Creatine per serving: 5 grams
  • Other ingredients: none
  • Testing/certifications: Informed Sport certified

Onnit is a trusted fitness brand offering supplements, snacks, and fitness equipment — they do it all. Its creatine powder is pure creatine monohydrate with a great price and excellent reviews. It’s also Informed Sport certified.

Reviewers definitely feel the benefits from Onnit’s creatine, but some complain that the jars only arrive half full, or that the creatine doesn’t fully dissolve in water.

Regardless, it’s our best overall because of its simple, single-ingredient formulation, trusted brand name, and modest price point.

Top rated creatine supplement for women

BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate Powder

  • Price: $$$
  • Supplement type: powder
  • Creatine type: creatine monohydrate
  • Creatine per serving: 5 grams
  • Other ingredients: none
  • Testing/certifications: third-party tested

This creatine powder earns “top rated” status because it has a whopping 24,000+ overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon, and over 9,000 (!) glowing reviews on the BulkSupplements website.

This creatine powder is also certified vegan and third-party tested, although not currently NSF for Sport or Sport Informed certified.

Note that the packaging is pretty no frills, though. It doesn’t come with a scoop, and comes in a zip-top bag rather than a lidded container.

Our dieticians’ picks for best creatine supplement for women

Thorne Research Creatine

  • Price: $$
  • Supplement type: powder
  • Creatine type: creatine monohydrate
  • Creatine per serving: 5 grams
  • Other ingredients: none
  • Testing/certifications: NSF for Sport certified

“I recommend Thorne’s creatine,” says Jones, “as they are a reputable company and it is NSF for Sport certified.”

Thorne Research is favored among dietitians and athletes, and they’re actually a partner of 11 U.S. Olympic teams. You can count on Thorne products to be super high in quality.

Like other pure creatine products, some reviewers say that it doesn’t dissolve well, and others report GI distress (a known side effect of taking too much creatine, according to Thomason). Always make sure you’re following the dosage instructions (and always check in with a doc) to avoid any preventable side effects.

1st Phorm Micronized Creatine Monohydrate

  • Price: $$
  • Supplement type: powder
  • Creatine type: creatine monohydrate
  • Creatine per serving: 5 grams
  • Other ingredients: none
  • Testing/certifications: third-party testing

Thomason’s go-to creatine is from 1st Phorm. She says that it dissolves well in water and tastes great. She also loves that it doesn’t have any additives or artificial sweeteners.

Although they’re not certified for sport, 1st Phorm’s website says that all of their ingredients are third-party tested.

And, reviewers agree with Thomason — they say across the board that this product is easy to mix and tastes great.

Best budget creatine supplement for women

Nutricost Creatine Monohydrate

  • Price: $
  • Supplement type: powder
  • Creatine type: creatine monohydrate
  • Creatine per serving: 5 grams
  • Other ingredients: none
  • Testing/certifications: third-party tested

Offering 200 servings for under $30, Nutricost def offers one of the most cost-effective creatine options.

This creatine is third-party tested, and although it’s not sport certified, it’s made with Creapure — a standardized, vegan creatine that many high quality creatine products (like Thorne Research Creatine above) are also made with.

Most negative reviews talk about the grittiness of the product, but there’s one concerning review about the company not responding to a request for a copy of the third-party testing results. Wince.

Best capsule creatine supplement for women

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Capsules

  • Price: $$
  • Supplement type: capsule
  • Creatine type: creatine monohydrate
  • Creatine per serving: 2.5 grams
  • Other ingredients: gelatin, magnesium stearate
  • Testing/certifications: third-party tested

If you don’t do powders, or you’ve been sufficiently turned off by reviews re: gritty creatine powders, then creatine capsules are the move.

These capsules from Optimum Nutrition provide 2.5 grams per 2 capsule serving, so you’d need to take 4 caps to get the 5-gram serving most powders provide.

Though we couldn’t find info about third-party testing on the site, we reached out to the company’s customer service department and verified that its products are in fact third-party tested.

Regardless, reviewers love the convenience of the capsules, but some complain that they are big and difficult to swallow.

Best high end creatine supplement for women

Klean Athlete Klean Creatine

  • Price: $$$
  • Supplement type: powder
  • Creatine type: creatine monohydrate
  • Creatine per serving: 5 grams
  • Other ingredients: none
  • Testing/certifications: NSF Certified for Sport

Klean Athlete specializes in high quality supplements for athletes. All of its products are NSF Certified for Sport, and this creatine is no exception. It’s made only of Creapure, too — so it’s vegan. 🙌

Reviewers love it, too, and say that it’s truly flavorless and that it dissolves well if you mix it thoroughly. One reviewer also says it’s a good pick for college athletes, since Klean Athlete tests for all substances banned by the NCAA.

So, which one’s best for you? Here are some things to consider:

  • Budget. Since most of these are made with pure creatine monohydrate and nothing more, there’s not a whole lot of variation between the prices. But if you’re on a tighter budget, check out cheaper options like Nutricost and 1st Phorm.
  • Form. Creatine monohydrate is available in powder or capsule form. Although the powder form is more widely available, you might prefer a capsule for the convenience — no mixing required!
  • Vegan or not vegan. If you’re vegan or vegetarian (or just want to avoid animal products), look for creatine made with Creapure.
  • Taste. Most creatine is unflavored, but some brands offer fun and fruity flavors, which def makes it easier (and more fun) to take your creatine.
  • Third party certifications. Again, always make sure that the creatine supplement you choose is tested by a third party. If you can’t find the info on the website, try reaching out to the company to verify.

  • Lean mass. “The most significant benefits of creatine for women are related to maintaining bone and lean muscle with age,” explains Jones, “especially during and after menopause.” She explains that recent studies in post-menopausal women have shown that creatine supplementation can contribute to improved physical function, lean mass, and quality of life in postmenopausal women with osteoarthritis.
  • Strength and performance. “Creatine increases our muscle strength, helps with post-workout recovery, and assists in building lean muscle mass,” explains Thomason. She adds that creatine “gives us the ability to increase strength and total intensity of a workout by providing the muscles with more energy.”
  • Mood and brain function. Finally, creatine may also help boost mood and mental performance. Some research suggests that creatine may function as a kind of antidepressant, as well as help restore energy to the brain. That’s just what this post-2020 noggin’ needs!

Creatine can be mixed into any liquid — BUT, says Jones, “I recommend mixing it into smoothies or having it with seltzer so it dissolves better than in water.”

Regarding timing, she explains, “It is best taken just before or after exercise, but on days that you aren’t training just take it when it’s convenient for you.”

The average women, she says, “can take 3- to 5-gram doses each day indefinitely.”

Which type of creatine supplement is best?

Jones and Thomason agree: it’s creatine monohydrate or bust. Most studies on the benefits of creatine use creatine monohydrate, and it’s fairly inexpensive and easy to find. All of our rec’d products are creatine monohydrate, too.

But here’s a quick rundown of some other types of creatine available, if you’re interested:

  • Buffered creatine. Buffered creatine is mixed with magnesium, and supposedly better absorbed than straight up creatine monohydrate. However, one 2012 study found that it was no better or worse than creatine monohydrate.
  • Creatine hydrochloride. This type is also supposed to be better absorbed than creatine monohydrate, but a 2020 study noted that there were no differences in performance in men who supplemented with creatine monohydrate or hydrochloride.
  • Creatine ethyl ester. This type is primarily broken down during digestion and enters the bloodstream, where monohydrate is not affected by digestion and is nearly completely taken up by muscle tissue or peed out.

There are several other forms as well, but know that they really don’t provide any additional benefits beyond what the OG creatine monohydrate can.

How does creatine affect women?

Creatine offers a number of benefits for women, especially for athletes and post-menopausal women — according to Jones and Thomason. It can help maintain lean body mass, which is key for healthy aging. And it helps you harness more energy in your muscles, making it easier to gain muscle mass and strength, while optimizing your performance and exercise recovery.

It may even help with mental health and performance. So despite its rep, it’s not just a pre-workout.

Do certain women benefit more from creatine than others?

Jones says that creatine is a great option for menopausal and postmenopausal women to help maintain their lean body mass and support healthy aging.

Thomason also adds that “Athletes like weight lifters and sprinters benefit the most from creatine supplementation as they require the highest power output from muscles.”

Can I take creatine if I’m vegan or vegetarian?

“Yes!” says Jones. “While creatine is naturally found in meat and shellfish,” she explains, “pure creatine supplements are almost always vegan.” She says that Creapure is a type of creatine monohydrate that is lab-synthesized, meaning it’s totes vegan — and pssst, most of the products listed above are made with Creapure.

Will creatine make me gain weight?

“It depends,” says Jones. She explains that taking creatine while strength training may result in gains in muscle mass — but that’s not a bad thing. She adds that the slight increase in weight that happens when starting creatine is from fluid retention, which is just temporary and nothing to be concerned about.

How much should I be working out if I take creatine?

While we’re big proponents of trying to work some fitness into your routine, creatine isn’t just for working out. Because it may also help with things like bone density, mood, and mental performance, there’s no minimum amount that you need to work out to justify using it.

Are there any side effects of taking creatine?

Thomason says that taking too much creatine at once can cause GI discomfort — so make sure to stick to the recommended serving size, or link up with an RD who can help you figure out the right dose for you.

And Jones reassures us that the myths that creatine causes bloating, kidney damage, cramping, and hormonal interference are just that: myths.

Can I take creatine while pregnant?

This is definitely a convo you should have with your OB-GYN, but Jones says that creatine may actually have some benefits for pregnant women. It has some antioxidant effects, and may help protect developing brains from poor oxygenation. Creatine might even make labor a little easier, according to Jones. 🙌 🙌 🙌 “Still,” she concludes, “more research is needed.”

Creatine is found naturally in your muscle cells and helps them produce energy to power your movements (aka it helps them Hulk out 💪💪), but supplementing with creatine may offer some additional benefits — like improved strength, lean mass (including bone and muscle growth), and better mood and mental clarity.

Creatine monohydrate is the best type, and your best bet is to find one that contains no other ingredients. According to Thomason and Jones, our Dream Createam, creatine truly offers some outstanding benefits for women.