As an aid in performance creatine has been used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts for decades. Because of its extreme popularity and extensive use creatine is one of the most heavily researched supplements on the market.
Countless studies have been conducted on its efficacy, safety and long term benefits. As naturally occurring creatine is only found in meat and fish, vegans have relied on synthetic supplements.
We have found the 7 best vegan creatine supplements for muscle growth.
A plant based diet will not provide the creatine needed for intense exercise so vegan and vegetarian fitness enthusiasts look to a supplement as an alternative.
With decades of research to back it up we know that synthetic creatine is not just safe for vegans and vegetarians but for everyone to take on a regular basis.
In fact, consistency is key to getting the most out of creatine supplementation especially for muscle growth.
There are many different brands of creatine supplements available, and they come in a variety of formats from powder to capsules.
We will look at which are best for vegans and which ones you should avoid as they may contain animal derived ingredients such as gelatin.
What Is Vegan Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid which is naturally produced in the body by the muscles and brain. The purpose of creatine is to help your muscles utilize more energy when the body is under extreme exertion such as when engaged in heavy lifting or other intense exercise.
Typically creatine is made in small amounts by the body, but it is regularly excreted throughout the day. And while you can get creatine from certain foods these are typically meat and seafood.
This is the reason why people who are vegan or vegetarian turn to supplements to increase their creatine for working out or for general health reasons.
Vegan creatine is made from non-animal products and is usually in the form of a micronized powder rather than in capsules which are normally made from animal gelatin. Of course, this type of creatine supplement can also be used by non-vegans and is perfectly safe.
How Is It Made?
Vegan creatine supplements are made from a combination of sarcosine and cyanamide. The former is a sodium salt and the latter is an organic amide compound. Individually these substances are not safe for human consumption but are rendered safe when combined.
The blending of sarcosine and cyanamide then creates a synthetic form of creatine which can be used by anyone including vegans and vegetarians as there are no animal products used in the process.
The process to create vegan creatine involves the two compounds being treated in a steel reactor under heat and pressure. The result is crystals which are then passed through a centrifuge to remove any unwanted impurities or particles from the formula
Finally, the crystals are milled to increase their absorption rate and dissolubility. The result is a fine powder of creatine monohydrate. The finer the powder the more easily it dissolves in liquid for ease of consumption. This makes it more readily absorbed by the body too.
What Does It Do?
The first thing that creatine does when it enters the body is to bind to a phosphate molecule. This leads to the creation of creatine phosphate.
When your body oxidizes macronutrients it makes adenosine triphosphate. This is what stimulates almost every bodily process by hydrolyzing a phosphate group. When this occurs heat energy is released and causes muscle contraction among other things.
As phosphate is burned off as fuel the result is that adenosine triphosphate becomes adenosine diphosphate. This has no value in the body and so to create adenosine triphosphate from adenosine diphosphate you need to utilize creatine.
The creatine gives its phosphate group to the adenosine diphosphate to convert it into adenosine triphosphate. This means you will have more fuel to burn during exercise, and you can increase the intensity of your workout.
In particular, creatine allows you to engage in more short, fast and explosive movements.
As well as converting adenosine diphosphate into adenosine triphosphate, creatine is a fuel source in its own right.
The preferred energy source for anaerobic exercise is creatine phosphate so by supplementing with this you are storing more of this energy for later use.
Creatine also hydrates muscle cells, not only does this make them look bigger and ‘pumped up’ but it also increases protein synthesis.
7 Best Vegan Creatine Supplements
There are many vegan creatine supplements on the market and most of them are suitable for vegans. However, we have found the 7 best vegan creatine supplements, so you know exactly what you are buying and where to find them.
OUR TOP PICK
Transparent Labs are well named and have a reputation for being upfront about the ingredients in their products. This includes things that do not need to be included on the label.
As well as letting you know exactly what is in their supplements, Transparent Labs also give you information on the optimal dosage of their products.
In this creatine supplement there is creatine, β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate and BioPerine, a black pepper extract.
The β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate increases lean muscle mass, strength and reduces fat mass when it is used in combination with resistance training.
BioPerine makes the creatine more bioavailable, working as an absorption enhancer and delivering the nutrients exactly where they are needed.
This supplement can be purchased unflavored or in three fruit flavors, Tropical Punch Strawberry Lemonade, and Blue Raspberry.
- No additives, artificial sweeteners or fillers
- Non-GMO and gluten free
- High dosage of primary ingredients
- Quality supplement
- Only gives 30 servings per tub
This company understands athletes and what they need to succeed, so Jacked Factory consistently provides high quality, effective supplements.
Their creatine supplement is no different and provides improved energy output, increased muscle growth and strength.
The formula contains pure creatine monohydrate and is made in a US cGMP-certified, FDA-registered facility. It does not contain any harsh chemicals, artificial flavors, dyes or sweeteners and is completely unflavored.
It mixes easily in any liquid and can be stacked with other fitness supplements to improve performance such as pre-workout or BCAAs. One scoop of Jacked Factory creatine supplement will give you 5,000 milligrams of creatine monohydrate.
While you will only get 85 servings from each tub it is still good value for money compared to some other creatine supplements.
- Each serving has 5 grams of creatine monohydrate
- 85 servings per tub
- Made in a cGMP certified, FDA-registered facility
- 100% money-back guarantee if not satisfied
- Unflavored so not to everyone’s taste
Naked Nutrition claim that their Naked Creatine is the highest grade, and most rapidly absorbed creatine monohydrate available. It certainly contains no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners and seems to contain only pure creatine monohydrate.
Naked Nutrition are very transparent with their labeling and have even produced a report on the heavy metals present in their creatine. The results of this testing were all well within safety standards and so safe for human consumption.
The formula itself is a very fine powder and as such blends very well with whatever you choose to combine it with.
This makes it very easy for first time users to get to grips with using creatine. Rather than needing a blender, Naked creatine needs just a couple of stirs.
It is the micronized consistency of the powder that makes it highly absorbable and reduces the instance of bloating after taking it.
- High absorption rate
- No added ingredients, just creatine monohydrate
- Less bloating
- High mixability
- The taste is not to everyone’s liking
EFX Sports claim that their creatine is the only pH correct version on the market. According to the company creatine becomes unstable and loses its potency below pH 7 which means in stomach acid and some liquids.
By buffering their creatine to pH 12 EFX say their creatine monohydrate is stable and more effective as the body can assimilate and utilize it better.
This supplement is available in a vegan friendly powder. It is also effective in storing creatine phosphate, so there is no need to do a creatine load.
The company has end to end production of their supplements from product concept to manufacture. Therefore they can testify to the purity of their products as well as to the absence of any banned substances.
- Claims to be the world’s only stable creatine
- Better assimilated due to higher pH
- Comes in a powder form or as capsules
- No need for creatine load
- Capsule form not suitable for vegans as they contain gelatin
Optimum Nutrition uses CreaPure in their creatine supplement for muscle gain, strength, endurance and long term muscle recovery. This is a powder that is free from any impurities and contaminants. It is IFS certified and on the Cologne product list.
The powder is micronized which means the particles are very fine, lending itself well to mixing.
This reduces the likelihood of the creatine causing bloating which is often a common side effect. And it comes from a well known and reputable provider of dietary supplements.
It also stays in the water for longer than some other powders which have a tendency to separate. Optimum Nutrition creatine is flavorless and so can be added to any liquid including juice.
- Micronized powder with fine particles
- Causes less bloating than other creatine powders
- Flavorless so can be added to most liquids
- IFS certified and on the Cologne product list
- Following the serving instructions means one tub will last just 40 days
MuscleTech’s Platinum creatine is one of the easiest creatine powders to mix. It is a finely ground micronized powder and so blends very well with whatever you want to add it to.
The result is a pleasing texture and the powder is unflavored so can be mixed with almost anything. The supplement is created in a GMP-certified facility and so has been made in good quality surroundings and not contaminated by other products.
Additionally there are no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or fillers. The creatine crystals are very pure and create lean muscle, improve strength and endurance.
Not only that but the creatine helps to replenish ATP in muscles which allows you to train for longer periods.
MuscleTech delivers creatine directly to the muscles which drives performance and increases strength.
- Finely ground powder which blends very well
- No added color, flavor, salt, filler or sweetener
- Delivers creatine directly to the muscles
- Unflavored so can be added to almost anything
- Requires creatine loading
Bulk Supplements are known for their no nonsense packaging. This is one of the things that allows them to sell their products cheaper than some competitors.
But don’t let the simple wrapping fool you, this is a serious creatine supplement from people who know their stuff.
This formula is a micronized powder which has been ground down into very small particles, allowing it to blend successfully with any liquid.
As it is flavorless you can also add it to almost anything such as milk, water or juice with no problem of clashing flavors.
As it blends so easily it is also very easily digested and absorbed by the body for building muscle mass, strength and endurance.
Post workout it helps muscles to recover. With micronized creatine powder there is less bloating than with other forms of the supplement.
Due to the simplistic packaging you can buy Bulk Supplements creatine for less than you pay for other brands, but the quality of the product is still high.
- No nonsense packaging
- Cheaper than other brands
- Micronized powder form for easy blending
- Packaging doesn’t always stay closed after initial opening
Best Vegan Creatine Supplements For Muscle Growth Buying Guide
How To Benefit From Creatine
The majority of people who take creatine are doing so to help with athletic performance, muscle building, strength and endurance.
For these purposes most athletes take the supplement before working out. When creatine is taken after exercising or training the effect is in muscle repair and muscle growth.
As we only naturally produce between 1-2 grams per day it is easy to see that someone who is engaging in intense exercise would need to take extra creatine either through their diet or by taking supplements.
Because the only natural source of creatine through diet is either meat or seafood this is not an option for vegans or vegetarians. So taking synthetically created supplements is the only alternative, but it is highly effective for vegans and non vegans alike.
Around 90-95% of the creatine that you take is absorbed by your muscles so the majority goes directly where you want it to go and is not diverted to other bodily processes or functions.
On top of muscle growth there are benefits for the brain when taking creatine.
It is thought to help with brain function, and protect against neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. However, more research is needed.
Muscles Produce More Energy
As we have seen creatine helps muscles to create stores of phosphate.
Creatine phosphate helps to create adenosine triphosphate or ATP which cells use for all bodily functions including exercise. ATP is broken down in order to produce energy when you exercise.
As the intensity of exercise increases the more ATP you burn and because you are using it up faster than your body can produce it, you need to supplement with creatine.
This replenishes the creatine phosphate which then produces more adenosine triphosphate.
This allows your muscles to produce more energy so that you can train longer and perform better. Creatine helps you to do more work in a single session which promotes long term muscle growth.
The supplement also increases satellite cell signaling which also helps with muscle growth as well as muscle repair. It can also increase cell hydration, increasing the volume of muscles and potentially help with muscle growth.
Help With High-Intensity Exercising
One of the most well known benefits of taking creatine supplements is for improving your ability and performance in high intensity exercising. This is because creatine has a direct impact on the production of adenosine triphosphate.
The type of high intensity exercise that creatine can benefit from includes sprinting, endurance training, or weight lifting. Creatine also benefits muscle mass, resistance to fatigue, brain performance and muscle recovery.
There have been literally hundreds of studies on the benefits of creatine in high intensity exercising. Across these studies 70% show a positive effect in performance after taking a creatine supplement.
A small effect was shown in 30%, but importantly there were no negative effects shown throughout the studies.
Improvements in performance range from 1%-15%. Without creatine supplements the upper end of this range would potentially take months or even years to achieve through training alone.
Tests were conducted on athletes such as sprinters, swimmers, cyclists and soccer players during high intensity exercise.
Aids Other Muscle Functions
Creatine is known for helping muscle strength and repair, but it can also help muscle to grow.
It does this by activating and increasing the formation of proteins that make new muscle fibers. These fibers are what contribute to muscle growth.
The supplementation of creatine also increases the hormone IGF-1, which promotes the increase of muscle mass.
Creatine increases water retention and this also makes muscles increase and gain volume potentially leading to muscle hypertrophy.
A six-week study of people who were using creatine showed that they added almost four and a half pounds to their muscle mass on average compared to a control group.
There is some debate whether creatine supplementation has any positive effects on the recovery of muscles following exercise induced damage.
This is not the same as muscles recovering from a workout but rather some injury to the muscles during exercise.
More research is needed in this area to determine exactly if and how creatine supplements can aid the recovery of muscle following damage or injury caused by exercise.
Could Help Fight Against Neurological Diseases
It is not just athletes and bodybuilders who may benefit from creatine supplements.
There is research being done with several neurological diseases which show that a reduction in creatine phosphate in the brain could be negatively influencing these conditions.
So far the studies have only been carried out on animals, but the results are promising.
The kind of neurological diseases that have been studied include epilepsy, ischemic stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and brain and spinal cord injuries.
It is thought that creatine supplements could help prevent some of these conditions but so far no human trials have been carried out.
Therefore the efficacy of creatine on these particular neurological diseases cannot be clarified.
Studies have indicated that the brain can synthesize creatine and may not rely on dietary intake for its creatine as measured levels were similar between vegetarians and omnivores.
However, it is thought that taking creatine supplements could help brain health in those individuals who may have disorders affecting creatine-catalyzing enzymes.
A creatine supplement in these cases would increase the concentration of creatine available and potentially help with cognitive functioning.
Potentially Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Another condition that could benefit from creatine supplementation is high blood sugar. Some studies have been done on the effectiveness of creatine in reducing blood sugar after a high carb meal.
A 12-week study showed that participants who combined creatine with exercise after high carb intake had lower blood sugar than those who only exercised but took no creatine supplement.
Your blood sugar response in the short term after a meal is a good indicator of how likely you are to develop diabetes. The quicker you can clear blood sugar the less risk you have of developing the condition.
Some evidence has suggested that creatine supplementation alone but more so in combination with exercise can increase glucose metabolism.
This effect was demonstrated in both healthy and insulin resistant individuals such as those with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
However, more research is needed to understand the long term effects of creatine on blood sugar.
Could Improve Brain Function
It’s not just your muscles that rely on adenosine triphosphate to function better and at higher intensity. Your brain also needs a lot of ATP to carry out tasks that require speed to process information.
Because of the link between ATP and brain function there is a significant role for creatine here. Creatine increases stores of creatine phosphate, which in turn produces adenosine triphosphate.
It is also possible that creatine increases dopamine levels and mitochondrial function.
Studies on older people supplemented with creatine suggested that it can help with memory, boost brain function, and protect against some neurological diseases. It may also help with age related muscle loss.
Studies carried out on healthy individuals to examine the effects of a creatine supplement on brain function showed that short term memory, intelligence and reasoning were improved.
The effects on other cognitive functions were unclear. However, the findings suggested that there are potential benefits for stressed and aging individuals.
May Reduce Fatigue
Creatine may reduce tiredness and fatigue. It was given to athletes taking part in a cycling test and successfully reduced their physical fatigue. A similar result was found when giving creatine supplements to those exercising at high intensity.
The response is mostly due to creatine providing the brain with more energy and raising dopamine levels.
In studies, it was demonstrated that a supplement of 8 mg for five days reduced mental fatigue in participants who were given a simple mathematical calculation to perform.
After taking the supplement, subjects were measured with near infrared spectroscopy while carrying out the task. This showed that there was increased oxygen utilization in the brain.
There have also been studies on the effect of creatine supplementation in sleep deprived subjects.
These showed that fatigue was reduced, and energy levels were increased in those who took a creatine supplement compared to those who didn’t.
It has also demonstrated the ability to reduce fatigue in athletes who are exercising in high heat.
Things To Consider Before Buying Vegan Creatine Supplements
Before you rush out to buy some creatine supplements there are a few things you should consider first.
Think about the types of creatine and if you are unsure what is available do some research from reputable sources. Then consider what ingredients you want in a creatine supplement, in other words how pure do you want it to be.
Of course, we all need to know that the supplement that we are buying is going to be good value for money. Check what exactly it is you are getting so you are not just paying for fancy packaging.
Finally, check out what other informed people are saying about different types and brands of creatine supplements.
Type Of Creatine
Take note of the type of creatine contained in supplements as there is more than one type. The best is creatine monohydrate as it is one of the most heavily researched forms of creatine and has been subject to numerous studies over several decades.
Other types of creatine include nitrite, hydrochloride and Kre-Alkalyn. However, if creatine monohydrate gives you stomach issues such as cramps you can try nitrate or hydrochloride as they may be gentler on your stomach.
Always follow the advice and instructions on the packaging about how you should take the creatine supplement.
Remember that if you are taking creatine supplements in capsule form to check what the capsule itself is made from. The majority of capsules are created from pork or beef gelatin.
Just as you would scrutinize the type of creatine that you are buying you should also take careful note of the ingredients. Good quality creatine supplements have one ingredient, creatine monohydrate.
Any other ingredients such as color, flavoring, sweeteners or fillers are not going to benefit your health in any significant way. However, some supplements add other nutritional ingredients that can help you with your body’s recovery or endurance.
Regardless of the other ingredients, the supplement should not sacrifice the amount of creatine contained in it. Avoid any that have small amounts of creatine, but that are packed with filler or other ingredients.
The environment that the creatine supplement is packaged in should prevent contamination by other ingredients. Look at the packaging to see if it is created in a GMP-certified facility.
GMP stands for good manufacturing practice and should follow strict guidelines on how the product is made, from high quality ingredients to being packaged in a safe environment. Most GMP certified facilities are also FDA approved.
Finally, make sure that the creatine in your supplements is synthetic as the only natural sources of creatine are either meat or fish.
Value For Money
Check what you are paying for before you order your creatine supplements. If you find two supplements have exactly the same ingredients but are different in price ask yourself why. Perhaps one is in more simple packaging than the other.
If you believe that the contents, quality and purity are the same then don’t pay for fancier packaging. Also consider the manufacturer and their reputation as well as checking for any banned substances in the supplement.
It’s always helpful to read reviews on the products you are considering. But remember that each person’s needs, expectations and experiences are different and unique to them so don’t take other people’s reviews as being written in stone.
Are There Side Effects To Taking Creatine?
You may wonder if there are any side effects to taking creatine, but it is one of the most extensively researched supplements that you can buy. This is because creatine supplements have been around for decades.
The result of all this research and studies has been that creatine is the one of the safest supplements on the market.
There are those who experience stomach ache when taking creatine, but this can often be attributed to taking the supplement without eating first or to taking too much at once.
How Much Should I Take?
So how much creatine should you take? If you are hoping to build muscle mass, growth or endurance you may want to know how much is the right amount for your particular needs.
The first thing to learn about when beginning to take creatine is creatine loading. To load with creatine you are going to be taking creatine so that your muscles start to store creatine phosphate in large amounts.
Gradually you will lower the amount of creatine that you are taking as your muscles will be saturated with creatine phosphate. Studies have shown that this is the most effective way to increase creatine levels in your muscles.
Of course, everyone will be different and have varying needs so do what works best for you.
How To Creatine Load
For five days take a dose of 20 grams of creatine daily to load your muscles. After the fifth day reduce the amount of creatine to between 3 and 5 grams per day.
Alternatively you can take a dose of 3 to 5 grams of creatine per day to slowly load your muscles, but this process will take between three and four weeks.
You can try this method if you find that taking 20 grams of creatine per day is giving you stomach ache or making you feel bloated. Do what feels most comfortable for you. Better to do it slowly and not get stomach ache than to suffer through and feel unwell.
When Is The Best Time To Take Creatine?
There is no consensus on when the best time to take creatine is, but studies have shown that it may work better at increasing muscle mass if taken just before or after a workout.
A lot of the instructions on creatine packaging however recommend taking it between 30 and 60 minutes before a workout. This produces better results than taking creatine as a regular supplement such as at morning and night.
The most important part of taking creatine is consistency. Whether you take it before or after you exercise the essential thing is to take it every single time you work out. Only with consistency will you see the benefits of taking creatine.
There is a lot to consider when taking a vegan creatine supplement for muscle growth including which brand to buy, when is the best time to take it and whether you are getting value for money.
One thing you can be sure of is that creatine is a safe supplement having been subjected to countless studies over many years and there are no real negative effects from taking it.
Although it’s not that difficult to find a creatine supplement that is vegan due to the synthetic nature of most of them it is worth checking the label and ingredients to be certain.
We hope you have found this guide to vegan creatine supplements helpful.