The 5 best creatine supplements of 2021 to improve your workouts

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  • Creatine supplements can help you work out harder and for longer and shed fat, according to studies.
  • Our experts agree powdered creatine monohydrate supplements are the best option.
  • The right creatine supplement for you depends on your goals, needs, and budget.

Creatine is one of the most popular workout supplements – but it’s also one of the most well-proven supplements to improve sprint performance, maximal strength and power, and lean body mass, explains Angie Asche, RD, CSSD, founder of Eleat Sports Nutrition and author of Fuel Your Body: How to Cook and Eat for Peak Performance.

“Any athlete or active person who is consistently training at high intensities may benefit from creatine supplementation,” Asche added. What’s more, a large 2017 study analysis found creatine is safe to take both short and long-term (up to 5 years).

Creatine is found in our muscle cells, and it’s instrumental in producing the energy our bodies run on (called ATP), especially for an intense workout, explains Martin MacDonald, PgCert, PgDip, a clinical performance nutritionist and director of Mac-Nutrition. Your muscles will take longer to fatigue, so over time that can add up to performance and muscle gains, says both MacDonald and plenty of studies.

In addition to letting you work out harder, for longer, it’s also helpful for retaining muscle mass if you’re recovering from an injury, and for vegans and vegetarians who tend to have lower phosphocreatine stores, Asche adds.

For more info on how much creatine you should take, potential side effects, and more, jump to the bottom of this guide.

Here are the best creatine supplements

The best creatine supplement overall

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder
This option comes in large quantities.

What we like: 240 servings per tub, pure creatine monohydrate

Check out the label of Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder, and you’ll see that it lists just one ingredient: creatine monohydrate. According to the experts we interviewed for this article, that’s a major plus because you don’t want or need anything else in your creatine supplement. Unlike other creatine powders on the market, this one should last you for several months because it contains 240 5-gram servings, and at a really reasonable price. Because it’s micronized (processed to improve solubility), this supplement dissolves easily in water, juice, or any other liquid. The only potential downside is that the tub doesn’t come with its own scooper. That said, you can use a rounded teaspoon as a serving size. 

The best creatine supplement made with Creapure

 MUSCLE FEAST Creapure Creatine Monohydrate Powder
A great option for purity.

What we like: Main ingredient comes from a reputable manufacturer, certified vegan

When it comes to supplements, ensuring they contain what they say they do is a major concern, as the FDA doesn’t measure the effectiveness, safety, or purity of nutritional supplements. That’s why many people opt for creatine supplements made using Creapure, a pure form of creatine monohydrate made in Germany. There are several different supplement brands that use Creapure in their creatine supplements, and Muscle Feast’s version is among the best. Not only is it a great value with 168 servings in a tub, but it was also recently certified as a vegan product. This product isn’t micronized, but it still dissolves well in liquids and is flavorless, so you won’t notice it whatever drink you mix it with. 

The best creatine for athletes

Thorne Research Creatine
Ideal for anyone doing serious competing.

What we like: High quality standards, NSF certified 

Supplement purity is especially important for athletes, who can be disqualified from competing if they test positive for any banned substances. Sometimes, athletes aren’t aware of banned substances that are in their nutritional supplements. Though that might not seem like a common occurrence, it can happen. 

Thorne Research’s unflavored creatine is a top pick for athletes because of the rigorous quality testing it undergoes. Thorne tests all their supplements in-house four times for quality, purity, and stability. Plus, this creatine supplement is NSF Certified for Sport, which is one of the top third-party supplement certifications. This mark essentially means the supplement doesn’t contain any banned substances, and that what’s on the label matches what’s actually in the product. Thorne also uses Creapure as the main ingredient, which means you can count on the creatine being high quality and easily mixable. 

The best hypoallergenic creatine supplement

Pure Encapsulations Creatine Powder
Suitable for those with food allergies.

What we like: Free from unnecessary fillers, well-regarded manufacturer 

If you have a milk, soy, egg, or wheat allergy, it can be tricky to find the right creatine supplement, as some manufacturers can’t guarantee that their products won’t contain traces of these allergens. This is particularly true for brands that make protein powders that use these ingredients. Pure Encapsulations prides itself on being safe for those with food allergies, and is well-known in the supplement space for being a reliable source of high-quality supplements. This unflavored creatine powder is made up of 100 percent creatine monohydrate, is certified gluten-free, and is free from unnecessary binders, fillers, and preservatives. It clocks in at 4 grams of creatine per serving and is available in two tub sizes (8.8 ounces and 17.6 ounces).

The best quick-dissolving creatine supplement

Bodylogix Creatine Monohydrate Powder
There’s zero grit or chalky texture.

What we like: Mixes seamlessly, NSF certified  

For some people, a gritty texture makes it really difficult to get their creatine supplement down. Micronized creatine goes through extra processing to make it more easily dissolvable, so if this is a concern, it’s best to opt for a supplement that clearly states it’s micronized. Bodylogix’s version is unflavored, NSF Certified for Sport, and made from pure creatine monohydrate. The tub comes with 60 servings, or enough to last at least a couple of months. Those who don’t want any fillers in their supplements will be glad to know this product doesn’t contain any dyes, additives, preservatives, colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

About creatine supplements

How much creatine should you take? 

The common advice you’ll hear on creatine dosage is to take 5 grams of creatine per day. That dosage will work, MacDonald says, but there is a more efficient way to ensure your muscles are saturated with creatine. 

“The fastest way to saturate the muscle with creatine is to consume 20g or ~0.3 grams per kg of body weight a day of creatine monohydrate for seven days,” MacDonald says. So if you weigh 60kg (132 pounds), you’d take 18 grams of creatine per day for a week. MacDonald recommends splitting this across 4 doses a day to reduce the chances of GI distress. 

After seven days, you can go down to a maintenance dose that is one-tenth of this (0.03 grams/kg of body weight per day). So using the 60kg person example, that’d be 1.8 grams a day. There’s no harm in taking the standard dose of 5 grams a day, MacDonald says, but you don’t need that much to maintain your levels. 

Are there any side effects of taking creatine?

As mentioned above, higher doses of creatine (more than 5 grams at a time) may cause digestive discomfort. Also, don’t be surprised if you see the scale jump right after you start taking creatine. It can cause water weight gain due to your muscles holding more water than usual. But in terms of your health, studies have shown that you can safely take up to 30g per day for at least 5 years.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t take creatine?

Experts emphasize that overall, creatine is a safe supplement to take. “The only caution worth mentioning is in those who have pre-existing issues with their kidneys,” MacDonald says. If you have any kidney problems, it’s smart to check in with your doctor before starting creatine. Also, those on medication should always check with their doctor before use, Vichill adds. 

How long should you take creatine supplements?

You can take creatine indefinitely. “In fact, long-term supplementation has been shown to have lasting improvements on performance, and a positive effect on lean body mass over time,” Asche says.

Do you need to cycle creatine doses?

You may see recommendations about cycling creatine, for example, supplementing for 12 weeks and then taking 4 weeks off. The rationale behind this was that since we produce less of our own creatine when supplementing, it’d be smart to give your body a break to “recover” and start producing more creatine again. But this advice is outdated and unnecessary, MacDonald says. “While we produce less creatine in our bodies when we supplement, it goes straight back up whenever we stop taking creatine.” 

What types of fitness goals does supplementing with creatine make sense for? 

Supplementing with creatine makes the most sense for people who want to improve their athletic performance, maintain muscle mass (including after injury), or gain muscle mass. If you’re trying to cut significant weight, for example, there may be no point in supplementing with creatine, says Abby Vichill, MS, RDN, LD, founder of FWDfuel Sports Nutrition.

It’s also worth noting that creatine needs to be combined with proper training and nutrition for best results. Simply taking creatine without eating a diet to support lean muscle gain, or without training in the right capacity, will not cause your performance or results to magically shoot through the roof, Vichill says. 

Are there any other benefits to taking creatine? 

Aside from creatine’s athletic performance and muscle gain benefits, there have been a host of discoveries relating to health and the use of creatine, according to MacDonald. Creatine is also found in the brain, and research in young children with traumatic brain injury has shown creatine may help reduce the post-traumatic amnesia, the time needed in an intensive care unit, and the time needed for recovery of communication and locomotion, MacDonald says. “This has led to current research on creatine use in sports that lead to regular concussions such as rugby and boxing.” Similarly, some research shows there may be some promise in the use of creatine to benefit other brain concerns such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

What to consider when buying creatine supplements

According to nutrition pros, there are only a few key things to look for when buying a creatine supplement. 

First and foremost, you want to get creatine monohydrate. “There are many many different versions of creatine out there, all touted as having superior benefits,” MacDonald says. “However, monohydrate is the most well-studied version of creatine, and other versions have yet to show any extra benefit in the research.” 

You also want a supplement that’s purely creatine monohydrate, with no other ingredients. “My advice would be to get a product that says ‘Ingredients: 100% Creatine Monohydrate’ and nothing else,” MacDonald notes. These products will be flavorless, so they can be added to any non-caffeinated drink (caffeine may interfere with creatine’s effects), or even sprinkled on top of your cereal. 

Both MacDonald and Vichill recommend powdered creatine over pills, as it’s easier to adjust your dose and generally less expensive. 

Lastly, you’ll ideally want to look for a creatine supplement that’s certified by a third-party organization such as NSF or Informed Sport. This is because supplements are not regulated as closely as food products. “Creatine supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and thus may contain contaminants or discrepancies in quantity or quality,” explains Ashley Nader, RD. “Whether you’re an athlete or not, look for a third certification,” she advises. This ensures that what’s inside the package matches with what’s on the label.

Our experts

Because the safety and efficacy of anything you put inside your body is incredibly important, we thoroughly researched both creatine as a supplement and the specific brands we recommend here. That included speaking to a handful of experts, namely:

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The 5 best gym bags, for storing gym clothes or hauling workout equipment

  • Gym bags allow you to comfortably and easily carry workout apparel and gear to and from the gym.
  • The best gym bags keep clothing and accessories organized, making for easy access and efficient storage.
  • Our top pick, the Adidas Defender II, holds plenty of gear, is highly durable, and stays comfortable slung over a shoulder.

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If you regularly work out at a gym or play a sport, you’ll want to own a gym bag to help transport your gear. A dedicated gym bag lets you establish a routine that makes preparing for a workout more convenient and your time at the gym more efficient. It also makes any post-exercise transport, laundering, and storage of fitness apparel and gear easier and more hygienic.

A proper gym bag should have multiple compartments that can be used to create your own organizational system. You can appoint one or two pockets to store soiled, sweaty garments and shoes, while dedicating another for clean clothing. Other compartments store water, energy bars, snacks, or supplements and you’ll want to stash your phone, keys, and wallet somewhere safe, as well.

There’s certainly no shortage of gym bags available to purchase, too, as almost every athletic brand offers its own version. But they’re not all created equal. To help, we’ve tested a number of bags from top brands like Adidas, Under Armour, and Thule to find the best worth owning.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a gym bag and what to keep in mind when picking one out, as well as the testing methods we used in deciding which made the cut.

Here are the best gym bags:

Best overall

adidas gym bag

The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag is well made and refreshingly simple with a few compartments and two ways to carry it.

Pros: Lasts for years of heavy use, simple intuitive design, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Medium and large sizes too big for many people

The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag has one large main compartment with enough room for a change of clothes and a towel, a water bottle, deodorant and shampoo, and whatever other workout gear you prefer.

Within the main chamber is a smaller zippered pouch perfect for a wallet, keys, phone, and other small valuables. Each end of the bag has a compartment that can fit shoes, sweaty garments, and anything else you want to keep separate. The base is padded to keep your gear safe and the fabric is rip- and puncture-resistant. There’s also both a shoulder strap and handles to allow for comfortable and easy transport. 

And that’s it. But hey, that’s really all you need out of gym bag. So why does this bag cost almost twice as much as other options on our list? Simple. It’s remarkably well made. Adidas even offers a lifetime warranty. And when you think about it, that’s an impressive amount of faith Adidas is putting in this gym bag. Adidas knows the thing is going to be hauled back and forth to the fitness center, to the track, the field, and everywhere else such luggage gets lugged.

It doesn’t hurt that the Defender II comes in nearly two dozen different color patterns, so you can easily find one that not only matches your needs but that matches your personal sense of style, too.

Best on a budget

everest gym bag

The Everest Gym Bag’s dedicated water bottle sleeve, versatile front pouches, and adjustable, padded shoulder strap make it a great budget-friendly gym bag.

Pros: Great low price, dedicated water bottle pocket, keeps gear and sundries organized

Cons: Occasional issues with side pocket tearing, longevity questionable

The Everest Gym Bag may be our pick for the best budget bag but it’s far from something that should be considered cheap. For starters, it’s manufactured out of durable 600D polyester that resists scratches and tears, and is even water-resistant. Of course, you don’t want to submerge it in a bathtub while your smartphone is inside or anything, but don’t worry about some drizzle as you jog from the subway to the gym.

The bag features a large primary compartment with plenty of room for shoes, clothes, showering accessories, and more, and its twin front pouches are perfect for a phone, wallet, some energy bars, or other smaller sundries. A central water bottle sleeve handles most water bottle sizes, too.

On one side of the bag, you will find a zippered mesh pouch, and on the other, there is a closed compartment. Both can be extended into the main area of the bag, allowing you to stash sweaty clothes or muddy shoes away from the rest of your gear.

The only real drawback with this bag is that the side pockets in which you can store soiled gear must take up room in the main compartment to be sufficiently spacious, so it can be tricky to tell exactly how much room you will use in each area after a workout. After a few trips to the gym, though, you should have the balance down and can pack and plan accordingly.

Best backpack

Under Armour gym backpack

The Under Armour UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack has enough space to carry a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, a full-sized laptop, and a few accessories, and it distributes the weight of all your gear evenly across your torso.

Pros: Distributes weight evenly, water-resistant exterior, padded laptop sleeve

Cons: Capacity is too small for some athletes

Now yes, we just mentioned a lot of stuff that you can fit into a UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack, but to be clear, if you put a pair of sneakers, your gym apparel, a computer, and your wallet, phone, and keys in this bag, it would then be just about full. But that’s just fine, because what else do you need to carry with you as you travel from the office to the gym and then home?

And unlike with traditional gym bags that must be slung over one shoulder or carried in your hand, this backpack distributes that weight evenly across your shoulders and down through your core, meaning you can transport all that stuff for miles and miles in comfort if need be.

Anyone with a long trip between the gym and the home or office should consider this gym backpack. Its padded laptop sleeve keeps that invaluable computer safe while the brand’s UA Storm technology-treated exterior resists rain, sleet, or snow, keeping your stuff safely dry within. The bottom panel is abrasion-resistant and the entire backpack is rip-stop and puncture-resistant.

And also, the UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack comes in colors ranging from black to blue to pink to orange and more.

Best leather bag

_komal gym bag

If you love the timeless styling of luggage from generations past, then this Komal’s Passion Leather KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel is the gym bag for you.

Pros: Beautiful vintage style, multiple compartments and pockets, versatile

Cons: Requires care and maintenance

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a bare-knuckle boxer or 19th Century strongman to appreciate the Komal’s Passion Leather KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel. While this leather duffel may have the look of a vintage piece of equipment, it’s actually brand new and manufactured to modern standards and with modern apparel and accessories in mind.

There is a front pocket perfect for your smartphone and keys, there are side pockets that can accommodate shoes or sweaty gear, and there is a large main compartment perfect for a change of clothes, hygiene products, snacks, or whatever else you need to have on-the-go.

This durable leather duffel is the perfect size for use as a gym bag, but it’s also great for the traveler. The bag is suitable for carry-on use and will easily fit in overhead compartments and will even fit under the seat aboard many aircraft. And it’s hard to mistake this unique, handsome duffel with another traveler’s luggage.

While of course there are drawbacks to using a leather duffel, such as the need to avoid heavy precipitation and the more complicated cleaning procedures, these mild issues are greatly outweighed by the KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel’s classic charm for those who truly value style. And for a leather bag, it’s reasonably priced.

Best water-resistant

best water resistant bag thule chasm

The Thule Chasm is a water-resistant duffel that protects your gear from the elements. It’s also a great travel bag, and it can convert into a backpack for easier hauling.

Pros: Water-resistant, converts from duffel to backpack, large opening, padded bottom

Cons: Expensive, no laptop compartment

Having gone through a good number of bags for the gym, I’ve grown to appreciate the ones with large openings. It not only makes it easier to pack, but it also lets me get to things much quicker. Which is the reason why I like the Chasm from Thule. The 40-liter version (also available in 70, 90, and 130 liters) is the right size for the gym or a weekend trip, and it has a big opening that I can easily shove workout clothes, shoes, and other gym gear into it.

But there’s so much more to this bag. Don’t feel like carrying it or slinging it over your shoulder? The Thule Chasm converts into a backpack, making it easy to haul. For me, the versatility is a plus because some days I feel like using a backpack, while other days I prefer a duffel.

The Thule Chasm is made with a water-resistant material, and the bottom is padded to offer some protection. There are mesh pockets on the inner part of the lid for storing dirties. And, you can lock the zippers to prevent theft, which is handy for when you use a gym locker room. The only thing I wish this bag offers is a laptop compartment, which would allow me to carry just one bag from home to office to gym.

Thule products are very well made. I also use Thule bags to carry my camera equipment, so you can rest assure that this bag will protect your gym gear. It is quite expensive for a bag, but if you want to invest in something that offers flexibility and longevity, this is a good option.

If you’re looking for a water-resistant duffel, you should also consider two options from Eagle Creek: the Cargo Hauler Duffel 45L and Migrate Duffel 40L. Like the Thule Chasm, both Eagle Creek bags can convert into backpacks. The Cargo Hauler is expandable for when you need more room, while the Migrate Duffel can be packed down for easy storage. I find Eagle Creek bags to be well made, but also affordable. — Les Shu

Best rolling bag

olympia rolling gym bag

Anyone with joint or shoulder injuries or issues shouldn’t carry a gym bag by hand, so the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel Bag is just right for them.

Pros: Rolling design takes strain off your body, multiple pockets for easy organization, great price

Cons: Does not stand up straight, lacks sufficiently large compartments for some users’ preferences

Gym bags can get heavy quickly, what with all the gear most of us lug along to our workouts. There are shoes, changes of clothes, water bottles, energy bars, shampoo and a towel, and so on.

If you have strength or grip issues in your hands, shoulders, lower back, or really anywhere else, you should not be carrying a heavy gym bag, nor should you sling one over a shoulder. Doing so can throw of your center of balance and/or put undue strain on the sensitive area. With the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel, you can tote along all the fitness apparel and gear you want and then some while letting the wheels do most of the work.

At 22 by 12 by 12 inches this gym bag offers plenty of room to stash shoes and clothes, snacks and water, accessories, personal items, and more, but it’s not so large that you can’t easily bring it on the subway or bus and stash it under your desk at work. As the duffel has no fewer than eight pockets, it’s easy to keep all of your stuff organized, not to mention keeping soiled gear separate from clean stuff.

When needed, such as when you encounter stairs or uneven terrain, the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel can be picked up by its handles and carried along. But the recessed, in-line skate style wheels — which turn smoothly thanks to metal ball bearings — and the retractable pull handle are what set this bag apart from the rest. Also, it costs only about thirty-two bucks.

How to shop for a gym bag

When choosing the right gym bag for you, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about what you’ll be carrying to the gym and then find options that can accommodate it all.

Next, consider when and where you’ll have the bag. Do you need to bring it with you on the subway or on a bus? If so, a smaller bag is like a good idea. If you have a long walk or prefer to jog to the gym, then a backpack might be your best bet.

Finally, don’t dismiss style as an important element. You’ll have your gym bag on you often, so choose the one you’ll be proud to have over your shoulder and on display.

How we test gym bags

When compiling a list of the best gym bags, we only considered those with multi-compartment designs. Wel also looked at the materials used, well aware that while one person might value performance and durability, someone else might value style — thus, we included a leather gym duffel.

We heavily weighed the cost, too. Bags can get expensive but unless it’s truly unique, we don’t think a gym bag needs to cost a fortune. Finally, we looked for special features that set these bags apart from the competition. There are so many currently on the market and while most are quite similar, the bags we chose each have at least one unique factor that earned them a spot.

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