Grab your cheat sheet
We’re all looking for that quick sprint to success, but the fact is—there are no shortcuts when it comes to smashing those fitness goals.
To push your strength and muscle mass to new heights, you need to be disciplined, work hard, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. No ifs, no buts—no compromises.
It’s not easy, but if you want to go for those big gains, you can do so if you’re prepared to work hard.
There’s no magic pill to get you to the finish line without working hard, but there are ways to get there much more quickly. Even a small gain here and there can make a big difference over time, and your first stop should be your nutrition.
Yes, you need to get the right balance of protein, carbs, healthy fats, vital vitamins, and minerals to support your efforts. Plus, it’s essential to use the right supplement to ensure your torn muscle fibres repair quicker after a big workout.
Taking a supplement to boost your energy is vital as it will help you push further than you have before, which is essential if you want to make serious gains and build muscle. Enter creatine.
There’s no denying it: Creatine will significantly impact your performance and gains. Professional athletes swear by it, and you’ll find it in the supplement cupboard of the biggest achievers you meet in the gym.
Creatine is one of the most popular—and studied—supplements in the world. And, most importantly, it has the science to back it up.
Hundreds of studies have been conducted on creatine supplements, and time and time again, it’s been shown to benefit muscle gains, athletic performance, energy…and strength.
So what’s it all about? And what’s best—a pill or a powder?
Let’s dig deeper.
What is creatine?
Creatine occurs naturally in your body. It’s an amino acid that is produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas—and it’s also absorbed from the food you eat (like animal proteins).
It’s used in the production and storage of energy. Your body uses creatine as an energy source for short, sharp bursts of energy, which are essential when performing disciplines including cycling, sprinting, and weight lifting. Creatine converts into phosphocreatine, an instant energy source, and when you exercise, it creates ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It's this ATP production that gives our muscles fuel.
As you only have a limited amount of creatine stored in your system, it’s a good idea to top up the stores so that you’ll have more energy reserves when you need them the most. It’s hardly surprising that powerlifters, bodybuilders, and other pro athletes take creatine to maximise their performance and gains.
And it’s not just for energy either. This “wonder supplement” has plenty of other benefits too.
What are the benefits of creatine?
Creatine offers plenty of health benefits, which is why supplementing is so popular. It can push your abilities beyond what you think you’re capable of and provide added firepower to every workout session.
Let’s look closer at just what it can do for you.
A big brain boost
Scientific evidence shows that increasing your creatine levels can help reduce mental fatigue, and improve cognitive function.
FYI: Supplementing with creatine can also help to improve your mental energy.
More energy means more pumps
Creatine specialises in performance benefits such as giving you the quick, short bursts of energy required to lift weights. So as far as resistance training is concerned, you’re onto a winner.
Creatine will empower you to perform more reps and sets, leading to more significant muscle gains and muscle strength in the long term. This improved exercise performance means you'll be able to lift heavier weights more quickly.
Creatine will give you a better quality of workout session
To do things properly, you need every rep to be quality and improving exercise performance is a huge step in the right direction.
Building muscle mass is about getting in a quality workout. Tiring during the middle of a repetition doesn’t count as a complete rep. And with more energy and strength, you’ll be able to pull more quality reps out of the bag.
Some bodybuilders claim that creatine makes them feel more in control of their workouts.
Creatine will improve your recovery times
How quickly you can get back to working the same muscle groups depends on how swiftly your muscle tears repair. Creatine is great for moving the healing process faster and can help reduce muscle soreness.
Creatine will help you gain more muscle mass
The boost that creatine supplementation will give you will likely dramatically affect the amount of muscle you gain.
It will make you feel more powerful throughout your workout and give you the confidence to push harder for those more significant gains.
Creatine will reduce injury risk
Because of its healing properties, creatine can help you recover faster and reduce the risk of injuring a damaged muscle.
Creatine will help you tolerate more intense activity
The hardest part of any session is trying to break through and work through your comfort zone. It feels great to stick to our comfortable weights and routines. But unless we try to work beyond our current capabilities, we’ll stay in precisely the same place as we are now.
Taking a creatine supplement will help you push through the barriers to develop new strength and muscle mass.
Creatine helps to hydrate you during exercise
Staying hydrated when you work out is essential to keep the rhythm and flow of your exercise going.
Flagging towards the end due to lack of hydration differs from the way forward. Creatine helps to saturate your muscle cells, which helps keep you going during tough workouts and promotes muscle fluid retention and muscle growth— which will improve exercise performance.
Creatine pill vs creatine powder: what’s the difference, exactly?
Getting your creatine supplementation right is essential if you want to make the most monstrous gains.
If you’ve already decided that creatine is exactly what you need—you now have one further question to deliberate.
Should you take it in powder or pill form, and does the way you take it affect your results?
Let’s dive in.
The pros of creatine powder
The powdered form of creatine is the most popular version—but is it the best? Let’s check out the pros and cons.
There are many positives of taking creatine in the powdered form.
Here are the main ones.
It’s cheaper to buy
Creatine powder is less expensive than creatine capsules as it’s more cost-effective to produce. The extra amount you spend on creatine capsules will soon start to mount up, and you’ll certainly get more bang for your buck if you choose the powder option.
It activates quicker than pills
Creatine in its powdered form is more easily absorbed by the body, whereas taken in capsule form will take much longer to digest.
So, if you want that quickfire boost of strength, focus, and energy, creatine powder may be the one for you.
There’s more variety
With powder, you get to be far more creative than pills. For example, add it to your daily cocktail of powdered supplements and shakes.
Mixing creatine powder with other sugar-loaded drinks will help you to increase insulin levels.
It’s more enjoyable
If you get the right taste mix, you can even look forward to taking it each day instead of downing a pill.
Seeing a supplement as a “treat” is a positive thing. Just ask any devout gym-goer.
The cons of creatine powder
It’s not all plain sailing for the pro-powder brigade—and some issues need to be addressed.
It’s not as easy to carry around with you
As creatine powder generally comes in large tubs, it can be bulky and take up some space in your gym bag.
You can get around this by preparing ready-made creatine drinks in bottles, which you would need to down pills if you were taking them as an alternative.
Having ready-to-take creatine drinks to hand will also mean you can take it the instant you need to before or after a workout.
Powder can be messy
One of the reasons pills are chosen over powder is because they can be more convenient to take and create less mess.
Unless you’re very careful, there is bound to be some powder spillage.
It’s not to everyone’s taste
You can take creatine powder on its own or with other powders, but it’s not always to everyone’s taste.
Want to know more? Read our essential guide on how creatine powder tastes.
The pros of taking creatine pills
Some athletes prefer to take creatine in a pill form rather than powder. It’s a personal choice, so let’s see if it’s right for you.
Taking a creatine capsule isn’t as popular as powder. And this method has positive and negative sides.
Pills are easier to carry
If you’re out and about and need to get a creatine dose into your system, it has to be said that pills are more convenient to take with you.
They take up less space in your kit bag and are less cumbersome than tubs of powder.
They’re not as messy
If creating a mess is a big deal to you, then pills may be a better option. Taking them straight into your body and not worrying about scoops is less messy.
You’ll get the exact dose
Getting the correct amount of creatine into your system via a pill is more manageable than powder as you don’t have to bother with measuring it out yourself.
The cons of taking creatine pills
There are certainly a few minor positives to taking pills, but there are a few negatives to consider, too.
Here’s the lowdown.
Creatine pills are more expensive
Quite often, pills can be a lot more expensive. And for some, it might mean making cutbacks on other supplements if your budget is limited.
The extra cost is down to the additional amount it costs to produce the pills, adding the powder to the capsules. It can mean that you end up paying twice as much for pills as a result, and that’s a big deal.
Pills will take slightly longer to get active
Creatine must first be digested before your body can use it, so taking it in pill form will take longer to work. Not great if you need an instant boost in the gym.
You won’t be able to alter your dose
You can alter the dose when you take creatine in powder form, depending on what you’d like to take.
With capsules, you don’t get that choice. This can prove especially tricky if you want to do a creatine-loading phase.
You can’t add them to protein shakes
The pre-workout protein shake is often a tasty tradition before a workout for many, and having creatine available in pill form means you won’t be able to add them to the mix.
Some people find swallowing pills tough
Taking capsules isn’t for everyone, and if you have issues with this, the powdered version will be a much better option.
How to take creatine
You can take creatine pills with water and powder with liquid, according to the correct dosage. The recommended daily amount of creatine is between 3 and 5mg.
It will take around three weeks to completely top up the creatine stores in your body by taking a daily dose, which is why some prefer creatine loading.
Loading is a method where you take around four times the daily dose for about one week to top up your stores more quickly before moving to a regular daily dose.
It’s personal preference, but loading will get things moving more quickly. It’s important to revert to the normal daily amount after seven days.
Creatine is a safe supplement, but overloading can cause side effects such as stomach cramps and nausea. So stick to the recommended dose (don’t overdo it).
Which is best: pills or powder?
There are pros and cons to taking either form of creatine. But there are far more positives about powder.
Yes, it can be messy, and it isn’t as easy to carry around with you—but if you pre-mix it with water in a bottle, it’ll be ready to drink without messing about.
It will also be easier to dose with your preferred amount, and you can mix it in with a protein shake, too.
Perhaps powder's most magnificent advantage is that it’s ready to absorb into your system whereas the pills take a while to kick in.
Level up those gains with CrazyNutrition
Crazy Nutrition’s powdered CRN-5 creatine formula is crafted with five grams of creatine plus electrolytes to help boost energy production, support lean muscle mass, and maintain hydration.
This essential creatine supplement will give your muscles more strength to squeeze out those last reps and go big in the gym. Epic.