Over half of the women in the U.S. are currently trying to lose weight and get in shape. If you’re one of them, you’ve probably heard of creatine supplements. Creatine is a naturally occurring acid derived from foods like meat and fish and produced most often by the human liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Synthetically manufactured creatine supplements provide up to five times the 1g of creatine your body can produce daily, improving strength, muscle mass, and athletic performance.1
Creatine has benefits beyond the gym, however. It also reduces the frequency of injuries and muscle cramping during workouts and improves brain, bone, and skin health. And creatine supplements can be an excellent benefit to vegetarians and the aging population, providing protection against muscle weakness associated with illness and improving recovery after surgery.
This guide breaks down the pros, cons, and details of the top six creatine options for women based on quality, safety, pricing, and customer satisfaction. If you're on the go, glance over our winning recommendations below.
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB comes first in ingredient quality, transparency, and overall taste.
Transparent Labs is a trusted name in the supplement industry. Their creatine blend is vegan-friendly and free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and coloring. Get free shipping on orders over $99. You’re covered by a 60-day money-back guarantee.
At Innerbody Research, we extensively test each health service or product we review, including creatine supplements. We’ve ordered and tried the top creatine supplements on the market specifically to lend this guide a degree of honesty, accuracy, and usefulness we couldn’t provide otherwise. Our experience with these supplements allows us to speak to taste, efficacy, and the overall customer experience, from placing an order to mixing a batch before a workout.
On top of actually trying these products for ourselves, our team absorbed more than 100 scholarly articles about fitness supplementation and creatine in particular. We’ve dedicated more than 500 hours to such research, and that knowledge helped inform our experience when the products arrived in the mail.
Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this guide was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. We’ll keep an eye on available creatine supplements and the fitness landscape as a whole to keep this guide up-to-date.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
We considered five primary criteria to evaluate our top choices in women's creatine supplements: effectiveness, cost, taste, safety, and customer experience. We gave effectiveness slightly more weight in our final considerations than other criteria simply because a product needs to offer some palpable benefit for us to recommend it.
Things like cost, safety, and taste all had about equal influence; the taste is ultimately subjective (though we did have a favorite), the cost range for creatine supplements is somewhat limited, and most contain only ingredients that have good track records for safety. Customer experience was the least influential criterion, but we included it because it could be important enough to sway your decision if you’re otherwise torn between two options.
Winner: Transparent Labs
Most studies examining the effectiveness of creatine monohydrate for its role in fitness and other health issues look at 3-5g daily doses, often following a loading phase that lasts 5-7 days and typically includes 20-25g daily doses for that week.2 To maximize efficacy, we sought out creatine supplements that provided 5mg doses, ideally in a powder mix that could provide enough material for that loading dose week, after which you could come back down to daily 5g maintenance doses.
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB provides 5g of creatine monohydrate per serving and 1,500mg of β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate (HMB), which studies show lowers incidences of exercise-induced muscle damage.3 Like creatine, HMB may benefit from a loading dose similar to the loading-maintenance ratio used in creatine supplementation. That means you can take four times the daily dose of this product for 5-7 days to load your muscles effectively with creatine and HMB, and then begin a normal maintenance phase by consuming one scoop daily.
The addition of BioPerine (an extract of black pepper) helps increase the supplement’s bioavailability, so you can absorb more of it than you would otherwise. All of these components add up to create what we believe is your best choice for efficacy among the creatine supplements we’ve evaluated.
Winner: Naked Nutrition
Everyone wants quality supplements, but reaching a compromise between a product's efficacy and your budget can be pretty tricky. In evaluating the best creatine supplements for women, we found that most of the top options landed in a range between $40 and $80 per container. We also found that container sizes varied significantly, with some offering as few as 20 servings while others delivered over 100.
After doing a little light math, we concluded that the best way to get the most creatine for your money would be with Naked Nutrition. This company’s creatine monohydrate is a no-frills, unflavored option that costs $45 for a one-time purchase of its 1kg container — or just over $40 for recurring delivery. And when you sign up for a subscription, you get an extra 10% off your first order.
Here’s a quick look at how these companies’ costs per gram of creatine compare (though keep in mind that some have additional active ingredients, while others offer plain creatine). For each company, we used the best prices we could find that would result in the lowest cost per gram:
|Best possible price per container||Total grams of creatine per container||Cost per gram of creatine||Other active ingredients|
|Transparent Labs Creatine HMB||$81||594||$0.14||3|
|Naked Nutrition Creatine||$40||1,000||$0.04||0|
|Kaged Pre-Kaged Creatine Pre-workout||$32||30||$1.07||13|
|Optimum Nutrition Creatine Capsules||$52||250||$0.21||0|
While it’s important to consider the effects of Transparent Labs’ HMB and the litany of pre-workout aids in Kaged’s supplements, the simple fact is that Naked offers the best price on a clean, simple creatine supplement.
Many creatine supplements on the market contain just creatine monohydrate and nothing else. That might seem like a challenge when attempting to evaluate them on the basis of safety. But there are several parameters other than the ingredient list that can point toward the safety of one product over another.
When assessing a supplement's safety, we consider how it manages the following:
Naked Nutrition and Transparent Labs both subject their supplements to third-party testing, and both offer the results of those analyses to the public. We consider it a tie between them as it’s not entirely fair to pit one simple, creatine-only supplement against another that includes more ingredients. Among single-ingredient options, we believe Naked offers the safest option. Among creatine supplements with multiple ingredients, Transparent Labs is the victor.
Swolverine also uses third parties to analyze its supplements and publishes those findings. But its creatine supplement uses a novel form of creatine called Kre-Alkalyn. According to several studies, the specific pH of a creatine supplement can affect its solubility and stability once mixed with water, and Kre-Alkalyn is a much more basic powder than typically acidic creatine salts like creatine monohydrate. That might make it absorb better into muscle tissue, but data regarding how this rate compares to creatine monohydrate is limited, making it difficult to determine its exact safety profile.4
We’re fortunate that we get to try the products we review; not every company like ours has that privilege. That experience gives us a clearer sense of things like taste and efficacy, even if it is a somewhat subjective measure from a small participant pool.
In the end, we found it only fair to offer this category to two companies, one delivering a flavored creatine supplement and the other an unflavored option. Transparent Labs Creatine HMB is available in 10 flavors and an unflavored option. Naked only offers unflavored creatine. Both outperform their counterparts in the field.
Creatine, on its own, doesn’t have too much of a taste. It reduces the pH of any liquid solution it forms, so mixing it with water creates a mildly acidic beverage. You can lean into this with a squeeze of orange juice or by adding it to a smoothie. But none of those options is as easy as just mixing it with water. If you need more of a taste than Naked’s unflavored creatine can provide, the flavors in Transparent Labs’ catalog are all just sweet enough, with tastes that fit their descriptions. The added components slightly reduce the degree to which the supplement dissolves into water, but the difference is negligible.
Winner: Naked Nutrition
This was a tough category to judge, as none of the companies that make our favorite creatine supplements knock their customer service out of the park. Ideally, we’d like to see great money-back guarantees, easily accessible customer support staff, and fast, efficient shipping. Naked came as close as possible to this with its helpful chat support and fast shipping turnaround. After placing our Naked Nutrition orders, we received them two days later. Unfortunately, that’s only two out of three boxes ticked; Naked’s return policy is overly strict.
Tied as runners-up here are Swolverine and Onnit. Swolverine is much like Naked, with a lackluster return policy and good chat support. But Swolverine’s shipments took a few more days to reach us than Naked’s. By contrast, Onnit has the best money-back guarantee of the bunch, offering 90 days of use before you’d need to request a refund. However, it lacks chat support, and when we reached out to the company by phone, all we could do was leave a message. The message wasn’t returned.
So, no company here is perfect, but Naked is going to be your best bet if you’re confident that creatine will help you or if you’ve tried it in the past and know that it does.
The chart below shows how our favorite brands compare in terms of cost, customer satisfaction, discounts, and quality assurance. Your choice will depend on your budget, lifestyle, and dietary preferences.
The cost comparisons below are based on single purchases of each product and do not account for subscription plans or bulk purchases, which can often provide significant savings.
Many bodybuilders and athletes take creatine to enhance their strength and athletic performance, but can it benefit "regular people" too, particularly women? The answer is yes; it certainly can.
Creatine will help you build muscle and enjoy longer, more rigorous training sessions at the gym, but there are benefits beyond fitness. Creatine can help women with depression and mental fatigue, and it can help prevent bone and muscle loss in postmenopausal women.5 6
Creatine offers a bounty of benefits, including:
Additionally, creatine supplementation has demonstrated abilities to improve health in individuals struggling with:
Just as many women will benefit from creatine supplementation, some women should avoid it because of chronic health conditions. Its role in glucose metabolism and the development of Type 2 diabetes remains unclear despite an association between elevated extracellular creatine levels and the incidence of diabetes.
Those who are pregnant or nursing and children under 18 should also avoid the supplement.
Creatine interacts with several medications and supplements. If you currently take or plan to take the following products, you should discuss the potential health impacts with your physician before adding creatine to your daily regimen.
In short, if you have any concerns about taking creatine supplements, you should discuss them with your doctor. If your doctor has concerns, you should avoid creatine altogether.
Creatine is an organic acid the body synthesized from three nonessential amino acids:
However, the creatine that our liver, kidneys, and pancreas make is only about 1g daily and is insufficient to improve athletic performance significantly.11 The best dietary sources of creatine include:
Special Offer from Transparent Labs: FREE SHIPPING on Orders Over $99
Looking at that list, you may wonder how vegans obtain enough creatine to be healthy. Ultimately, vegetarians and vegans benefit the most from supplementation to fill the dietary gap. This is one of the reasons we prefer creatine supplements that are vegan-friendly. Optimum Nutrition is the only non-vegan-friendly option in our guide due to the gelatin in its capsules. Older adults struggling with bone and muscle loss can also reap many rewards from creatine supplements.
Since creatine supplements hit the mainstream market in the 1990s, manufacturers have refined different chemical forms of creatine to ensure greater bioavailability, improve functionality, and bypass common gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating and stomach upset.
The creatine supplement market presents you with several compelling options for various forms of creatine, each claiming to be better than the next, particularly when it comes to solubility. Creatine is generally considered to dissolve poorly in water, but its solubility depends on more factors than that, and understanding these can help you pick the right supplement and prepare it in the most effective way possible.
According to the research, you should be able to dissolve up to 14g of creatine monohydrate in a liter of room-temperature water. But if you pulled that water straight out of the refrigerator at around 37º Fahrenheit, you could only dissolve about 4g in it — 1g less than the typical 5g dose. And when creatine is poorly dissolved in your beverage, it’s more likely to produce its trademark gastrointestinal discomfort.4
The temperature trend moves in the opposite direction, as well. Heat that liter of water up to around 122º Fahrenheit, and you can dissolve up to 34g in it. So, why doesn’t everyone enjoy their creatine in a hot cup of bone broth? Well, that’s because creatine is famously unstable in a liquid solution, where it becomes remarkably sensitive to time, heat, and acidity. The hotter and more acidic the solution, the more quickly it will degrade into creatinine, a toxic byproduct that further increases GI discomfort.
You can offset the temperature aspect by sticking to room temperature water, but another complicating factor arises when you measure the pH of the water before and after adding in some creatine. Creatine lowers the pH of its aqueous solution. So, if your room temperature water falls somewhere in the normal pH range (6.5-8), adding creatine will make it more acidic, which will cause the creatine to degrade faster.
To be fair, this degradation process takes a few days to affect creatine concentrations meaningfully, but concentrations begin to fall off after the first eight hours or so. An easy fix for this issue would be to consume your creatine beverage as soon as you make it or shortly thereafter. But you’ll want to mix it with room temperature water to get your full daily dose dissolved in it. And you might want to use that bone broth trick if you’re taking a daily loading dose all at once.
Insider Tip: If you need to mix a creatine drink in the morning for an after-work exercise session, and you’re worried about the creatine degrading into creatinine and causing GI stress, mix it with alkaline water. That will keep the pH level higher and buy you a little more time before degradation begins.
There are also novel forms of creatine that purport to counteract its self-defeating acidity and increase its ability to dissolve in water. Some of the claims around these new creatine forms are unfounded, though others are sound science.
Below, we’ll examine the different forms of creatine supplements to help you narrow down which products will benefit you the most.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine in dietary supplements, and it boasts more clinical research than other forms. Typical dosages include a 5-7-day loading period of 20-25g daily followed by daily consumption of 3-5g. You don’t need to cycle this or any creatine form, so you can continue taking it as long as you like. Given its well-established efficacy, we recommend most women start with creatine monohydrate and only seek other options if they experience GI distress consistently after the loading phase. Our top overall pick — Transparent Labs Creatine HMB — contains creatine monohydrate.2
Creatine hydrochloride (HCL) combines creatine with hydrochloride molecules, potentially increasing its solubility in water and improving absorption into muscle tissue. One compelling study pitted 3g and 20g of creatine monohydrate against 3g of creatine HCL.12 The 3g monohydrate group saw little to no difference in its explosive power, upper body strength, or lower body strength pre- and post-test. But the 20g monohydrate group and the 3g HCL group saw similar increases in all three parameters.
The monohydrate group had superior results, but the numbers show an undeniable difference between 3g of HCL and 3g of monohydrate. Unfortunately, HCL’s increased pH reduces its stability in water, and the exact differences between it and monohydrate are unclear, making dosage incredibly difficult to determine with the accuracy we have in monohydrate regimens. And contrary to marketing claims, HCL does require a loading phase, just as monohydrate does. Our pick for best pre-workout — Kaged Pre-Kaged — uses creatine HCL.
Buffered creatine is known best by patented product names like Kre-Alkalyn or Crea-Trona. These formulations have a higher pH and are promoted as more bioavailable and effective than creatine monohydrates, as they are easier on the stomach and produce fewer gastrointestinal side effects. Essentially, by adding things like soda ash and other alkaline ingredients to their mixes, they prevent creatine’s natural ability to reduce its solution’s pH from dropping it to a point of significant degradation. Swolverine, our pick for the best women-owned company offering creatine, sells both Kre-Alkalyn and creatine monohydrate.4
Creatine ethyl ester is a combination of creatine bonded to ester salts, which some believe to be better digested and absorbed than creatine monohydrate. But research indicates it might not be as effective as monohydrate.13 None of our picks utilize creatine ethyl ester.
Creatine is among the most-researched dietary supplements and is considered generally safe for healthy adults, even at much higher doses than the typical 5g consumed daily. However, these products can lead to several side effects and are inappropriate for:
If you experience any adverse side effects, you should stop using the supplement and talk to your doctor. Side effects you may experience when taking creatine supplements include:14
Best overall and best tasting
We chose Transparent Labs Creatine HMB as our overall winner and best-tasting supplement based on several attributes. Transparent Labs is committed to ingredient transparency with publicly available third-party testing results and no proprietary blends to obscure ingredient quantities. Creatine HMB is vegan-friendly and doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or coloring.
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB provides 5g of creatine monohydrate per serving plus 1,500mg of HMB, which studies show can protect muscles against injury and catabolic breakdown and help the older population recover from illness and medical procedures.15 If you’re concerned about loading with this product because of its non-creatine ingredients, you should know that studies support HMB’s safety up to 6g per day, which is the exact amount you’d take if you loaded with a 20g creatine dose from this supplement. And since it seems HMB benefits from a loading period in the same manner that creatine does, the process would actually be more beneficial.3
Other ingredients in Transparent Labs Creatine HMB include:
While Transparent Labs Creatine HMB is more expensive than many competitors, it also contains more ingredients to help you achieve your fitness goals. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation aids muscle protein synthesis, and sweetening with stevia instead of sucralose prevents numerous potential side effects associated with that artificial sweetener.16 17
Transparent Labs offers more flavor options than any of the competitors in this guide. There are ten flavors to choose from, as well as an unflavored option, including:
Our team found that the flavors are pleasant without being too overpowering, and the stevia doesn’t bring forth the bitter aftertaste it sometimes can, likely because of the acidity from the included tartaric and malic acids, as well as the creatine’s ability to lower the solution’s pH. For instance, the Hawaiian splash flavor tastes similar to the original Capri Sun.
The added ingredients don’t do much to hinder the product’s mixability, either. It doesn't mix as well as plain creatine does, especially micronized creatine, but you could easily put it in a shaker bottle and enjoy it in the gym without noticing any sediment.
Transparent Labs currently offers Creatine HMB in two sizes as a one-time purchase or as part of a subscription. Here’s how the pricing works out:
|Cost per container||Cost per serving||Shipping|
|30 servings, one-time purchase||$50||$1.67||$8 and up|
|30 servings, subscription||$45||$1.50||Free|
|60 servings, one-time purchase||$90||$1.50||$8 and up|
|60 servings, subscription||$81||$1.35||Free|
Transparent Labs has a 30-day return policy that only offers refunds on unopened products. The company says it will work with you to resolve dissatisfaction with opened products, but you likely won’t get anything more than a partial refund as store credit. That’s still better than some policies, like Naked’s 14-day limit, but a few others offer real money-back guarantees that include refunds on opened products.
Best budget pick
As a company, we often look to Naked Nutrition when we want to find an example of a clean, well-tested product that has as few ingredients in it as possible without sacrificing efficacy. Sometimes, Naked also ends up offering the most economical path to a certain supplement, and this is the case with creatine.
Naked’s creatine monohydrate is just that: 500g or 1kg of creatine, with no other added ingredients. It’s micronized, which is a process that reduces the size of a supplement’s particles by forcing them through an extremely small nozzle under lots of pressure. Smaller particles mean better solubility, and better solubility means better absorption. Micronization typically increases the cost of a product, as it’s an added step in manufacturing, but Naked manages to keep the price lower than most.
Naked’s creatine monohydrate mixes into water relatively well. Apart from manufacturing processes, there isn’t a lot that can differentiate one monohydrate’s solubility from another. The micronization process certainly helps in Naked’s case. We didn't experience any settling out of the creatine or clumps throughout the mix. And like most monohydrate solutions, this one was slightly acidic, which our testers found made the drink more palatable overall.
You can get Naked Nutrition Creatine in two sizes for the following prices:
|Cost per container||Cost per serving|
|500g, one-time purchase||$24.99||$0.25|
|500g, subscription (first shipment)||$19.59||$0.20|
|500g, subscription (after first shipment)||$22.50||$0.23|
|1kg, one-time purchase||$44.99||$0.23|
|1kg, subscription (first shipment)||$35.59||$0.18|
|1kg, subscription (after first shipment)||$40.50||$0.20|
These prices per serving are less than half the price of Onnit’s supplements, which were the runners-up in affordability. Other companies we often see delivering great budget options, like Bulk Supplements, couldn’t quite compete.
But on the negative side, keep in mind that shipping is only free on orders of $99 or more, so unless you’re also buying other supplements from Naked, you’ll pay $7 for ground shipping. Naked’s return policy is the company’s weakest point, especially compared with something like Onnit’s 90-day money-back guarantee. With Naked, you can only return unopened products, and you only have 14 days to initiate that return.
Best option from a woman-owned company
Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn features a pH-corrected form of creatine that provides better digestion and absorption by increasing solubility and slowing the degradation to toxic creatinine.18 Sponsored studies showed improvements in VO2 max and other exercise parameters, but these need to be taken with a grain of salt, considering their sources of funding and the affiliations between the scientists involved and the companies making and selling Kre-Alkalyn.
Based on what we know about creatine’s susceptibility to low-pH solutions and its propensity to lower the pH of any liquid you mix it into, it makes sense that an alkaline form of creatine would be more stable and dissolve better in water. The big question that research has still not answered is, how much Kre-Alkalyn will it take to generate the same beneficial effects as monohydrate? Swolverine’s Kre-Alkalyn provides a 3g daily dose, 2g less than the typical 5g dose of creatine monohydrate. Fortunately, if that feels insufficient in your practice, you can safely increase the dose the same way you could with monohydrate, and both forms still require loading doses.
On the business side, it’s worth noting that Swolverine is the only woman-owned company in our guide. It’s true that its supplements are often more expensive than some others out there, but if supporting woman-owned businesses is important to you as a woman, then it makes sense to start your creatine journey here or upgrade from monohydrate to a novel form through this platform.
As we’ll discuss in the pricing section below, Swolverine sells both its Kre-Alkalyn and a traditional creatine monohydrate. We got our hands on both to see if there was any noticeable difference between them in solubility or flavor. Our testing team found the differences to be undeniable but still subtle enough not to matter much. The Kre-Alkalyn was predictably less acidic than the monohydrate, which makes it easier to mix into a wider variety of drinks but renders it somewhat flat when mixed with plain water. And Kre-Alkalyn also dissolved into a clearer solution than the monohydrate.
We were curious as to whether this was a result of its pH balance or the simple fact that it required a 3g dose compared to the monohydrate’s 5g. So, naturally, we mixed up a 3g dose of monohydrate and a 5g dose of Kre-Alkalyn and compared them all to one another. When the doses were equal, the solubility difference was not as visible to the naked eye.
Swolverine’s Kre-Alkalyn only comes in one size that contains 60 servings. Most of the other companies we recommend offer at least two size options, but that likely isn’t a deal-breaker for many people. It also offers a Subscribe & Save membership that reduces prices by 15%.
|Cost||Price per serving|
|Subscribe & Save||$59.49||$0.99|
If you’re inclined to support Swolverine as a woman-owned company but aren’t sold on Kre-Alkalyn in particular, you can also get creatine monohydrate from the same site. Swolverine’s creatine monohydrate is a straightforward 5g dose with nothing but creatine on the ingredient label. It also only comes in a 60-serving container, but it’s less expensive than Kre-Alkalyn:
|Cost||Price per serving|
|Subscribe & Save||$42.99||$0.72|
This isn’t a bad price per serving, with only Naked Nutrition and Onnit offering cheaper options, but there isn’t much about the product or the company to recommend it over Naked other than the laudable fact that it’s woman-owned.
Swolverine's shipping fees start at $6.99 for orders under $99, including Subscribe & Save memberships. The company provides free shipping on orders over $99.
Best money-back guarantee
Onnit Creatine Monohydrate has aspects that make it a great place to try creatine for the first time. Its up-front cost is remarkably low at just $15, and it provides you with nothing but a simple creatine monohydrate with no added ingredients. It also has an outstanding money-back guarantee that protects your purchase for 90 days. Unfortunately, its servings per container work against its potential.
When you purchase a container with over 30 servings, you have the opportunity to enjoy a proper loading dose of 20-25g per day for 5-7 days before settling into a daily 5g regimen. But, with just 30 servings in its container, Onnit forces you to either reorder as your first tub is getting low or start with a subscription that delivers every seven days, then adjust the delivery schedule after your second delivery ships. It’s a complicated system that likely arose from the company’s desire to keep its sticker price as low as possible.
Onnit’s creatine monohydrate performed about as well as any other micronized monohydrate we’ve seen, with decent solubility and a mild, slightly acidic flavor that was just barely there. It was no better or worse than Naked or Swolverine in this regard, though it is certainly less exciting than the flavored options from Transparent Labs.
Onnit Creatine Monohydrate is readily available on store shelves and online marketplaces, making it convenient if you purchase locally. And you may want to do so, as Onnit's shipping fees can nearly double the cost of your creatine order. If you choose to purchase this product directly from Onnit, enrolling in the company's Subscribe & Save plan reduces the prices of each order by 15%.
|Cost||Price per serving|
|Subscribe & Save||$13||$0.42|
Shipping costs $8.50 on any order under $150, and subscribing doesn't unlock free shipping, either.
Onnit’s money-back guarantee is the company’s strongest point. The company will issue a refund on any single purchase without you having to return the actual item. So, you can try a 30-serving container of creatine, and if you don’t like it for any reason, you can get your money back. If you choose to take a loading dose for a few days, you should still be able to ascertain whether you feel better in the gym by the time that container runs dry. It won’t take 90 days to consume all that creatine, but it’s still nice that you don’t have to rush into requesting a return if you want one.
Choosing a pre-workout containing creatine required a deeper search than you might imagine. That’s because most pre-workouts contain caffeine. In early research, caffeine and creatine seemed like great partners, as each operated in different pathways in the body, theoretically providing the benefits of each concurrently. But further research has revealed the potential for caffeine to blunt the positive effects of creatine.19 The research isn’t settled, but until it is, we think it’s prudent to stick with a stim-free pre-workout if you want it to contain creatine.
Lots of pre-workouts out there either don’t contain creatine at all or contain it in a minuscule amount that likely won’t produce any noticeable benefit outside its synergistic effects along with the supplement’s other active ingredients. Even Kaged’s offering has a dose we found a little low, at just 1.5g. Fortunately, this is a creatine HCL dose, so its efficacy is greater than that of monohydrates. Unfortunately, we don’t have a quantifiable sense of how much more efficient it is. Still, with that much creatine and the other ingredients present, we’re confident in this pre-workout’s ability to improve both performance and recovery.
Here’s a look at all the active ingredients in Kaged Pre-Kaged Stim-Free:
This is vastly more ingredients than we see in our next busiest supplement, Transparent Labs Creatine HMB. Many of them have decent research supporting their benefits in the gym and elsewhere. But because there are so many here, you can’t safely use this product for a loading phase to get that initial rush of creatine that is so critical to beginning use.
Your best bet if you’re interested in a pre-workout like this would be to acquire it in conjunction with another creatine supplement that you can use for your loading dose and supplementally with this product to ensure you're getting enough daily creatine to maximize its benefits.
Despite having so many ingredients in it, we found Pre-Kaged mixes pretty well in plain water, though not as well as creatine-only supplements. There was a little sediment that settled out if we let it sit long enough, but if you were to put it in a shaker bottle and drink it quickly, you’d likely never notice. On the taste side, the flavor was a bit artificial, likely due to the use of sucralose as a sweetener. Its Cherry bomb flavor is reminiscent of cherry Jolly Ranchers, while the Fruit punch option reminds us of Kool-Aid.
Kaged offers its pre-workout in a disappointingly small container that provides you with just 20 servings. If you work out every day, you’ll run through this in less than a month’s time. And the shortest window for recurring shipments is four weeks. If anything, this reinforces the notion that Pre-Kaged would work best when paired with additional creatine supplements.
Here’s how its pricing looks comparing a one-time purchase to subscriptions:
|Cost||Price per serving|
|Subscribe & Save||$32.39||$1.62|
Kaged advertises free shipping on orders over $79, but we’ve placed orders with the company for lower amounts and have always seemed to get free shipping. It’s unclear why this is the case.
Kaged has an odd return policy that amounts to a money-back guarantee on some products but not others. Essentially you can return any product up to 30 days after its purchase if you’ve consumed less than half of it. In the case of supplements or programs that can take several weeks to offer results, this isn’t particularly useful. But that should be enough time for you to try Pre-Kaged before ten workouts and decide whether it makes a difference for you.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Capsules offer an alternative to powders, which many people appreciate for convenience. They require no mixing or special shaker bottles and can be taken quickly before you head out to the gym. The exact dose timing is a little more difficult than it is with powders, as the capsules won’t get the creatine to your bloodstream as quickly. Optimum Nutrition also suggests taking its capsules with meals, which can further complicate your efforts in the gym, especially if you aren’t keen to run a 10k with a heavy dinner in your stomach.
Perhaps the biggest downside to this supplement is the fact that its capsules contain gelatin, making it unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans — two demographics most in need of creatine supplementation. There are vegan alternatives out there in capsule form, but many have doses that are too small or come from companies we simply don’t trust.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, your best bet would be to stick with a powder.
While Optimum Nutrition does not offer a subscription discount, you can purchase Micronized Creatine Capsules in amounts of 100, 200, or 300. The cost per serving goes down relative to buying in greater bulk. You can also earn additional savings (10-20%) on orders over $75.
|Cost||Price per serving|
Optimum Nutrition provides free shipping on orders over $75. For orders below $75, shipping starts at $5.99. You can only return unopened products to Optimum Nutrition for up to 30 days from the date of purchase.
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