Creatine is now one of the most commonly used bodybuilding and fitness supplements in the world. Only protein powder and mass gainers come close to rivalling creatine’s popularity.
Creatine has good reason to be so popular: no other sports performance supplement has anywhere near the kind of scientific backing that creatine has – dozens of robust clinical trials have shown beyond doubt that creatine is effective for increasing lean muscle mass, strength, and explosive power. Some studies even show that creatine improves cognitive performance like a nootropic!
Vegans stand to gain a lot by using a creatine supplement. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance; it is found in all living cells, especially in the muscles. As such, the only natural source of creatine is muscle tissue (i.e. animal meat). There isn’t much creatine in meat at all (aside from in organ meats), but vegans have practically zero natural food sources of creatine to rely on. So, to boost power and strength in the gym, vegans need to use a creatine supplement.
But finding the right vegan creatine supplement can be difficult. Many manufacturers don’t bother ensuring that their supplements are 100% vegan-friendly (including animal testing). The market is also full of low quality creatine powders and pills.
In this article, we’ll tell you what we think is the best vegan creatine supplement on the market today. We will explain what creatine is, how it works, and the side effect risks of creatine. Please post your questions in the comments section at the end.
Best Vegan Creatine 2021: Performance Lab Maintain
The best vegan creatine supplement you can buy right now is Performance Lab Maintain. This ultra-modern supplement is designed to support active recovery from intensive weight training and the maintenance of muscle mass over the long-term.
Performance Lab Maintain is actually much more than a creatine supplement; it combines exceptionally pure, highly bioavailable, almost nature-identical creatine with carnosine-boosting Beta-Alanine. Carnosine is vital for muscle recovery. It increases muscle working capacity, suppresses acidosis and thus delays muscle failure, and actively fights the production of advanced glycation end-products, which damage proteins (and cause ageing).
The benefits of using Performance Lab Maintain include:
- Extended muscle recovery support
- Increased strength, power and muscular endurance
- More muscle working capacity
- Reduced oxidative damage from free radicals
- Fewer age-inducing advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
- Improved cognitive function
Performance Lab Maintain is as clean and pure as a supplement can be. It is 100% vegan, free of GMOs, synthetic additives, preservatives, soy, gluten, and caffeine, and is non-irradiated. The ingredients are encapsulated in a completely plant-based pebiotic capsule made fro fermented tapioca.
Price per serving: $2.55
Learn more: PerformanceLab.com
What is vegan creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance. It is found in the cells of every living creature. Creatine is particularly prevalent in the organ and muscle cells of living creatures. The reason creatine is found in literally every living cell is that it is integral for energy metabolism – we’ll explain this in more detail below.
Now, because creatine is typically found in the cells of living cratures, especially in organ and muscle cells, there is no real vegan food source of creatine. Or in other words, vegans can’t really get creatine from food.
Because creatine is only found in animal tissues, is there a vegan creatine? The answer is yes, there is such a thing as vegan creatine, but vegans need to use supplements to get creatine. And the creatine used in supplements is almost exclusively made synthetically. So, when we’re talking about vegan creatine, we are essentially talking about creatine made by somebody in a lab.
Of course, it is hard to get enough creatine on any diet. There are no creatine rich foods that you can eat on a regular basis without serious health consequences; the only foods rich in creatine are things like liver and kidney – foods also high in saturated fats and pollutants. Even people who eat meat need to use a creatine supplement to enjoy any of the benefits associated with creatine.
Benefits of creatine for vegans
There are lots fo benefits to using creatine, not all of them relating to bodybuilding, speed, or athleticism. In fact, creatine is one of the most fundamentally beneficial supplements in existence; practically anybody would benefit from introducing creatine into their supplement routine.
But vegans in particular should really consider adding creatine into their diet with good qualuity creatine supplements. If you’re a vegan, then the best vegan creatine supplements will greatly enhance multiple aspects of your health and performance with practically no downsides. Let’s go through some of the benefits that the best vegan creatin supplements can give you.
Creatine helps muscle cells produce energy
Creatine’s main benefit is that it helps your muscle cells produce more energy. Creatine enhances cellular energy metabolism; it makes the process of releasing energy from food much more efficient by speeding up ATP-ADP cycling (more detail on this later). The cycling of ATP to ADP and back again is how energy is released from food in your cell mitochondria. Creatine supports this cycling, allowing you to recover from heavy sets much faster and to do more heavy reps in the first place.
Creatine monohydrate increases power output
Powerlifters, strongmen, sprinters, weightlifters, and mixed martial artists all love creatine because of how quickly it increases power output. As mentioned above, creatine speeds up ATP-ADP cycling. This process is how your muscle cells release energy. By making this process more efficient, creatine allows your muscle cells to unleash more explosive power much more quickly. Studies show that 7 days of 20g of creatine per day (the classic creatine loading phase) increases mean power output by 5%, as judged by the Wingate Anaerobic Test.
Creatine increases muscle size and bodyweight (without adding fat)
The benefit of creatine that most people are interested in is the fact that it allows you to rapidly gain fat free mass. This is certainly why bodybuilders love creatine.
Basically, creatine saturates your muscle cells. Because creatine monohydrate is a salt, it pulls water into your muscle cells. This quickly inflates your muscles, making them big, full and thick. Not only does this make you appear much bigger without increasing your overall fat mass (it’s all water retention), but it also makes you stronger – weight moves weight! Combine the extra weight you put on from creatine water rettnion with increased power output and you have a recipe for serious gains!
Creatine improves cognitive function
Creatine increases energy metabolism at the cellular level, allowing you to recover from intensive exercise more quickl and to release more power a lot faster than usual. Well, this same energy efficiency boost applies to your brain cells as well! Creatine improves the efficiency of your brain cell mitochondria, which means more brain cell energy, and thus better cognitive function. So it turns out creatine is actually a powerful nootropic as well as a strength and power booster.
Creatine may help fight neurological disease
A very interesting study, published in a 2014 edition of F1000 Research, suggests that creatine may play a decisive role in the development of several neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, long-term memory impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. Researchers in that paper noted that creatine synthesis is impaired as we get older, and that creatine supplementation might promote better neurological health in old age.
How does creatine work?
Creatine primarily works by increasing your ability to release energy from muscle cells, and by speeding up your recovery time after heavy or explosive exercises and movements.
In simple terms, creatine is responsible for facilitating the cycling of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and back again. The switching of ATP into ADP and back again is how your cells release energy from food, and in that process, creatine acts as a kind of facilitator, making the switch happen and making sure ADP gets turned back into ATP as quickly as possible.
Supplementing with creatine increases creatine availability in your muscle cells. With more creatine on hand, you can more efficiently cycle ATP and ADP, replenishing stores of ATP more quickly and allowing you to do more reps or at heavy weights.
This ability to get more heavy reps done, and to do more heavy sets done in a shorter space of time (due to the faster recovery), means that you gain lean muscle mass much more quickly while using creatine.
But that isn’t all creatine does to help your training and performance. Another way creatine helps with strenght and size increases is by pulling water into your muscles.
Creatine is a salt. Once your muscles are saturated with creatine, your muscles need to balance this with more water; so, they suck in water, making them appear full and thick. This extra weight helps you move more weight in the gym, but importantly, it isn’t fat weight!
When you stop taking the creatine, the water leaves your muscles and you are left with lean, striated muscles, more strength and much more explosive power than before.
What makes the best vegan creatine?
We’ve covered the benefits of creatine. Now its time to ask what makes some creatine supplements better than others. In other words, that makes the best vegan creatine supplements…well, the best.
This is definitely worth giving some thought. After all, your average vegan creatine supplement is basically just 100% pure creatine monohydrate powder. Can one vegan creatine powder really be that different from another?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when reviewing creatine supplements or when shopping for creatine powders.
Is it really vegan?
Many creatine powders clai to be vegan by virtue of the fact that they contain no animal products. But veganism is a way of life, not just a diet. It prohibits the use, as far as possible, of products that have benefitted in any way from animal exploitation. This includes animal testing! Not ever supplement manufacturer will state whether or not their creatine monohydrate has been tested on animals – a huge concern for vegans.
Another consideraton is the manufacturer of the creatine powder; is their brand in line with vegan values? For most vegan creatine supplements, the answer is a resounding “no”; many fo the major bodybuilding brands sell huge quantities of whey proitein every year, which obviously thrives off the dairy industry. They also sell dozens of supplemnts loaded with animal products. A truly vegan creatine supplement will want nothing to do with dairy!
Does it use creatine monohydrate?
Not all creatine powder is equal, and creatine monohydrate is by far and away the best creatin powder you can use. As far as we’re concerned, the best vegan creatine supplements will all use micronized creatine monohydrate powder as this is the most bioavailable form of creatine you can get. It is also the most thoroughly studied form of creatine in use today; most clinical trials showing serious benefits fro cratine have used creatine monohydrate.
Is it micronized?
Some creatine powder supplements used micronized creatine monohydrate, which is just creatine monohydrate powder ground up into very, very small granules. This is done to make the creatine more bioavailable; with smaller granules you get a much larger surface area and greatlty increased rates of digestion and uptake. This is an easy thing to get right, yet many manufacturers fail to use a micronized creatine monohydrate powder.
Does it use any other ingredients?
Obviously the best vegan creatine supplement needs to provide a decent serving of high quality, highly bioavailable creatine. But as well as having some high qualuty plant based creatine, the best creatin supplement for vegans shuold utilize other ingredients which enhance and amplify the benefits of creatine. We look for other ingredients which enhance muscle performance and athleticism.
Does creatine cause side effects?
Is creatine safe to use?
Yes, generally speaking creatine is very safe to use, even long term. Few nutritional supplements have been studied to the degree that creatine has, and no studies have noted any serious side effects. So if you’re taking it as directed, the evidence suggests creatine is harmless.
Of course, there sre risks when creatine is not used correctly.
The main risk with improper creatine use is kidney stones. Creatine monohydrate is a salt, and if taken in large quantities for prolonged periods of time it can accumulate in the kidneys, forming kidney stones. This can be avoided by using a sensible dose of creatine, by taking breaks from creatine use, and by drinking plenty of water.
Other side effects of creatine can inclue cramping and excess weight gain. These side effects should subside almost as soon as you stop taking creatine.
How much creatine should I take as a vegan?
How much creatin you should take as a vegan depends on your specific goals and your sensitivity to side effects.
For the fastest increases in strength, size and explosive power, it is recommended to take 20g of creatine for 5-7 days, followed by 5g of creatine for a maintenance period of 4-6 weeks.
For long-term, sustained strength, speed and power support, we recommend taking 3-5g of creatine every day for a period of 2-3 months, followed by break of 2-3 weeks before running the cycle again.
The first dosage recommendation does produce the fastes gains in strength and size, but it is not sustainable; you cannot take 20g of creatine eahc day for more than 5-7 days without running the risk of experiencing side effects (.e.g cramping, muscle stiffness, and eventually kidney problems).
The second dosage protocol is much more sustainable and, in our opinion, produces the best gains over the long-term. Taking 3-5 grams of creatine each day as a vegan is more than enough to keep you energized, explosive and strong in the gym without causing any side effects whatsoever.
What is the best time to take creatine supplements?
When should you take creatine for maximum benefits?
Thankfully, there is a clear answer to this question, as numerous clinical trials have looked at creatine timing and how it relates to athletic performance.
The best time to take creatine is shortly before or after you exercise, rather than a long time before or after. On rest days, it may be best to take creatine with food, but the timing is apparently not as important as on exercise days.
So for the biggest increases in strength and explosive power, take 3-5g of creatine about 45-30 minutes before you start training. Alternatively, you can ‘top up’ your creatine levels during or right after your workout. This leads to the greatest muscle saturation of creatine and the most noticeable effects.
When you’re not training, just take 3-5g of high quality creatine at any time of day, preferrably with food. Taking your creatin first thing in the morning might be best as it does produce a noticeable mental energy boost in some people.
Conclusion: What is the Best Vegan Creatine on Sale Today?
The best plant-based creatie supplement on the market right now is Performance Lab Maintain. If you’tre looking for a clean, pure, highly bioavailable creatine supplement that also actively supports recovery and reduces oxidative stress, then this is the product for you!
One of the things we like most about this product is that Performance Lab as a brand is broadly committed to vegan values. Every single one of their products is 100% vegan and most are entirely plant-based, using nature-identical ingredients and extremely pure plant extracts.
Even the Iron in Maintain is on another level to what you’ll find in other creatine supplements. Performance Lab ‘grow’ all of their vitamins and minerals using their patented Nutrigenesis system, whereby micronutrients are implanted into probiotic cultures and grown. This makes the vitamins and minerals nature identical yet highly bioavailable.
The use of Carnosyn Beta-Alanine makes this a superb creatine supplement, offering benefits beyond simple creatine monohydrate powder. It means you get active recover support and some potent antioxidant action as well as increased strength, power, and athletic performance.