Last week I bought a creatine monohydrate that tastes awful (see the picture below). I’ve been taking creatine on and off for many years and one thing that I’ve learned is how to make it yummier. Today I will explain how to make creatine easier to drink and taste good.
Overall, you can make creatine taste better by mixing it with mineral water, milk, honey, or cucumber juice. These food sources not only make it taste delicious but also improve its efficacy. However, the type of ingredients you choose will depend on what kind of flavor your creatine has in the first place.
Why Does Creatine Taste So Bad?
I already accepted that I need to take 20-25g/day of creatine monohydrate for the first week during the creatine loading phase (before I start the maintenance phase). However, I do not accept the fact that creatine tastes so weird.
Why does creatine taste so bad? Overall, creatine tastes so bad because is a natural substance produced within the human body from the synthesis of amino acids l-arginine, glycine, and methionine. These amino acids have an extremely bitter taste profile. Unflavored creatine monohydrate is colorless and has a bitter and bad taste in the mouth.
You can buy flavored creatine monohydrate, however, it usually comes as a mix with other ingredients like glutamine, beta-alanine, or other amino acids.
Creatine brands use proprietary blends and different combinations of ingredients to stand out from other companies. The ingredients that are typically found in most flavored creatine supplements include:
- BCAA (valine, leucine, and isoleucine)
- Alpha-lipoic acid
Mixing creatine with other ingredients can make creatine taste better (not always) but you also need to pay extra. The price for unflavored creatine monohydrate starts from $19.99 per 500g, whereas the price for flavored creatine can be as high as $49.99 per 500g.
Apart from active ingredients, flavored creatine also has a list of additives to either enhance the texture, color, or taste.
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Silicon dioxide
- Malic acid
- Citric acid
As you can see in the picture below, the creatine that I bought has only one ingredient (creatine monohydrate) and is free of any artificial flavors.
Of course, it does include allergen information about milk, gluten, egg, soy, and nuts. But that’s the standard FALCPA requirements to list any food allergens from the “Big 8” group.
Anyway, if you compare creatine monohydrate with flavored creatine, in the latter you will see a laundry list of chemicals.
Is flavored creatine less effective? In general, flavored creatine is less effective because of the lower creatine content. Flavored creatine usually comes in the form of micronized creatine monohydrate, as well as with other ingredients that reduce the total volume of creatine per serving.
Some brands claim that micronized creatine helps with absorption, however, no scientific studies are confirming this statement.
How To Make Creatine Taste Better
As a whole, you can make creatine taste better by mixing it with liquids that can naturally enhance the supplement’s ergogenic effects, increase muscle retention of creatine, and improve athletic performance.
Plus, you can mask the taste of creatine by mixing it with honey, milk, cocoa, vanilla, essential oils, or other extracts. This not only helps to hide the bitterness of the supplement but also can improve creatine uptake in the muscles.
Some people like to go to extremes and dry scoop creatine, without mixing it with water.
Can I just swallow creatine powder? In general, you can just swallow creatine, but it’s not gonna make it taste better. Swallowing protein powder without diluting it with water can slow down the pace of your body’s absorption of the product. Plus, it’s much harder on the stomach when taking creatine without anything.
The reason why people pre-scoop creatine is (obviously) to bite the bullet and get it done quicker, just before the workout.
However, recent studies have shown that there is no difference between taking creatine before or after a workout (it works either way). If that’s the case, why not mix it with other natural ingredients to make it taste yummy?
Okay, wanna know what is best to mix creatine with to make it taste not so bad? Here are 3 steps to change your boring creatine monohydrate powder into a flavor-packed and energy-enhancing post-workout drink.
#1 Mix Creatine with Milk
You can make unflavored creatine taste good by adding milk instead of mineral water. Milk has a nice creamy and slightly sweet flavor, which can immediately alter bitter creatine.
Creatine does taste bitter because of its composition. According to sensory evaluation of creatine, some data suggests that creatine has the flavor of cooked meat.
I must disagree because (for me) creatine does not taste like meat, but more like cardboard. Adding milk not only will improve the bitter flavor but also boost your drink with plenty of essential nutrients and amino acids.
Some data suggest that mixing amino acids with creatine has anti-catabolic effects, as well as an increase in plasma concentration of creatine (Parise, G et al. 2001).
I’m guessing that you take creatine to either bulk up more muscle, enhance performance, or both.
If that’s the case, please remember that adding milk to the creatine increases your protein intake, which is always good for muscle protein synthesis.
Another reason why I choose milk is it contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Studies have shown that “Combining creatine with CLA was beneficial for increasing strength and lean-tissue mass during heavy resistance training” (Cornish et al. 2009).
#2 Add Raw Organic Honey
Another way to make creatine powder taste better is by mixing it with mineral or cucumber water and adding 2 ounces of raw organic honey. Raw organic honey has a sweety-floral taste and depending on the nectar, it dissolves in water almost instantly.
This mouth-watering ingredient is also packed with more nutrients and antioxidants, whereas if you use artificial sweeteners, you have only a sweet taste.
However, the biggest reason why I recommend using honey is not the antioxidants but the dextrose.
The combination of creatine monohydrate with dextrose produces additional benefits like faster creatine absorption and increased creatine content in the muscles, compared to taking creatine alone.
Some data from Human Kinetics Journal suggest that taking creatine with glucose/dextrose each day for 5 days is potentially the most effective way to elevate creatine concentration in skeletal muscle, thanks to elevated insulin.
Not only that.
The McMaster University in Ontario documented a study where they compared results from taking 10g creatine monohydrate with 75g dextrose versus protein with dextrose as a post-workout recovery drink.
See the graph below.
The researchers found that strength gains after 8-week of strength training were identical for both groups (source).
Does creatine taste sweet? In general, creatine does not taste sweet. It has a metallic flavor that is similar to other amino acid powders. However, some supplements that contain a combination of creatine and other ingredients may have sweet flavors.
TIP: Good alternative for honey to enhance creatine flavor is simple table sugar. It contains 50% of glucose and is equally effective in increasing insulin levels.
#3 Add Whey Protein
You can make creatine more effective and easier to drink by adding a scoop of whey protein powder to the water. Creatine tastes bad with water so mixing it with whey protein is a very easy way to enhance the taste.
I love the fact that protein powders come in a variety of flavors (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, cookies, and cream) which is great if you want to make your creatine taste fresh and sweet.
As you may have guessed, at least a dozen of studies documented the ergogenic effects, as well as other benefits of taking creatine monohydrate with protein shakes.
Some people believe that this can slow down absorption, but there is no scientific evidence for this claim.
One reason why the combination of creatine and whey protein shake is so good is because of the extra serving of amino acids, especially leucine.
For example, one study has shown that a combination of creatine monohydrate with carbohydrates and protein provided greater improvements in 1RM strength and lean body mass, compared to carbohydrate and protein drink alone.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about “how to make pre workout taste better“.
Despite creatine unpleasant flavor, people still take it worldwide because is one of the most extensively studied dietary supplements. The good news is you can get rid of this horrible metallic taste by mixing it with other yummy foods.
The best ingredients that can make creatine taste better and enhance its power are milk, chocolate protein powder, cucumber water, watermelon juice, and lemon juice. For additional benefits, you can also add honey, baking soda, and beta-alanine.