30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (2022)

30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (1)

Step into any gym, supplement shop, or fitness fanatic’s house and you can’t avoid those shrine-like tubs, containing godly amounts of creatine.

One thing is clear about creatine: they’re one of the most popular performance-enhancing supplements on the market.

But before you muscle-building machines down a cup of costly creatine, it’s important to ask: can you get enough creatine from natural food sources? And if so, how much?

Creatine has been shown to build muscle and strength faster than not consuming creatine. So if you don’t take a creatine supplement, it’s recommended to aim for 1-2 grams per day from natural food sources. While you can get enough creatine from natural food sources, if you don’t eat animal products, you may want to consider taking it in supplement form.

Getting creatine how nature intended — from food sources — has benefits beyond supplements, including nutrients that can help support your body in making its own creatine. This is why we compiled a complete list of 30 natural food sources of creatine.

What is Creatine?

30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (2)

Creatine is a substance that naturally occurs in our body. It’s created by our liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It’s found in our muscle cells where it helps muscles produce energy.

Creatine is an amino acid (protein building block). We get some creatine from our diet, mainly from animal products such as meat, fish, and poultry. Our bodies manufacture the rest. Creatine can also be made synthetically as a supplement.

When we exercise, we use energy and creatine. Once we use it, it decreases the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which leads us to feeling tired. This is why people take creatine supplements — to give that extra umph.

People typically take creatine supplements with the goal of increasing muscle size, reducing fatigue, and/or boosting athletic performance.

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Creatine Benefits

30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (3)

Creatine is best known for promoting muscle gains and overall physical performance. But its benefits extend beyond fitness performance.

ENERGY

Creatine increases phosphocreatine stores. Phosphocreatine helps create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which drives many processes in our cells.

ATP is the main source of energy for most of our cellular functions. It’s stored in our muscle cells and used within the first few seconds of intense exercise.

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When we run out of ATP, our cells try to produce more. So essentially, more creatine gives you more ATP, which translates to better performance for quick bursts of exercise.

When our body needs creatine for energy systems such as ATP, it will convert the amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine into creatine.

Learn more about creatine and your energy systems: Can You Get Stronger Without Creatine? (We Examined 8 Studies)

MAX PERFORMANCE

A review of studies has shown that short-term creatine use can improve max power, work performed during sets of max effort, and single-effort sprints. However, not all studies showed a beneficial effect on exercise performance since creatine didn’t appear to be effective in improving running and swimming performance.

Other studies show that creatine may help with sports performance such as HIIT, weightlifting, and sprinting.

Basically the research shows that creatine can be helpful for quick energy workouts such as powerlifting exercise plans, rather than endurance exercise.

Related Article: Creatine Before or After Workout: Does It Matter?

MUSCLE GROWTH

Creatine supplementation during resistance exercise training has been suggested to increase fat-free body mass. However, it’s not clear if this is just due to an increase in intracellular (inside cells) fluid or if there’s an impact on protein metabolism.

In one study that explored the effects of creatine supplement on the size of muscle mass, there was no change in body mass seen in the control and placebo groups, but the body mass of the group taking creating increased by 2 kg. The change was attributed partially to an increase in body water content and also the intracellular compartments.

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MEMORY

Creatine can also significantly boost brainpower. A review of six studies found evidence that short term memory and intelligence may be improved with creatine. But the effect on long-term memory reaction time, and mental fatigue were conflicting.

NEUROPROTECTION

Creatine has shown to have antioxidant properties that can help reduce age-related damage. Creatine can also reduce mental fatigue, and improve components of neurological disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

These benefits have made creatine a substance of interest for fighting against age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimers and stroke but more research is required to make definitive claims.

Creatine: Frequently Asked Questions

30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (4)

We can build muscle and get stronger without supplementing with creatine. The key is to focus on a diet rich in natural sources of creatine, the nutrients that support our bodies in making creatine, and eating enough balanced and healthy foods.

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HOW MUCH CREATINE DO YOU NEED TO CONSUME?

In general, research shows that we need to replenish between about 1 and 3 grams of creatine a day, depending on how much muscle we have.

A standard diet contains about 1 gram of creatine per day and the rest is synthesized by our body.

So, to make sure to get enough creatine in your diet, it’s recommended to aim for 1-2 grams per day of natural food sources, if you don’t take a supplement.

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DOES COOKING REDUCE THE CREATINE CONTENT?

Before we share our list of 30 creatine rich foods, it’s important to note that cooking can actually cause meat to lose some creatine. The amount that decreases depends on the type and cut of meat, but it’s correlated with how long it’s cooked.

A good amount of creatine moves to the juice of the meat during cooking so it may help to consume this by making a sauce or pouring it over the meat as you cook it.

Check out the USDA cooking guidelines for appropriate cooking temperatures.

WHAT ABOUT VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS?

You’ll notice that creatine is mainly found in animal meat: more specifically muscle meat.

This is why health educators such as Precision Nutrition suggest that creatine supplementation (more on this to come) may be more beneficial in those on a plant-based diet.

But if you do eat meat, then the following will provide a list of 30 natural food sources high in creatine.

30 Natural Food Sources High in Creatine

30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (5)

The foods listed below are in order of highest to the lowest amount of creatine per 100grams of food.

Food SourceCreatine (Amount/100g of food)
1Herring Fillet (raw and dried)1.1g
2Beef patties (raw)0.9g
3Herring0.9g
4Beef steak gravy (juice cooked from meat)0.9g
5Salmon0.9g
6Beefburger0.9g
7Pork0.7g
8Black pudding (blood sausage)0.6g
9Dry cured ham0.6g
10Lamb, top round0.5g
11Chicken breast0.4g
12Rabbit meat0.4g
13Tuna0.4g
14Cod0.3g
15Beef cattle heart0.3g
16Ox heart0.3g
17Beef cattle cheek0.3g
18Falun sausage0.3g
19Hot dogs0.2g
20Mortadella0.2g
21Sausage0.2g
22Fish sauce0.2g
23Bovine tongue0.2g
24Frankfurters0.1g
25Bacon0.1g
26Milk0.02g
27Enfamil0.004g
28Cranberries0.002g
29Nestle Good Start0.002g
30Lactofree0.0001

Creatine for Vegans

30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (6)

(Video) SUPPLEMENTS: Are They Necessary? + Which Ones to Use?

Creatine can be produced by our liver. It’s synthesized from the amino acids (protein building blocks): arginine, glycine, and methionine.

ARGININE

  • Vegetarian sources: dairy products (milk, cheese).

  • Vegan options include seeds (pumpkin, sesame) and nuts walnuts, almonds, pine nuts), legumes (beans, peas), and seaweed.

GLYCINE

  • Vegetarian sources: dairy products (milk, cheese).

  • Vegan sources: seeds (sesame, pumpkin, pistachio) spirulina, seaweed, watercress, and spinach.

METHIONINE

  • Vegetarian sources: eggs, milk, ricotta cheese.

  • Vegan sources: tofu, brazil nuts, white beans, quinoa.

However, studies show that vegetarians tend to have lower amounts of creatine in their muscles. Research suggests that creatine supplementation may be of particular use for vegan athletes.

Related Article: Natural Sources of BCAAs

Creatine Supplement Concerns

It’s always best to get nourishment from food but there are certain situations in which supplements can be helpful. This includes a deficiency, disease, or if we simply can’t get enough from the foods we eat.

But before stocking up on tubs of creatine, it’s important to understand some concerns about the supplement industry.

As reported by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, supplements in the United States don’t have to be registered with a government agency.

Most supplements are manufactured and synthetic. The nutrients are the same, but the structure is slightly different. This means that we may be getting a form that our body can’t absorb well. Research shows that the way our bodies absorb the nutrients may not be as efficient as through food.

Many supplements also contain sneaky ingredients such as colorings, sweeteners, flavors, coating, fillers, and binders. They are typically added but not always marked on the label.

Some of these ingredients can cause reactions such as an upset stomach, sensitivity, and allergies. And other more dangerous ones have shown to damage DNA, the immune system, and increase risk of heart disease.

Always consult your doctor or nutrition professional before starting any new supplement.

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Creatine Supplements and Dosages

Creatine in the form of creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied and clinically effective supplement form of creatine when it comes to muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise.

When compared to creatine ethyl-ester, creatine monohydrate has been shown to increase muscle creatine levels and improve muscle mass, strength and power.

However, creatine monohydrate may not be effective for everyone. Precision Nutrition notes that about 20% of creatine users may not respond well to supplements because they already have a high enough dietary intake of creatine from whole foods.

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), there is no compelling scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals when used in doses of up to 30 g per day for 5 years.

DOSAGE

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) the fastest way to increase muscle creatine stores may be to consume about 0.3 g/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for 5-7 days followed by 3-5 g/day after. This helps maintain elevated stores.

Precision Nutrition suggests taking a break from creatine supplementation after using it for 12-16 weeks.

Related Article: Top 13 High Thermic Effect Foods To Boost Your Metabolism

Final Thoughts

Creatine is one of the most pop
ular performance-enhancing supplements out there. It’s many benefits include muscle mass gains, physical performance of quick exercise, and helping the health of our brains.

But we don’t need to pour our salaries into supplements, unless we don’t get enough from natural foods, such as in the case of being a vegan.

The key is to focus on a diet rich in natural sources of creatine (aiming for 1-2 grams per day) supporting our bodies in making creatine (eating arginine, glycine, methionine foods), and eating an overall nutritious and balanced diet.

About The Author

30 Natural Food Sources Of Creatine (+ How Much To Eat) – Fitbod (7)

Lisa is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with over 15 years of experience in nutrition, fitness, and mental health coaching and education. She studied Foods and Nutrition at San Diego State University and earned a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition at Hawthorn University.

Having certifications and experience in group exercise, intuitive eating, coaching and psychotherapy, and digestive wellness, she’s enthusiastic about the relationship between the body and mind.

She’s dedicated to helping people understand how to implement healthy habit change, while gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them feel their personal best.

FAQs

How much creatine do you eat naturally? ›

On average, you make 1–2 grams of creatine per day, which is stored primarily in your skeletal muscles ( 1 ). The compound is also found in food, predominantly animal products like beef, chicken, pork, and fish. A typical, omnivorous diet provides 1–2 grams of creatine per day ( 1 ).

How much meat do you need to eat to get enough creatine? ›

Still, it's very unlikely you're eating enough meat to not want to supplement. The recommended daily creatine dose is five grams. That's about two pounds of beef, or three pounds of chicken a day. It takes a pound and a half of herring, the best fish source for creatine, to provide five grams of creatine.

Can you get enough creatine from food? ›

A person needs between 1 and 3 grams (g) of creatine a day. Around half of this comes from the diet, and the rest is synthesized by the body. Food sources include red meat and fish. One pound of raw beef or salmon provides 1 to 2 grams (g) of creatine.

What foods naturally have creatine? ›

As the name suggests, creatine is naturally found in flesh and is acquired through a diet rich in fish, meat and other animal products such as dairy. As creatine is important for all cells to function, our body also makes its own.

How much creatine is in an egg? ›

And it has been confirmed that creatine can be transported from the hen to the egg through the hen's diet and the hen's own synthesis of creatine. However, the levels that are transmitted are very low5,3. Murakami found approximately 20 mg/kg DM in the eggs of meat type quail breeder hens.

Does egg increase creatinine? ›

If you're worried about creatinine levels, avoid high-protein foods, like: Red meat. Dairy products. Eggs.

Is chicken a creatine? ›

All animal-based protein sources contain some creatine, although the best sources are muscle tissue and organ meats, where the majority of creatine resides. As such, the flesh and organs of cows, pigs, lamb, fish and poultry, including chicken, are rich sources of natural creatine.

How much creatine is in 4 oz of steak? ›

Beef has about 1 gram of creatine for every 1 to 2 pounds of meat, according to Quinnipiac University. You'll also get about the same amount of creatine in pork. One 3-ounce serving of beef has about 0.2 gram of creatine.

How do you get creatine naturally? ›

Creatine is also found in foods such as milk, red meat and seafood. In a normal omnivorous /carnivorous diet, you consume one to two grams/day of creatine. Vegetarians may have lower amounts of creatine in their bodies.

Does coffee contain creatine? ›

Creatine does not have caffeine, and caffeine does not have creatine. However, some pre-workout formulas will have both of these ingredients within their supplement. Creatine does not have any stimulatory effects, so you can take it any time of the day.

Do vegetables have creatine? ›

Because creatine is not found in any plant foods, vegetarians and vegans can only get it from supplements.

What food should be avoided if creatinine is high? ›

Reduce your protein intake

People following diets very high in red meat or other protein sources, including dairy products, may have higher creatinine levels than people who eat fewer of those foods. If you eat lots of red meat, switch to more vegetable-based dishes.

How much creatine is in fish? ›

Creatine is naturally present in fish muscle (200–700 mg/100 g; Oehlenschläger, 2014), nevertheless it is important to address whether fish diet supplementation with creatine would lead to accumulation of this compound in the muscle.

Which meat has the most creatine? ›

Creatine can also be located in the diet from milk, steak and some fish. Beef, pork, tuna, salmon, and cod all contain between 1.4 to 2.3 grams of creatine per pound. Herring contains the most creatine at 3 to 4.5 grams per pound. Recently creatine supplementation has become an issue as a performance enhancing product.

What causes creatinine to rise? ›

Causes of high creatinine levels

a kidney infection. glomerulonephritis, which is inflammation of the kidney structures that filter the blood. kidney stones that block the urinary tract. kidney failure.

Does cooking destroy creatine? ›

Does Cooking Affect the Creatine Content In Food? Yes. 30% of it is destroyed by heat. The heat will destroy about 30% of the creatine content in food and convert it to creatinine (4).

What is a substitute for creatine? ›

Beta-alanine can also delay muscle fatigue, elevate short-term muscle power, and improve sustained power output time, making it a great alternative to creatine.

What are the risks of creatine? ›

Side effects of creatine include:
  • Weight gain.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Muscle strains and pulls.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Liver dysfunction.

What should I do if my creatinine is low? ›

Options include corticosteroids to improve your muscle strength or therapy to improve your quality of life. Low creatinine levels due to pregnancy should normalize after giving birth.
...
You can try:
  1. swimming.
  2. walking.
  3. biking.
  4. weight lifting.
  5. aerobics.

Is creatine naturally produced in the body? ›

Creatine is an amino acid located mostly in your body's muscles as well as in the brain. Most people get creatine through seafood and red meat — though at levels far below those found in synthetically made creatine supplements. The body's liver, pancreas and kidneys also can make about 1 gram of creatine per day.

Is 5 grams of creatine a day enough? ›

The standard dosage recommendation for creatine is 3-5 grams per day. Either of these amounts should be sufficient for all but the largest and most muscular athletes, particularly if they are getting the normal amount of 1-2 grams per day from their diet.

Can I take 10g of creatine at once? ›

Typically the aim is to take 5g of creatine 4 or 5 times per day. You could take all 20g at once or 10g 2 times per day -this will depend on individual tolerance as some people are fine with these doses- but most of the evidence has come from smaller, more frequent serves.

How much is 5g of creatine? ›

5 grams of creatine is equivalent to 1.4 teaspoons. This is about one and a half teaspoons.

What are the risks of creatine? ›

Side effects of creatine include:
  • Weight gain.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Muscle strains and pulls.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Liver dysfunction.

How long does creatine stay in your system? ›

You can stop supplementing anytime you want. But your muscles' creatine levels will start to deplete about two weeks after you stop taking it. In 4-6 weeks, the extra creatine will wash out of your muscles altogether, and your body will be back at producing its baseline level of 1-2 grams a day.

Is one teaspoon of creatine enough? ›

The optimal amount of creatine to supplement, per day, is 5 ml (one teaspoon). There is no “loading phase” for creatine, it doesn't build up in your system over time. Supplement labels suggesting that you should take more are simply trying to get you to go through your supply faster and buy more creatine.

How much creatine do you actually need? ›

How much creatine do you need? Your body naturally creates about 1 to 2 g of creatine every day. To build muscle, take 20 g of creatine per day for a limited time, followed by a 3- to 5-g daily dose after that.

How much water should I drink with creatine? ›

Creatine and Water

Therefore, proper hydration is essential. As previously mentioned, 6-8 cups of water are the average drinking amount when out of training. However, when supplementing with creatine, you should drink an additional 8-10 cups of water daily, or slightly more, depending on your exercise regimen.

Will creatine make you bigger? ›

Muscle mass

Despite causing some water weight gain, research has found that creatine can be an effective supplement for increasing endurance and strength. Over time, you may see an increase in your muscle strength and size. Increased muscle mass will also tip the scale upward.

How long does creatine take to start working? ›

Creatine results kick in after roughly 2-4 weeks, depending on dose and personal response. They also begin to wear off, as you establish a new normal within the body, after around six weeks. The difference here is that you're maintaining levels at a healthy, optimal state, rather than addressing a deficiency.

What happens when you stop taking creatine? ›

When you stop taking creatine, your body's stored creatine levels will go down. This may result in a loss of strength, reduced energy levels, and a slight loss of muscle mass.

How much creatine is in a teaspoon? ›

CREATINE Powder 5,000 mg (5 grams) Per Teaspoon.

Is a teaspoon of creatine 5 grams? ›

A: Each teaspoon is 5 grams of creatine monohydrate.

How much creatine is in a tablespoon? ›

With normal activity, 2 to 4 g of creatine are used per day.
...
Description.
Measuring Spoon (level)gmg
Tablespoon10.910860
10cc Scoop7.37343
½ Tablespoon5.45430
Teaspoon3.63620
10 more rows

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