Creatine is one of the supplements that many athletes, sportsmen, weightlifters or simply people that work need additionally to further build their muscles strength and size. Creatine is predominantly found in our muscle cells where it actually supports the muscles in producing energy. The recommended amount of creatine needed for a person is about 1 to 3 grams of it per day, and around half of it comes from the diet and the rest is simply synthesized by the body itself.
As creatine sources you can consume both foods that contain creatine or take creatine supplements to provide your body with that additional needed energy to improve your daily physical activity.
Creatine food sources
As with almost everything, you can definitely increase your creatine levels naturally by simply consuming some more creatine rich foods into your diet plan.
Although creatine is something that’s mainly found in animal food sources, both vegetarians and vegans can consume a mix of several alternative foods to that that can easily provide them with the specific amino acids that are needed to boost their natural production of creatine in their body.
So, a diet that is full of red meat, fish or even dairy products is recommended for increasing your creatine level, as well as aiming to get at least 1 to 2 grams of creatine from strictly natural food sources.
But, vegetarians and vegans who partake in high intensity training exercises should definitely consume types of creatine supplements to reach the requirement needed per day.
Let’s get on to the main part where we show you a list of creatine rich foods !
Non-vegetarian sources of creatine
Like we mentioned above, creatine is mainly found in animal proteins such as red meat, fish, and lean meat.
With that said here is a list of 8 natural creatine sources including the ones mentioned above and additional ones that may surprise you, but ultimately consuming them will aid you in reaching the recommended amount of creatine that you need in a day.
This term in particular is used to describe the meat that comes from mammals. Some examples include beef, pork and sheep. These types of meats contain a higher amount of iron than is found in fish or chicken. Red meat is one of the best natural creatine sources.
First off, we have beef. Beef is frequently consumed as ribs, roasts or even steaks. As well as being a savory meal, beef is one of the most complete dietary sources of protein while also having an amino acid profile extremely similar with the one of your muscles. Additionally, beef is also rich in vitamins such as vitamin A, E, B3, B12, and B6, and minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium.
Beef, or more specifically steak has one of the highest creatine contents, with a whopping 5 grams per kilogram of uncooked steak.
In conclusion, not only does read meat classify as one of the best and richest sources of creatine, it also contains a great amount of higher quality protein, vitamins and minerals. It stands as an amazing food choice that boosts your energy at the same time as it improves the health of your muscles.
This is quite literally the most common type of poultry that is eaten amongst all of the various types of fowl in the world. Chicken classifies as a lean meat, or a meat that does not contain much fat if any, which is also high in both protein and creatine.
If you consume let’s say only 100 grams of chicken you will be provided with a protein value of 23 grams and creatine value of 3.5 grams per kilogram. Basically, the meat coming from the more active chickens will have a higher creatine content compared to the ones raised in cages and have been fed lower quality food.
In conclusion, many people over the span of time have considered chicken to be a healthier alternative to red meat, so eating chicken meat that has a high creatine and lower saturated fat content makes it the best choice out there.
Pork is a meat that has a rich protein and creatine content. It contains around 0.6-0.7 grams/100 grams of creatine. The total amount of creatine mixed a pretty good amount of both vitamins and minerals, make this meat an amazing choice to opt for when improving strength, building some lean muscle mass, or even to help the muscle recovery during and after exercising.
Pork makes an excellent food choice for body bodybuilders, some recovering athletes, people who are post-surgery, or others who need to build up or repair muscles due to its high creatine content.
This meat can be eaten both cooked or preserved. To add to that, cured pork products, like ham and bacon contain high amounts of salt so proceed with caution.
In conclusion, the type of pork that is lean is as good for your body and its health as lean beef and chicken. When you substitute lean pork for lean beef and chicken, this decision leads to less body fat, more muscle building and it’s good for your heart health.
Finally, we move on to the fish part of the discussion, in which we start off with salmon.
Salmon is a pretty common oily fish which is recognized for its characteristically pink color. This type of fish is quite rich in creatine, protein and omega 3 fatty acids, as all fish are. The higher quality protein and the heart healthy fats is what makes salmon an excellent food choice.
Salmon has a creatine content of about 4.5 grams per kilogram of meat. This means that having a 3.5 ounce serving of salmon at least two times a week will provide your body with enough creatine to boost its energy level.
This type of fish also helps to maintain muscle mass when you’re trying to lose weight, it can supply enough energy to the parts of the body where that is needed. It also contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin which is known to be good for the muscles, heat and skin as well!
In conclusion, when opting for fish meat, salmon is a low calorie, creatine rich choice. The best salmon to eat is widely considered to be the wild salmon due to its higher creatine content and contains more vitamins such as vitamin A and D.
This is a type of fish that’s known as a forage fish which is famous for its delicious, mild taste and flaky texture. Herring is rich in omega 3 acids, as all fish are, but it’s rich in creatine as well. Protein, vitamin E and selenium can also be added to the list of additional benefits that herring contains. It plays an important role in developing the body’s immune system and in doing so helps to minimize the damage caused to the body tissues by free radicals.
Amongst the other salt water fish, herring is one of the best creatine sources. A whopping 3 – 4 grams of creating per pound! Also, when comparing herring to other fish, it rises up as being one of the cleanest ocean fish that contains a very low amount of mercury, it can be consumed in a dried and pickled form.
In conclusion, if lean meats aren’t your forte, then you should definitely try out seafood such as herring if you still want to meet your creatine goal.
Cod is the next fish on the high creatine menu. It is mild in flavor and has a starkly white color to it. Although cod isn’t exactly promoted as the healthiest food, we can’t deny that it’s full of lean protein, creatine, vitamin B complex and other healthy minerals.
While cod is high in protein, it is also low in calories and fat. A 100 grams of cod contains around 95 calories, 20 grams of protein, 1.5 – 2.2 grams of creatine and a staggering less than one gram of fat. Therefore, cod promotes a combination of good health and weight loss.
Many cod products are also used as cod supplements, one of the most popular being cod liver oil.
In conclusion, cod is a high creatine, low calorie fish that is quite the affordable choice. If the availability of the fish happens to be low at the time, you can opt and substitute it with cod liver oil capsules as supplements!
Tuna is a type of saltwater fish, ranging from a number of different sizes, from the bullet tuna all the way to the Atlantic Bluefin tuna. Although it is a pretty expensive fish due to its overfishing and the fact that they do not breed in captivity at all. Tuna is a rich source of vitamin B6, cobalamin, magnesium, and creatine.
Tuna, compared to other types of fish, contains more red muscle due to the fact that they quite literally do not stop swimming for any reason. To burn off the oxygen that is required by these piscine muscles, tuna contains myoglobin which is a type of protein found in their muscle which in turn makes it a tasty fish.
A 100 grams of tuna contains 132 calories and a staggering 28 grams of protein.
In conclusion, despite the fact that tuna is a smelly fish, it is undoubtedly the best creatine rich food, despite its price. So eating tuna salads or tuna sandwiches should definitely be included in your diet plan.
What are the creatine producing amino acids?
We have previously explained to you that creatine is predominantly found in animal meat, more specifically in muscle meat, and there are very few vegetarian friendly options that contain enough creatine compared to meat. One such option is cranberries. Cranberries are commonly known as a good enough source of creatine, that is when it’s compared to other sorts of plants, you will actually need to consume a staggering five hundred pounds of them to even get to the recommended 5 grams of creatine a day.
But, creatine can also be produced by our own liver using three different amino acids that are listed below, so consuming food that is full of creatine goodness will help your body synthesis more creatine.
Let’s have a closer look at those amino acids
- First up is arginine. Arginine is an amino acid that is present in many vegetarian friendly options such as dairy products – milk and cheese, but also has a plethora of vegan friendly options as well – sesame, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pine nuts, peas, beans, and even seaweed.
- Glycine, compared to arginine is present in a lot of the same foods such as dairy products and some types of nuts, but is also present in spinach, watercress and pistachio.
- Methionine is the last amino acid on this list, and it is found in eggs, milk, ricotta cheese, and the more vegan options include tofu, brazil nuts, quinoa and white beans.
In this article we’ve already looked at many of the food options that are rich creatine sources, but all of those were types of meat. Don’t think we neglected the vegetarian and vegan options since we left the best for last!
Here are 10 different vegetarian and vegan friendly foods you can eat that can provide you with the creatine producing amino acids your body needs.
- First up we have milk. Milk is not only a rich source of protein, it provides you with around 1 gram of protein per one ounce, but also contains all of the amino acids we mentioned above. It’s amino acid content is the following: in one cup it contains 0.2 grams of arginine, glycine and 431 mg of methionine. All of those are needed to synthesize creatine in our body. This also helps in the growing and maintaining of your muscles.
- Cheese is also a good contender as it is a dairy product as well. It helps greatly when building muscle. All types of cheese contain all of the needed amino acids that are essentially the crux when building muscle tissue. One type of cheese – parmesan even includes the highest creatine amount, compared to other types of cheese, of 2.90 grams. One downside of cheese is that despite being rich in both protein and calcium, it is also often full of salt and saturated fat.
- Another vegetarian option is eggs, since they are low in calorie with only 77 calories and 5 grams of fat, and have very little carbohydrates in them. Other benefits of consuming eggs is that they are stock full of vitamin D, zinc, calcium, and all of the B vitamins. Also, the overabundance of methionine in eggs makes it a great food source that aids the body in creating creatine.
- Looking at the vegan friendly options, pumpkin seeds are an amazing nutritional powerhouse that contain arginine and glycine which are essential to producing creatine. Only one cup of pumpkin seeds will provide your body with approximately 7 grams of arginine. As these seeds are pretty nutrient dense, they also provide you with a hefty amount of methionine as well.
- Sesame is next on the list, as it is a good source for protein and the creatine producing acid glycine. Only 3 tablespoons of sesame will provide your body with around 5 grams of protein. Availability wise, hulled and roasted sesame seeds are the best options.
- Seaweed is one option that contains a highly concentrated source of both iodine and those essential amino acids. Out of all types of seaweed, spirulina contains the most amount of creatine which actually is 0.86 grams. Seaweed also helps to lower the body weight by inherently not allowing it to absorb fat.
- Moving on to white beans, they are a good source of protein, arginine, methionine and fiber as well! When white beans are paired with a good and proper exercise regimen and a nutritious diet, they can actually promote a healthy muscle mass by, of course, increasing the production of creatine.
- Walnuts are a great source of protein, the essential amino acid arginine, omega 3 fatty acids, and alpha linolenic acid as well, so therefore it is an amazing delicious and healthy snack option especially for bodybuilders.
- Almonds are another type of nut you should definitely consume since it is jam packed with protein and the creatine producing amino acid arginine, which also aids in the development of lean muscle mass. Almonds also contain the healthy fats which also help tremendously when maintaining and reducing your overall body mass index, which makes you lose weight.
- Last but certainly not least, we have watercress. Watercress is an amazing powerhouse of a vegetable that contains many important nutrients such as glycine, which as we mentioned before aids in the production of creatine in the body but is also really low in calories, which is always a plus! So, naturally it’s a core component in many bodybuilders’ powerful diet plan.