Foods High in Creatine: 8 Natural Sources


Creatine is great for everyone, but not everyone wants to be taking it as a supplement. You can actually get a lot of creatine just from your diet, and it probably wouldn’t be too hard to achieve. What are some natural sources of creatine?

Creatine is stored in muscle cells. Therefore, meat is the only natural source. Here are some that have the highest creatine levels:

  • Herring (4.5g/lb)
  • Beef (2.4g/lb)
  • Pork (2.3g/lb)
  • Venison (2.1g/lb)
  • Salmon (2.1g/lb)
  • Tuna (1.8g/lb)
  • Chicken (1.5g/lb)
  • Cod (1.3g/lb)

*These numbers are not exact. Creatine levels vary based on the cut of meat, how and how long the meat was cooked, and many other factors.

Because creatine only really exists in muscle cells, meats are the only natural source where you can get it through your diet.

That being said, you can use other natural ways to increase your creatine levels, as well as maximizing the creatine you already have. Below, you’ll be able to do all this and more!

A graphic showing which foods are high in creatine, with their amounts listed below.

Eating meat not only provides you with natural creatine but helps you get enough protein to allow for muscle growth. Despite what vegetarians might tell you, there’s no replacement for authentic animal protein.

Creatine is essential for people whether you lift weights or not. Realistically, if you eat meat regularly, you’re getting enough creatine to be healthy. This being said, if you’re here reading this you probably want to boost your creatine levels too for the benefits in the gym.

So, if you want to get the most out of your muscles, go get some creatine. You can see which one is my favorite here. You don’t have to buy this one, but I’ve already done the work of filtering out bad brands and manufacturers to find one that works the best, and I left a discount code in that article, so check it out!

Next, I’ll go over some more things you can do to increase your creatine levels naturally, without supplements, and without gorging yourself on meat.

When you cook meat, it loses about 5% of its creatine content.

Did you know?

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Natural Ways to Boost Creatine (Without Meat)

While you can’t get creatine from any food other than meat, there are foods that you can eat to increase the amount of creatine that you produce naturally. These foods include:

  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu

None of these foods actually contain creatine themselves. What they do is give our bodies the necessary ingredients to produce our own creatine.

Nuts and seeds spilled onto a table out of jars.

Unfortunately for vegetarians, creatine only exists naturally in animal and fish meat. However, we do produce our own creatine naturally, and there thankfully are ways to foster natural creatine production.

Creatine is an amino acid and is also made up of other amino acids. This means that if you eat the building blocks of creatine, arginine, glycine, and methionine, you will be able to produce more of it on your own.

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How Vegetarians and Vegans Get Creatine

Can vegans and vegetarians get creatine naturally?

Vegans cannot get creatine from their diet because it is only found in animal meat. However, most creatine supplements are synthetic and not derived from animals, making them safe for vegans to take.

Other than supplements, there are a few other things vegans and vegetarians can do. Just above, I mentioned some foods that contain the building blocks of creatine.

What I haven’t talked about in-depth yet is the fact that our bodies produce our own creatine, even if we never eat meat or take any supplements. Sure, vegans have much lower creatine levels compared with people that eat meat, but our bodies produce it nonetheless.

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Is There Creatine in Plant-Based Foods?

Creatine only exists for muscle cells to use it. This means that it’s exclusive to animals, and doesn’t exist in any plants or plant-based foods.

A mix of many types of vegetables laid out on a table.

In the body, whether we’re talking about humans or animals, creatine is really only stored in two places. The brain, and muscle cells.

Creatine has a small but necessary role in brain function, but we don’t eat brains, so that doesn’t help us very much.

Then you have creatine’s primary role, which is to provide our muscle cells with energy. Since creatine’s purpose is to provide muscle cells with enough energy to work, plant cells don’t have any use for it. This means that plants, vegetables, and every food other than meat do not contain any creatine.

Do BCAA’s Increase Creatine Production?

While BCAA’s and creatine are both comprised of amino acids, they’re different amino acids.

BCAA’s are meant to help you get fatigued less quickly in the gym. Creatine does something similar but in a very different way.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. So, when you take BCAA’s, they’re supposed to give your muscles the necessary protein to rebuild themselves before you get fatigued and tired. Whether or not they work is a whole different discussion (I don’t think they do).

Creatine is also made from amino acids, but different ones that have different roles in the body.

This means that taking BCAA’s has no effect on your creatine levels. Because they’re made of different things, they don’t affect each other. If you’re looking for ways to boost your creatine, I’d take a look at the other methods in this article and stay away from BCAA’s.

The Best Way to Get More Creatine

Realistically, you likely get enough creatine just from your diet. This doesn’t mean, however, that you’re getting the most creatine you can in order to increase muscle growth. This is because it’s difficult to max out your creatine reserves by diet alone.

If you do want to max out your creatine reserves, which most lifters do, the best way is to take a supplement. It’s safe, and it just works better and more efficiently than any other way of getting creatine.

Once you have your creatine, you have to decide between loading, or just jumping into a maintenance phase. For this, I have some more resources to help you. Here, I have an article that will help you decide if creatine loading is for you or if you should skip it.

Next, I built a calculator to help you figure out how much creatine you should take, whether you’re loading or not. It uses a formula that I designed myself to calculate your proper dosage. It works really well, and I’m really proud of it, so you should go check it out too!

I’m also working on another calculator that’s specifically for the creatine loading phase. That one’s going to be even better, but it’s not quite ready yet.

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Pete Schenkel

My name is Pete Schenkel, and I've been into weightlifting since I was a teenager. Now, my main focus is growing Powerful Lifting and putting more information out there. In fact, I'm also currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer.

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