Creatine in Food: 20 Foods To Eat If You Don't Want Supplements

Creatine in Food: 20 Foods To Eat If You Don't Want Supplements - Lucid™

Creatine is more than just the scoop of powder you add to your pre-workout shake–you can (and should) get it from food sources. In fact, the body makes up to half of our daily creatine on its own, and the other half is supposed to come from our diets. 

So, where can we find creatine in food? Here's what you need to know:

Key Takeaways

Incorporating creatine-rich foods into your diet offers similar benefits to supplements, supporting strength, muscle growth, and recovery

Creatine-rich foods aren't just about creatine—they're loaded with other essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health and athletic performance

Don't stick to just one source of creatine. Explore a variety of foods to ensure you're getting a well-rounded intake of this essential compound for optimal results.

What's Creatine and Where Does It Come From?

Creatine is an amino acid naturally present in the body, primarily stored in skeletal muscles. It serves as a key player in generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency your body uses to produce energy at the cellular level. 

While creatine supplementation is often used to support energy for high-intensity activities like weightlifting and sprinting, your body needs creatine for all of its energy output, so it's important that you're getting a steady stream of creatine from your diet.

Creatine-rich foods offer comparable benefits to supplements and are often packed with additional nutrients beneficial for overall health. For athletes and fitness enthusiasts, incorporating creatine into the diet through natural sources provides a holistic approach to performance enhancement.

Creatine comes from animal sources. Fresh meat, especially red meat, is a rich source of creatine. For vegetarians, there is some creatine in cheese and milk. 

Unfortunately, there are no vegan foods that contain creatine. However, there are plant-based foods that may support creatine synthesis and there are also vegan creatine supplements made without animal products.

Benefits of Consuming Creatine-Rich Foods

Supplementing with creatine has been linked to various benefits, including improved strength, muscle growth, and post-exercise recovery. Similarly, consuming creatine-rich foods offers these advantages while also providing essential nutrients that support overall health and performance.

By opting for whole foods, individuals can reap the benefits of creatine while enjoying a diverse and nutritious diet.

Top 20 Creatine-Boosting Foods

1. Beef:

A rich source of creatine, beef provides a substantial amount of this amino acid along with protein and essential nutrients. With its high protein content, beef aids in muscle repair and growth, making it a popular choice for athletes aiming to enhance their performance.

2. Pork:

Lean cuts of pork offer creatine along with high-quality protein, making them a nutritious choice for athletes. Pork is also rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and zinc, which support energy metabolism and immune function.

3. Chicken:

Chicken breasts and thighs contain moderate levels of creatine, making them a staple in many athletes' diets. Additionally, chicken is a lean protein source, low in fat and calories, making it ideal for those focusing on muscle development and weight management.

4. Turkey:

Similar to chicken, turkey is a lean protein source that provides creatine to support muscle function. It's also rich in nutrients like selenium and phosphorus, which play crucial roles in antioxidant defense and bone health, respectively.

5. Fish:

Varieties like salmon, tuna, and cod are rich in creatine and omega-3 fatty acids, offering dual benefits for athletes. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to heart health and inflammation reduction, complementing the muscle-supporting properties of creatine found in fish.

6. Venison:

Lean and flavorful, venison provides creatine along with other nutrients beneficial for muscle health. It's notably high in iron, which is essential for oxygen transport and energy production in muscles, aiding in endurance and performance.

7. Herring:

Among seafood options, herring stands out as a top source of creatine, offering additional nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. These nutrients support cardiovascular health and immune function, complementing the muscle-enhancing properties of creatine.

8. Trout:

A freshwater fish, trout contains creatine and is a nutritious addition to any diet focused on performance and health. Trout is also rich in potassium, which helps regulate fluid balance and muscle contractions, crucial for athletes during exercise.

9. Octopus:

Known for its protein content, octopus also provides creatine to support muscle function and recovery. It's particularly rich in copper, a mineral involved in collagen formation and antioxidant defense, aiding in tissue repair and immune support.

10. Squid:

Low in calories and rich in protein, squid offers creatine along with other essential nutrients for athletes. Squid is also a good source of selenium, an antioxidant mineral that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals generated during exercise.

11. Mussels:

Shellfish like mussels are packed with creatine and protein, making them an excellent choice for muscle support. Mussels are also high in vitamin B12, which plays a crucial role in energy metabolism and nerve function, benefiting athletes' performance and recovery.

12. Cheese:

Parmesan cheese, in particular, contains creatine and can be included in various dishes to boost intake. It's also a good source of calcium and phosphorus, essential minerals for bone health and muscle contractions during exercise.

13. Milk:

While not as high in creatine as meat and seafood, milk provides a source of this amino acid along with calcium and other nutrients. The combination of protein and carbohydrates in milk makes it an excellent post-workout recovery beverage, replenishing glycogen stores and supporting muscle repair.

14. Yogurt:

A convenient snack option, yogurt offers creatine along with probiotics for gut health support. Additionally, yogurt is rich in potassium and magnesium, electrolytes that help maintain fluid balance and muscle function during exercise.

15. Pumpkin seeds:

Rich in arginine and glycine, pumpkin seeds indirectly support creatine synthesis in the body. They're also a good source of iron and zinc, minerals involved in oxygen transport and immune function, essential for athletes' overall health and performance.

16. Sesame seeds:

Containing glycine, sesame seeds can contribute to creatine production when included in the diet. They're also rich in calcium and magnesium, supporting bone health and muscle function, crucial for athletes' strength and endurance.

17. White beans:

With arginine and methionine, white beans offer plant-based support for creatine synthesis. They're also high in fiber and protein, promoting satiety and muscle repair, making them a valuable addition to athletes' diets.

18. Walnuts:

Providing arginine, walnuts are a nutritious addition to any diet, offering both creatine support and healthy fats. Walnuts also contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, supporting heart health and reducing inflammation, beneficial for athletes' recovery and overall well-being.

19. Almonds:

Similarly, almonds contain arginine and can contribute to creatine production when consumed regularly. Almonds are also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress during exercise, supporting athletes' immune function and recovery.

20. Watercress

A vegetable rich in glycine, watercress can be included in salads and sandwiches to support creatine synthesis. It's also a good source of vitamin K and antioxidants, promoting bone health and reducing inflammation, essential for athletes' performance and recovery.

How Much Creatine is in Meat and Other Food Sources?

Meat is one of the primary sources of creatine, but the actual creatine content in meat varies. Both beef and pork have about 1 gram of creatine for every 1-2 pounds of muscle. One 3-ounce serving of beef has about 0.2 grams of creatine. Chicken has slightly more, with about 0.37 grams per 3-ounce serving. The amount of creatine in fish varies greatly.

You should also consider that meat loses up to 5% of its total creatine content when cooked.

Tips for Incorporating Creatine-Rich Foods into Your Diet

Incorporating creatine-rich foods into your diet doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some practical tips to help you boost your creatine intake naturally:

Meal planning ideas:

  • Include creatine-rich meats like beef or salmon as the main protein source in your meals.

  • Add pumpkin seeds or walnuts to salads for an extra boost of amino acids and healthy fats, which may promote creatine production.

Snack and post-workout options:

  • Enjoy yogurt with almonds or sesame seeds as a post-workout snack to support muscle recovery.

  • Opt for a tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread for a satisfying post-exercise meal rich in creatine.

Importance of variety and balance:

  • Aim for a diverse diet that includes a variety of creatine-rich foods to ensure adequate intake.

  • Balance your meals with a mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support overall health and performance.


To sum it up, creatine isn't just a fancy supplement you scoop into your protein shake before hitting the gym. It's something your body naturally makes, and you can get plenty from natural food sources, too. From beef to salmon to yogurt, there's a whole buffet of options out there to help you fuel your muscles and boost your performance without relying solely on powders and pills.

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