Natural Flavoring in Creatine: A Healthier Alternative

Key Takeaways:

  • Flavored creatine tends to be more palatable, which can make it easier to take.
  • Natural flavoring in flavored creatine uses compounds that are produced by plants or animals rather than made in the lab.
  • Flavored creatine powders that use natural ingredients for flavorings may cause less stomach distress than artificial flavoring.

Buying creatine supplements is difficult as the market is flooded with options, ranging from unflavored creatine monohydrate powders to fruity creatine drink mixes, and even creatine gummies. 

As with all supplements, not all flavored creatine are created equally. Looking at the ingredients label to see whether the flavored creatine uses natural vs artificial ingredients is important. 

But, what is natural flavoring in creatine? Are creatine supplements with natural flavors better than artificial flavors? Keep reading to learn about choosing the healthiest flavored creatine.

What Is Flavored Creatine Powder?

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements for muscle growth and recovery. However, while plain creatine monohydrate supplements are ideal in terms of their pureness and efficacy, unflavored creatine has a notably salty taste, which can make it quite unpleasant to drink.

Like flavored whey protein powder (or other flavored protein powders), flavored creatine is an attractive alternative to plain creatine powder because it is often more palatable and is often formulated to dissolve well. 

Essentially, adding flavored ingredients to creatine offsets the salty taste, and can make the product more palatable and appealing to take, and the range of available flavored creatine caters to people with different taste preferences.  

Flavored creatine powders come in a variety of flavors from fruit punch to orange blast. Depending on the supplement company, specific creatine product, and formulation, how these flavors are imparted to the raw creatine monohydrate or powder will vary.

Natural flavorings and artificial flavorings are highly debated within the supplement world, with some saying that there is no benefit of natural vs artificial flavors and some even arguing the opposite. 

Although there is a lack of consensus, as a consumer and athlete interested in putting the best products in your body, it is helpful to understand the differences in naturally flavored creatine supplements vs. artificially flavored creatine supplements, so you can make the decision yourself.

What Are Natural Flavoring Ingredients?

It’s important to understand the difference between natural flavoring ingredients, and artificial flavoring. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Code of Federal Regulations, natural flavors in foods and supplements must be derived from plant or animal sources. 

Therefore, natural flavors can come from parts of fruit and vegetables, such as the flesh, juice, skin, pulp, flesh, seeds, roots, leaves, or plant itself. They may also come from spices, herbs, mushrooms, sea vegetables, other yeast, and edible fungi, dairy products, eggs, poultry, seafood, and meat.

In contrast, artificially flavored products use synthetic chemicals (compounds manufactured in a lab).

Ingredients used for natural flavorings may not come from the source of the intended flavor. 

For example, something that is intended to taste like watermelon might be flavored with ingredients that come from other fruit or vegetable extracts, plant compounds, roots, stems, leaves, etc. that have no connection to the watermelon family. 

Food manufacturers use a variety of techniques, such as extraction, dehydration, distilling, roasting, and heating to obtain the compound from whatever plant or animal source they are using, and then may further refine it before adding it to the intended supplement or food product. 

Therefore, even naturally vs. artificially flavored creatine will be more processed than an unflavored creatine powder.

Why Choose Natural Flavorings?

There are several potential benefits of naturally flavored creatine over artificially flavored creatine supplements.

Typically, the benefits of natural flavors vs artificial flavors include the following:

Natural flavors come from plant or animal sources, so they are compounds found in nature. Because the body is an organic living being, it tends to take well to products that are also found in nature rather than chemically created in a lab.

Natural flavorings are usually more concentrated so manufacturers can use less in the product to achieve the same results so you are getting more of the pure product with just a hint of the compounds used for natural flavoring rather than less of the pure product and a heftier dose of the artificial flavoring ingredients to achieve the same taste.

Some naturally derived flavoring ingredients come from fruit and vegetable extracts that may provide additional antioxidants and polyphenols to the creatine supplement. Because artificially flavored creatine supplements use synthetic chemicals, there are no health benefits. 

Stomach distress tends to be lower with naturally flavored creatine because the compounds are derived from plants and animals so they may be digested more easily.

Are Natural Flavorings Better Than Artificial Flavorings?

There generally isn’t any nutritional difference in terms of calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals between naturally flavored and artificially flavored ingredients because the flavoring compounds do not change the nutritional profile.

However, as mentioned, artificial ingredients include anything made in the lab. These are synthetic chemicals rather than compounds derived from foods found in nature. 

Unlike foods, supplements are not necessarily highly regulated by the FDA, which makes it all the more important to consume products with natural ingredients only because the labeling will not tell you what chemicals are used for the artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors used in creatine with artificial flavoring and artificial colors. Plus, you won’t know how much of each chemical is used.

There is also a mounting body of evidence suggesting adverse health risks of artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors used in foods. 

Although the difference between natural and artificial flavoring itself may be minute, creatine supplements that use natural flavors and no other artificial ingredients also derive the color and sweetness from natural ingredients whereas flavored creatine with artificial flavors may also use artificial dyes (Red #40) and sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, maltitol, and erythritol. 

These types of artificial ingredients are particularly troublesome in terms of short-term side effects such as stomach bloating, diarrhea, headaches, difficulty, sleeping, moodiness, and gas, as well as long-term health consequences.

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Artificial Flavorings

For example, artificial food coloring, such as Red No. 40, Blue No. 1, and Yellow No. 5, have been associated with increasing hyperactivity in children and potentially increasing the risk of certain cancers.

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener shown to negatively impact insulin levels, and there is some concern that artificial sweeteners may impact insulin sensitivity over time, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Additionally, the intake of artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame has been associated with impaired glucose balance, excessive insulin secretion, insulin resistance, altered insulin tolerance, and exacerbation of atherosclerotic plaques. Splenda® and saccharin have been found to increase hunger hormones and inflammatory compounds.

Other non-caloric chemical sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium have been found to cause adverse effects to the gut and brain

For instance, there is mounting evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners and low-calorie sugar substitutes can vastly alter the gut microbiome, causing significant disruptions from the ideal balance, which is known as dysbiosis.  

Other studies have found consuming artificial sweeteners can cause an unhealthy increase in gut pH. This reduces the effectiveness of digestive enzymes, the ability to extract nutrients such as vitamins and minerals from your food, and leaves the gut more susceptible to pathogenic bacterial species. 

The adverse changes artificial sweeteners can cause to the composition of the gut microbiota (such as an increase in Bacteroides and a decrease in Lactobacilli populations) have been associated with type 2 diabetes. 

Moreover, although many people choose artificial sweeteners over regular sugar because they do not contain calories, research shows that weight gain from artificial sweeteners may be equal to or greater than that of regular sugars. This may be somewhat attributable to the unfavorable changes to the microbiome and subsequent dysbiosis these chemicals cause.

Given the fact that evidence pointing to the health risks of artificial ingredients is still emerging, it is advisable to avoid any creatine supplements or products with artificial ingredients. There may be further long-term health consequences of these types of ingredients that have yet to be fully elucidated.


Overall, if flavored creatine supplements are more palatable and help you actually stick with your regimen, there are plenty of high-quality flavored creatine supplements. 

It is important to look at the label and choose organic creatine or products that use natural flavorings with transparent labeling to make sure that you are putting the best product in your body with the lowest risk of creatine supplement side effects. 

Stay away from any flavored creatine supplements that use artificial sweeteners and chemical dyes. Your body is working hard in the gym so you want to fuel with premium octane!