Creatine is the most well-known and consumed supplement by athletes. It does not only help to gain more resistance for the workouts, but it also delays the fatigue and increases the muscle mass. However, there are several Types of Creatine that we are going to discuss in this article.
Creatine does not produce any side effects if we take the correct dose and follow the cycles. This is why it is advisable to drink more water while we use it, and always follow the recommended dose. The traditional creatine cycle involves a loading phase that lasts for a week (15-20g), then a maintenance phase (3-5g) for three weeks, and one or two of rest.
Creatine and Athletes
The industry is continuously developing new supplements to meet the needs of the customers. Every day we find new types of creatine with more efficient formulas.
Some of the benefits of creatine are:
- Improved muscle strength and resistance
- More muscle mass
- Shorter recovery
- Better athletic capabilities
Important Properties of Creatine
In order to choose what type of creatine is best for you, we are going to analyze some fundamental aspects of different types of creatine:
It refers to the ability of the creatine molecule to dissolve in water. The higher the solubility, the better the absorption. This will also affect the dose, the higher the solubility, the lower the dose.
This feature describes the behavior of creatine inside our organism after it overcomes the intestinal barrier and reaches the bloodstream. Certain types of creatine have a poor cell permeability, which means that most of its content will be excreted through the urine.
It is also important to know the relation between the dose and the amount of water since some types, like the monohydrate, need more water than creatine HCl, for example. This explains why some people experience stomach discomfort.
It has always been said that we should use some food or drink with a high glycemic index (GI) when taking creatine in order to produce an insulin peak which will enhance its absorption. However, this is not necessary, since our body is capable of absorbing any type of creatine with water.
It will depend on the degree of absorption of the creatine molecule. In the case of the monohydrate, it is advisable to take between 5-10g (according to body weight), while the amount for the HCl will vary substantially, between 750-2g grams per day. In any case, we will follow the instructions of the manufacturer.
Some people may take creatine and will not experience any effect, or they may not feel any of its benefits and properties. In this case we will be dealing with Non-responders, and the reason lies on genetics. Creatine works by enhancing the phosphagen system, that is, explosive and power activities, which mainly involve fast twitch muscle fibers. This will mainly benefit sportspeople who are similar to an endurance athlete, who tends to use the red fibers or I fibers, which would be the opposite to those who focus on power, like sprinters or weightlifters, who mainly use white fibers.
There are a lot of types of creatine, which is why it is important to learn about each one to be able to choose the one that best suits ourselves, so we will be asking the following questions: How many creatine types are there? What are their differences? What are their benefits? And their dose?…
Creatine Monohydrate is the most popular format, apart from being the first type of creatine that was sold. Each creatine monohydrate molecule has an 88% of creatine and a 12% of water. It can be purchased as a unflavored white powder that is soluble in water. It is as effective as the other creatine types and it tends to be the most used because it is the most affordable. In fact, the rest of creatine types are very similar to this one, but they add some chemical compound in order to enhance the absorption or reduce the dose.
- Lots of studies back up its efficacy
- The most affordable
- It can be mixed with any other type of drink (protein shake, carbohydrates), or take it with water
- Stomach discomfort in some people (if you take a lot in a single serving)
- Liquid retention in some people
- Difficult to dissolve it if it is not micronized
- There is a little percentage of people who do “not respond” to its effects
- The loading phase can be tedious for some people
Creatine HCl or Hydrochloride
This type of creatine belong to the “new generation”. This molecule is obtained from mixing creatine and chlorhydric acid. Its main feature is its excellent solubility apart from being a more stable molecule, which makes it more efficient. Thanks to this, we will experience its benefits sooner and we will need less amount per dose. Moreover, it can avoid stomach discomfort or liquid retention.
- No need for loading phase
- No need for cycles
- Advised for “non-responders”
- Does not transform into creatinine
- Usually more expensive
- Only available in few products
- Tends to be combined with other ingredients
Kre-Alkalyn Creatine, also known as alkaline creatine or buffered creatine, is a type of creatine that tries to fix the “problems” of the monohydrate, that is, the conversion of creatine into creatinine before reaching the muscle tissue. In this sense, we could say that alkaline creatine is one of the purest types available.
The main feature of this creatine is its pH level. The conversion mechanism of creatine into a waste product (creatinine) can be closely linked to this factor. In this way, Kre-Alkalyn is processed to obtain a higher pH than the monohydrate. If we manage to obtain a product that provides more creatine and lowers creatinine as much as possible, it will result in a better absorption, more effective, and which will need less product per serving.
- Capsule format (some people like it more than powder)
- Highly efficient: a lower dose produces the same effects than the monohydrate
- Avoids the conversion into creatinine
- No water retention or a bloated aspect
- No need for loading phase or periods of rest
- Some studies do not conclude that it is better than creatine monohydrate
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine Ethyl Ester is another type of creatine that is obtained through an esterification process of creatine monohydrate with methanol or ethanol alcohol. Then, when our body absorbs it, it breaks down its molecules, improving their bioavailability.
Consequently, this molecule can enter the cell membranes more easily than any other type of creatine. That is why it also needs a lower dose to obtain the same effects as other creatines. Above all, this is due to its transport system, since CEE is more lipophilic than the monohydrate.
- More effective doses
- High bioavailability
- It does not need loading phase
- More expensive than the monohydrate
- Some users report a bad aftertaste
Creatine malate is made up by creatine and malic acid . We can find Di- and Tri-Malate Creatine depending on the number of creatine molecules that bind to the malic acid. This combination improves the bioavailability of both components. Even though this is one of the less popular creatine types, it is still being studied if it dissolves better than the monohydrate, which would have a higher impact on the ATP cycle, which means that it would be more effective for the athletic performance. It tends to be used to treat people with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
- Added value with regards to malic acid (it improves the energy production)
- High bioavailability
- There are no studies that show that it is superior to the monohydrate
This creatine is made up of a 62.3% of creatine and a 37.7% of phosphate. The result of this combination should be better than a creatine monohydrate, right? Unfortunately that is not the case and creatine phosphate has only managed to be a variation that is actually even more expensive.
Creatine is bound to a nitrate molecule (NO3) to increase its solubility (even 10 times more than the monohydrate). It also provides an extra benefit: being the precursor form of nitric oxide, which means that it should work as a vasodilator. This process would allow to increase the blood flow and nutrients that is transported to the muscle fibers.
Magna Power® Creatine
This is a recent type of creatine, which is bound to a magnesium molecule to increase its bioavailability and stability, which is superior to the monohydrate. One of the benefits is that we also obtain a supply of this essential mineral, which is necessary for many tasks and reactions within our organism, apart from working as an electrolyte. In this sense, it can contribute to improving the contractile muscle response. It is one of the most expensive creatine supplements.
It results from combining creatine with citrate molecules. However, the resulting product has a 40% of creatine and it is also really expensive. Although people tend to purchase it because it dissolves nicely in water and it triggers less stomachaches. In spite of its benefits and its current popularity, it does not reach the effectiveness of a creatine monohydrate.
This type of creatine consists on a creatine molecule bound to a glucose molecule. In this way, the glucose works as a transport system for the creatine, which improves its absorption in the muscles, which increases its benefits.
Creatine powder can be combined with a protein shake. In this way, we will not forget taking it 🙂
The Best Creatine in the market
Creatine Monohydrate has been a reference point from the very beginning, and it is the one that has been more studied. There are many sportspeople and/or athletes who use it, since it is not forbidden in anti-doping controls. Creatine can be found in any food, mainly in those of animal origin, but we would need a lot of food to reach optimal levels. For example, 1kg of meat can have 5g of creatine. In this case, the supplementation will reduce the cost of the food and the difficulty to eat such amount of meat.
Choosing the type of creatine can also be found by trial and error. As it has been mentioned previously, some people do not experience the benefits of creatine. However, they may obtain said benefits by changing the type of creatine, which would mean that we are dealing with absorption problems. Usually, those who do not experience any benefits from the creatine monohydrate will obtain positive results with creatine HCl.
In other cases, the determining factor is the format and the use. Some people prefer the capsules rather than the powder. Moreover, some people prefer not to perform a loading phase, which can be a tedious process. In this sense, the best choice would be Kre-Alkalyn Creatine due to its consistency, which can be used for training days without performing a loading phase, and which also comes in a comfortable capsule format. It can be carried and taken anywhere.
However, our partners have reached the conclusion that one of the best choices is the Micronized Creatine Monohydrate with the seal Creapure®, which guarantees its degree of purity. This would definitely be an excellent purchase!