What this article is all about: in this article you’ll find our what the best form of creatine is out of the many that are on the market.
Creatine is the best studied supplement in the history of dietary supplement research. The form of creatine that’s used in scientific studies and proven to work is Creatine Monohydrate (henceforth, Monohydrate). Yet, over the years, there has been countless “better” alternatives to good old Monohydrate. Some were found to be worse than Monohydrate, some were as good but came with a hefty price tag, leaving CM as the World’s #1 most cost-effective creatine supplement for more than 3 decades…
Why the fascination with “New and Better” Creatines?
Monohydrate has become an ingredient that many manufacturers are able to produce at a very good price. In the good old days when creatine was a new kid on the block (mid 90s), I remember that Creatine used to cost an arm and a leg. Today, Creatine costs a fraction of what it used to cost more than 25 years ago.
As prices went down, the industry quickly started getting creative and began devising formulations to justify a higher price. A very popular idea, pioneered by an American company in the late 90s, was to add Creatine to a whole bunch of carbs and a sprinkle of some other ingredients plus hefty dose of flavouring. A whole new category of “creatine transport” supplements was born.
These Creatine transporter supplements work well to add muscle mass and strength but they are overpriced. I can teach you and hook you up with ingredients to make your own for mere pennies (more of that in another article).
But soon, the idea of creatine transport supplements became kinda old and boring. New forms of creatine started hitting the shelves. They all came with similar unique selling propositions:
- Dissolves more easily than monohydrate
- Absorbs better than monohydrate
- Doesn’t degrade in the stomach like monohydrate
- Doesn’t give “water retention” like monohydrate
- Doesn’t give “side effects” e.g cramping like monohydrate
- Champions use them, as alternative to Anadrol (LOL).
Are these negative claims about monohydrate true?
Creatine doesn’t dissolve easily. This is especially true if you use cold water and add your creatine to other constituents like protein. But I have always given several tricks to work around this and get the best out of your creatine program.
More of this in an upcoming article.
If you dissolve your creatine properly you should not get any problem like cramping, which very very few get anyway. Personally, I have NEVER had any client complain about side effects with creatine monohydrate when used according to my instructions.
Monohydrate also doesn’t degrade in the stomach. In fact the low pH (high acidity) stabilises it. I have written about this topic in this blog article I published in 2013. There is no need to buy acid-stable forms of creatine.
How do the common Creatine alternatives fare next to monohydrate?
There are dozens of alternative creatine forms. I will review those who are the most common on the market as we speak:
- Creatine HCL: currently the strongest “challenger” to monohydrate. It is claimed to have a greater solubility (which is true) and consequently less is needed to achieve an effect (an unproven statement). Typical doses are about 3g/ day. Given Creatine HCL’s popularity there should have been more studies investigating its effects but alas there isn’t. In a 2019 study, 3g Creatine HCL was not found to be more effective than 3g Creatine monohydrate. Keep your cash, stick to monohydrate.
- Creatine Magnesium chelate: this is creatine bound to a Magnesium molecule. However, it is not more effective than monohydrate (Ref).
- Buffered Creatine: this is a patented creatine concoction that basically contains creatine monohydrate with added sodium bicarbonate (see the patented formulation here). It is not more effective than monohydrate but costs a lot more (Ref).
You will also see Creatine products that provide several creatine forms, like 4-5 forms. In the light of what I have said above I don’t see the point in a “creatine blend” besides being a marketing gimmick. Do you?
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