Creatine 2.0: Your Supplement Stack Just Got Better

by Allen Gil July 25, 2015

Creatine 2.0: Your Supplement Stack Just Got Better

Are you taking creatine? If for some crazy reason you aren’t, quickly read my article telling you why you would be a fool not to and then get back over here so I can talk to you a little more about this “mother of all supplements.” We’ll also focus on which might be the best creatine for you.

Creatine monohydrate is perhaps the single most studied food supplement out there and it has been proven time and time again to kick more ass than the entire heavyweight roster in the UFC. (That’s a lot of ass kicking!) When it comes to increasing strength and helping to build bigger muscles, there is creatine and then waaaaaaaaaay behind, in second place, you’ll find all of the other stuff. For those of you who use creatine religiously (I know I do) you can attest to the crazy strength and size increases you experience that end up making your buddies tease you about being on “the juice.” They are just jealous, so ignore them.

So, creatine monohydrate, the most common form of creatine, is great, but what is going on with all of the crazy claims made by supplement manufacturers about their products containing new and improved forms of creatine? Well, let’s take a look at a couple of the different variations of creatine and see if they measure up to the claims.

Which Type of Creatine is Right for You?

Creatine Pyruvate

Bind some creatine with pyruvic acid and you get this new compound with very promising results.  Studies have shown that creatine pyruvate consumption produces higher plasma (bloodstream) levels of creatine than any other form of creatine. Another study shows that when compared to creatine citrate, the pyruvate form of creatine is more effective at producing long term muscular strength gains. Both of these qualities tend to point to creatine pyruvate as the frontrunner for “best creatine” based on absorption and effectiveness.

Micronized Creatine

While it might sound fancy, the only difference between this and regular old creatine monohydrate, is the size of the particles. Micronized creatine’s smaller particle size allows for a greater surface area that decreases stomach discomfort and speeds up absorption rates. Both of these qualities are good things, so if you have a choice, pick the micronized creatine over the regular creatine monohydrate version.

Creatine Citrate

Creatine that is bound to citric acid, also known as creatine citrate, is more water soluble which helps with minimizing gastrointestinal distress that some people experience when they first start taking creatine monohydrate. While this is an improvement from a comfort standpoint, the claims that this form has any extra performance benefits are not backed by the research. The studies show us that there is no difference in absorption or effectiveness for the citrate variation, despite its cool name.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

This very popular form of creatine that claims to have better absorption and effectiveness than creatine monohydrate; not only does it not live up to the claims, but in actuality is less effective than regular creatine and almost on par with a placebo. Oops! Studies on this form have shown that once creatine ethyl ester enters the body,  it converts into creatinine which is an inactive metabolite of creatine. It seems the ethyl ester kind of falls flat on its face once you put the microscope on it. Save your money here.

Creatine Nitrate

While this form of creatine is slightly more water soluble, there really aren’t any improvements in absorption or effectiveness. If you find this version costs more than regular creatine monohydrate, you might want to rethink spending that extra money.

Buffered Creatine

Increasing the pH of this form of creatine with a buffering agent sounds like it would make it more effective, but once the smoke cleared from the research, the truth is, buffered creatine was no more effective than the monohydrate version.

Liquid Creatine

Suspending creatine monohydrate in a liquid form seems like it would help improve its deliverability, but the truth is a little less positive than might be claimed on the side of the bottle you saw this fancy ingredient on. After a few days have passed with the creatine being suspended in the liquid, it begins to break down into the inactive metabolite creatinine, rendering the compound all but useless for your muscle-building goals. Bummer.

Creatine Hydrochloride

Bind some creatine with hydrochloric acid and call it “the most advanced form of creatine out there” and you might fool a few people, but not all of them. The aggressive marketing behind this form of creatine supports the massive price hike (10 times that of creatine monohydrate) with some less-than-stellar science. While there is a slightly improved water solubility over the monohydrate version, when this fancy new form of creatine hits the stomach, it is converted into the same old basic creatine molecule you could have gotten for a heck of a lot less money had you picked up some micronized creatine.

Tri-Creatine Malate

Sometimes using unrelated scientific studies to ATTEMPT to make a new product sound like it works backfires. There is research that says that malic acid (the stuff that is bound to creatine to make it tri-creatine malate) may improve performance, but there isn’t any research that supports claiming the combination of creatine and malic acid does anything magical. All hype and no science doesn’t bode well for this fancy form of creatine, so beware.

Get the Most Out of Your Supplement Stack

With so many different brands of supplements out there, each using really engaging marketing to try and convince you to buy their products, it can be difficult to figure out what is real and what is make-believe.

If you take the above information into consideration, it would make sense to look for a creatine supplement that contains a combination of a few different creatine varieties to ensure you are covering all of your bases. Look for something that has the citrate, pyruvate and micronized monohydrate variations for the best effect.

Allen Gil
Allen Gil


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