Creatine has been clinically proven time and again to be effective in building strength and muscle. Consequently, it is one of the must have supplements for bodybuilders, weight lifters, and other athletes. Constant advancements are being made in the field of creatine research, and one of the upcoming young stars is creatine hydrochloride (HCL).

What is Creatine HCL (Hydrochloride)?

As its name suggests, creatine HCL is made by attaching a hydrochloride group to creatine, thereby creating a salt. In attaching this hydrochloride group, the solubility of the molecule increases greatly compared to creatine monohydrate (the existing basic form of creatine). This results in some improved qualities over the already great creatine monohydrate.

Benefits of Creatine HCL

Creatine Monohydrate vs Creatine HCL

Creatine HCL is the most soluble form of creatine on the market. As a result, creatine HCL may be far more bioavailable and readily absorbed than creatine monohydrate. This means that creatine HCL is essentially a super concentrated form of creatine, and a much smaller dose is needed to achieve the same effect in regards to strength and muscle gain. Furthermore, only needing a tiny amount eliminates the need to drink large quantities of fluid.

Although uncommon, some people experience mild side effects when using creatine monohydrate, such as bloating, cramping, and frequent urination, etc. These side effects have never been reported to be detrimental to health, but may be a nuisance to some. Creatine hydrochloride (HCL) has been said to eliminate these issues.

For creatine monohydrate to be most effective, it is often recommended that a "loading phase", in which large doses (20 g/day) is to be consumed. Due to the higher bioavailability and absorption of creatine HCL, this loading may not be necessary. Furthermore, cycling may also not be necessary.

Creatine HCL Research

This product was patented fairly recently in 2009. As a result, most sports and exercise scientists has not yet had a chance to perform research on creatine HCL.  Herda et al (2009) have published an article on the efficacy of polyethylene glycosylated creatine hydrochloride (PEG creatine HCL), which shows that a small dose (1.25 g) of PEG creatine HCL has a similar performance boosting effect to a larger dose (5 g) of creatine monohydrate. PEG creatine HCL is a modified version of creatine HCL, and is also a product currently available on the market. Although no research is currently available on regular creatine HCL, the results of the PEG creatine HCL study may be transferable to regular creatine HCL, because the benefits of these two compounds are similar. Regardless, we are keenly awaiting more research to be performed in this area.

Creatine HCL Reviews

It is difficult to ignore the large number of positive user reviews of creatine HCL. Even without many scientific publications about this product, these reviews are expected, because the rationale behind the product looks sound. Individuals who have tried creatine HCL do indeed confirm reduced side effects, as well as reporting increases in strength gains, muscle building, and energy. It should not be long before science catches up with the population to clinically confirm the benefits of creatine HCL.

Negatives of Creatine HCL

The only complaint found in user reviews is the relatively high cost of creatine HCL compared to monohydrate. Even though one gram of creatine HCL is equivalent to five grams of monohydrate, HCL is still comparatively expensive per serve. This however is to be expected of new ground breaking products, and prices may come down in the future.

Creatine HCL Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing

Unlike creatine monohydrate, only one gram of creatine HCL is needed per day. To increase absorption it should be taken with a sugary drink just as juice, or as part of a post workout shake.

Creatine HCL Supplements

Creatine HCL can be found as a stand-alone product which, if you currently do not use a pre-workout formula, can be taken an hour prior to training, to help increase workout potential.

Alternatively, creatine HCL is also available as part of pre workout supplements. In addition to the creatine HCL component, there are also other ingredients such as caffeine which may be helpful in providing added nutrients and benefits on top of creatine HCL.

Finally, much like creatine monohydrate, creatine HCL may be used as a post workout supplement, or a part of a post workout mixture, to complement your pre and intra workout supplements, and to aid recovery.

Stacking Creatine HCL

Creatine HCL can be stacked with other forms of creatine, such as creatine monohydrate. Alternatively, it can be taken in place of creatine monohydrate. In which case, creatine HCL becomes a fundemental supplement along with protein that can be stacked with any other supplement to meet your goals.

Recommendations

In this writer's opinion, creatine HCL is definitely a product worth trying. The strongest selling point for creatine HCL is its improved bioavailability and elimination of side effects compared to creatine monohydrate. Although creatine HCL is relatively more expensive than creatine monohydrate, these added benefits may make it a more attractive product, especially for those who suffer from the side effects of creatine monohydrate.

Herda et al (2009), Effects of creatine monohydrate and polyethylene glycosylated creatine supplementation on muscular strength, endurance, and power output. J Strength Cond Res, 23: 818-826

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