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The Best Creatine Supplements: Types & How to Choose

The Quick Summary
  • Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps provide energy to muscles.
  • Creatine supplements can increase muscle size, strength, and endurance, & improve exercise performance.
  • There are different types of creatine supplements, including creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride & more. All are slightly different.
  • Creatine monohydrate is the most researched & widely used form of creatine supplement.
  • Look for the high-quality German Creapure® creatine monohydrate logo, or simply ask for Creapure®.
  • Other forms of creatine supplements may have better absorption rates.
  • More studies however are needed to confirm their efficacy compared to creatine monohydrate.
  • The best creatine supplement for you depends on your fitness goals, body composition, & personal preferences.
  • Creatine supplements are generally safe & well-tolerated.
  • A very small amount of individuals may experience minor side effects like bloating & gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Creatine monohydrate loading is a common practice that involves taking higher doses of creatine for a few days to saturate muscle stores & enhance performance.
  • Certain creatine types like creatine ethyl ester do not require a loading phase.
  • Creatine supplementation may be more effective in certain populations, such as vegetarians & older adults.
  • Combining creatine supplements with other supplements like caffeine & beta-alanine may enhance their exercise performance effects.
  • It's important to choose a high-quality brand of creatine supplement from a reputable retailer & manufacturer and to follow recommended dosages & instructions.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking medication.

Creatine is one of the most proven and intensely researched sports and bodybuilding supplements on the market today. Time and again, creatine has been clinically shown to help increase strength and lean gains, all while being completely safe and legal.

As such, every manufacturer wants to take advantage of this wonderful substance and grab as much of the market share as they can get. The creatine market is therefore hugely competitive, there are countless products out there, and sometimes it gets a little hard to choose which is the best for you.

This article will look at different types of creatine, and different types of supplements that contain creatine. Hopefully after reading this, you will be able to make an informed decision about what you want.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine all started with creatine monohydrate. This is the most basic form of creatine. Chemically speaking, it is just a molecule of creatine, attached to a molecule of water. This is the creatine of choice when being studied by exercise nutritionists and sports scientists.

Literally thousands of scientific studies, many of which were performed by independent universities and organisations, have been performed on, or using creatine monohydrate. The only criticism for creatine monohydrate is that it's relatively insoluble and is not well absorbed on its own, resulting in relatively large doses being needed.

Because of this Achilles heel of creatine, chemists have attempted to improve the way in which creatine can be absorbed by altering its chemistry or joining it with other molecules. However, due to the sheer number of different creatine derivatives, it is difficult for independent researchers to assess how effective each of these is, in comparison to creatine monohydrate.

Creatine HCL

One of the latest developments in creatine technology worth mentioning is creatine HCL. Creatine HCL was developed to be more soluble and hence absorbable compared to creatine monohydrate. This implies that much smaller doses of creatine HCL are needed in order to have the same effect as creatine monohydrate. Although it's only early days, preliminary research involving this and related products appears promising (Herda et al, 2009).

Creatine Ethyl Ester

On the other hand, there was once a great deal of hype over creatine ethyl ester. This was originally developed to be more bioavailable. Unfortunately, after a few years when this compound was finally put up to scientific scrutiny, it was found that creatine ethyl esters were actually very rapidly broken down into inactive substances within the body (Spillane et al, 2009). Hence, it was not very bioavailable at all. This is therefore one form of creatine to think twice about before buying.

German Creatine (Creapure)

Something worth a special mention is a trademarked form of creatine known as Creapure or German Creatine. The rights to this form of creatine are owned by a German company, and it is known as the purest form of creatine on the market. Creapure undergoes the strictest quality testing and assurance to make it the creatine monohydrate of choice. This form of creatine monohydrate can be slightly more expensive than other types. However, in this writer's opinion, the extra price you pay for quality is worth it.

High-Glycemic Creatines

The absorption of creatine is highly dependent on insulin and the ingestion of certain nutrients such as carbohydrates and sugars. Consequently, many manufacturers have formulated complex creatine supplements that contain not only different forms of creatine but also the right blend of supporting nutrients.

Typically, these supplements contain high levels of simple sugars to give a post-workout insulin spike. This spike has been shown to be both anabolic and significantly improve the incorporation of creatine into muscle tissue (Greenwood et al, 2003). In addition to sugar, creatine supplements may also contain alpha lipoic acid, a compound known to increase insulin sensitivity, and hence increase creatine absorption (Burke et al, 2003).

There's no doubt that these supplements are superior to taking creatine by itself when it comes to increasing creatine absorption, and hence muscle mass and strength. The science behind the interaction of creatine and insulin is solid, and these supplements exploit that relationship to bring you something that genuinely does work.

Supplements with Creatine

Other than the supplements already mentioned, there are a variety of other supplements that also contain creatine.

Some pre-workouts opt to include creatine, as well as protein powders like mass gainers. However, since creatine works on an accumulative effect (and you want to monitor and take the same amount daily) this can make it harder to take in the same amount of creatine every day.

Thus, taking creatine as its own supplement still seems to be the most convenient and effective way to consume it. It also combines well with almost all other types of supplements.

How to Choose the Best Creatine

  • Consider your fitness goals: Different types of creatine supplements may be better suited for different goals, such as increasing muscle size, improving endurance, or enhancing overall athletic performance.
  • Look for quality ingredients: Choose a creatine supplement that uses high-quality ingredients & has been tested for purity & potency.
  • Check the dosage and serving size: Make sure the supplement provides an appropriate dosage and serving size for your needs, & follow recommended dosages and instructions.
  • Consider your budget: Creatine monohydrate is typically the most affordable form of creatine supplement, but other forms may be more expensive & may offer different benefits.
  • Consider Creapure®: Buying German Creapure® creatine monohydrate is an easy way to get a trusted premium-quality creatine.
  • Micronised creatine: Look for micronised creatine, this can be easier to dissolve & digest.
  • High GI Carb Creatines: Look for a creatine& carbohydrate formula, these are especially good if your goal is muscle hypertrophy.
  • Read reviews & do your research: Look for reviews from other users and do your own research to learn about the different types of creatine supplements & their benefits & potential drawbacks.
  • Talk to a trusted retailer: Supplement retailers can be great for a recommendation, remember they are talking about creatine 24/7 with fellow trainers.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional: Talk to a doctor or other healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Conclusion: The Final Word

In conclusion, creatine supplements can be a valuable addition to a fitness routine for those looking to increase muscle size, strength, & endurance. Creatine monohydrate is the most researched & widely used form of creatine supplement, but other forms may offer different benefits. When choosing a creatine supplement, it's important to consider factors such as your fitness goals, body composition, & personal preferences, & to choose a high-quality supplement from a reputable manufacturer.

As with any supplement, it's important to follow recommended dosages & instructions & to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. By understanding the different types of creatine supplements & how to choose the right one for your needs, you can maximize the benefits of this powerful supplement.

Burke et al (2003), Effect of alpha-lipoic acid combined with creatine monohydrate on human skeletal muscle creatine and phosphagen concentration. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 13: 294-302
Candow & Chilibeck (2007), Timing of creatine or protein supplementation and resistance training in the elderly. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 33: 184-190
Greenwood et al (2003), Differences in creatine retention among three nutritional formulations of oral creatine supplements. JEPonline, 6: 37-43
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
Spillane et al (2009), The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels.
Steenge et al (2000), Protein-and carbohydrate-induced augmentation of whole body creatine retention in humans. J Appl Physiol, 89: 1165-1171

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