What is Creatine Ethyl Ester
Many people are familiar with creatine, and its well established ability to increase strength and lean gains. The most common form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. This form as been well studied and has a proven track record. Consequently, this is an attractive substance for developers to try to improve on. Creatine ethyl ester (CEE) is a molecule of creatine which has been attached to an ethyl alcohol group, thus making it an "ester".
Creatine Ethyl Ester Benefits
On its development and release, it was intend for CEE to be more absorbable, bioavailable, and hence superior to creatine monohydrate. In the past, it has been found that esterifying a molecule makes it far more bioavailable for cellular uptake. The principle was gold, and it sounded like a good idea. Unfortunately, what's good in theory may not always translate to practice. It has been shown repeatedly that CEE actually does the opposite of what it was intended to do. Thus, there are no real benefits from consuming creatine ethyl ester.
Creatine Ethyl Ester Negatives and Side Effects
It is hard to ignore all the evidence floating around that discredits CEE as a useful supplement. One of the most damning studies has shown that in a group supplemented with CEE, the level of muscle and blood creatine did not increase nearly as much as the group supplemented with the same amount of creatine monohydrate. Not only that, but it appeared that most of the CEE ingested was actually converted to creatinine, a waste product of creatine with no biological value (Spillane et al, 2009). The reason why this happens is pretty simple. Creatine ethyl ester is not chemically stable enough to withstand the transit through our digestive system, in order for it to be absorbed. When exposed even to mild conditions encountered during digestion, it is almost immediately converted into creatinine (Glese & Lecher, 2009). This in turn elevates the level of creatinine in your blood. Long story short, CEE is far less bioavailable than creatine monohydrate, and is thus the inferior creatine supplemenet. Although this increase of blood creatinine is harmless and reversible, it does worry your doctors if you go for a checkup. Generally doctors associate high levels of creatinine with kidney disease (Ronde & Velema, 2011). So if you want to worry your doctor, a CEE supplement is the right way to go. Other than that, it is still a safe supplement with few to no side effects when taken at the recommended dosage.
Creatine Ethyl Ester Recommended Doses & Ingredient Timing
During its heyday, CEE was thought to be far more absorbable than creatine monohydrate. Consequently, dosage recommendations are far lower. Instead of the usual 5 g/serve, only 3 g of CEE per serve was recommended before or after exercise. However from the above, you can probably immediately see a problem with this. Knowing that a 5 g serve of creatine monohydrate is optimal for strength gains, a smaller dose of the less effective CEE would actually end up giving you far less absorbable creatine than you need. This may mean that you may not be performing at your best. Perhaps, it is possible for CEE to be an ergogenic aid, but a far larger dose would be required, but this defeats the purpose of taking CEE in the first place.
Creatine Ethyl Ester Supplements
As a result of the ineffective nature of CEE, manufacturers are starting to discontinue their production of CEE. However, some stand-alone CEE supplements can still be found on the market. However, it is in this writer's opinion that you do not invest in these supplements, as creatine monohydrate is the better product. Creatine ethyl ester can also be found in mixed creatine supplements and pre workout supplements. In these cases, it is important not to avoid such mixtures because they often contain other ingredients that have been clinically proven to help boost your gains and performance. The CEE present does not impede the function of such ingredients.
Stacking Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine Ethyl Ester is commonly stacked with other forms of creatine, such as creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL. Again, because of the nature of CEE, it may be better to stick to these other forms of creatine for more effective strength and lean gains.
Glese & Lecher (2009), Non-enzymatic cyclization of creatine ethyl ester to creatinine. Biochem Biophys Res. Commun, 16: 252-255
Ronde & Velema (2011), Elevated plasma creatinine due to creatine ethyl ester use. Neth J Med, 69: 79-81
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. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 6 (online)