What is Tri-Creatine Malate?
Creatine is one of the most popular and effective sports supplements on the market, and it has been proven time and time again to improve strength, endurance and athletic performance (1). Creatine is an amino acid and it is stored mainly in skeletal muscles complexed with phosphate ions, which it uses to replenish cellular stores of ATP, the molecule that supplies the muscles with rapid energy (2). The most commonly used form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. In monohydrate form, each creatine molecule is bound to a single molecule of water. Tri-creatine malate is an alternate form in which three molecules of creatine are bound to one molecule of naturally occurring malic acid, which is thought to give it some slightly different properties to creatine monohydrate.
Where does Tri-Creatine Malate come from?
Both creatine, and malate (or malic acid), occur naturally within the human body. Creatine is produced by the liver and kidneys, and we eat it in animal based foods, particularly meat. Malic acid is an important part of metabolism, and it is produced by the body in the process of generating energy. It is produced by all living organisms, and it is responsible for the sour taste of fruit like rhubarb and green apples. While both components of this supplement are natural, they are combined synthetically to make this supplement.
Tri-Creatine Malate Benefits
It's a reasonable assumption that Tri-creatine malate has the same advantages as creatine complexed with any other molecule. These benefits have been covered extensively in our article on Creatine Monohydrate.
Malate is involved in the generation of energy through aerobic oxidation, the process common to all air-breathing organisms, through which dietary carbohydrate, fat and protein is converted into ATP and other substrates.
Tri-Creatine Malate is most often marketed on the basis that it is highly soluble and easily absorbed with fewer side effects in comparison to creatine monohydrate, including less water retention and stomach upset. Some people claim that no loading period is needed when using tri-creatine Malate, as is the case when using Monohydrate.
Tri-Creatine Malate Benefits for Bodybuilding
Creatine is known for improving performance in strength and power athletes. Creatine accumulates in muscle cells, creating a reservoir of phosphate ions which are able to regenerate ATP within the cells. This means the muscles have more energy to pump out more reps (2). Creatine can stimulate glycogen storage, which ensures cells have a longer term fuel source, and it can play a role in buffering cells (3). This means that the muscles are able to work harder for longer. On top of this, creatine can promote the release of anabolic growth factors, which stimulate muscle hypertrophy (4). Studies performed using creatine monohydrate regularly show the benefits of creatine for performance athletes and bodybuilders, and it is one of the most popular supplements available.
Tri-Creatine Malate Side Effects, Safety & Negatives
While there is a huge body of research demonstrating the effects of creatine monohydrate, there is very little information of tri-creatine malate. It is reasonable, examining the biochemical nature of the compound and the anecdotal reports, to assume that the effects of creatine malate are similar to creatine monohydrate, but there is no evidence to back up the claims that tri-creatine malate is better absorbed or causes fewer side effects. Common side effects encountered when using creatine monohydrate include water retention and stomach upset – these are likely also associated with tri-creatine malate.
Tri-Creatine Malate Dosage
Recommended dosage of tri-creatine malate varies between manufacturers, but is usually between 3-5g per day. As with creatine monohydrate, this may be split into multiple doses to reduce side effects.
Tri-Creatine Malate Supplements
Tri-creatine malate is sold both as a stand-alone supplement, and has found its way into a number of pre-workout formulations and creatine blends. It can also be found in the odd mass gainer and protein powder, due to creatine's reputation for packing on lean muscle.
Stacking Tri-Creatine Malate
Like other creatines, tri-creatine malate is best absorbed in the presence of insulin, so stacking with a simple carbohydrate is the easiest way to make the most of this supplement.
(1) Bird, Stephen. "CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION AND EXERCISE PERFORMANCE: A BRIEF REVIEW". www.jssm.org.
(2) Hespel, P; Eijnde, BO; Derave, W; Richter, EA (2001). "Creatine supplementation: Exploring the role of the creatine kinase/phosphocreatine system in human muscle". Canadian journal of applied physiology = Revue canadienne de physiologie appliquee. 26 Suppl: S79–102
(3) Rawson E, Persky A (2007) Mechanisms of muscular adaptations to creatine. Int Sport Med J 8:43–53
(4) Olsen, S.; Aagaard, P; Kadi, F; Tufekovic, G; Verney, J; Olesen, JL; Suetta, C; Kjaer, M (2006)."Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training". The Journal of Physiology 573 (2): 525–34.