Creatine has long been viewed as an essential component in any serious weight-training regimen. In recent years, it has started to be discussed as potentially being the number two supplement, sitting right behind protein powder.
Creatine is so big in the supplement industry because it plays a key role in energy production and muscular endurance. Supplementing with creatine helps the muscles produce ATP, the main source of energy in human cells. Creatine is great because it occurs naturally in vertebrates and is a nitrogenous organic acid. This is why it has become so popular.
But there’s one glaring problem…many of us are not aware of which creatine is actually the best for us to take. We either buy a particular product based on label claims or we do a quick search, find everyone talking about creatine monohydrate, and then just follow suit. Instead of going in with a blind eye, we need to be made aware of all the different types of creatine so we know which one is right for us.
I spent months researching creatine and many products in this category. Below is what I found out about the different types of creatine and overviews on a few of the top creatine supplements on the market.
The Different Types of Creatine
There are many different types of creatine that exist. Below are the different forms of creatine that are commonly made available in supplement form.
1) Creatine Monohydrate
The most commonly suggested form of creatine among the bodybuilding community is creatine monohydrate. This form of creatine is highly viewed because of its overall effectiveness. It provides both moderate size and performance gains. It is primarily found to eliminate fatigue during short burst exercises. Creatine monohydrate also provides anaerobic benefits, which makes it very helpful when combined with weight training.
Creatine monohydrate is sold in purity levels of up to 100%. However, its poor water solubility means that only around 1% of the ingested creatine ends up getting used. Impurities may be found in creatine monohydrate if the brand behind the supplement does not put a top focus on product quality.
What may possibly be the biggest benefit of creatine monohydrate is that it is the form of creatine that is most commonly used in studies covering the effects of creatine on performance enhancement. While the effects are pretty much the same from one creatine to another, it is always comforting to know exactly what to expect based on scientific evidence instead of going in blind on a newly produced form of creatine.
2) Creatine Ethyl Ester
This form of creatine is highly reviewed for its’ incredible absorption rate – almost 99% of this creatine gets absorbed in the human body! There are also no commonly reported side effects for this type of creatine supplement. Further, given the higher absorption rate, everyone will notice the benefits of creatine when supplementing with a product that is rich in creatine ethyl ester.
On the downside, creatine ethyl ester is much more expensive and it does not contribute as much towards size gains. It is still very beneficial for its effects on performance intensity and strength, but anyone wanting to also look bigger due to the creatine use will want to stick to a different type of creatine.
3) Micronized Creatine
Micronized creatine is 5% of the size of typical creatine particles. This makes it faster absorbing through the bloodstream and means quicker access for the muscles. The quicker digestion process also helps to eliminate the digestion-related side effects that are commonly associated with creatine supplementation.
Due to its quick delivery, it can be very effective as an intra-workout source of creatine as it will replenish the used supply of creatine to give a second burst of energy for the remainder of the workout.
4) Creatine HCL
This form of creatine is completely water-soluble. This helps out a lot considering the high amount of water within the human body. Its quicker absorption and ability to prevent conversion to creatinine make it a highly efficient form of creatine. Another plus is that creatine HCL can be started without any loading phase.
5) Magnesium creatine chelate
This type of creatine provides lifters with a moderate amount of size gains, but it really shines with its exceptionable performance gains. Interestingly enough, it is just creatine bound with magnesium and the only major effect of this compound is quicker absorption. However, this quicker absorption can be utilized while taking higher doses, which means that a maximum creatine supply can be provided to the muscles.
This form of creatine can provide optimal results if taken after a loading phase. The muscles will have gotten a baseline supply of creatine and then creatine levels would be spiked by using a magnesium creatine chelate supplement to deliver higher doses.
This is a new type of creatine that differentiates itself through its higher level of pH. This added variable creates a reduction in waste while digesting the creatine. This type of creatine is also taken with a smaller dose, yet the smaller serving size does not hinder the effects. A lower level of water retention occurs, which may mean less size gains, but the loss of gains is what would go away with water weight loss anyway. The higher absorption and quicker digestion, as well as minimal stomach bloating and side effects, make it a viable option for anyone looking to test out a new form of creatine.
7) Creatine Gluconate
This is a relatively new creatine form that is now found in many different creatine supplements. However, it is worth mentioning as many people have seen tremendous size gains while using this form of creatine. By tremendous, I mean a night and day difference between the effects of creatine gluconate and all other forms of creatine.
Creatine gluconate is effective because of the glucose molecule that the creatine is bonded with. This combination allows for the creatine to be digested similar to glucose, which is a carbohydrate that digests very quickly. The result of this is quicker and more direct delivery to the muscle cells, which ultimately means a higher absorption rate.
Note: Creatine in liquid or chewable form is NOT recommended as absorption rates are lower, potency is lost when creatine sits as a liquid, and there is insufficient scientific evidence to back these forms of ingestion.
When To Use Creatine
Creatine is a must-have supplement for anyone that lifts weights on a regular basis. It is also an invaluable tool for almost any professional athlete. Creatine supplementation can also benefit people with various types of neurodegenerative and neuromuscular disorders, which includes congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and more. Further, creatine can be beneficial for people that are suffering from muscular dystrophy.
Basically, there is almost always a reason to justify using creatine – it even helps to boost brain power. While it is primarily used by those that focus on building the right physique or training to improve in any way, creatine will give a little extra edge and allow anyone to train to become the best version of themselves that they can be.
Remember, to get optimal results in the gym the body needs to have as much energy available as possible. Creatine products direct energy to the muscles and can give an extra boost for short, intense movements. It can also be used to kick things up a notch mid workout and to avoid fatigue while training.
The Benefits of Creatine
Creatine is viewed as one of the most effective performance enhancement supplements on the market for good reason. Some of the main benefits of creatine supplementation include:
– Hydration to the muscles.
– Larger looking and feeling muscles due to the additional hydration.
– Increased endurance during short, intense bursts.
– Increased explosive strength during resistance training.
– Increased energy availability often leads to greater reps, more reps, etc.
While there are many benefits of creatine supplementation, it is also important to mention that the effects of creatine are not the same for everyone. We all have different natural levels of creatine stores and the severity of the effects associated with creatine supplementation for one person may be greater than they are for another. Generally, people that are already very muscular, with fullness in their muscles, and that are able to train at high intensity levels, will not get the same benefits as a newbie lifter.
The Drawbacks of Creatine
Creatine is viewed as being one of the safest and most effective performance enhancement supplements on the market. Of course, this does not meant that it does not come without any drawbacks.
The main drawback occurs when someone gets off creatine. When the extra supply is no longer available for the muscles, they will end up not getting pumped and flexed to the same size. This difference in the size of the muscles may be noticeable. Of course, it can be prevented or minimized by being consistent with creatine intake.
Another minor drawback is that creatine needs to be taken along with a lot of water to get its full effects. This is a bit of an inconvenience, but keeping the body hydrated during a workout is something that many of us sadly neglect. This issue can be completely prevented by simply staying hydrated from the beginning to end of the workout.
While no major side effects are commonly reported, creatine users may experience diarrhoea, muscle cramping, nausea, and stomach pain. Of course, many of these side effects can be minimized by choosing the right type of creatine and finding a particular brand that’s highly reviewed as being free of side effects. Here is our list of both top pill and powder creatine supplements.
Top Creatine Supplements in Pill Form
Purple-K is marketed as the King of Creatine and tops my list for pill format. It’s for anyone serious about bodybuilding and features a create blend. This includes Kre-Alkalyn, Buffered Creatine Monohydrate PH12+ as well as Gelatin, Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide and Microcrystalline Cellulose. It’s easy and effective you can take Take 1 to 2 capsules prior to your workout and 1 to 2 capsules after your workout, then 1 to 2 in the morning on off days. This is a solid creatine supplement and will help with recovery, additional strength and over all muscle gain.
All American EFX Kre-Alkalyn EFX
All American EFX holds the paten on Kre-Alkalyn and are the creators of this technology. Kre-Alkalyn EFX is a buffered form of creatine and includes Kre-Alkalyn, Buffered Creatine Monohydrate, Maltodextrin and Magnesium Stearate. The creatine has been bonded with magnesium to avoid side effects such as bloating. It helps with muscle building, energy, joint pain and recovery from strenuous exercise in an easy to use pill form. Read our full review on All American EFX Kre-Alkalyn EFX to learn more.
Swole Sports Nutrition Kreate, 90 CapsulesCreatine Powerhouse!
Kreate features Kre-Alkalyn, which is an excellent single source of creatine. It is a convenient form of creatine that does not require a loading phase and you and take 3 caps a day on the go. It will help increase strength and add more fullness to your muscles without the bloating.
BodyTech 100% Pure Creatine Monohydrate
BodyTech has developed a capsule form of pure creatin monohydrate. This is also popular in powder form. This is an easy and effective from of creatine you’ll need to take 3 capsules a day, which you can do on the go. The supplement allows you to workout longer, increases strength and fuller muscles. It is also less expensive then other pills form of creatine but some have companied about boating when using it.
Controlled Labs Green Bulge
Green Bulge is an advanced creatine matrix volumizer with a combination of different ingredients besides creatine. This includes Magnesium Creatine Chelate, Curcumin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Maltodextrin to name a few. The supplement recommends taking five capsules prior to a workout, which is a lot. It also comes in a powder form. Green Bulge will help with recover and increased strength.
Top Creatine Supplements in Powder Form
Integrated Supplements 100% Creapure Creatine Monohydrate
Similar to BodyTech, Integrated Supplements has developed a powder supplement that is a 100% pure Creatine Monohydrate. This does not include and additional ingredients or additives. So you can rest assured in what you are putting into your body. Creapure provides increased physical performance with higher work capacities and greater muscular endurance. This leads to faster recovery and muscle gains when consistently working out. Read our review on Integrated Supplements 100% Creapure Creatine Monohydrate to learn more.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
Optimum Nutrition has put together a micronized cratine power that they claim is 99.95 pure Creatine Monohydrate. Again the powder is an unflavored Creatine with no fillers or additives. Because it is micronized it should absorb into the body faster then other powers. It has shown to help with recovery, increased strength allowing you to do extra reps and go heavier for longer sets, this leads to big gains. Read our full review on Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder.
Beast Sports Nutrition: Creature Powder
Creature Powder is an Advanced Creatine Matrix. It’s mixture of different proprietary blends including Magnesium Creatine Chelate, Creatine AKG, Creatine Anhydrousand and Crea-Trona. The different ingredients help the body absorb more of the supplement providing a higher bioavailability. The powder is easy to mix with water and provides additional energy, helps with recovery and gains in muscle size. To learn more about Beast Sports Nutrition: Creature Powder read our full review.
Universal Nutrition Creatine
Universal Nutrition has developed another pure micronized creapure creatine monohydrate powder that can be stacked with protein or an energy drink. It doesn’t include any additional ingredients or fillers. The creatine is patented and is produced in Gremany, so this stuff is high quality. It will help increase strength and physical performance without any side effect. With consistent workouts and usage you can build lean mass by volumizing and hydrating muscle cells. This will lead to a necessary anabolic environment for growth.
MuscleTech Cell-Tech Creatine
Cell-Tech contains more then the average creatine and should be looked at as a post workout supplement over a creatine supplement. Besides creatine monohydrate and creatine HCI it also includes Amino Acids, BCAAs and alpha lipoid acid. This product will definitely help with help with recovery time and muscle gain. After taking it for a while and consistently working out you’ll notice improvements it both strength and physique. To learn more read our full review on MuscleTech Cell-Tech Creatine.
Conclusion: Which Creatine Do We Want To Use?
By now we can conclude that creatine has many valuable benefits and that it should be a staple in just about any supplement stack. However, we have not made the decision on which type of creatine supplement to use. This is because the right form of creatine is usually found through trial and error. While creatine monohydrate generally provides results for everyone, many of the lesser studied forms of creatine have hit and miss effects between users. Many creatine supplements are also different in their additional ingredients.
My suggestion would be to find a particular creatine supplement that has been constantly reviewed in a positive light. These reviews should come from average lifters so the effects are realistic to what might be expected in actual use, though technical insight from professional bodybuilders and weight lifters can come in handy.
Ultimately, it comes down to finding the right creatine product to use. There are many on the market and they often vary in the type of creatine that they contain, so a bit of trial and error of the highest reviewed creatine products will definitely go a long way.