Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements, and the data is overwhelmingly supportive of it’s positive benefits. It is a naturally occurring compound that is found in food, as well as supplemented by athletes, weightlifters, etc. This writing will focus on its supplement form.
The main benefit that those who supplement creatine are seeking is muscle growth. Creatine has been shown to help muscles recover faster, improve endurance, produce more explosive energy, and stimulate muscle protein synthesis. All of these help muscles to work and recover more effectively, increasing muscle size and strength. In other words, people take creatine for the “gains.”
There is also more recent research that creatine supplementation enhances brain health, such as improved memory and increased cognitive function.
Creatine supplements come in various forms, and the following will be differentiated below:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine HCl
- Creatine anhydrous
- Creatine ethyl ester
Creatine monohydrate is the “original” creatine. Monohydrate refers to its molecular structure as each creatine molecule is bounded to a water molecule.
Despite it being the original, and the many attempts to improve upon it, creatine monohydrate remains king. Its creatine by mass is about 90%, and it has a 99% absorption rate. It comes with the lowest price tag as well.
You may notice labels that read “micronized creatine” or “Creapure,” which are also forms of creatine monohydrate. Micronized creatine is creatine monohydrate where the particles are shrunk by micronization, making a finer powder. Creapure is a patent-protected form of creatine monohydrate with 99.99% purity (more on this later).
Link: creatine monohydrate
Creatine HCl (creatine hydrochloride) is a from of creatine where each molecule of creatine is bonded to a molecule of hydrochloride. It is more soluble than creatine monohydrate, meaning it mixes better, but in terms of strength, hypertrophy, and performance, creatine monohydrate and HCl are the same. In comparison to creatine monohydrates creatine by weight of about 90%, creatine HCl’s is about 78%.
Some people have noticed some gastrointestinal discomfort from creatine monohydrate, but not HCl, making HCl a better choice for them. For those who can digest monohydrate without issues (which is the majority), creatine monohydrate is preferable as it has been studied more than creatine HCl and proven to be safe and effective (which creatine HCl also has been, but not to the extent of monohydrate).
All things considered, the only difference that most people will experience from choosing creatine HCl is spending more money. That said, if monohydrate causes you discomfort and HCl doesn’t, then get the HCl!
Creatine anhydrous is creatine monohydrate where the water molecules have been removed, making it 100% creatine by weight. Anhydrous means “without water,” hence the name. This is hard to find, and very expensive. There is not much research on it, but results versus creatine monohydrate have shown to be the same. It doesn’t make much sense to buy as all you are paying for is the removal of the water molecules.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine ethyl ester is creatine monohydrate that has been chemically modified by the addition of ethyl ester. This form created a lot of hype as it was marketed as a form of creatine that would provide the benefits of creatine monohydrate and without the water bloat, which would help you look leaner. (It should be mentioned that most do not experience unwanted water weight gain and bloat with creatine monohydrate, as that water is stored in the muscles, which makes them fuller.)
Creatine ethyl ester ended up being a huge flop as it was found to be far inferior to monohydrate in terms of muscle growth and strength, and that a large portion of creatine ethyl ester is degraded within the gastrointestinal tract shortly after ingestion in comparison to creatine monohydrate. Creatine ethyl ester is also much more expensive. It is advisable to avoid it.
Creapure is a patent-protected, micronized form of creatine monohydrate. As previously mentioned, the process of micronization shrinks the creatine particles, resulting in a finer powder. This makes it mix more easily than non-micronized creatine, but micronization has not shown to produce any more benefits other than that. Additionally, Creapure is produced by the German company AlzChem Trostberg GmbH, which is known for its strict quality control measures, and produces creatine monohydrate which is 99.99% pure, as opposed to the 99.9% purity of most other creatine monohydrate on the market by trusted brands.
Although the 0.09% difference in purity will not result in any differences, the real benefit of Creapure is the guarantee of quality. It is IFS food certified, its production uses the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, every batch of Creapure is tested for purity, and independent third-party labs have confirmed its purity.
Although you are most likely just fine buying regular creatine monohydrate, the truth is that the supplement industry is loosely regulated, and there is more margin for error, even with the most well-intentioned companies. For example, a creatine monohydrate seller that is not in full control of the creatine production process may source their creatine from a third-party, and the third-party’s creatine could be less pure than stated or even tainted.
With Creapure, you are guaranteed a high-quality creatine monohydrate, and it is only slightly more expensive than standard creatine monohydrate. The guarantee in quality and peace of mind is well worth it to many.
- Creatine monohydrate is king, most bang for your buck
- Creapure is creatine monohydrate with gauranteed quality and purity
- Creatine HCl is for people who have digestive issues with creatine monohydrate
- Creatine ethyl ester is a joke
- Creatine anhydrous is just super expensive creatine monohydrate with the monohydrate removed
You can purchase creatine monohydrate or Creapure with the following links:
Please note that the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through a link and finalize a purchase.