With the vast number of different creatine supplements available, people often ask: which one is best?
Selection and information overload often make the answer confusing for this extremely simple question.
In this article, we will look into the many different forms of creatine, as well as our top pick for the dedicated weight lifting enthusiast looking to optimize gains without breaking the bank.
Why Creatine is Such an Effective Supplement
First things first, let’s take a peek into the science behind what makes creatine such a powerful muscle building supplement, and why you should be taking it to maximize your performance in the gym.
Creatine has been used for over 30 years and has been deemed completely safe when properly consumed.
Since creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in meat and fish, two foods that should be in every athlete’s diet, it can be considered an all-natural supplement.
The old days of inferior creatine formulas that gave users awful stomach cramping are long over, as long as you stick with a quality source.
One of the biggest benefits of using creatine is an increase in the energy output of fast twitch muscle fibers. This allows muscle fibers to exert more force and maximum contraction when lifting heavy weight, thus improving your anaerobic capacity.
Unfortunately, many people have the false perception that because creatine is a muscle-building supplement, it alone will get them the ripped physique and head-turning power they’re looking for.
The reality is that creatine, like any supplement, only works as hard as you do. That means that in order to optimize its effectiveness, you must train with 100% maximum intensity each and every time you walk into the gym.
Creatine is very effective at increasing strength and can help add a few extra pounds to all of your compound lifts.
Adding more weight to your heavy lifts also means an increase in total volume per workout. This significantly increases the amount of overload on your body, which will ultimately result in greater strength and muscle gains.
Creatine is an incredible supplement for enhancing body composition, as well as strength, endurance, and power output during workouts. Now, let’s examine which form we believe to be the best.
The Different Forms of Creatine
Kre-alkalyn, also known as buffered creatine, is a newer form of creatine that actually has a patent associated with its chemical makeup.
Buffered creatine has a pH of 12, which allegedly allows it to be absorbed easier and faster by the body, and supposedly requires less total amount per serving.
The truth is that most of those claims have had doubt cast on them. This study found no performance advantages to taking kre-alkalyn creatine.
2. Creatine HCl
The latest craze to hit the market is Creatine HCl, which is creatine bound to hydrochloric acid.
It is claimed to be the most advanced form of creatine available and is supposed to absorb better than other forms.
The pitch is that instead of taking five to ten grams per day, it is only necessary to consume one to two grams.
However, the reality is that creatine HCl is simply turned into a regular creatine molecule by stomach acid. Many bodybuilders and athletes have used it without any substantial gains compared to the other, more effective forms.
It is also quite pricey and will set you back close to $50 for a month’s supply.
With no clear strength or muscle building advantage, there is no edge to using creatine HCl over other forms of creatine.
3. Creatine Malate
Creatine malate is creatine bound with malic acid and is another popular form of creatine.
Malic acid alone has been linked to performance and strength in competitive athletes. However, once again, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that creatine malate is a superior form of this excellent supplement.
4. Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine ethyl ester is another popular form of creatine that supposedly does not require any loading and supposedly is more easily consumed by the body.
In truth, creatine ethyl ester is actually one of the least effective forms. The main issue with creatine ethyl ester is that once in the stomach, it is broken down and converted to a compound known as creatinine, which is inactive and ineffective.
The reality is that creatine ethyl ester is not only less effective than creatine monohydrate, but is actually no better than gains from the infamous placebo effect.
5. Liquid Creatine
Liquid creatine is simply creatine that has been suspended in a liquid. It has been shown to be ineffective because over time, being suspended in a liquid causes it to convert to creatinine. As we’ve previously explained, creatinine is useless for those seeking real results.
6. Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine monohydrate is the old fashioned, reliable, and beneficial form of creatine that has been proven effective for over 30 years. This form is by far the most studied and consistently proven form of this incredible supplement.
Simply put: creatine monohydrate will give you the best results, as proven by science.