Creatine is a molecule naturally found in the body that has become wildly popular in recent years. Though creatine finds most of its limelight from athletes and bodybuilders, the molecule is actually one of the most important nutrients for overall wellness. Studies confirm that creatine plays a key role in brain function, supporting and protecting cardiac functions, enhancing sexual wellness (especially in men via increased sperm capacitation), as well as supporting immune cells which helps healthy people avoid all sorts of maladies that include cancer and neurological issues (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's, etc.).
With several forms of creatine available on the market, it can be hard to choose which one is right for you. Let’s dive into some of the most common forms of creatine and discuss their pros, cons, and additional information about this important nutrient.
What is creatine and what does it do?
Creatine is a combination of three different amino acids – glycine, arginine, and methionine. It is involved in numerous processes in the body. Primarily, creatine is critical to maintaining a continuous supply of energy to all of your cells including muscles, heart, brain, immune cells (T cells), reproductive cells, and other tissues.
Creatine is found naturally in foods like meat and fish. That means that vegetarians and vegans could greatly benefit from supplementing with creatine if they want optimal cellular functions. Moreover, the amount of creatine found in foods can be negatively impacted by over-cooking which can destroy the creatine. Adding creatine supplements to your diet is a much more convenient and efficient way to up your creatine intake.
Some of the most popular forms of creatine include creatine HCl (creatine hydrochloride), creatine monohydrate, buffered creatine (kre-alkalyn), and creatine nitrate. Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine because it has been available the longest, but it often isn’t the best molecule based on several factors.
Creatine HCl (creatine hydrochloride)
A supplement form of creatine typically needs a “carrier” molecule to get it into the body and this conjugation of creatine is made by bonding a creatine molecule with a hydrochloric acid molecule. This helps to improve its stability and solubility. Benefits of creatine HCl include:
- increased strength and muscle mass
- Increased calorie burn from increased endurance
- faster absorption and improved bioavailability
- decreased bloating and water retention
- reduced puffiness and cramping
- lower dose compared to creatine monohydrate
HCl is a mirco-dosed form of creatine which means you can achieve the same benefits with a lower dose. This also prevents bloating and gastrointestinal symptoms that many people experience when taking creatine monohydrate. In fact, creatine HCl was awarded 8 patents for its innovative and effective properties.
Creatine monohydrate (CM)
Hence the name, creatine monohydrate is made by attaching one molecule of water to creatine. Monohydrate is touted as the most studied form of creatine but again, that is primarily because it has been around the longest and many of the studies have been funded by the CM production companies. However, supplementation with this form of creatine can make uncomfortable symptoms like bloating more likely. Most of the CM sold in the USA is sourced from China with a small percentage of the supply coming from Germany.
Buffered creatine (kre-alkalyn)
This form of creatine contains a slightly alkaline powder, to raise the pH of any solution into which it is mixed. Basically, it is just creatine monohydrate mixed with soda ash and magnesium phosphate powders; and then when ingested, the higher pH beverage is neutralized by the low pH gastric juices (stomach acids) and you are left with regular creatine monohydrate to digest. However, buffered creatine has not been heavily studied as compared with other forms.
Creatine nitrate (CN)
Nitrates help to reduce oxygen depletion and therefore may help you train longer and harder. Bodybuilders often gravitate toward nitrates as a way to increase their pump during weight training because they boost blood flow to the muscles. However, studies haven’t confirmed their efficacy over other forms like creatine HCl. There are safety studies and other data that led to the FDA granting “NDI” status to CN (New Dietary Ingredient) but there are also some researchers that have expressed concerns over chronic or excessive ingestion of nitrates and nitrites over time. Again, however, more studies of this creatine conjugation may be warranted.
Which form is best for you?
Many health supplements come from foreign sources, have misleading labels, and contain additives and filler ingredients. If you’re searching for a creatine supplement, it’s important to choose a high-quality product with minimal ingredients and domestically validated purity done by certified laboratories. The only creatine that is domestically produced and/or processed under SQF (safe quality foods) standards (an even higher level of quality scrutiny than GMP) is CON-CRĒT®.
Many people will try supplementing with creatine but are easily deterred by unwanted fluid retention and stomach symptoms. Since creatine HCl mitigates the risk of those side effects, it is much easier to include in your daily supplement routine.
Whether you want to grow your muscle mass, increase endurance, elevate brain functions, or improve your overall health, CON-CRĒT is a highly soluble and effective form of creatine with pure ingredients and tried and true results. Boost your performance both athletically and cognitively by browsing flavors on our website.