Types Of Creatine: Is Creatine Monohydrate Still The King?

Elliot Reimers
Written By: Elliot Reimers
December 9th, 2013
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Supplements
36.2K Reads
Which creatine supplement is currently the best option? This article explores the various forms of creatine and tells you if creatine monohydrate is still the way to go.

If you’ve dabbled in the supplement industry much you’re likely well aware of the popular sports supplement creatine monohydrate and its performance-enhancing effects. However, as with most any industry, the natural evolution of supplements has led to companies taking on their own endeavor to create a better, more efficient creatine product.

But do any of these new, “advanced” forms of creatine really present better options than that of the time-tested, proven creatine monohydrate form. Read on as we look at what the research has to say about all the creatine hoopla in the supplement industry and which form is really the best bang for your buck.

A look at 13 popular forms of creatine

Creatine Monohydrate: Bar none the most available and research-backed form of creatine (and for good reason), creatine monohydrate has stood the test of time when it comes to weight training and athletic performance. It’s one of the most efficient supplements to consider when looking at its cost-to-benefit ratio and safety/tolerability. Many creatine monohydrate products come in “micronized” powders, such as that of the patented Creapure product, which is a unadulterated form of creatine tested for purity, safety and made from carefully selected raw materials.

Creatine Salts: It has been hypothesized that the binding of creatine to various salts will produce a product that is more bioavailable and soluble in liquid than creatine monohydrate. Below we will take a look at the popular forms of creatine salts and the research findings behind them.

Creatine Citrate—This citric acid-bound form of creatine does not appear to be more absorbable (nor effective) than creatine monohydrate.[1] It is however suggested to be more soluble in liquid solution.

Creatine Nitrate—A popular salt of creatine is the nitrate salt. The research is still somewhat scarce on creatine nitrate, but it is a highly soluble form of creatine and should cause less gastric distress than creatine monohydrate.

Muscle Pumps

Creatine Malate—The malic acid-bound form of creatine has yet to be studied (at least as far as it’s effects on athletic performance). However, malic acid on its own has demonstrated performance-enhancing benefits.[2]

Creatine Orotate—Similar to the above scenario with creatine malate, creatine orotate has little scientific research behind it at the time of this writing. However, orotic acid is a pivotal organic acid in the biosynthesis of pyrimidines, and also spares vitamin B12 and folate in animals. [4]

Creatine Pyruvate—Probably the most intriguing salt of creatine is the pyruvate salt. Research does indicate that it is more effective than creatine citrate and produces high plasma levels of creatine.[3] That being said, there is yet to be conclusive research that suggests creatine pyruvate is more effective than creatine monohydrate.

Magnesium Creatine Chelate—It appears that magnesium creatine chelate enhances the uptake of creatine into muscle tissue, but the significance of this enhanced uptake on athletic performance is still up for debate. [5]

Buffered Creatine (Kre Alkalyn): This is a form of creatine purported to be buffered at a basic pH and more absorbable then creatine monohydrate. The buffer used is simply baking soda, but the irony here (as below with esterified creatine) is that studies show it to be no more (or even less) effective than creatine monohydrate in terms of performance enhancement. [6]

Creatine Esters: Esterified creatine is somewhat ironic in that supplement companies claim it has “enhanced uptake” over creatine monohydrate, but the research has shown it is actually less bioavailable . [7] Upon ingestion, creatine esters are readily converted to the creatine byproduct creatinine.

Liquid Creatine: It’s a bit disconcerting that supplement companies even go down this route with creatine products given that creatine monohydrate is not stable in aqueous solutions. Essentially, these products are rendered into the useless byproduct creatinine long before they even hit store shelves. Moral of the story—stick to powdered creatine supplements.

Effervescent Creatine: Given the unstable nature of creatine in liquid solutions, some manufacturers created an effervescent form of creatine which is comprised of creatine monohydrate, citric acid and bicarbonate. However, studies show that this form of creatine ultimately becomes unstable in solution just like other forms of liquid creatine monohydrate supplements. [8]

Glycosylated Creatine:  This is actually one of the more intriguing “new” forms of creatine due to the absorption-enhancing effect polyethylene glycol (PEG) produces. In fact, studies seem to suggest that polyethylene glycosylated creatine is just as effective as creatine monohydrate at doses 75% less than that of monohydrate treatments. [9,10] This suggests that PEG acts as a highly efficient vehicle for oral creatine supplements. However, this is still a somewhat scarce creatine form in the supplement industry.

So which form of creatine is really the “gold standard”?

At this point in time, it’s rather hard to argue against creatine monohydrate powders as being the best, most efficacious form of creatine supplements available. Some of the salt forms of creatine may present decent alternatives with other performance-enhancing benefits, and glycosylated creatine does appear to have some potential as well, but at the end of the day you really can’t go wrong with plain ol’ creatine monohydrate. It’s proven, time-tested, and comes in pure, safe and quality-assured forms like that of Creapure.

References:

1. Jäger R, Harris RC, Purpura M, Francaux M: Comparison of new forms of creatine in raising plasma creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007, 4:17

2. Wu, J., Wu, Q., Huang, J., Chen, R., Cai, M., & Tan, J. (2007). Effects of L-malate on physical stamina and activities of enzymes related to the malate-aspartate shuttle in liver of mice. Physiological research, 56(2), 213.

3. Jäger R, Metzger J, Lautmann K, Shushakov V, Purpura M, Geiss K, Maassen N: The effects of creatine pyruvate and creatine citrate on performance during high intensity exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2008, 5:4

4. Abraham, Sal, and Shengli Jiang. "Process for preparing a creatine heterocyclic acid salt and method of use." U.S. Patent No. 6,838,562. 4 Jan. 2005.

5. Brilla, L. R., et al. "Magnesium-creatine supplementation effects on body water." Metabolism 52.9 (2003): 1136-1140.

6. Jagim, A. R., Oliver, J. M., Sanchez, A., Galvan, E., Fluckey, J., Reichman, S., ... & Kreider, R. B. (2012). Kre-Alkalyn® supplementation does not promote greater changes in muscle creatine content, body composition, or training adaptations in comparison to creatine monohydrate. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(Suppl 1), P11.

7. Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, Harvey T, Greenwood M, Kreider R, Willoughby DS: The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2009, 6:6.

8. Ganguly S, Jayappa S, Dash AK: Evaluation of the stability of creatine in solution prepared from effervescent creatine formulations. AAPS PharmSciTech 2003, 4:E25.

9. Herda TJ, Beck TW, Ryan ED, Smith AE, Walter AA, Hartman MJ, Stout JR, Cramer JT:Effects of creatine monohydrate and polyethylene glycosylated creatine supplementation on muscular strength, endurance, and power output. J Strength Cond Res 2009, 23:818-826.

10. Camic CL, Hendrix CR, Housh TJ, Zuniga JM, Mielke M, Johnson GO, Schmidt RJ, Housh DJ:The effects of polyethylene glycosylated creatine supplementation on muscular strength and power. J Strength Cond Res 2010, 24:3343-3351

8 Comments
Jim
Posted on: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 08:42

How about creatine hydrochloride - such as con-cret? The manufacturers claim superior absorption.

Jason
Posted on: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 07:15

1tsp/day of creatine mono powder and any label with Creapure to ensure quality is all you need.

And yet look at all the creatine variants that supplement companies pimp when they know it's about BS marketing.

red
Posted on: Fri, 05/11/2018 - 12:29

creatine pyruvate has acute performance enhancing effects, creatine orotate provides orotic acid which has benefits far greater than most popular ergogenics and creatine-nitrate creates increased vasodilation for a very long time leading to improved nutrient uptake and consistently fuller muscles. there is no need to take nitrates or orotic acid bonded to creatine but it is practical, however pyruvate and creatine neither have acute benefits while creatine-pyruvate increases performance with the first dose. generally creatine is far overrated, atp production and muscle contractions can be increased acutely with the right substances to instantly add 10-20% weight or increase higher reps around 12 to around 20 or so. 3-4x more cellular energy and drastically increased ca+ ion release from the sarcoplasmativ reticulum will lead to metabolically induced performance independant of muscle gains or such. steroid users are limited by their weight, a pro bodybuilder is weak considering his size. the muscles are mostly glycogen and inefficient. i used steroids but was stronger than any mr. olympia at 180lbs, doing dumbell rows with 220lbs per arm for 18 reps or pullups with added 140 pounds. bench they manage more due to the cushioning of the glycogen and their mass but someone benching 440 pounds for reps should be rowing a lot more and jay cutler could not do more than 310 pounds for a working set. i experimented with it all and found that even 5 grams of steroids do not increase performance or muscle mass unless one eats to gain intracellular water, not structural protein. 700mg masteron for cns recovery and drive combined with the right nutraceuticals and 5kg were gained in 3 months while dropping bf from 8% to around 5-6%max. strength also went up like crazy. this is supposedly not possible but when you manage to eat 5000calories a day and train full body daily, gaining strength daily then it is, all it takes is optimizing metabolic functions. for example shuttling 200g carbs into muscles without an insulin response and blocking fat cells from bein able to absorb carbohydrates.
problem is that such optimazation costs a lot of money as a perfect preworkout would cost around 30 dollars in raws, if you bought those as a consumer you would spend 300-500 dollars. try buying 90g arginocarn, 12g purenergy (pteropure-caffeine), 6g teacrine, 450mg methylfolate, 180g creatine-pyruvate, 90g calcium-orotate, 6g ubiquinol, 6g shilajit, 30g pomegranate extract, 60g leucine nitrate, 30g acerola powder, 7.2g amentoflavone, 60g creatinol-o-phosphate

18g c3g blackberry extract,15full spectrum blackberry extract, 15g aurora blue, 10g banaba full spectrum.

400 min. for first product, 300 min. for second. now they could be offered for 200 dollars by a fair company but people will not believe it without major marketing which is why such products for such a price will never happen. and people will still speak of beta alanine and bcaas when already in 2018 type-2 diabetes, allergies, high blood pressure can be cured easily and cancer etc. prevented and even some form selectively treated by substances occuring in nature but with enormous pharmacological activity and health benefits. 100mg pterostilbene, equalling 1000kg blueberries can not be considered just a supplement. neither tinofend which calms a hyperreactive immune system eliminating allergies and prevents one from getting viral and bacterial infections as it is an immune modulator.

Cody
Posted on: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 23:05

+1 Take your creatine mono- if your going to use another source use it pre-workout, and keep the proven stuff post.

Devan
Posted on: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 17:35

Bottom line, F**k the bs marketing

ryan
Posted on: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 17:24

What about creatine hydrochloride? ?

Elliot
Posted on: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 00:05

What about it?

Guido
Posted on: Tue, 12/10/2013 - 17:18

So much for telling me not to changing anything from the good ol' creatine