There are many different forms of creatine on the market. With so many choices it’s hard to know which one to choose. In this article I’ll talk about several forms and give my top choice.
Creatine Monohydrate (CM)
This is classic, pure, plain old creatine. It’s the most researched, and most used product. Studies have shown conclusively that it works.
Micronized Creatine Monohydrate (MCM)
MCM is just regular creatine monohydrate that’s been processed into a fine powder. Here’s the claims:
-Mixes better with water.
-Smaller particles, which means more surface area and better absorption.
-Less stomach upset.
MCM is what I use. Most creatine you see online or in stores is micronized. There isn’t any research showing that micronizing creatine improves its absorption, but it’s cheap and does mix with water well. Here’s a video showing it’s better performance when mixing:
I’ve heard first hand reports of less stomach upset compared to coarser varieties of creatine. You can imagine that a fine powder would be less likely to upset your stomach than something course like sand.
Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE)
It’s creatine monohydrate with an ester attached. Here’s the benefits touted by supporters:
-Higher absorbtion rate.
-Longer half life in the body, so more can be absorbed.
-It’s cell permeable, so it passes into the cells more easily.
-Doesn’t create the bloat you can get with loading creatine monohydrate.
-Requires a smaller dose.
In theory it may be better, but the evidence isn’t there. Very few studies have been done on CEE. One that compared it to CM found that it was not as effective at increasing muscle creatine levels, and improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power. Until research shows greater benefit, I’m passing on CEE.
Tri-Creatine Malate (TCM)
TCM is creatine monohydrate, with malic acid added. Supposed benefits:
-The added malic acid helps provide energy for the body.
-It’s more water soluble, resulting in less stomach upset.
-It’s more bio-available, meaning it can be absorbed more easily.
-Results in less bloat.
As with CEE, TCM doesn’t have any research to back it’s claims up. When I see the research, I’ll give it a try.
Kre Alkalyn or Buffered Creatine (KA)
KA is creatine monohydrate that has been processed increase it’s pH. Researchers have known for some time that when you add creatine to a liquid, it starts to break down into a waste product called creatinine. When the pH of the liquid is increased the break down of creatine slows, and when you get the pH high enough it stops altogether.
Supporters of KA say that it’s high pH results in these benefits:
-Less creatine is converted to creatinine, so less is wasted.
-Decreased water retention, eliminating bloat.
I don’t believe their claims. They say that KA has a pH of 12. To give you a reference point, here’s some items with similar pH’s.
11 – Ammonia
12 – Soapy Water
13 – Bleach, Oven Cleaner
Personally, I wouldn’t put any of those products in my body. Also, I don’t believe that the high pH could survive the trip through your stomach. Stomach acid has a pH of 1, which should pretty effectively counteract the pH level of KA.
There’s been no research showing that KA is any more effective than CM, so I’ll pass.
Liquid creatine is just CM in liquid form. Supporters say it’s absorbed faster and more completely.
I doubt it. Like I said earlier, adding CM to liquid starts it’s breakdown into creatinine. When you buy liquid creatine it’s been sitting around for months or years, so you can guess that much of it has broken down. Studies of liquid creatine products have found high levels of creatinine. No research has found it to be more effective. It’s also more expensive. Pass.
Other Forms Of Creatine
Companies try to add a lot of different stuff to their creatine to make their product stand out. That’s what all these variations come down to. Creatine monohydrate is cheap, and the market is flooded with the stuff. Manufacturers want to make more money, so they add stuff to their own products, say they’re better, and charge more. Here are some other things manufacturers add to their creatine:
-Protein isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t buy a creatine product with it. You want to be able to control your intake of creatine and protein independently, so having them both mixed together doesn’t work.
-Same as protein. I would use it in a seperate product, so I could control the dose of each.
-Basically filler. If you don’t like the way creatine tastes, just add some sugar of your own when you’re mixing the creatine with water. By the way, creatine hardly has a taste.
-Creatine doesn’t taste like much. You don’t need flavorings.
-Drink some coffee or tea if you want caffeine. Again, you want to be able to control your dose of caffeine and creatine separately.
Based on my research and personal experience, I recommend micronized creatine monohydrate. It’s a trusted, well researched product that’s inexpensive and easy to find. What more could you ask for?
Top 3 Creatine Supplements
Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder
ISS Complete Creatine Power