WODdoc Episode 75 Project365: Which Creatine Is Best?

After last week’s creatine post I got a bunch of questions…  Which creatine is best?…. Would I use a different creatine for different activities?…..   What are the benefits of one over another?  So here it is.

First a Review… Creatine synthesizes ATP by providing a phosphate to ADP.  If you are like whatttt? Go back to last week’s creatine post. The more creatine in the blood stream, the faster we can synthesize ATP and, the more cellular energy we have at the ready. Basically we can do more work.

Types of Creatine.

Normally, I would have written this out all myself but Michael Matthews at www.muscleforlife.com did an excellent job and there is no reason for me to reinvent the wheel here.

Creatine Monohydrate is the original form of creatine. Its the one all others are compared to.

Creatine citrate is creatine bound to citric acid, and research indicates it to be no different than creatine monohydrate in terms of absorption and effectiveness. There is evidence that creatine citrate is more water soluble than monohydrate, but this plays no role in muscle absorption or effectiveness–only palatability.

Creatine ethyl ester is a form of creatine that is supposed to convert back to usable creatine in the body, and is usually marketed as having a better absorption rate than monohydrate. Too bad it’s not true.

In fact, creatine ethyl ester is actually less effective than creatine monohydrate, on par with a placebo. Research has indicated that this is due to the fact that once creatine ethyl ester enters your body, it’s quickly converted into an inactive substance known as “creatinine.”

Liquid creatine is simply a form of creatine–usually monohydrate–suspended in liquid. It has been shown to be less effective than creatine monohydrate, due to the breakdown of creatine into the inactive form “creatinine” when suspended in a solution for several days.

Creatine nitrate is an extremely water soluble form of creatine that may be more drinkable and easier on the stomach, but no research has yet indicated it to be more effective than the monohydrate form.

Buffered creatine is a form of creatine touted to out-perform monohydrate due to a higher pH level. Research indicates otherwise, however: it’s no more effective than monohydrate.

Creatine hydrochloride is creatine bound with hydrochloric acid. It’s turned into a basic creatine molecule by stomach acid and no research has yet proven it to be any more effective than monohydrate. Like other forms of creatine, creatine HCL may be more water soluble than monohydrate, but this has no effect on absorption.

Creatine malate is creatine bound with malic acid.  While malic acid alone may enhance performance, it hasn’t been researched in conjunction with creatine.

Creatine pyruvate is creatine bound with pyruvic acid. Research has shown it to produce higher plasma levels of creatine, but it’s no more effective than monohydrate in terms of absorption. That said, there is evidence that creatine pyruvate is more effective than creatine citrate, which would imply it’s more effective than monohydrate too. Other research contradicts these findings, however, showing creatine pyruvate to be ineffective in improving the endurance or sprinting performance of cyclists–an activity that creatine monohydrate positively affects. More research on creatine pyruvate is needed.

Would I use different creatines for different activities?

No, and here is why.  All mentioned forms of creatine are altered to effect absorption but the physiological purpose is still the same… to increase ATP production.

Which Creatine is the best?

I still have to go with old faithful .. monohydrate.  It is just the best bang for your buck. I know, it doesn’t come in a fancy bottle or have a shinny aid in the magazine but get over it. I like research, I like simple, and I like pure.