Creatine: The Forms Of Creatine
With all of the choices out there, how can we decide what is the best form of creatine, if such a thing actually does exist. Creatine is an amino acid that is naturally occurring in the body and provides cellular energy and a host of other benefits to both the bodybuilder and general health enthusiast. In fact, creatine is even being looked at to provide increased energy and wellness benefits for the elderly. It may provide heart benefits and may also increase mental acuity for people that have diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Creatine is responsible for turning ADP into ATP, which is your body’s main energy supply in the mitochondria. ATP is split to form ADP (losing a phosphate to create energy) and Creatine Phosphate “hangs around” to recharge the ADP molecule so it can be used to create energy again. Any Creatine is converted to Creatine Phosphate in the body, but oddly enough taking Creatine Phosphate as a supplement never really gave the kind of results that were achieved by many other creatine types, so it was effectively scrapped. Creatine is the base product for any bodybuilder looking to increase size and strength. It adds well to any other product and the only thing more basic than creatine is a protein supplement. Creatine helps the muscle cell hold more water, which can expand the fascia of the muscle increasing its volume. So, creatine is useful for strength and stamina by recharging the muscle energy system. It also increases new muscle cells,monohydrate for sure, and increases pumps for a muscle stretching effect. It is the most popular and beneficial supplement ever for bodybuilders.
Here is a basic list of just some of the Creatines on the market:
Creatine Monohydrate – This is the original version sold back in the 80’s for improving strength and stamina for weightlifters;it is tried and tested. However, it has been replaced with newer and fancier creatine molecules. I HIGHLY suggest supplements still contain some creatine monohydrate for one big reason. Creatine Monohydrate is the only form proven in scientific studies to create new muscle cells. There are many studies showing Creatine Monohydrate increases the formation of new muscle cells and one important study showing that other forms of creatine do not have this effect!
Creatine Malate – This is creatine bound to malic acid. The preferred form is DiCreatine Malate since that is the only form that is possible. The other forms (Tricreatine Malate) are usually just creatine monohydrate mixed with straight malic acid. The supposed benefit of Creatine Malate is reduced bloating and increased endurance, since malate is involved in increasing cellular energy by being part of the Krebs cycle. Overall, this ingredient has many years of solid anecdotal support and is a good addition to any creatine blend. DO NOT BUY TRICREATINE MALATE-BASED PRODUCTS since this molecule is proven to NOT exist, so you really don’t know what you are getting with this supplement.
Creatine Aspartate – This is creatine bound to aspartic acid. This is very similar to Creatine Malate and should prove to be even better for endurance athletes, since aspartate is even more directly involved in recharging the mitochondrial energy system. Creatine Aspartate is an improved form of Creatine Malate, but both should give very good endurance gains without extra bloat.
Creatine Ethyl Ester HCL – The latest “big splash” is Creatine Ethyl Ester. This ingredient has some strong anecdotal evidence of it working, but the science behind it is very flawed. The “ester” is supposed to make the creatine more absorbable and fat soluble. This belief is pretty flawed since creatine dissolves quite easily in water and there is little chance of it becoming fat soluble with this ester even if it was desirable to do so. Most likely, this product works by stabilizing the Creatine molecule with the HCL portion, which slows down some of the conversion to creatine (a waste product). Recently, Creatine Ethyl Ester was shown in two studies to be inferior to most other sorts of creatine supplements in increasing blood levels of creatine. One study even shows that creatine ethyl ester converts at a high rate to creatinine which is not desirable at all!
Creatine Gluconate – This product is simply creatine bonded to either sugar or glucose. No idea why that would be a big advantage over dumping some sugar in with your monohydrate, but it certainly doesn’t hurt anything. Sugar helps the uptake of creatine in the cell, so it could have a positive effect.
Creatine Decanoate – I have no clue why anyone would want to bond decanoic acid to creatine unless they just want to take advantage of the “deca” in the name. Decanoic acid doesn’t seem to increase performance or provide any benefits and this is probably a really bad idea in a supplement.
Creatine AKG – This is simply creatine bound to alpha keto glutarate, which is a glutamine type molecule. There is no real data on this ingredient but, in theory, it should work pretty well since both creatine and glutamine are good for you. AKG should help with the absorption of creatine, so this is a preferred form of creatine and a good addition to a creatine supplement.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate – This is another creatine molecule bound to magnesium. Chelated minerals were very popular as a way of increasing the absorption. There is certainly nothing wrong with magnesium, since it is great for you, but I don’t see the positive benefit of binding creatine to a mineral when you could just take a good magnesium supplement and plain old monohydrate. Still, it isn’t a bad idea since people can always benefit from more magnesium in their diet.
Creatine Orotate – Similar to Creatine Malate and Creatine Aspartate, Creatine Orotate provides increases cellular energy and improves absorption. Orotic acid benefits the bodybuilder by increasing strength and stamina. So the addition of orotic acid to creatine should yield some great benefits over other forms of creatine.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate – This is creatine bound to magnesium, which should be great, since both are good ergogens. This mix is probably no better than taking creatine monohydrate with a magnesium supplement, but since most bodybuilders don’t consider magnesium to be ergogenic, they probably don’t add it into their supplement regimine. This makes creatine bound to magnesium a pretty good mix of both ergogenic nutrients.