With so many different types of creatine now available it can be difficult to know which is the most effective, both in terms of cost and effectiveness.
Companies will promote many different types such as Kre-Alkyn with numerous claims about being more soluble in water, prolonging the breakdown of creatine to creatinine etc.
Creatine is one of the most effective muscle building supplements in the supplement world. An amino acid, creatine is found normally in the body, with 95% of it found in the skeletal muscle tissue. The body receives its creatine from food that is eaten, typically 2 grams per day. The body also makes its own creatine in the liver from other amino acids.
In this article we’ll take a quick look at some of the different types of creatine now available and try to cover the pros and cons of using them, and even provide the clinical study evidence that proves whether or not they are effective where possible.
Different types of creatine:
The reason for the creation of so many different types of creatine is that each supplement company is always trying to find new ways of increasing the effectiveness of this already beneficial supplement (or at least marketing their new product in a way which makes it seem more beneficial).
Each type of creatine will differ in terms of composition, solubility, and effectiveness. Some types will require a ‘loading phase’ (commonly found with creatine powders), but all will essentially do the same 3 things:
Purity is important when searching for a creatine product, because, the purer, the more effective SKW creatine (made in Germany) is the purest creatine around (99.8%). One of the best forms currently available is Creapure.
- Not very soluble in water.
- Causes water bloating in some people, although this is usually from the addition of lots of sugars rather than the creatine itself.
- Some people do not respond to this type of creatine (non-responders).
- Unstable in water and should be taken immediately after dissolving it.
Top 3 creatine monohydrate products
- Reflex Creapure Creatine Monohydrate
- Protein Works Creatine Monohydrate
- Maximuscle Creatamax 300
- Slightly more expensive than monohydrate
- Requires a loading phase
Top 3 micronized creatine products
- Micronized Creatine Powder by Optimum Nutrition
- Bodybuilding Foundation Micronized Creatine
- AST Sports Science Micronized Creatine
Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE):
The ester counteracts the charges and allows for almost 99% absorption into the body, removing the need for a loading phase and making it one of the most absorbent forms of creatine.
This is backed up by a 7 week study published in 2009 that tested the differences in absorption between a maltodextrose placebo, creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester (CEE).
This concluded that the total muscle creatine content was significantly higher in CEE than the placebo or monohydrate after a 5 day loading phase and 42 day maintenance phase.
- Foul taste in powder form. There are capsule forms, however, that eliminate this.
- Can be expensive compared to monohydrate and micronized.
Top 3 CEE products:
- CNP Professional Pro Creatine E2
- USN Creatine X4
- MET-Rx CEE AKG
One of the main claims made by companies producing creatine serum is that this type of creatine doesn’t require a loading phase, which is commonly found with powdered creatine. This is because it saturates the muscles within minutes of use and bypasses the digestion phase.
Unfortunately a quick internet search will reveal almost no companies that manufacture this type of creatine, with the couple that do having studies performed against them which look to discredit these claims.
- Mounting scientific evidence indicates that serum is not as effective as creatine monohydrate.
- Creatine is unstable in liquid and breaks down to creatinine if dissolved in liquid for a prolonged period of time. Creatinine is a useless substance which puts strain on the kidneys, meaning that serums don’t have such a long shelf life as powders.
- Extremely expensive.
The basic thought process around this was that the more soluble the creatine was, the more readily it would be absorbed into the bloodstream which would create a more beneficial effect.
However there are yet to be any studies that prove this is any more effective than regular creatine monohydrate.
- More expensive.
- Combines the creatine with sugar and sodium, which don’t have direct benefits to strength training.
- Very few studies carried out to determine if this is any different than monohydrate.
The effectiveness of increasing your strength and reducing fatigue is not increased compared to standard monohydrate and research has indicated it is no different in terms of absorption.
A study of the effects of creatine citrate published in 2007 found that the small differences between citrate and monohydrate are “unlikely to have any effect on muscle creatine elevation during periods of creatine loading”.
- Requires double the dosage to be as effective as monohydrate.
Tri & Di Creatine Malate:
Tri Creatine Malate is a compound of molecules created from malic acid and creatine. Tri Malate has 3 monohydrate molecules attached and Di Malate has 2.
- Usually very expensive because it is mixed with other chemicals.
- Health effects are unknown.
This is another form of creatine where supplement companies will make a lot of positive claims without necessarily linking to any positive studies to back them up.
In fact a study published in 2012 that compared the effects of creatine monohydrate against a pH balanced form of creatine (Kre-Alkalyn). This came to the following conclusion:
“Neither manufacturers recommended doses or equivalent loading doses of KA promoted greater changes in muscle creatine content, body composition, strength, or anaerobic capacity than CrM. These findings do not support claims that KA is a more efficacious form of creatine.” Jagim et al.
If you do decide to do a bit more research on the Kre-Alkalyn and find some studies that can back up its ability to create a buffer which slows down the conversion of creatine to creatinine then make sure the study was conducted by a reputable source. This means that it’s not a study funded by or conducted by the supplement company itself.
- No studies have been carried out on this type of creatine yet.
Top 3 creatine Kre-Alkyn products
- Fusion Bodybuilding Purple-K
- Labrada Kre-Alkalyn
- FWSS Kre-Alkalyn EFX Pro
These are essentially supplements where creatine will form a larger percentage of the ingredients, but also add other beneficial ingredients such as glutamine, taurine, leucine and nitric oxide.
This allows us to benefit from the effects of both products in the same serving. For example products that mix creatine with glutamine will give you the cell volumization and strength increase of creatine, with the muscle preservation properties of the glutamine.
One of the best known combinations in terms of increased performance is combining NO and creatine. The creatine helps with the strength increases and reduced muscle fatigue while the NO increases circulation and helps pump more blood into the muscles you are working to give you better pumps.
- Uses many kinds of chemicals, not all their effects have been thoroughly studied.
- You don’t have as much control over the serving sizes of the individual ingredients as if you bought them separately.
- Expensive as a product.
Top 3 creatine cocktail products
- BSN NO-Xplode (Creatine, NO)
- BSN Cell Mass 2.0 (Creatine, Protein, Glutamine, Taurine
- Optimum CGT-10 (Creatine, Glutamine, Taurine)