Have you ever felt lost looking at all the creatine options in the supplement section? You’re definitely not alone. Each type of creatine claims to offer unique benefits, and it’s essential to know what’s real and what’s just marketing.
In this guide, we’ll clear up the confusion about creatine. We’ll talk about what it is, the different types of creatine available, the benefits they might offer, and any published studies. By the end, you’ll have the information to pick the right type of creatine for your fitness goals.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a natural substance that our bodies produce in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Its main job is to help quickly produce energy, especially during short bursts of intense activity, like lifting weights or sprinting.
We store creatine in our muscles as something called phosphocreatine. When we’re pushing ourselves, this phosphocreatine helps produce ATP, our primary energy molecule. This quick energy boost helps us during short, intense bursts of effort.
While foods like red meat and fish provide some creatine, if you participate in sports or are building muscle, you usually need more creatine. That’s where creatine supplements come into play. They offer a concentrated dose, and several types of creatine are out there, each making its own claims about benefits.
Different Types of Creatine
1. Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine Monohydrate is the most common and recognized form of supplemental creatine. It’s created when a creatine molecule is combined with a water molecule.
Due to its extensive research background, it is considered the gold standard of creatines.
Numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in improving performance, increasing muscle mass, and enhancing recovery.
It’s also the benchmark against which new creatine variants are often measured. Making it an excellent pick.
- Widely available
- Most studied form of creatine with consistent results.
- Shown to improve performance in high-intensity, short-duration activities like weightlifting .
- It may enhance muscle mass when combined with resistance training.
Creapure® is the gold standard for creatine monohydrate, distinguishing itself through its purity. Originating from Germany, this brand ensures a meticulous production process that achieves a remarkable 99.99% purity.
In contrast, many other creatine monohydrate products typically hover around 98% to 99% purity.
For those serious about their fitness and seeking the finest creatine monohydrate, Creapure® often becomes the go-to choice.
- It is one of the purest forms of Creatine Monohydrate available.
- It is produced under rigorous quality control standards.
- Reduced risk of contaminants compared to other generic creatine monohydrate supplements.
- It is backed by numerous studies, much like general Creatine Monohydrate, for enhancing performance, recovery, and muscle mass.
3. Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE) is formed by attaching a creatine molecule to an ester salt. The premise behind its creation was to improve creatine’s bioavailability.
Yet, when tested rigorously, its performance hasn’t consistently outshone the more traditional creatine monohydrate.
For instance, a 2009 study comparing CEE to Creatine Monohydrate over 47 days found no additional benefit in terms of muscle strength or performance .
- Claimed to have better bioavailability compared to Creatine Monohydrate.
- It is designed to bypass the creatine transporter due to its ester group.
4. Creatine Hydrochloride (HCl)
Creatine HCl is a product of binding creatine to parts of hydrochloride molecules. This process is believed to increase its solubility in water, potentially making it more absorbable in the body.
Because of its high solubility, the recommended dose for creatine HCl is often less than that of creatine monohydrate.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that it might be gentler on the stomach, reducing the risk of cramps or discomfort . However, there are no published experiments on creatine HCl in humans to support these claims.
- Higher solubility in water which might lead to better absorption.
- Lower doses are required compared to Creatine Monohydrate.
- It might cause fewer stomach issues, like bloating or cramps.
5. Buffered Creatine (Kre-Alkalyn®)
Buffered creatine, commonly known under the brand name Kre-Alkalyn®, stands out due to its adjusted pH levels. This type of creatine is essentially creatine monohydrate but formulated to be more alkaline.
The buffering process, achieved by raising the pH, aims to make the creatine more stable in the stomach.
While it’s often marketed with the promise of superior benefits, it’s essential to note that a comprehensive study  comparing Kre-Alkalyn® with creatine monohydrate found little difference in muscle creatine content and performance results between the two.
- Comparable in effectiveness to creatine monohydrate based on available studies.
- It may be easier on the stomach for some individuals, potentially minimizing cramps or discomfort.
6. Liquid Creatine
Liquid creatine offers users a convenient, ready-to-drink creatine solution. Instead of the typical powdered form that needs to be mixed, this liquid formula is pitched as an easier and more direct way to consume creatine.
However, the research indicates that when creatine is kept in liquid form for extended periods, it may break down into the less beneficial creatinine.
Therefore, while it’s convenient, it might not match up to the efficacy of the tried-and-tested creatine monohydrate .
- Convenient and easy to consume without the need for mixing.
- Suitable for those who prefer liquid supplements over powders.
- Quick absorption due to its liquid form.
7. Creatine Magnesium Chelate (MagnaPower®)
Creatine Magnesium Chelate, often encountered under the brand name MagnaPower®, uniquely integrates magnesium into the creatine supplement. This combination involves attaching a magnesium molecule directly to creatine.
In a study  that explored the efficacy of this formulation against creatine monohydrate, both versions were found to enhance bench press strength and endurance more than a placebo. However, there wasn’t a distinct advantage of one over the other.
Thus, while Creatine Magnesium Chelate can be considered an effective choice for supplementation, it doesn’t necessarily stand out as superior to the traditional creatine monohydrate.
- Demonstrated effectiveness in improving strength and endurance.
- Combines the advantages of creatine supplementation with magnesium intake.
8. Creatine Citrate
Creatine citrate is a variant where creatine is bonded with citric acid. This bond is believed to enhance the solubility of the compound in water.
While its solubility might be superior to creatine monohydrate, it does contain less creatine by weight, which often necessitates larger doses to achieve the same amount of pure creatine.
- Enhanced water solubility, which might aid in absorption.
- It could be gentler on the stomach for some users due to its solubility.
9. Creatine Pyruvate
Creatine Pyruvate is the result of combining creatine with pyruvic acid. Preliminary studies suggest it may be absorbed better than creatine monohydrate and might lead to higher plasma creatine levels.
However, its performance-enhancing benefits relative to creatine monohydrate are still under investigation, and definitive conclusions have not been reached yet.
- It may offer enhanced absorption compared to creatine monohydrate.
- It could lead to higher plasma creatine levels.
10. Creatine Malate
Creatine Malate involves the fusion of creatine with malic acid. This acid is a natural substance found in fruits and is involved in the production of energy in the body.
Because of this combination, Creatine Malate is believed to offer better solubility and might provide an improved rate of absorption.
Moreover, the inclusion of malic acid can potentially assist in energy production during workouts, although more research is required to confirm this synergy.
- Increased water solubility might promote better absorption.
- The addition of malic acid, an energy-producing compound.
The Benefits of Creatine
- Enhanced Athletic Performance: Due to its role in rapid ATP production, creatine supplementation can help you perform better during short-duration, high-intensity activities like sprints or weightlifting sets.
- Improved Exercise Recovery: With adequate creatine stores, muscles may recover more quickly from intense bouts of exercise, reducing fatigue and promoting faster muscle repair.
- Brain Health: A study  suggests that creatine may offer neuroprotective benefits and could potentially aid in conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other neurodegenerative diseases.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Some research  indicates that creatine may improve the function of the hormone responsible for transporting sugar into cells, potentially aiding in better blood sugar control.
- Bone Health: Coupled with resistance training, creatine supplementation can enhance bone density, offsetting age-related bone loss.
Which Creatine Should I Use?
If you’re looking for the most reliable and well-researched type of creatine, Creatine Monohydrate is your best bet. It boasts numerous peer-reviewed studies attesting to its positive effects on performance and health. Its proven track record makes it a favorite among athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.
For those aiming for the highest purity, Creapure takes the lead. It offers an exceptional purity level of 99.99%, standing out in a market where most creatine monohydrate products reach between 98%-99% purity. By choosing Creapure, you’re ensuring a premium and nearly uncontaminated supplement experience.
While individual preferences and reactions to supplements can vary, based on evidence and purity, Creatine Monohydrate and specifically Creapure emerge as top recommendations.
If you are uncertain whether creatine may conflict with any pre-existing medical conditions, ask your doctor before trying a supplement.
- Jose Antonio. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 08 February 2021.
- Mike Spillane. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2009).
- Brandon T Gufford. Physicochemical characterization of creatine N-methylguanidinium salts. J Diet Suppl. 2010 Sep;7(3):240-52.
- Andrew R Jagim. A buffered form of creatine does not promote greater changes in muscle creatine content, body composition, or training adaptations than creatine monohydrate. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012.
- Nicholas D Gill. Creatine serum is not as effective as creatine powder for improving cycle sprint performance in competitive male team-sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2004 May;18(2):272-5.
- Joshua T Selsby. Mg2+-creatine chelate and a low-dose creatine supplementation regimen improve exercise performance. 2004 May;18(2):311-5.
- Scott C. Forbes. Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Brain Function and Health. Nutrients. 2022 Mar; 14(5): 921.
- Marina Yazigi Solis. Potential of Creatine in Glucose Management and Diabetes. Nutrients. 2021 Feb; 13(2): 570.