Creatine is the most well-studied sports performance supplement and one of the most important. You should be taking creatine, whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gains.
The big competition has always been between Creatine Hydrochloride (HCL) and Monohydrate. Today we’re going to explain what they are, which you should use, and why.
Read on if you want to get the best Creatine supplement – and the best results!
What is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine Monohydrate is a clear favorite within the fitness market. This product is sold inexpensively, with a large stock of scientific literature on its benefits.
These range from arterial health to muscle and strength gains. The market for this product is enormous and almost every significant supplement company produces their own version.
This is probably the product that you’ve heard discussed if you’re familiar with strength or physique training. It has a long history of effectiveness and use among athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Monohydrate forms also come in “micronized” form – where the particles themselves are prepared for solution in water. This makes them easier to blend and dissolve, but comes with additional costs most of the time!
What is Creatine Hydrochloride?
Creatine Hydrochloride is a popular form of Creatine that has been sold as being higher-concentration. The idea is that it produces the same results with less powder due to improved absorption.
This is a more niche product, having been marketed as “premium” in some sense. This is also supposedly linked to a reduction in water retention and “bloating” during supplementation.
The cost of Creatine HCL is usually greater than monohydrate, but the prices are both relatively low when compared with the results.
The Benefits of Creatine Supplementation
The benefits of creatine are momentous. We can only mention a few of them, but they’re all worth your time:
Increased strength gains are obvious. These are the reason you probably want creatine – it boosts your ability to produce force and keep going when fatigued. This means more reps at a given % of your best lifts.
More muscle mass is possible with Creatine supplementation in the long-term. This is because of the ability to lift more (as mentioned above) but also increased cell hydration. Creatine brings more water to cells and the combination of more energy and water allows for more growth.
Simply put, you can train harder and recover better with Creatine. You’ll also be able to maintain and build muscle more effectively when on a weight-loss diet. This makes Creatine a great weight-loss supplement for muscle and strength.
Heart and artery health are underrated, but they’re a way that creatine contributes to more than your physique. It improves the energy status of your arteries and can reduce the amount of heart-damaging compounds in your body (like SAMe and Homocysteine).
Rehydration and Carb Management are great post-workout. The intake of creatine pulls water into damaged or tired cells, keeping them healthy, and works great when combined with glycerol.
These benefits add up to improved performance and health. They’re the driving force behind the popularity of Creatine – both HCL and Monohydrate.
Creatine Hydrochloride vs Monohydrate
Fortunately, the active effects are equal. While there is a common belief that Creatine HCL is more effective, there’s no proof of this – it’s still a matter of “broscience”.
The marketing materials just don’t match up with the science. Most forms of creatine that are available on the market are equivalents. Simply put, Creatine Hydrochloride and Creatine Monohydrate are equally effective.
The only difference you might experience is that HCL forms tend to be slightly easier on the stomach, though they are also more expensive on average. This is a relatively small issue given their overall cost – and it may not affect you at all.
What might be more useful is a micronized version of Creatine. This is just a more soluble compound, so you don’t get powder in the bottom of your drink!
You can get other forms of creatine that work well – things like ketoglutarate and magnesium-chelated types – but these are hard to find and expensive. Fortunately, the standard kinds work just great!
FAQs: Most Common Creatine Questions
How much creatine should I take per day?
This depends on how much you weigh and how much you’re eating. Creatine comes in the diet from red meats.
The effective dose is around 3g per day. You can get better gains from Creatine if you front-load with around 25g per day for the first few days.
If you’re not eating red meats, you should be consuming 5g per day. This is essential for getting essential nutrients. Creatine is almost a vitamin – you need to avoid deficiency and keep your intake up for the best results.
When should I take Creatine?
There are conflicting ideas on when you should take Creatine. Overall, it’s still a matter of preference – there are a few key things to consider.
First, do you feel like you’re holding water in your stomach when you drink Creatine? If so, you want to avoid chugging pre-workout Creatine drinks as they can sit heavily.
On the other hand, Creatine has some amazing post-workout benefits – primarily because of the rehydration we mentioned above. This is great when consumed with your post-workout meal, since it can improve the uptake of carbohydrates into muscle cells.
However, the benefits are still relatively unclear. If you’re getting enough Creatine every day, you won’t notice much difference based on when you use it.
What should I mix Creatine with?
This is another matter of personal preference. Creatine dissolves in most liquids easily, while you can already find it in drinks like milk, so there are plenty of options.
The common options are relatively simple, and they all have their own specific benefits:
- Water: Simple, effective, and great for hydration. You can stir your creatine in or take a spoonful dry and wash it down.
- Protein Shakes: it’s easy to combine creatine with protein and carbs after a workout for improved nutrient delivery. This also stops you from forgetting to take your daily creatine!
- Coconut water: a faster-rehydrating liquid than water, with a mildly pleasant taste. This is a great choice for Creatine mixtures – especially if it contains pineapple juice or other sugars.
- Juice: the benefit here is that you won’t taste the mildly-bitter taste of creatine. This is another excellent choice for post-workout carbs and rapid cell hydration/volume gains!
In theory, you can use any liquid of your choice. Creatine is great for its versatility alongside the performance and health benefits. Water is the simplest, most common choice.
Creatine is one of the most well-rounded supplements on the market. While Creatine HCL and Monohydrate have very little difference, they have all the benefits and versatility in common.
You should be taking a Creatine supplement one way or the other – we recommend starting with a monohydrate and seeing how you respond. If you experience bloating or “heaviness” in the stomach, try switching to a Creatine HCL product.
Finding the most comfortable and practical form of Creatine for you Is key.