There have been more than 100 studies on pure Creatine and the variety of Creatine salts and ester forms available. Creatine has been described by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), (2010) as the single most effective supplement available for developing strength and power, and has been seen to aid endurance, prevent/limit injury and increase muscle size and protein synthesis. Creatine is the most popular performance enhancing supplement in the world; studies have classified it as safe, and probably the most useful ergogenic aid on the market.
What are the different types of Creatine...and why so many?
Creatine comes in the form of:
- Pure Creatine
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Creatine Ethyl Ester HCL
- Tricreatine Citrate
- Creatine Pyruvate
- Magnesium Creatine
- Creatine Citrate
Creatine undergoes varying degrees of processing which alters total Creatine yield (total creatine per gram), solubility, rate of digestion and absorption, and the mechanism by which it’s absorbed. Llewellyn, (2009) organised the above list in order of total creatine yield, therefore pure Creatine has a 100% yield, whilst Creatine citrate has approx 40% yield of creatine per gram. The purity of Creatine is not all that counts, the bioavailability (ability to absorb) also influences Creatine’s effectiveness. Numerous factors affect the bioavailability of Creatine, for example, the extravagantly named Creatine Ethyl Ester refers to the biochemical components which determine the mechanism of absorption. The Ethyl Ester means the Creatine is able to pass passively through the muscle cell membranes, potentially increasing the absorption rate. Despite this, none surpass the bioavailability of Creatine monohydrate which exhibits nearly 100% absorption. However, supplementation is subjective; meaning one person might notice greater or lesser results compared to another person with one particular supplement.
What to consider when choosing your Creatine
Firstly consider whether the supplement is fit for purpose i.e. will it do what you need it to, for example, Creatine is intended to increase muscle energy stores (Creatine and Phosphocreatine) which improve muscle strength, size and endurance. Then factor specifics such as dosage, timings, and other implicating factors such as elevated fluid requirements secondary to increased urinary output and how you accommodate it into your daily diet and routine.
Aim to maximise your Creatine’s effects e.g. consuming it with a high glycaemic index (quick release) carbohydrate to increase insulin production and therefore improve its absorption. However, like anything, our bodies have maximum limits; and this is true for Protein, Carbohydrate, Vitamins, Minerals and Creatine alike. With Creatine, we have what’s known as a Saturation point, this is the maximum quantity of Creatine that your muscles can absorb; anything beyond this will be excreted in your urine. The usual saturation point is 10-40% above normal muscle Creatine stores, therefore some of the ‘loading phases’ recommended by supplement companies (designed to ‘saturate’ the muscles with creatine) may be unnecessarily high!
See the following link for info on the ISSNs recommended ‘loading’ and ‘maintenance’ phase for Creatine monohydrate.
The facts are out there, and there are some clear favourites amongst those participating in either professional or recreational activity. Here at Discount-Supplements, we like to ensure that the public can make an informed decision when making an investment into their fitness and health.
We base our opinion on the advice given by the ISSN (2010), which states:
“Creatine Monohydrate is the most effective nutritional supplement available to athletes to increase high intensity exercise capacity and muscle mass during training”.
We therefore feel that you cannot go far wrong with Creatine Monohydrate, but it is equally feasible to opt for an Ethyl Ester, magnesium or pyruvate option..... but ultimately, this decision is up to you.