When it comes to choosing the right creatine supplement, it is essential to find one that works best. Two popular forms are Creatine HCL and Monohydrate, both well-recognized options in the world of creatine. Studies have highlighted that there is no great advantage when using a more advanced form of creatine over monohydrate. We will now explore the differences between these two types of creatine and examine their impact on our bodies.
Creatine: How Does It Work?
When digested, creatine is converted into creatine phosphate. Creatine improves performance by replenishing ATP during high-intensity exercise. It also increases lean body mass, cognitive function, and strength.
When you supplement creatine, you increase your body’s creatine stores, resulting in better athletic performance and power output.
Creatine Monohydrate: What Is It?
Ultimately, creatine is derived from the base ingredient of creatine monohydrate. It’s produced endogenously and is made up of three amino acids – glycine, arginine and methionine. A large portion of it is stored in skeletal muscle, while the remaining 5% is dispersed throughout the body in organs such as the brain, liver, kidney and testes. During physical activity requiring high-intensity output, creatine acts as a provider of energy by creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to ensure there is a sufficient level for muscles working to perform the task.
Creatine Hydrochloride (HCl): What Is It?
Creatine HCL is created by combining creatine monohydrate with a hydrochloride group. Hydrochloric acid is naturally found in stomach acid, and this addition is said to increase solubility and absorption. Creatine monohydrate may have poor solubility, which has drawn attention to more advanced forms like HCL and Kre-Alkalyn. But what does the evidence say?
How Does Creatine HCL Compare to Creatine Monohydrate?
In addition to creatine monohydrate, creatine HCL was created as another option to increase bioavailability and reduce side effects such as upset stomach.
The preliminary studies have shown good results so far. Creatine HCL is 38 times more soluble than creatine monohydrate [R] in an animal study. Despite this, there have been no further human clinical trials assessing the solubility of creatine HCL. In order to verify actual clinical results, more research is needed.
Due to the hydrochloride in creatine HCL, and the fact that your stomach contains hydrochloric acid, it is claimed that creatine HCL has a greater bioavailability. It has been shown that creatine monohydrate is stable in stomach acid once exposed to hydrochloric acid, even though creatine HCL is more soluble in water than creatine monohydrate.
When creatine HCL is consumed or supplemented, solubility differences will be negligible.
As well as helping with stomach issues, creatine HCL claims to solve them. However, if you take more than 20g of creatine monohydrate per day, it can decrease the amount you absorb, causing gastrointestinal discomfort. If taken at a normal 3-5g dose per day, over the course of a month, as opposed to loading, you will not experience or should not experience gastrointestinal issues.
A study with 36 subjects, divided into four groups, (1) 20g of creatine monohydrate, (2) 3g of creatine monohydrate, (3) 3g of Creatine HCL, and (4) placebo, were all evaluated for physical performance changes after seven days of supplementation. In the study, there was no significant difference between creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL [R] effects at 3 or 20 grams.
Time of supplementation is a major downfall in this study’s methodology, since creatine does not produce acute effects and must be taken for a period of time before results can be accurately assessed.
Takeaway: Creatine HCL vs Monohydrate
No studies or peer-reviewed research has shown that creatine HCL outperforms traditional creatine monohydrate in terms of delivering better results in muscle, strength, or power output. Those who experience bloating or gastrointestinal issues can simply take 3-5g of creatine monohydrate per day and should avoid loading to prevent further stomach problems. In fact, studies have indicated that supplementing with creatine monohydrate during resistance and aerobic training can lead to improved performance outcomes. Unfortunately current research into the area is lacking due to study design issues such as duration and number of participants; however, the evidence still leans towards recommending creatine monohydrate as the preferred form of supplementation.