Creatine is sold in many different forms. Which is most effective, and why?

Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body and in foods like red meat. It is perhaps the most researched molecule in the world of sport supplements–the subject of over 200 studies–and the consensus is very clear.

Supplementation with creatine can help you build muscle and improve strength, improve anaerobic endurance, and reduce muscle damage and soreness from exercise.

For some reason, it’s often claimed that creatine is bad for your kidneys. You can rest easy—these claims have been categorically and repeatedly disproven.

In healthy subjects, creatine has been shown to have no harmful side effects, in both short- or long-term usage. People with kidney disease are not advised to supplement with creatine, however.

I highly recommend that you supplement with creatine. It’s safe, cheap, and effective. But there are many types out there. Which is the best?

Which Type of Creatine Should You Take?

Creatine monohydrate is the form used in the vast majority of studies done and is a proven winner, but the marketing machines of supplement companies are constantly pumping up fancy-sounding stuff like creatine citrate, creatine ethyl ester, liquid creatine, creatine nitrate, buffered creatine, creatine hydrochloride, and others.

These variations are certainly more expensive than creatine monohydrate, but are they any more effective? Let’s find out.

Creatine citrate is creatine bound to citric acid, and research indicates it to be no different than creatine monohydrate in terms of absorption and effectiveness. There is evidence that creatine citrate is more water soluble than monohydrate, but this plays no role in muscle absorption or effectiveness–only palatability.

Creatine ethyl ester is a form of creatine that is supposed to convert back to usable creatine in the body, and is usually marketed as having a better absorption rate than monohydrate. Too bad it’s not true.

In fact, creatine ethyl ester is actually less effective than creatine monohydrate, on par with a placebo. Research has indicated that this is due to the fact that once creatine ethyl ester enters your body, it’s quickly converted into an inactive substance known as “creatinine.”

Liquid creatine is simply a form of creatine–usually monohydrate–suspended in liquid. It has been shown to be less effective than creatine monohydrate, due to the breakdown of creatine into the inactive form “creatinine” when suspended in a solution for several days.

Creatine nitrate is an extremely water soluble form of creatine that may be more drinkable and easier on the stomach, but no research has yet indicated it to be more effective than the monohydrate form.

Buffered creatine is a form of creatine touted to out-perform monohydrate due to a higher pH level. Research indicates otherwise, however: it’s no more effective than monohydrate.

Creatine hydrochloride is creatine bound with hydrochloric acid. It’s turned into a basic creatine molecule by stomach acid and no research has yet proven it to be any more effective than monohydrate. Like other forms of creatine, creatine HCL may be more water soluble than monohydrate, but this has no effect on absorption.

Creatine malate is creatine bound with malic acid. While malic acid alone may enhance performance, it hasn’t been researched in conjunction with creatine.

Creatine pyruvate is creatine bound with pyruvic acid. Research has shown it to produce higher plasma levels of creatine, but it’s no more effective than monohydrate in terms of absorption. That said, there is evidence that creatine pyruvate is more effective than creatine citrate, which would imply it’s more effective than monohydrate too. Other research contradicts these findings, however, showing creatine pyruvate to be ineffective in improving the endurance or sprinting performance of cyclists–an activity that creatine monohydrate positively affects. More research on creatine pyruvate is needed.

The Bottom Line: Stick to Creatine Monohydrate

So, the research says don’t overpay for over-hyped forms of creatine pushed by million-dollar ad campaigns and sold in fancy bottles.

Creatine monohydrate is the best bang for your buck, and is the standard by which all other forms of creatine are still judged.

If creatine monohydrate bothers your stomach, however, try a more water soluble form of creatine such as micronized creatine, or creatine citrate, nitrate, or hydrocholoride.

What’s your take on the various forms of creatine out there? Do you like one more than the other? I'd love to hear from you at my site,!

Author's Bio: 


I'm Mike and I believe that every person can achieve the body of his or her dreams, and I work hard to give everyone that chance by providing workable, proven advice grounded in science, not a desire to sell phony magazines, workout products, or supplements.

Through my work, I've helped thousands of people achieve their health and fitness goals, and I share everything I know in my books.

So if you're looking to get in shape and look great, then I think I can help you. I hope you enjoy my articles and I'd love to hear from you at my site,