Creatine has been extensively studied as a dietary supplement for decades. In fact, over 1,000 studies have been conducted over the years, and they’ve shown that it is a top supplement for overall exercise performance. Almost all of the studies used the same form of the supplement — creatine monohydrate.
Furthermore, most scientists who study supplements believe that monohydrate is the best form. Check out the reasons why:
Tons of Scientific Support
The vast majority of the more than 1,000 studies on creatine have used the monohydrate form. Besides this form, there are many other forms of creatine on the market:
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Creatine hydrochloride
- Buffered creatine
- Liquid creatine
While it’s true that each of these variations has their fair-share of studies, the information on their distant effects on the human body is limited. Nearly all of the health and exercise benefits of taking creatine supplements have been demonstrated in studies using the previously mentioned monohydrate form.
These benefits include muscle gain, improved exercise performance and possible brain benefits. Additionally, studies have shown that this supplement can increase strength gains from a weight-training program by an average of 5–10%.
Longstanding Track Record
Many studies have shown that it’s safe to consume; with the renowned organization, International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) concluding that, “There is no compelling scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects”.
What’s more, monohydrate appears to be safe at higher doses, as well. Daily doses vary in size (typically 5–7 grams, but also dependent on other factors), but people have taken doses of up to 30 grams/day, for up to five years with no reported safety concerns. The only common side effect is weight gain.
You may be thinking, “That’s a big side effect!”. But should it be viewed as such? Creatine increases the water content of muscle cells, and can also help to increase muscle mass. In Layman’s terms, any weight gain should result from an increase in water retention or muscle growth, not fat.
Although forms of creatine other than monohydrate may also be safe to consume, there’s very little scientific evidence that confirms this.
Exercise Performance Trumps Other Forms
Several studies have compared monohydrate with other forms for their overall effects on exercise performance. As expected, monohydrate appears to be better/safer than the ethyl ester and liquid forms of creatine.
One study found that monohydrate increases creatine content in the blood and muscles better than the ethyl ester form. Another study reported that participants’ cycling performance increased by 10% when they took a monohydrate powder, but did not increase when they took liquid creatine.
However, a few small, initial studies have suggested that the buffered and magnesium chelate forms of creatine may be as effective as monohydrate at improving exercise performance. Specifically, these forms may be equally effective for increasing bench-press strength and power production during cycling.
Overall, there is simply not enough scientific evidence to conclude you should take any form of creatine other than monohydrate. While some new forms may be promising, the amount of evidence for monohydrate is much more impressive than the evidence for all other forms.
All-in-all, creatine is one of the most effective supplements for exercise performance. Several types are available, but monohydrate is currently the best form, hands down. You can’t refute the overwhelming success it has had in improving the overall health and well-being of its users.
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