What is Creatine and Which Creatine is Best?

What Is Creatine?

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a natural element of skeletal muscle, produced by the liver and kidneys. It is made up of L-arginine, glycine and L-methionine. Creatine is manufactured in the human body, and is also found in meat and fish. Creatine has been well documented as a supplement which increases energy to muscles, resulting in greater strength and endurance. It also aids recovery of muscles which have undergone stress such as through cardiovascular or resistance training. Many athletes worldwide have used and continue to use creatine in various forms to enhance their performance and recovery.

Various forms of Creatine

Creatine comes in many different forms, each designed to absorb faster into the muscles with less waste. Creatine Monohydrate is by far the most popular form of creatine. Monohydrate is found in meats and fish, and was the original form of creatine supplement on the market. Monohydrate has been subject to numerous studies over a number of years, with quite positive results indicating that it often led to strength gains and faster recovery in resistance and cardiovascular athletes. Recently, however, many more forms of creatine have been developed which promise to absorb better and faster than monohydrate. Some of these forms include: Creatine ethyl ester, Tri-creatine malate, Di-creatine malate, Creatine HCL, Creatine anhydrous. Creatine gluconate, Tri-creatine ororate.

When to take Creatine

On training days, it is best to take a serving of creatine within an hour of your workout, and another serving immediately after. If you wish, a single serving size can be halved, with half being used pre and half used post workout. Supplementing with creatine before a workout will help support your muscles through the rigours of exercise - delaying muscle soreness and lactic acid buildup. By having a serve of creatine after your workout, you are delivering nutrients directly to the muscle cells which have been damaged during the workout. The better and faster the creatine is absorbed into the muscle cells, the better the recovery and growth of those muscles. This is where creatine, combined with a high glycaemic carbohydrate, such as dextrose, can deliver nutrients to the muscles as fast as possible.

Loading phase and dosages

It is generally recommended with creatine products to undertake a ‘loading phase', where a number of servings of creatine are taken daily for approximately a week, to ensure that creatine levels in the bloodstream are high. After this loading phase, the individual switches to a ‘maintenance phase' where one serving of creatine is taken daily, to maintain creatine levels in the bloodstream. There is much debate as to whether a loading phase is necessary, as well as cycling (for example 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off creatine supplementation). Some studies suggest that loading phases and cycling are unnecessary and one or two servings a day will ensure that the most is being made of the supplement. Protein King recommends that you always follow the directions on the product's labels. There is no agreed upon amount of creatine per serve, as it varies between forms of creatine, and studies suggesting serving size. For creatine monohydrate, anywhere between 5-20 grams per day is a safe and effective amount, whereas concentrated forms of creatine such as HCL require much smaller doses, as little as 750mg per day. Always follow the directions on the labels.

Creatine Supplements

There are literally hundreds of creatine supplements on the market today, each with different blends of ingredients, and promising different results. Protein King will recommend three 'pure' creatine products, and three creatine blends, to help you figure out what is best for you.

If your after a Pure Creatine Supplement, Protein King recommends...

1) Con-Cret Creatine

Con-cret is a revolutionary creatine product made up of pure creatine hydrochloride. As it is a super-concentrated form, the dosage sizes are much smaller in comparison to other creatine products, decreasing the chances of bloating and water retention. It is the most soluble creatine on the market, meaning less waste. It also requires no loading phase.

2) Black Widow Tri-Creatine Malate (TCM)

Another relatively new form of creatine, TCM is designed to absorb quickly into the muscles, without the need for simple sugars to create an insulin spike. This is great for anyone looks to replenish and recover from a workout without adding additional weight.

3) Musashi Growling Dog Creatine

Although there is 5% fructose added, Growling Dog is mostly made up of pure creatine monohydrate, the original and most studied form of creatine on the market. It is recommended for beginning athletes, or those new to creatine to start with creatine monohydrate, such as Musashi Growling Dog, before progressing to creatine blends or other more potent forms.

If your after a Creatine Blend, Protein King recommends...

1) Max's Cre8 Carnage

This product is a blend of 8 different forms of creatine, as well as added beta alanine and arginine to assist with bloodflow, absorbtion and a sustained release of creatine. This is perfect pre or post workout, and each tub provides 150 servings. It comes unflavoured, so it can be added to a protein shake or even a glass of water.

2) BSN Cellmass 2.0

This is a hugely popular product worldwide, and with good reason. Cellmass is a post workout/nighttime creatine formula, enhanced with a number of key ingredients designed to support muscle recovery and growth.

3) BodyScience Myocytin

This product is a blend of creatine and dextrose, designed to spike the body's insulin levels after a workout and shuttle as much creatine into the muscles as possible. Myocytin has been well researched, and is recommended for anyone looking to put on size, fast.

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