Sports Nutrition supplementation is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, with new scientific literature bringing to the forefront new ingredients for optimizing performance. Creatine is among the few ingredients that has stood the test of time since it was discovered in the 1990s.
Creatine is a natural substance that is produced in the body by the liver, pancreas and kidneys. Often confused as a protein or an amino acid, it is actually a metabolite made from three amino acids- methionine, arginine and glycine. About 95% of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscle. However, intense physical activity depletes the creatine levels in the skeletal muscle. And while the body is able to generate creatine, it isn’t able to restore creatine levels to their optimum post strenuous activity. Hence, supplementation becomes necessary.
Creatine, by definition, is a true ergogenic aid. The term ergogenics refers to nutrients or other agents that help increase work capacity or generate power. Several clinical studies have shown that creatine supplementation can improve the strength and power output of the muscles. As an ergogenic, Creatine supplementation can offer the following three benefits:
Creatine's efficacy in increasing lean muscle mass depends on training intensity and adequate nutrition. Creatine only provides the tools to increase muscle workload. Intense training and adequate intake of high quality proteins and carbohydrates are absolute pre-requisites for Creatine supplementation to work.
Creatine has been clinically shown to positively impact lean muscle mass, strength output and athletic performance.
Amongst all the forms of Creatine, two forms viz. Creatine monohydrate and Creatine HCl have scientific backing to prove their efficacy In its highly micronized form, Creatine monohydrate has a smaller particle size which makes it more soluble in water and is absorbed efficiently.
Creatine HCl is an advanced form of Creatine with improved bioavailability. The best advantage of Creatine HCl is that it is required in smaller amounts as compared to monohydrate form.
One of the major concerns with Creatine supplementation is its bioavailability. Being insoluble in water, creatine is not absorbed efficiently. Which is why poor quality creatine products may cause creatine to accumulate in the stomach and cause abdominal cramps. Currently, new and advanced creatine forms such as Creatine ethyl ester, Creatine Citrate, Buffered Creatine etc. are available and claim to have better bioavailability. But with limited clinical trials, the efficacy of these creatine forms remain questionable.
Amongst all the forms of Creatine, two forms viz. Creatine monohydrate and Creatine HCl have scientific backing to prove their efficacy.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of Creatine used in clinical studies. In fact, it is the most well-researched ingredient in sports nutrition and has been shown to positively impact lean muscle mass, strength output and athletic performance. In its micronized form, creatine monohydrate has a smaller particle size which makes it more soluble in water and is absorbed efficiently. Hence, the quality of creatine monohydrate is critical – it has to be in its purest and most micronized form which offers the smallest particle size.
Creatine HCl is an advanced form of Creatine, with solubility reported to be higher than creatine monohydrate. The bonding of Creatine with hydrochloric acid (HCL) improves its bioavailability. Creatine HCL has been shown in the lab to be about 40 times more soluble in fluid than creatine monohydrate. The best advantage of Creatine HCl is that it is required in smaller amounts as compared to monohydrate form to achieve the same effects. Also, with higher solubility, Creatine HCL does not require any sugar for its delivery.