Creatine is one of the most studied and proven beneficial supplements of the fitness world. How does it benefit you? To summarize very briefly, it donates phosphate groups for the synthesis of ATP. ATP is what provides your body with energy. So more ATP = more muscle cell energy = more muscular strength and growth
The importance of the form in which creatine is binded is its ability to be absorbed into the body. A creatine that is easily absorbed will be more beneficial to improving muscle mass and strength gains. When comparing creatine monohydrate vs creatine HCl it is difficult due to lack of studies. There are literally hundreds of studies for creatine monohydrate yet those for HCl are lacking. Anyone who has taken creatine HCl can attest to it being as effective as monohydrate in much smaller doses. However, there only one scientific study on creatine HCl and this study was perfomed by ProMera Health, which sells the popular “Concret” creatine HCl. So you can see the conflict of interest here.
Is There a Difference in the Stomach Breakdown
The claim that creatine HCl breaks down easier and is absorbed better by the body than creatine monohydrate does not seem likely. Why? Because both forms of creatine dissociate in the stomach fluid and you are left with free creatine.
Creatine HCl Claims
As I stated before, ProMera Health claims to have conducted studies on creatine HCl and its absorption benefits. However, these studies have not been published. It is claimed that laboratory studies have shown creatine HCl to be 40 times more water soluble than creatine monohydrate. Also, for humans studies, it has shown much greater absorption. During a research study when two different groups consumed the same amount of creatine, one creatine monohydrate and other creatine HCl. The results showed that the absorption in the test subject’s intestines was 60% greater for creatine HCl.
But once again. These studies have not been published, nor have any been conducted by an independent party to prove its effectiveness.
Creatine Monohydrate Studies
The number of creatine monohydrate studies is in the hundreds. The effects of this form of creatine are undisputable. To measure the absorption of creatine by the body the creatine plasma level is measured. The standard dosage of creatine monohydrate is 5-10g depending on body mass. Most tests conclude that 0.1g of creatine per kg of body mass is optimal (3). This amount increases the bioavailability of creatine to roughly 99% (2 & 3). It doesn’t get any better than that.
Which Is Better? Final Answer
The key characteristic that makes one form of creatine better than another is its ability to be absorbed by the body. Creatine monohydrate is proven to absorb fairly well by the body. By taking 0.1g of creatine per kg of body mass you can reach your body’s optimal bioavailability of creatine (200lb person = 9.07g creatine).
However, if you take creatine HCl your body absorbs 60% more creatine than it would creatine in the monohydrate form, ALLEGEDLY. Than means the optimal dose would be about 60% less than that of creatine mono.
Since there is no concrete evidence it really comes down to you testing it out for yourself and seeing if you notice a difference. I have used both forms for months at a time and I do truly believe that creatine HCl is absorbed better than creatine monohydrate due to the results I saw from taking much smaller doses. However, I recommend sticking with the good old monohydrate due to the considerable amount of positive evidence proven from scientific studies, its cheap availability, and its tastelessness.
I don’t really care that I have to take a little more to get the same effect. It is still cheaper to take it. As far as the taste goes, its great. Why? Because it doesn’t have a taste (if you buy pure), unlike creatine HCl which has a sour flavor to it.
If you are interested in finding some of the best creatine monohydrate products out there then I suggest you look into Creapure brand creatine. It is guaranteed 99.95% pure and it is affordable. If you are interested in creatine HCl then you I suggest Con-cret by Promera Sports, the original creatine HCl.
1. Ralf Jäger, Martin Purpura, Andrew Shao, Toshitada Inoue, and Richard B. Kreider. Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids. 2011 May; 40(5): 1369–1383.
2. Ralf Jäger, Roger C Harris, Martin Purpura, and Marc Francaux. Comparison of new forms of creatine in raising plasma creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012, 9:33 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33.
3. Robert Cooper, Fernando Naclerio, Judith Allgrove, and Alfonso Jimenez. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012, 9:33 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33.