Creatine is one of the most popular supplements for increasing muscular strength, power, and size. Creatine is a natural substance that is found in muscle cells and helps the muscles produce energy during intense training sessions like heavy lifting or high-intensity cardio.
Several factors affect your body’s creatine stores, including meat intake, exercise, amount of muscle mass, and levels of hormones like testosterone and IGF-1.
Taking creatine as a supplement is very common among athletes and bodybuilders to help gain muscle, enhance strength, and improve exercise performance.
Creatine is available in more than one popular form, however. The big competition has always been between creatine monohydrate and creatine hydrochloride (HCL). What is the difference between the two and which is better? Keep reading to learn which form of creatine is best for your lifestyle.
Creatine Monohydrate vs. HCL
The most common forms of creatine supplements are monohydrate and HCL. While both are intended for the same result, there are a handful of significant differences between the two.
What is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine Monohydrate is a clear favorite in the fitness industry. It is sold rather inexpensively and contains a large amount of scientific literature on its benefits. It has a long history of effectiveness and is used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. The demand for creatine monohydrate is enormous, and almost every major supplement company produces their own version. If you are familiar with strength and physique training, you have probably heard of or have even used creatine monohydrate.
What is Creatine Hydrochloride?
Creatine HCL, or creatine Hydrochloride, is bound with hydrochloric acid to increase its solubility and rate of absorption. This molecular binding means that the creatine will break down faster in your body and will be more easily absorbed by your muscle cells. Since it absorbs more quickly than creatine monohydrate, water retention and “bloating” during supplementation is not a concern. The attached hydrochloric acid molecule also improves the creatine’s stability.
Cost Differences between HCL & Monohydrate
HCL is more expensive than monohydrate, but it requires smaller daily doses. You’ll get more for your dollar with monohydrate, though, as it compensates with greater volumes in each container and offers a lower price per serving.
Creatine Hydrochloride is marketed as “higher-concentration.”
The premise is that it produces the same results with less product due to improved absorption rates. HCL is a more niche product, having been promoted as “premium” in some regard. The cost of Creatine HCL is greater than monohydrate, but the prices are both relatively low when compared with the results. Additionally, it has fewer side effects than creatine monohydrate.
Although there is a lot of “hype” surrounding HCL, Creatine monohydrate is the original supplement that has been around for the longest and is most widely used. This is because there is more proof of its effectiveness than any other kind of creatine. Creatine monohydrate is known for its purity, being around 99.8 percent pure, not to mention it is the least expensive.
What’s the more Convenient Option?
Research suggests that you only need a quarter of a teaspoon of creatine HCL per day for effectiveness, while monohydrate requires a loading phase of 15 – 20 grams followed by 5 grams per day to keep the muscles saturated.
Experts say that HCL is effective in tiny doses making it more convenient to ingest and transport. However, there is no formal research to prove that HCL is the most convenient of the two supplements.
Safety and Side Effects of Both
Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements available, and studies reveal no negative effects.
There is also no evidence that creatine harms the liver and kidneys in healthy people who take normal doses. That said, those with pre-existing liver or kidney problems should consult with a doctor before using creatine.
Some people may associate creatine with dehydration and cramps; however, research doesn’t support this link. In fact, studies suggest it can actually reduce cramps and dehydration during endurance exercise in high heat.
Commonalities Among Creatine HCL & Monohydrate
Research also indicates that both forms of creatine may:
- Lower blood sugar levels and fight diabetes
- Improve muscle function and quality of life in older adults
- Help treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Help improve cognitive function
- Reduce in mental fatigue
- Help fight neurological diseases
- Help with Parkinson’s Disease
Supplementing creatine increases your body’s natural creatine stores. Muscle tissues store creatine as phosphocreatine, which is synthesized during intense exercises like weightlifting, to provide muscles with extra energy. Creatine pushes water into the muscle cells to increase protein synthesis. It is then used by the body as a quick form of energy during high-intensity, short-burst movements like sprinting and heavy weightlifting.
Additionally, creatine allows your body to produce more Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the most basic form of energy in your body’s cells. ATP essentially helps your muscles work harder and function better during a training session.
When it comes to sports performance supplementation, creatine is the most well-studied. Many studies have focused on the effects of creatine regarding strength and muscle building for athletes during resistance training, as well as weight loss. Creatine is a must-have, along with whey protein, for your supplement lineup due to its tried and proven results and its effectiveness in building muscle.
Creatine is one of the most well-known supplements available on the market today. While there is very little difference between Creatine HCL and Creatine Monohydrate, they both have the same benefits and versatility in common.
Creatine HCL offers numerous advantages, including faster absorption rates, reduced side effects, and smaller doses.
Creatine monohydrate, however, has been around longer than any other, with more research confirming its effectiveness, not to mention its affordability and purity. If you are uncertain whether creatine may conflict with any pre-existing medical conditions, ask your doctor before trying this supplement.