When it comes to creatine, you will find a variety of types. If you consider the various nutrients that creatine can be combined with, this number increases. For example, some of the studies we’ll mention below have used the following:
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine phosphate
- Creatine magnesium-chelate
- Creatine citrate
- Creatine ethyl ester
In 1999, creatine phosphate was tested against creatine monohydrate to determine its effects on body composition and strength. During this 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, college-aged males were given 20 grams of creatine daily for the first three days and 10 grams per day for the remainder of the study.
They were all given the same resistance training program to follow. Their body composition and strength were tested before and after supplementation and training. The researchers behind the study reported that the creatine groups experienced an increase in strength and lean muscle tissue over the placebo group. However, the changes between the creatine groups were comparable, which indicates that creatine phosphate may have just as many advantages as creatine monohydrate.
If this is the case, why isn’t creatine phosphate more popular? This is likely due to the fact that, compared to creatine monohydrate, it is much harder and expensive to produce- so there’s not a lot of interest in producing it. Another reason is that while this study does seem to support this conclusion, there is more research available that proves creatine monohydrate as the superior form.
A study in 2009 compared creatine monohydrate against creatine ethyl ester. There are some anecdotal reports that creatine ethyl ester has a higher bioavailability, which means users experience less bloating. During this 7-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 30 non-trained men were given either a placebo, creatine ethyl ester or creatine monohydrate.
All of the participants followed a loading phase of 20 grams daily for five days, followed by a maintenance dose of 5 grams daily for the rest of the study. At the end of the study, it was determined that serum and muscle creatine levels were higher in those who were given creatine monohydrate. It was also determined that creatine ethyl ester did not improve power, strength, body composition, or muscle mass as much as creatine monohydrate.
Most of the studies that have been published involve creatine monohydrates and have revealed most of what we know about creatine use.
In 2003, a comprehensive review of these studies revealed that around 300 studies had been completed looking at the potential of creatine for enhancing performance. Around 70% of these studies reported significant improvement, while the other 30% indicated that creatine didn’t cause significant performance gains.
Together, these studies indicated a 5% to 15% improvement in various aspects of physical performance. Since that time, there have been some other reviews that come to similar conclusions. All of this indicates that support is strong that creatine monohydrate is an effective ergogenic aid.
There has been some interest in how creatine works when combined with other nutrients as well. Some of the most common nutrients that have been combined with creatine include:
While there have been some positive effects reported, most of the studies involving the combination of creatine with other nutrients have failed to show significant improvement of just using creatine alone. There is one exception: creatine and beta-alanine. There is more research being done in regard to this combo.
Initial studies indicate that combining creatine with beta-alanine affects neuromuscular fatigue, body composition, lean muscle, and strength. In fact, one of these studies was conducted over a 10-week period with 33 college-aged males and looked at changes in body composition, strength, and power. This study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. They all followed the same heavy resistance training program.
Those who were given the creatine and beta-alanine combo experienced significant increases in body mass and improved body composition compared to those who were given only creatine or a placebo. Both of the creatine groups had similar increases in strength compared to the placebo group.
The researchers in this study came to the conclusion that creatine with beta-alanine led to significant improvements in lean tissue and body composition. Also, creatine alone improved strength.
Another study used 51 untrained men who were given a carbohydrate placebo, creatine with a carbohydrate supplement, carbohydrate with beta-alanine, or carbohydrate, beta-alanine, and creatine.
In all 3 groups, the carbohydrate dose was the same: 34 grams. If beta-alanine was used, the dosage was 1.6 grams. When creatine was used, the dosage was 5.25 grams.
For the first 6 days, four daily doses were taken. For the remainder of the study, 2 daily doses were taken. Before and after the supplementation period, the study participants were tested for fatigue threshold and maximum physical working capacity. If an increase was found in both of these areas, it would suggest improvement in some areas of performance. When compared to the carb-only group, the other two groups exhibited a significant increase in both areas. There were no major differences between improvements in the other two groups.
Therefore, adding creatine to your diet is a great way to improve your overall performance and recovery. While there are several different forms of creatine on the market, research indicates that creatine monohydrate is superior to the others. Finally, while some studies indicate creatine works better when combined with other nutrients, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
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