How we pick our products
The use of supplements in various sports is being hyped a lot at the moment. As an amateur or professional athlete, you want to maximise your performance when training. The variety of products for this reason is overwhelming, but creatine products are still the most popular, and for good reason.
In our creatine monohydrate test 2022 we want to show you why creatine monohydrate is the most suitable alternative for muscle building. This form of creatine is not only known for its effectiveness, but this creatine is safe, has almost no serious side effects and can be purchased cheaply.
- 1 The most important facts
- 2 The Best Creatine Monohydrate: Our Picks
- 3 Buying and evaluation criteria for creatine monohydrate products
- 4 Guide: Frequently asked questions on the subject of creatine monohydrate products answered in detail
- 4.1 What is creatine monohydrate and how does it work?
- 4.2 When and for whom is it useful to take creatine monohydrate?
- 4.3 How should creatine monohydrate be dosed?
- 4.4 What types of creatine monohydrate are there?
- 4.5 What are the alternatives to creatine monohydrate?
- 4.6 What happens if you take too much creatine monohydrate?
- 4.7 What are the side effects of creatine monohydrate?
The most important facts
- Creatine monohydrate is a simple form of creatine that is bound with water and, when taken, promotes energy production in the body. It also improves muscle growth and performance.
- You can take creatine monohydrate as a capsule, tablet or powder. The powder form is the cheapest, while the tablets and capsules are more expensive but are sold already dosed.
- A very large amount of scientific research has been done on creatine monohydrate. It is very safe and has almost no side effects in most cases.
The Best Creatine Monohydrate: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for creatine monohydrate products
When buying creatine monohydrate, you should pay attention to various aspects, such as:
By choosing the right creatine monohydrate product for you, you will be able to perform better in sports. In the following, we will go into more detail on each criterion so that you understand what you should look for when buying.
In general, the manufacturer of the creatine monohydrate plays an important role. Products from third countries or unverified sellers may contain impurities that could be dangerous. Depending on your dietary preference, you should pay attention to the additional ingredients in the creatine.
The powder form of creatine monohydrate usually does not contain any additional agents. This is why most vegan options are found in this form. With capsules and tablets, you should be a little more careful. The capsule or shell that contains the creatine is made of other substances, such as gelatine.
With tablets, the creatine monohydrate is also not as pure as in powder form, because a binding substance is needed to retain the creatine in tablet form.
With or without laboratory test
The best creatine monohydrate products have been tested by independent laboratories. There, the quality and purity of the creatine is tested, as well as the presence of harmful substances such as heavy metals, mould, E. coli or salmonella.
The lower the creatinine content, the better the creatine monohydrate.
A good creatine monohydrate should have a purity of over 99%. This is the case with most powders and therefore the amount of creatinine ingested is low. Creatinine is a by-product that can be formed after the binding of creatine and water and is excreted by the body.
To ensure effective absorption in the body, the solubility of creatine is tested. This is measured by the mesh factor and must be higher than 79%. This value is particularly important for creatine monohydrate in powder form.
Depending on the form in which the creatine monohydrate is available, an exact dosage can be achieved. Creatine monohydrate capsules and tablets are already dosed appropriately. The risk of overdose is very low and you can better estimate the amount needed for your cure.
You have to dose creatine monohydrate in powder form yourself. You have to determine the amount of powder as precisely as possible to prevent an overdose.
A kitchen scale can be used to determine the exact amount of powder. Some manufacturers sell the powder with a measuring spoon to make measuring easier.
You must ensure that you have a sufficient supply of creatine monohydrate after determining your intake pattern. This supplement must be taken continuously and without interruption to ensure a positive effect.
When you are in the loading phase, you usually need a larger amount of creatine monohydrate because your intake is increased for weeks. For long-term use, the daily requirement is lower, but the duration can last for months.
Guide: Frequently asked questions on the subject of creatine monohydrate products answered in detail
In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of creatine monohydrate and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.
What is creatine monohydrate and how does it work?
Half of the human creatine requirement is covered by food and the rest by natural synthesis in the body.
Athletes often need a greater amount of creatine, which is why supplements such as creatine monohydrate are used (2).
Creatine monohydrate is a simple form of creatine that is bound with water. When taken, it promotes energy production, which enables your muscles to perform better during exercise (9). It is therefore the most popular type of creatine among athletes.
Another reason for preferring creatine monohydrate is the number and quality of studies that have already been conducted. Creatine monohydrate has been studied by scientists in various contexts and scenarios (1, 3).
These studies have dealt intensively with the possible risks, effects and suitability of creatine for athletes.
Taking creatine monohydrate regularly could improve recovery time after exercise. It could also increase your resilience during physical exercise in the heat. It could also reduce the risk of injury and, in the event of an injury, creatine monohydrate could help speed up the healing process (1).
Effect on recovery time
Taking creatine regularly can aid muscle recovery, especially during intense exercise. Many studies have found that this effect is due to the favourable protein biosynthesis and production of amino acids.
The reduction of muscle inflammation during exercise is also an important factor in the shorter recovery time after exercise. Muscle inflammation results from weaknesses in your muscular skeleton and in some cases causes severe pain (4, 8).
With a favourable muscle build-up and shorter recovery period, you can continue your training more quickly (4, 8).
Effect on injury risk
In various clinical trials, creatine monohydrate has been found to reduce the incidence of muscle injury in some people (5, 8, 11).
This is because muscle strains, pulled muscles and cramps are less likely to occur as a result of taking the supplement (5, 8, 11).
However, the reduced risk of injury does not mean that you should train carelessly. The positive effects of creatine monohydrate are not unlimited. Injuries could still occur, for example, if you use the wrong technique during strength training.
Effect on heat resistance
Various studies have examined the performance of athletes during different activities in a warm environment. It was clearly seen that those who took creatine monohydrate regularly were able to deliver a higher performance in their disciplines.
Taking creatine monohydrate regularly improves your performance during training, reduces the risk of injury and speeds up your muscle building.
Some studies suggest that the increased heat tolerance is due to the increased amount of water in the body. It could also be that creatine monohydrate improves the body’s heat regulation (6, 9, 10).
Effects in neurodegenerative diseases
Recently, there have been studies investigating the potential effects of creatine monohydrate in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and muscular dystrophy (1).
So far, clinical trials have failed to find an inhibitory effect on the development of symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease (13, 14).
In muscular dystrophy sufferers, few studies have been able to demonstrate increased muscle strength and power (15, 16). However, the use of creatine monohydrates to improve symptoms in neurological diseases still needs a lot of investigation, research and replication of positive results (1).
When and for whom is it useful to take creatine monohydrate?
Young people should only use creatine monohydrate under supervision and in controlled doses. In the studies already conducted, no side effects have been detected in young athletes (7).
Anyone can take their athletic performance to the next level using the appropriate creatine monohydrate dose.
Taking creatine monohydrate is recommended when you are in your loading phase and want to promote muscle building. Especially if you do a lot of weight training, many studies recommend taking creatine monohydrate because it is safe and can increase your endurance in addition to building muscle (1, 7).
How should creatine monohydrate be dosed?
This also applies if you have completed your loading phase and are now in the maintenance phase. The exact amount depends on your body size, muscle mass and training intensity. In some cases, your diet may also play a role.
The dose is based on your body weight, training intensity and desired goals.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it is very likely that you can tolerate a higher creatine dose. This is because you lack the creatine you consume from foods such as fish and meat (17).
If you are in the loading phase and want to start a regimen to accelerate muscle growth, you can increase the daily dose to 20 grams.
However, you should not do this for more than a few weeks, as this high dose could cause slight side effects.
If you buy your creatine monohydrate in capsule or tablet form, then you have it easy. The capsules and tablets are already dosed for you. You usually have to take between three and five a day to get the three to five grams of creatine.
Make sure you take your daily creatine monohydrate dose either on an empty stomach or at least two hours after your last meal. This way the creatine will not stay in your stomach too long and will be absorbed by your muscles as quickly as possible.
What types of creatine monohydrate are there?
|Creatine Monohydrate Capsules||Powder-type creatine is in a shell that breaks down in the intestines after swallowing. It therefore has a slightly higher creatine concentration than tablets.|
|Creatine Monohydrate Chewable Tablets||Creatine is compressed with a binder so that it retains its tablet form. It can only be absorbed after it has been chewed and broken down in the intestines.|
|Creatine Monohydrate Powder||The dry powder must be mixed in water or juice before it can be consumed. Depending on the manufacturing process, the purity of the powder is affected.|
To help you choose the most suitable type of creatine monohydrate, we have compiled a brief overview of the different types in the next section.
Creatine monohydrate capsules and chewable tablets
Creatine monohydrate capsules and chewable tablets are very similar. Both are already sold in the appropriate dose, which minimises the risk of a wrong dose. The capsules must be swallowed, but the tablets can be swallowed as well as chewed.
You should opt for capsules or tablets if you are not yet familiar with creatine dosing. They also do not require any preparation time, as is the case with powder, and they fit in every pocket.
Creatine monohydrate powder
The most common type of creatine monohydrate is the powder form. It is the most cost-effective, especially for long-term use.
It also offers the highest purity because the powder consists only of the creatine, unlike the alternatives where the shell requires additional substances. Therefore, creatine in this form is the easiest to digest.
The only criticism of creatine monohydrate powder is that it can be very easy to take the wrong dose. Especially if there is no dosing spoon sold with it or a kitchen scale. The taste of the diluted powder is also not to everyone’s liking.
When preparing the powder, make sure it is well stirred in the water or in your juice. If you don’t like the taste of the powder, you can also add it to delicious shakes and smoothies.
Creatine monohydrate in powder form is the right choice for you if you plan to take it regularly and like to try out new shake recipes.
What are the alternatives to creatine monohydrate?
- Creatine HCl This type of creatine is more acidic than creatine monohydrate. This improves the water solubility of the creatine. For this reason, it is assumed that the absorption of creatine in the body works better with creatine hydrochloride than with other types. This is why the recommended dose is smaller than for creatine monohydrate. Unfortunately, there are too few studies investigating these effects (20).
- Kre-Alkalyn Creatine: As is clear from the name, this creatine has a higher pH than creatine monohydrate. There is only one major study that has looked at this type of creatine. The study shows that there is no remarkable difference in the performance of athletes who took the Kre-Alkalyn creatine and the creatine monohydrate. This creatine type is more stomach-friendly and is suitable for athletes who suffer from stomach cramps after taking monohydrate. Kre-Alkalyn creatine is unfortunately not yet as widely available as creatine monohydrate (21).
- Creatine ethyl ester: The few studies that have examined creatine ethyl ester suggest that it is better absorbed by the body and has a longer half-life than creatine monohydrate. The reason for this is the ease with which this type dissolves in fat. However, it has been found that muscles absorb less creatine from this type and instead more of the by-product creatinine is formed (22). Creatine ethyl ester is relatively expensive and hard to find. So you should only consider it if you have a bad reaction to all other creatine types or see no effect (23).
Since creatine monohydrate is the most commonly studied creatine, this offers the user additional protection. The possible side effects, whether long or short term, have already been intensively studied.
So you should try to stick to creatine monohydrate unless it causes you stomach problems. In that case, the slightly acidic creatine HCl or Kre-Alkalyn creatine is better suited for you.
What happens if you take too much creatine monohydrate?
If you regularly take too high a dose, you may experience some side effects. Some of these side effects are vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea. In rare cases, you may also experience muscle cramps.
What are the side effects of creatine monohydrate?
This is mainly due to the water retention that occurs because of the binding of water molecules to the creatine. Of course, this gain is also partly due to the newly acquired muscle mass. With continuous training and good nutrition, fat gain should not occur.
In very rare cases, mostly due to an overdose or an allergic reaction, side effects such as nausea, abdominal pain or diarrhoea may occur (18).
Image source: Losev / 123rf
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