9 Scientifically Proven Reasons to Take Creatine Year Round

  1. Creatine monohydrate produces similar strength increases as creatine nitrate and creatine HCL

Creatine Hydrochloride is a new form of creatine which is supposed to be 40 times more soluble in water compared to creatine monohydrate. The companies selling it propose that its greater solubility in water and permeability could potentially decrease the amount of creatine usually needed to fill the muscles. This would translate to greater absorption, decreased creatine excretion and less discomfort in the intestines. Lots of companies claim that creatine hydrochloride consumption results in greater muscle strength increase compared to creatine monohydrate. A study published in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences showed that creatine HCL produced the same muscle strength increase as creatine monohydrate.

Scientists from Brazil did a study where they compared the effects of two different doses of creatine hydrochloride (1.5 grams and 5 grams) with a 5-gram dose of creatine monohydrate on muscle strength and body composition of recreational weightlifters. All groups did 4 weeks of strength training and were also asked to not engage in any type of regular physical activity for 4 weeks before the start of the workout program. When the study ended, it was shown that there was no strength difference between the group that took creatine monohydrate and the other group that took creatine HCl, however, the second group did experience greater improvements in their body composition in the form of decreased body fat percentage and increased lean muscle mass.

But before you decide to go the nearest store and get yourself creatine HCl expecting to become huge overnight, let’s look at this study more carefully. Both groups experienced almost the same muscle mass increase, on average and lost almost the same amount of fat, however, the groups that took creatine HCl 1.5 grams and 5 grams respectively lost 8% body fat while the group that took creatine monohydrate lost around 5%.

Another big issue with this study is that the scientists used skin folds to test body fat percentage which is notoriously prone to errors compared to a DEXA scan testing which is considered the best method to measure body composition. Skin folds show results that can be way off in regards to calculation body fat percentage in people. When it comes to monitoring changes in body fat levels over time in groups, then skin folds do a pretty good job. However, the errors in monitoring the change in individuals over time can be up to 2-5%.

Based on this study, it would seem that creatine HCl can be taken at lower doses than creatine monohydrate, however, the results would be approximately the same. This means you can pick whichever type of creatine you like, as there is no definite proof of the superiority of creatine hydrochloride over monohydrate. The latter’s efficiency has been proven in over 1400 peer-reviewed studies, however, it is still too early to deem creatine HCl more efficient until more long-term research is done.

Creatine nitrate has become the newest fad in bodybuilding. It is a form of creatine bonded with nitrate. Nitrates have been repeatedly proven to increase the flow of blood to the muscles and improve physical performance. Creatine Nitrate has been shown to have two positive effects on training performance: the creatine component for strength and the nitrate component for a greater muscle pump.

To this day, there hasn’t been any well-documented research that compared the effects of creatine nitrate to the good, old-fashioned creatine monohydrate. Scientists did two studies to see how safe creatine nitrate was and who it affects training performance. Both studies were published in the prestigious journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Study #1: Subjects took 1.5 grams and 3 grams of creatine nitrate or 5 grams of creatine monohydrate or a placebo pill in a randomized, crossover study to examine the safety of the supplements, i.e. how they affected heart rate, blood and muscle enzymes, blood pressure or if they caused any other potential side effects. The subjects were tested immediately upon ingestion, half an hour later and then every hour for the next 5 hours.

Study #2: Subjects took the same creatine nitrate doses vs. 3 grams of creatine monohydrate in a randomized, double-blind study which lasted for 28 days with a starting period of 7 days where the subjects did “loading” or consuming 4 servings a day. On the 7th and 28th-day bench press and anaerobic performance were measured via Wingate testing and a 6×6 bicycle ergometer sprint. What did the scientists find in the end?

They concluded that creatine nitrate is a very safe supplement. They found no significant changes in any of the blood markers or hemodynamic function for any of the groups after 5 hours of ingesting the supplement.

When they compared creatine monohydrate to nitrate, they noticed a significant increase in a couple of strength markers for the 5-gram creatine monohydrate group and the 3-gram creatine nitrate group. A similar improvement was also seen in lean muscle mass in both groups. It was found that body composition and strength changes were similar between the 3-gram creatine nitrate and the 5-gram creatine monohydrate groups.

The scientists concluded that taking a 3-gram dose of creatine nitrate was tolerated well by the body, provided similar benefits to performance as the 3-gram creatine monohydrate group and within the confines of the study, no safety concerns were reported. However, no solid evidence was produced which proved that creatine nitrate at recommended or twice that dosage is more effective than creatine monohydrate at the studied doses. There doesn’t seem to be any benefit whatsoever in taking creatine nitrate and HCL over the monohydrate form.

  1. Creatine increases the replacement of glycogen

Creatine has been proven to increase muscle mass and strength, however a new research has come up and suggests that creatine consumption might increase the replacement of glycogen. Creatine has a huge role in the rapid provision of energy during muscle fiber contractions which involves the regeneration of ATP reserves.

Supplementing with creatine has become a very common practice in both professional and recreational athletes. Since the majority of studies on creatine have been focused on the ergogenic capacity of loading with creatine, far less attention has been given to creatine’s potential to affect the metabolism of muscle glucose. Since an increase in the synthesis of muscle glycogen should probably be accompanied by an increase in the uptake of muscle glucose, it’s been speculated that supplementing with creatine may up-regulate GLUT-4 expression. GLUT4 is the glucose transported regulated by insulin and primarily found in fat tissues and striated muscle, both cardiac and skeletal.

– Creatine and carbs increase glycogen replacement by more than 80%

Previous studies have demonstrated that supplementing with creatine could increase post-workout muscle glycogen storage while following a standard ‘carb-loading’ diet regimen in healthy, young, male subjects. Scientists had 15 healthy, male subjects cycled to complete exhaustion at 70% VO2peak. Afterward, muscle biopsies were done while resting immediately after the workout and after one, three and six days of recovery, during which they took creatine or placebo 20-gram dose of creatine or placebo and followed a prescribed high-carb diet (more than 80% of the total daily calories were coming from carbs).

When the study ended, the scientists discovered that supplementing with creatine significantly increased post-workout muscle glycogen storage above the placebo group during a standard ‘carb-loading’ diet regimen and that this increase in glycogen storage happened almost exclusively within the first 24 hours of taking the supplement. The increase in glycogen storage in the first 24 hours after taking creatine was approximately 80%  greater in the creatine group compared to the carb-only group. This was the first study which showed that creatine supplementation can improve glycogen replacement above that of carbs.

  1. 2 grams of creatine will cause no water retention or weight gain

The majority of women avoid supplementing with creatine because they fear they would gain excess weight. Previous studies have shown that creatine loading with 15-20 grams per day can result in increased water retention. During this creatine loading phase, as the cell becomes saturated with creatine, an increasing amount of water is transported into the muscle cell to compensate for the increased amount of creatine in it. This so-called loading phase, therefore, usually results in gaining water weight of a pound or two, sometimes more. Women should be aware that these water retention effects of creatine supplementation can be completely avoided if they consume lower doses.

Scientists looked into the effects of supplementing with creatine at low doses for 6 weeks on muscle function, body composition and its retention in the body. 20 healthy men and women were randomly selected into two groups. The first group took 3 grams of creatine while the other took placebo for 6 weeks in a double-blind placebo-controlled method. Subjects were tested twice. First, before taking creatine to set a reliable reference point and then a second time after supplementation.

Testing involved body composition, maximum strength (3-rep maximum concentric knee extension at 180 degrees) and plasma creatine concentration. They did not manage to find any significant differences in lean body mass, fat-free mass, fat mass, overall fat percentage, total water percentage or maximal muscle strength in either group from before or after the supplementation. After supplementation, the plasma creatine levels increased significantly in the first group, while there was no difference in the second, placebo group.

Compared to the reference point levels, subjects who supplemented with creatine were less likely to get tired after two sets. In the second group, subjects experienced no improvement in their resistance to fatigue after two sets. Taking a low dose of 3 grams of creatine for 6 weeks significantly increase plasma creatine supplementation and improved fatigue resistance during repeated sets of high-intensity muscle contractions.


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