Of all the supplements athletes and gym-goers use on a regular basis, one of the most frequently used and thoroughly studied is creatine. This supplement is popular even among young athletes, with 44 percent of 12th-grade athletes reporting using it.
Have you been interested in giving creatine a try? Are you confused about whether you should use creatine monohydrate or HCL?
If so, read on to learn more about creatine. That way, you can decide where you stand on the creatine monohydrate vs HCL debate.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a substance that naturally occurs in the muscle cells. The body produces it from the amino acids arginine and glycine and stores it in the form of phosphocreatine.
Phosphocreatine helps the muscles to produce energy, especially when you’re lifting weights or doing high-intensity forms of exercise. It does this by increasing the production of ATP (short for adenosine triphosphate), a molecule that’s also known as your body’s energy currency.
When many people hear that creatine is produced naturally in the body, they assume that supplementation is not important. In reality, though, there are lots of factors that can alter the amount of creatine the body stores. For example, those who do not eat meat may have lower phosphocreatine levels. Exercise frequency, muscle mass, and hormone levels can influence storage as well.
Benefits of Creatine Supplementation
Creatine supplementation provides a lot of benefits, especially to athletes and gym-goers. Here are some of the greatest advantages you can experience when you supplement with creatine on a regular basis:
Creatine is one of the safest supplements on the market today. For hundreds of years, researchers have been studying it, and no adverse effects have been reported when healthy individuals use it on a regular basis.
Increased Muscle Endurance
When you supplement with creatine, you can increase your muscle endurance and experience less fatigue. As a result, you’ll have an easier time cranking out reps with good form during your workouts.
Improved Muscle Building
In addition to increasing muscle endurance, creatine supplementation can help you build muscle. It’s been shown to be very effective when it comes to helping people add muscle mass.
Improved Cognitive Health
On a different note, creatine can improve cognitive health as well. Research shows that it can be beneficial to those struggling with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Creatine can improve general cognitive health and brain function in people without these conditions, too. It’s especially helpful for people like vegetarians and vegans who don’t eat meat. In fact, research shows that creatine supplementation improved memory and intelligence test scores in these individuals.
What Is Creatine Monohydrate?
When you start shopping for creatine supplements, you’ll find that there are two main options for sale: creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL. It’s totally understandable if you’re confused by these different labels. That’s why we’re here to break them down and help you decide which one to use.
Creatine monohydrate is the original form of creatine supplementation. It’s been around for decades and is the purest and most popular form of creatine. It’s also the most thoroughly studied, and it’s more affordable than other types.
What Is Creatine HCL?
Creatine HCL is made from creatine that’s been molecularly bound with hydrochloric acid. The goal of doing this is to increase the body’s ability to absorb and use creatine. It’s also meant to be broken down faster, which helps to minimize water retention.
Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL
At first, it might seem like creatine HCL is the best option. If the body can absorb it better and it doesn’t cause water retention and bloating, why wouldn’t you choose it over creatine monohydrate?
Before you decide that creatine HCL is a great fit for you and rush out to buy a tub or two, there are some things you ought to know:
Side Effect Differences
For the most part, creatine is considered to be a safe supplement that doesn’t cause any negative side effects. However, many people report experiencing water retention when they start using creatine monohydrate. This water retention doesn’t last for very long, but it can be an annoyance while the body is adjusting to altered phosphocreatine levels.
For those who are hell-bent on avoiding bloating, it might be worth it to think about choosing creatine HCL over creatine monohydrate. It’s important to note, though, that there’s not a ton of research on creatine HCL, including research on the claim that it causes less bloating.
Speaking of research, that’s another essential factor to take into account when choosing a creatine supplement. Creatine monohydrate is by far the most thoroughly studied form of creatine.
Most of the research backing up the benefits of creatine have been conducted using creatine monohydrate rather than HCL. If you want to make sure you’re using a tried and true supplement, creatine monohydrate is going to be a better fit.
Creatine HCL is much more expensive than creatine monohydrate, too. It’s true that creatine HCL requires smaller dosages compared to creatine monohydrate. However, the price per serving is still cheaper for monohydrate, and you usually get a greater volume of product per container.
Safety and Purity Differences
Remember, both creatine HCL and creatine monohydrate are generally considered to be safe. However, creatine monohydrate has been studied more thoroughly, and there’s more evidence backing the claim that it’s a safe supplement. You can’t beat the purity of monohydrate, either.
If you want to feel 100 percent confident that you’re using the safest and purest supplement possible, your best bet is to stick to creatine monohydrate.
What’s the Best Creatine?
Now that you know more about creatine, as well as the differences between creatine monohydrate vs HCL, what do you think? Do you know which type of creatine you want to use?
There are pros and cons to both creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL. At the end of the day, though, most people see great results from good old-fashioned creatine monohydrate.