Creatine is perhaps the best-known supplement on the market today.
While nutrition researchers and experts disagree on most things, they do agree on one thing:
With research dating as far back as the early 70s, creatine has established itself as a supplement worth taking.
The problem is, there are many forms of creatine on the market: monohydrate, HCL, nitrate, malate, hydrochloride, and more.
Luckily, two forms stand out more than all the rest: monohydrate and HCL. The question is, which one is superior? Let’s find out.
What Is Creatine, And How Does It Work?
Creatine is an organic acid made of three amino acids: arginine, methionine, and glycine. We can typically find creatine in foods such as meat and eggs, but the quantity is too small to make much of an impact. Our best option to reap the benefits of creatine is through supplementation.
The way creatine works is relatively simple:
Creatine travels to our muscle cells, where we store most of it as creatine phosphate.
When we do physical work, the body produces and expends ATP (adenosine triphosphate) molecules faster. This process involves removing a phosphate group, which turns triphosphate into adenosine diphosphate (ADP).
At that point, our stored phosphocreatine comes in to save the day by donating its phosphate group. This helps us produce ATP molecules more rapidly, do a bit more work, and reach exhaustion a bit more slowly.
Creatine HCL vs. Creatine Monohydrate - What Are The Differences?
Creatine HCL (hydrochloride) is creatine bound to hydrochloric acid at a molecular level. This is done to improve the absorption and solubility of the creatine. The dose shown to be effective is between 0.75 and 1.5 grams per day (750-1,500 mg).
Creatine monohydrate is a form of creatine that has one water molecule. Given this, the recommended dose of creatine monohydrate is higher at three to five grams per day (3,000-5,000 mg).
The Advantages of Creatine HCL Over Monohydrate
The most notable advantage of creatine HCL over monohydrate is the absorption rate. Though both forms of creatine exist for the same purpose (to increase muscle creatine levels), HCL mixes better with water and gets absorbed more quickly.
Once consumed, the body absorbs it, and it enters our muscle sells much quicker. This allows us to see the positive effects more quickly, and we don’t need to do a grueling loading phase, as is often the case with monohydrate.
Thanks to its purity, creatine HCL is also a better option as a pre-workout ingredient compared to monohydrate. Instead of making the dose twice as large, it adds a mere gram, and it works just as effectively.
Another advantage of creatine HCL over monohydrate has to do with stomach distress. Some monohydrate users report feeling nausea and a bloated stomach from that form of creatine. In contrast, creatine HCL is much lighter and more comfortable on the stomach. Consuming it rarely (if ever) results in stomach distress or discomfort.
ConclusionBoth forms of creatine work well, and despite the two forms often coming up equal in studies, the subtler benefits of HCL should not be ignored.