What Does Creatine Do?
In the corner of every gym, from the lips of every fitness buff, you’ve heard the word creatine tumble from their mouths in all their glorious training counsels. Like a chanting crowd in a stadium filled to the brim with buzzing excitement, it fills your mind “Cre-a-tine. Cre-a-tine. Cre-atine.” *the crowd goes wild*
OK, sorry, got a little carried away, didn’t we?
So you want to know what creatine does? Well, put your finger to your mobile screen and scroll on, my friend.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is the most scientifically supported supplement in the fitness industry. There are no ‘claims’ about what it can do. It does what it does. Period.
- Helps Build Muscle
- Improves Strength
- Improves Endurance
- Aids in Muscle Recovery
- Provides Pump
That’s been established over and over again. We’ve confirmed that it is certainly effective, let’s talk about HOW it works and then what TYPES are out there.
First on the list? Basics– How does it work?
How Does Creatine Work?
Creatine is a combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine.
When taken, it is converted by the body into phosphocreatine. This nifty molecule is a storage center for ATP regeneration.
If you haven’t yet fully repressed high school, you’ll recall ATP is the energy source for muscles. Don’t worry, there will be no test on ATP.
ATP is like a nitro boost for your muscles. You know nitro boosts or nitrous boosts on vehicles? Come on, you’ve seen them in all the cool movies—they flip a switch and the horsepower hits max giving the driver a lead over other cars? Vrooooom, Vrooom: enter ATP.
ATP is available in a limited amount and provides muscles that surge of energy. When it runs out, so does that boost.
But what if you replace that phosphocreatine when it runs out? Guess what? Ding, ding, ding–you got it—extended nitro.
That’s the major purpose of creatine—it fuels ATP so you can build, endure and recover faster.
But wait—there’s more.
The Creatine Swell
Everyone has heard of, or seen, the creatine swell. It’s a little simpler than it sounds. Creatine increases the volume of water held in your muscles. This makes you look as big as you feel post-workout. Boom–SWOLE.
Types of Creatine
It may seem like a chore to read through ALL the types, but actually, you should be grateful. Early on, there was only one form. That form made everyone who took it look like a busted can of biscuits.
Creatine monohydrate is by far, the most popular and effective form of creatine. It is simply creatine with a water molecule that permits the water retention to happen intracellularly (inside cells) rather than directly under the skin. This form gives your muscles the fuel it needs without looking like the Michelin man.
You’ll see the remaining types are just ‘innovative’ versions of monohydrate. If you’re not a big reader, we can sum this article up monohydrate is effective and budget-friendly. There is only one competitor that has science backing that it is possibly more effective and its right beneath this one. You’re welcome.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate
A chelate is simply the binding of one molecule or mineral to another–usually with purpose. This form is bound to magnesium. Known as ‘Magnapower®’ by Albion labs, studies show because magnesium can increase absorption and bioavailability, it can yield less water weight gain, produce more muscular creatine, increase cellular hydration, and boost protein synthesis over other forms.
Onto the rest….
This form is simply bound to citrate to create a more water soluble form—that is less clumps in your shaker. It is not more or less effective than monohydrate, but preferred by those who may get some cramping from monohydrate.
This form is combo of creatine and alkaline powder with claims it creates a 100% stable form that is less likely to be converted into creatinine, the waste product of creatine. There is currently no evidence to support those claims, as such it’s just another ‘reborn’ version of monohydrate.
Another creative version of mono, this form is bound to hydrochloric acid. The HCL protects it from stomach acid when digested, but nothing out there supports it is more or less effective.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
This form is monohydrate with an ester attached. Esters are organic compounds. The claim is that the ester permits the creatine to be converted back to usable creatine in the body after consumption, however studies show it actually degrades into the waste product, creatinine, in the GI tract.
Micronized creatine is just a fancy way of saying it mixes better in water because its smaller. Yep, the particles of the powder are processed into ‘micro’ size. That’s it. Sorry if that let you down, sounded waaay cooler than it is.
This form is bound to a nitrate group. It makes it more water-soluble. Again. Less clumps in the shaker. But no studies have been conducted regarding this form being more effective than monohydrate.
You guessed it, another form that is bound to something else. This one is bound with malic acid. A study conducted showed no evidence it is more effective than monohydrate.
Last but not least (well, I’ll leave that up to you)—Liquid creatine. Just because it is suspended in liquid, doesn’t make this form better. In fact, studies show that this form is less effective because the creatine breaks down when in the solution for extended periods.
Get More Bang for Your Buck and More Gains for Your Pain
Bravo for making it to the end. It shows you’re dedicated to not only achieving results, but improving your health and decisions. Curiosity is a sign of intelligence, and your brain is super swole right now. Now that you know the most common forms of creatine and what it does, you’re far more equipped than the average Joe to start making decisions that will impact results. Go you.