Sports Performance Supplements and Nutrition


Creatine 101

Creatine : The Ultimate Performance Booster

Understanding Creatine Monohydrate:

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most extensively researched and widely used supplements in the sports nutrition industry. It is composed of three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine is naturally produced in the body and is also found in various foods, particularly meat and fish. However, supplementation with creatine monohydrate provides a convenient and effective way to increase creatine stores in the muscles, leading to enhanced performance and muscle gains.

Key Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate:

  1. Increased Muscle Strength and Power: Creatine supplementation has been consistently shown to improve strength and power output during resistance training and high-intensity exercise. By increasing the availability of phosphocreatine in the muscles, creatine enhances the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy source for muscle contractions.
  2. Muscle Growth: Creatine supplementation can promote muscle hypertrophy by facilitating greater training volume, increased intracellular hydration, and enhanced protein synthesis. This leads to improvements in muscle size, density, and overall mass.
  3. Improved Exercise Performance: Creatine supplementation has been linked to improvements in exercise performance, including increased endurance, reduced fatigue, and faster recovery between bouts of high-intensity exercise. These benefits are especially pronounced during short-duration, maximal effort activities like sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting.
  4. Neuroprotective Effects: Emerging research suggests that creatine may have neuroprotective properties, supporting brain health and cognitive function. Studies have shown that creatine supplementation may improve memory, attention, and overall cognitive performance, particularly in vegetarians and individuals with neurological disorders.

Optimizing Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation:

  1. Loading Phase: Some individuals choose to initiate creatine supplementation with a loading phase, where they consume a higher dose of creatine (typically 20 grams per day) for 5-7 days to rapidly saturate muscle stores. However, a loading phase is not essential, and many individuals opt for a maintenance dose from the outset.
  2. Maintenance Dose: Following the loading phase, a maintenance dose of creatine (typically 3-5 grams per day) is sufficient to sustain elevated muscle creatine levels over time. This dose can be taken consistently, either pre-workout, post-workout, or at any other convenient time of day.
  3. Hydration: It is essential to stay adequately hydrated when supplementing with creatine, as creatine draws water into the muscles, which can increase intracellular hydration. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to support optimal hydration and overall health.
  4. Combining with Carbohydrates: Some individuals choose to combine creatine supplementation with carbohydrates, as insulin release can enhance creatine uptake into the muscles. Consuming a carbohydrate source, such as fruit juice or a sports drink, alongside creatine may improve its effectiveness.


Creatine monohydrate is a safe, effective, and evidence-based supplement for improving athletic performance, enhancing muscle growth, and supporting overall health. By increasing muscle creatine stores, creatine supplementation enhances strength, power, endurance, and recovery, making it a valuable tool for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. When used as directed and combined with proper nutrition and training, creatine monohydrate can help individuals maximize their potential and achieve their performance goals.

The differences in bioavailability and benefits of various forms of creatine supplementation:

1. Creatine HCL (Hydrochloride):

  • Bioavailability: Creatine HCL is believed to have higher solubility and absorption rates compared to creatine monohydrate, potentially requiring smaller doses for similar effects.
  • Benefits: Due to its enhanced solubility, creatine HCL may cause less stomach discomfort and bloating compared to creatine monohydrate. It is also purported to have superior bioavailability, allowing for greater uptake into the muscles.
  • Suggestions: Creatine HCL may be particularly suitable for individuals who experience digestive issues or discomfort with creatine monohydrate. It can be taken in smaller doses, typically 1-2 grams per day, and does not necessarily require a loading phase.

2. Creatine Magnesium Chelate:

  • Bioavailability: Creatine Magnesium Chelate combines creatine with magnesium, which may enhance absorption and utilization in the body. Magnesium itself plays a vital role in energy metabolism and muscle function.
  • Benefits: This form of creatine may offer the dual benefits of creatine supplementation and magnesium supplementation, supporting energy production, muscle function, and overall health.
  • Suggestions: Creatine Magnesium Chelate can be taken in doses similar to creatine monohydrate, typically 3-5 grams per day. It may be particularly beneficial for individuals with low magnesium levels or those seeking additional magnesium support.

3. Creatine Nitrate:

  • Bioavailability: Creatine Nitrate combines creatine with a nitrate molecule, potentially improving solubility and absorption. Nitrates have been shown to enhance blood flow, which may further support nutrient delivery and muscle function.
  • Benefits: Creatine Nitrate may offer the combined benefits of creatine supplementation and nitric oxide production, leading to improved exercise performance, vasodilation, and nutrient delivery to the muscles.
  • Suggestions: Creatine Nitrate is typically taken in doses similar to creatine monohydrate, ranging from 3-5 grams per day. It may be particularly suitable for individuals looking to enhance exercise performance and muscle pumps.

4. Creatine Glycerol Phosphate:

  • Bioavailability: Creatine Glycerol Phosphate combines creatine with glycerol, a compound known for its hydrating properties. This combination may improve creatine uptake and intracellular hydration in the muscles.
  • Benefits: Creatine Glycerol Phosphate may support increased muscle hydration, leading to improved cell volumization, nutrient transport, and exercise performance. It may also help reduce the risk of dehydration during intense exercise.
  • Suggestions: Creatine Glycerol Phosphate is typically taken in doses similar to creatine monohydrate, ranging from 3-5 grams per day. It may be particularly beneficial for individuals engaged in high-intensity or endurance exercise.

5. Creatine Ethyl Ester:

  • Bioavailability: Creatine Ethyl Ester is a form of creatine that has been esterified with an ethyl group. This modification is purported to enhance absorption and bioavailability, allowing for greater uptake into the muscles.
  • Benefits: Creatine Ethyl Ester may offer improved absorption compared to creatine monohydrate, potentially leading to enhanced muscle creatine stores and performance benefits. Some users report reduced bloating and water retention with this form of creatine.
  • Suggestions: Creatine Ethyl Ester is typically taken in smaller doses compared to creatine monohydrate, ranging from 2-4 grams per day. It may be suitable for individuals seeking improved absorption and reduced gastrointestinal discomfort.

General Suggestions:

  • Consultation: Before starting any new supplementation regimen, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional or qualified nutritionist to determine the most appropriate form and dosage of creatine for your individual needs and goals.
  • Quality and Purity: Choose creatine supplements from reputable brands that adhere to high-quality standards and third-party testing for purity and potency.
  • Hydration: Regardless of the form of creatine you choose, maintaining adequate hydration is crucial for maximizing its benefits and reducing the risk of side effects such as cramping or dehydration.
  • Timing: Creatine supplementation can be taken at any time of the day, but many individuals prefer to consume it pre- or post-workout to capitalize on its performance-enhancing effects. Experiment with different timing strategies to find what works best for you.
  • Stacking: Creatine can be safely stacked with other supplements, such as protein powders, amino acids, or pre-workout formulas, to support overall performance, recovery, and muscle growth. Again, consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist before combining supplements to ensure safety and efficacy.

By understanding the differences in bioavailability and benefits of various forms of creatine supplementation, you can make informed choices to optimize your performance, recovery, and overall health. Experimentation and individualization may be necessary to find the most effective form and dosage of creatine for your unique needs and goals.

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