With its multiple reported benefits for weight gain, fat loss, muscle building and exercise, creatine is a popular supplements for performance enhancement.
But what are the different types of creatine? And which one is right for you?
Find a full list of all types of creatine, with expanded descriptions, to help you decide which creatine type is the best supplement for your workouts.
- Full list of all types of creatine
- Which creatine is the best type for me?
- When to take creatine
Complete list of all types of creatine
- Creatine monohydrate
- Creatine anhydrous
- Micronized creatine
- Creatine hydrochloride (creatine HCI)
- Creatine ethyl ester
- Buffered creatine
- Creatine magnesium chelate
- Liquid creatine
- Creatine phosphate
Made up of a creatine molecule bound to a water molecule, this is the most common type of creatine supplement for performance enhancement.
This form of creatine also has the most reported health benefits associated with it, as it’s the form that’s been used in the bulk of the studies conducted.1
Creatine monohydrate can be processed in a few different ways:
- Creatine anhydrous - removing the water molecule results in creatine anhydrous. This means it’s 100% creatine by weight compared to the monohydrate form, which is about 90%.
- Micronized creatine - this refers to when the creatine monohydrate is mechanically processed to improve water solubility.
However, both forms of creatine monohydrate are likely equally effective when the same doses are taken.
Due to the wealth of research around monohydrate, it’s thought to be safe to consume with no serious side effects associated with it.2
This type of creatine is molecularly bound with hydrochloric acid, designed to enhance its overall absorption rates.
Also known as creatine HCI, hydrochloride creatine gained popularity from reports of its superior water solubility.
However, until HCI is compared directly against creatine monohydrate in an experimental setting, this is simply a theory – and monohydrate is still the most recommended creatine supplement.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
Creatine is bound to ester salts in this form, which is designed to make creatine more easily absorbed within the body.3
However, despite its good intentions, one study comparing ethyl ester to monohydrate found that ethyl ester may actually be worse at increasing creatine content in the blood and muscles.4
It’s then thought that creatine ethyl ester is not as effective as monohydrate at increasing serum and muscle creatine levels or in improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power.5
Buffered creatine (Kre-Alkalyn)
This type of creatine has a higher pH than most regular creatine monohydrates, resulting in a buffered form.
This is generated by supplement manufacturers who have added an alkaline powder, attempting to improve the stability of creatine in the stomach.
Some of the most well-known manufacturers who have achieved this are Kre Alkalyn and Crea-Trona. The idea behind this was to help to combat some side effects, such as bloating and cramping.
However, research comparing buffered creatine to creatine monohydrate found no differences in effectiveness between the two.6
It’s also worth noting that 1.5g of Kre-Alkalyn is nearly equivalent to 10 – 15g of creatine monohydrate, so it may be easier to consume. It also does not require a loading or de-loading phase that you typically adhere to as part of a creatine cycle.
Creatine Magnesium Chelate
This type of creatine is often sold under the name of MagnaPower and is creatine that has been bound with magnesium, whereas creatine monohydrate is bound to a water molecule.
A common misconception, however, is that magnesium chelate absorbs more effectively than monohydrate forms, but there is limited evidence to support this.7
Liquid creatine refers to ready-to-drink versions of creatine, typically where the creatine is already dissolved within water.
However, it’s important to note that, albeit limited, research points to liquid creatine potentially being less effective than other forms, such as powders.8
Research showed creatine may break down when it remains in liquid for several days at a time, rendering it less effective.9
One benefit of buying drinkable creatine is that it can be more convenient for on-the-go consumption, for example, whilst exercising at the gym.
This refers to the creatine which exists in and is produced by your body. Approximately 95% of creatine is stored in skeletal muscle as creatine phosphate.
Creatine phosphate binds to Adenosine Di-phosphate (ADP), becoming Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is used to supply your body with energy. For example:
ADP + Creatine Phosphate (CP) = Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) ENERGY
When you train at a high intensity, ATP stores are broken down and become ADP, losing one of its phosphate molecules, which provides you with that quick, explosive energy.
Which creatine is the best type for me?
Research suggests that the most effective form of creatine is creatine monohydrate.
However, there are other benefits of using different types of creatine – for example, liquid creatine is convenient and easy to consume on the go, whilst buffered creatine could be best for a lower quantity consumption and lack of loading phases.
While you’re now clued up on the different types of creatine, it’s essential to understand the various forms of creatine, too. This can include:
- Chews (gummies)
- Pre-workout formulas
Our guide around the best creatine expands into creatine forms in more detail, helping to provide you with the ultimate answer on the best type of creatine for you.
When should I take creatine?
Both before and after a workout is an appropriate way of taking creatine. A rough guide is to take it around 30mins – 1 hour before your activity.
Alternatively, you can split your dose between workout phases to receive the benefits.
Our handy guide has you covered for more detailed information about when to take creatine for the best results.
Creatine monohydrate is deemed the most researched and recommended type of creatine supplement.
There are suggested benefits of taking other types of creatine, such as taking Kre-Alkalyn could reduce some side effects, such as bloating or cramps.
It would be helpful to familiarise yourself with the different forms of creatine, such as chewable gummies, powders and shakes, to work out which is the best creatine for you
Last Updated: 30 November 2022
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.