Buy Creatine: Why is it So Difficult to Choose?
Does This Describe Your Search to Buy Creatine Supplements?:
1. You’ve looked at Bodybuilding.com but can’t sift through the hundreds of options
2. You’ve searched Google and are having a hard time believing the claims made by random people who just want to sell you something
3. You’ve landed here and you’re hoping you’ll find something helpful finally
The best creatine supplement isn’t necessarily about statistics or % of people who apparently gained muscle in a study paid for by the company selling the creatine. What it really comes down to is that every person’s body reacts differently to each different creatine supplement. What that means is that you really have to do some of your own testing and decide which creatine supplement works for you and gives you the greatest gains. Of course you want to buy creatine that helps you and I hope to give you everything you need to know over the next few paragraphs to make that decision yourself. I want to walk you through a number of different factors you should consider as you sort through all the options out there. Hopefully some of the reviews on this site can help you in this process too. I’m going to assume throughout this that you have a basic knowledge of what creatine is and how it works. Hopefully we can dive a little deeper and help you make some real decisions.
Types of Creatine
As you’ve done some digging I’m sure you’ve run into a ton of different options even when it comes to types of creatine including creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine hcl, creatine citrate, and many many more. There is huge amounts of support for almost every one of these products despite one thing: None of them other than the basic creatine monohydrate have ever produced statistical research backed by peer reviewed studies proving they are more effective than regular creatine mono. Does this mean they don’t work? NO, this means there is no official evidence that they work any better than the original. This means one of two things: A. You should just stick to creatine monohydrate when you by creatine, or B. You need to test it for yourself and see if you see any change in gains from another form of creatine. Although there is no “officially backed” proof of a difference, each one of our bodies reacts so differently to the various forms of creatine that it would be ridiculous to blanket a statement either for or against any one product or creatine form. I personally try everything I can get my hands on and test the crap out of them. We’ll show you exactly how to do this later in this post (check out the info under the “Cycling Your Creatine” heading) and even include a spreadsheet to help you out.
Ok, another term you’ve probably come across is Creapure. Many mistakenly believe that Creapure is a brand of creatine product. In a way it is, but not in the way many think it is. Creapure is a German-manufactured creatine monohydrate product that is found in a number of creatine products on the US market. Similar to the way you might find Chinese components in an Ipad you’ll find Creapure in products like Optimum Nutrition, Myogenixm, Allmax, and more. Here’s a quick list of all the one’s we’ve found (You can buy these creatine products on Amazon by clicking them):
- Life Extension
- Ultimate Nutrition
- Optimum Nutrition (or see our review)
- Sport Pharma
- Universal Nutrition
- Integrated Supplements
- Beast Creature (or see our review)
- Musclepharm Assault
There are a few alternatives to Creapure, manufactured in China or the US, but general consensus is that the Creapure 100% monohydrate formula is the purest creatine available on the market. Purest equals best in this case.
Cycling Your Creatine
Another thing that you need to take into account when buying creatine pills or powdered supplements is the cycle you plan on taking with them. Personally I like to cycle all of my workout supplements, but I ALWAYS cycle my creatine. I’m sure you’ve heard of loading and cycling before, and this isn’t new, but cycling in this case is a bit different. I mean cycling between different types and brands of creatine. Why? The same reason you don’t do the same workout every day, every week forever. Essentially to throw off your body and keep you out of any slump is the easiest way to describe it. That means there is suddenly a reason for all those different types of creatine we mentioned before! Maybe a creatine form like creatine hcl doesn’t statistically do anything better than regular creatine mono, but if you cycle it in it can help you maintain gains for longer (this is exactly wht I do with Decacor creatine). And that’s exactly what we all want, now isn’t it?!
Standalone Creatine or Blended Supplements
The unique advantage to buying your creatine separate comes in building your own unique blend of products. Mix in your BCAAs, carbs, creatine, protein, and more all in the portions you find most effective for your body. If there is one thing I am the biggest fan of its testing these things out yourself. Be smart obviously, but play around with dosage sizes until you find something that works for you. On the other hand, a blended pre-workout isn’t bad and makes it much easier for those of us that don’t have the time or are just getting started.
Creatine Powder vs. Capsules
So if you’ve done any kind of research into creatine you’ll see that most products come either in powder form or in capsules. What’s the difference? Well, it’s the same stuff, the capsules are just more convenient (helps with taste as well). If it comes down to it try both and see which one you prefer. If you haven’t picked up on my theme of testing things yourself, please take this opportunity to jump onboard. Its the only way to get the right answers nowadays.
Creatine Adaptations (Micronized Creatine & More)
Micronized creatine, most popularly, Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine, is actually very simple in the way it works. When creatine enters your body it begins to be broken down and absorbed. You may have heard of the term “non-responders” in relation to creatine supplementation. Non-responders don’t seem to absorb creatine for some reason. There is a lot of speculation that I won’t get into, but the biggest theory as to why people don’t respond is that the creatine is that the creatine particles are too big to be absorbed quick enough for efficient use in the body. Micronized creatine attempts to solve this problem by cutting the size of the creatine particles down (by a lot actually). Now, as I’ve said before, even micro creatine doesn’t have empirical evidence supporting enhancement over regular creatine monohydrate, but there’s too reasons I still recommend having it in your stash: 1. As we also mentioned before that cycling through different products can be very beneficial for your gains and 2. Micronized creatine actually dissolves quicker and easier than other creatines, which is great when you compare it to some products that clump up or crystalize (Stay away from products that do this in my opinion)
Creatine + Carbohydrates
One of the other rumors you may have heard about creatine is that taking it along with something sugary will improve its effectiveness. Well, guess what? Its not a rumor! Its been proven that carbohydrates (like from your pre-workout or recovery drink) when taken with you creatine help in a higher percentage of creatine uptake to in the body, meaning more absorbed, more stored, and more gains! If you want proof, check out some of the articles below.
Where do I Buy Creatine Supplements?
There’s the million dollar question. If you’re looking for a single best place to buy all of your supplements, I think Amazon is the closest you’ll get, but Amazon doesn’t carry everything nor do they always have the best prices. I’d say you need to diversify here as well when it comes to purchasing creatine. If its cheaper on Amazon and the same product buy it there. If its cheaper with another company, like Bodybuilding.com or Illpumpyouup.com, then go with them. If you read through our reviews here on the site, we make sure to give you all the options and point out which ones are the cheapest and any caveats to keep in mind shopping certain places.
Scientific Evidence Backing Up Creatine Use
So, one thing I’ve found very prevalent out there on the internet is rampant claims made about creatine as well as every other health product across the globe that are not even close to being scientifically substantial. Although I’ve made several claims here just in this article, please know that my info comes from reliable sources. Of course no one really knows everything about how the body works, but the best way we have of knowing is science. Here are a number of scholarly articles I’ve collected along the way that make indications as to what I’ve been saying in this article.
Creatine & Carbs:
Carbs + creatine = more creatine uptake – http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/271/5/E821 Carbs + creatine = more creatine uptake - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-201X.1996.528300000.x/abstract
Does Creatine Work?:
Creatine increases strength/endurance in weight lifting – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9216554 It works, diminishing effect over time – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/