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How to Shop for a Creatine Supplement

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Creatine is one of the most popular supplements in the muscle building and fitness world. First identified as a component of skeletal muscle in 1832, creatine was embraced by the athletic community in the early 90’s. Creatine has been shown to improve strength, training endurance, energy and assist with muscle gains.

Because of creatine’s popularity, it is included in a broad spectrum of nutritional supplements. This article will look at popular forms of creatine, and help you to determine which creatine supplement is right for you.

Popular Forms of Creatine

While many effective forms of creatine exist, the two most popular are creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester. Creatine monohydrate is the grand daddy of all creatine supplements, and was on the market long before creatine ethyl ester. Because of this, there are more scientific studies backing creatine monohydrate.

Despite having a smaller body of research backing it, creatine ethyl ester is still considered to be a potent and effective form of creatine. It is recommended that you try both creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester to determine which works better for you.

Some other popular forms of creatine include:

  • Kre-Alkalyn
  • Creatine Citrate
  • Creatine Phosphate
  • Creatine Malate
  • Effervescent Creatine

Creatine Powders, Capsules and Beyond

In supplements creatine will appear as a powder, a capsule, as a liquid, or as a blend. The first step in shopping for a creatine supplement is to understand the differences.

Creatine powder is the most popular, and common form of creatine supplement. Creatine powders are sold as stand alone products, or are sold with flavoring powders as mixable drinks.

Creatine capsules, or creatine pills, have gained popularity over the last several years. Creatine pills are sold as either 100% pure creatine, or mixed with other supplements including vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and more.

Liquid creatine is packaged and marketed at a more easily digested form of creatine. Despite it’s digestibility, liquid creatine does not appear in many supplements.

Creatine blends combine various forms of creatine, often with other supplements such as simple carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and herbal extracts, to amplify potency, and increase digestion and athletic performance.

Shopping for Pure Creatine Powder and Pills

When shopping for a creatine powder, first and foremost you’ll want to make sure that you are purchasing enough. At minimum, a creatine cycle will run one to two months. Because it is generally recommended that you take 5 grams of creatine pre and post-workout, you will need a minimum of 300 grams per month.

Many individuals prefer to load creatine for a week when beginning a cycle. Loading generally involves taking 25 grams of creatine for 5-7 days, at various times during the day, followed by 5 grams of creatine pre and post-workout after that point. If you are loading creatine in this manner, you will need 405 grams of creatine during your first month.

Creatine pills, or capsules, are also a popular choice for creatine cycles. The amount of creatine per pill can vary, so make sure you do your research before making a purchase. Most creatine pills contain 2 to 3 grams of creatine per capsule. The following list provides the amount of capsules you will need based on how you cycle:

  • 2 gram capsules, 10 grams per day, no loading. You will need 150 capsules per month. Using 2 gram capsules, you will need to take either 4 grams of creatine before lifting and 6 grams after, or 6 grams before lifting and 4 grams after.
  • 2.5 gram capsules, 10 grams per day, no loading. You will need 120 capsules per month.
  • 3.0 gram capsules, 10 grams per day, no loading. You will need a minimum of 100 capsules per month. 3 capsules per day only provides you with 9 grams of creatine, so you will have to decide whether to run 9 grams of creatine per day, or to run 12 grams per day. If you run 12 grams, you will need 120 capsules.

For creatine cycles in which you load 25 grams of creatine for the first week, you will need the following number of capsules during your first month:

  • 2 gram capsules, 10 grams per day, with loading. You will need 203 capsules for your first month. Using 2 gram capsules, you will need to take either 4 grams of creatine before lifting and 6 grams after, or 6 grams before lifting and 4 grams after.
  • 2.5 gram capsules, 10 grams per day, with loading. You will need 162 capsules for your first month.
  • 3.0 gram capsules, 10 grams per day, with loading. You will need a minimum of 135 capsules for your first month. 3 capsules per day only provides you with 9 grams of creatine, so you will have to decide whether to run 9 grams of creatine per day after the loading phase, or to run 12 grams per day. If you run 12 grams, you will need 158 capsules.

Shopping for Creatine Blends

Creatine is a popular ingredient in pre-workout and post-workout supplements. Pay close attention to the product’s label to determine how much creatine you are receiving each day, and in what form.

Using a pre or post-workout formula with creatine may cut down on your powder and pill needs during a creatine cycle. In many cases, these creatine blends are proprietary mixes, and do not specify the amount of actual creatine that they contain. In this case, continue on with your normal creatine cycle unless specified otherwise on the product.

Pay close attention to the creatine blend’s available flavors. Some flavors will make a tasty combination with your current post-workout whey protein shake, and others, not so much. It is certainly not necessary to mix your post-workout whey with your creatine blend, but if you can find two flavors that work well together, you can save yourself  some time.

Lastly, keep in mind that pre and post-workout blends that contain creatine aren’t always meant to replace a creatine cycle. Many pre-workout blends exist to assist to amplify workout energy, and with muscle pumps. Post-workout blends are meant to assist with recovery and replenishment of muscle glycogen stores, and often contain other popular supplements including BCAAs, glutamine and vitamins and minerals.

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