In the last 12 months, a record number of new supplements have arrived on the fitness scene.
Most of them are about as useful as a c**k flavoured lollipop.
But among the so-called testosterone boosters, and whey protein formulas that claim to be for toning, there there was a diamond in the rough.
A supplement which shows genuine promise and has the potential to be a major player in the bodybuilding industry for the foreseeable future.
That product is creatine hydrochloride.
This particular formula is slowly becoming the ‘go to’ creatine supplement for athletes around the world. It’s also the form of creatine many of my female clients use.
Today I’ll show you why.
What Does Creatine Do?
Creatine HCL is the latest in a long line of additions to the creatine marketplace.
If you’ve been lifting weights for a while, you’ve probably already seen creatine on the shelves of your local supplement store and read the recommendations on why you should take it.
But most lifters have one question on their lips, “What does creatine actually do?”
Your body’s natural reserves of creatine are responsible for short bursts of explosive activity (think running for a bus, or picking up a heavy object). The problem being our natural reserves are relatively small and don’t last very long before they need to recoup.
Supplementing with additional creatine via our diet has been shown to boost our ability to perform explosive activities.
A great review study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research back in 2003 found that supplementing with creatine typically yields strength gains of around 8%, while also boosting the participants’ ability to train through failure by 14%. (1)
Needless to say, these advantages can add up to serious gains in lean muscle mass in the long-term.
Creatine will also push more water into your muscle cells (so be sure to increase water intake), creating a fuller, harder appearance.
These water effects are somewhat superficial, as your body will flush the water from your muscle cells when you stop using creatine, but the gains you’ve made in strength and muscle size are 100% real.
You can increase your creatine intake through food (like red meat), but you’d need an awful lot each day. And unless you’ve got a toilet with a nuclear flush button, I don’t recommend that approach!
So by far the easiest way to do this is to take additional creatine in powdered form
In Comes Creatine HCL
For over 25 years, athletes have been using various forms of creatine supplements to boost their explosive strength.
Although it started with sprinters, it’s no surprise that it quickly made it’s way into the gym and took up it’s place in bodybuilding history as the best-selling supplement of all time.
And for almost the entire time, people have been asking, “Which type of creatine is the best?”
Creatine monohydrate (the original form) is the ideal choice if you want to base your purchase on solid scientific evidence.
It’s safe from negative side effects, proven and highly effective. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
The problem with the supplement industry is that they’ve spent years pushing newer adaptations of this formula with slight tweaks and many bogus myths in a bid to get you to shell out extra money for supplements which offer no clear advantage over the relatively cheap original formula.
So we’ve seen creatine nitrate, kre-alkalyn, creatine ethyl ester, and many more.
The list of so-called “better” forms of creatine is huge and yet none of them have any scientific research to state they are actually superior to creatine monohydrate.
But in unearthing creatine HCL, finally a contender has been discovered.
Though still in it’s infancy, this is creatine with a hydrochloride group attached to it in a bid to enhance it’s stability.
Early studies have indicated that creatine HCL is more soluble than creatine monohydrate, greatly enhancing the rate at which the body can absorb it into the muscle cells. (6)
Creatine HCL is almost 70% more soluble, and absorption in the intestines rose by 60%!
The reason creatine HCL is more soluble is because it’s more acidic, and this also means that the required daily dosage is smaller.
While creatine monohydrate requires a dose of 5 grams, creatine HCL will provide the same results at just 2.5 grams.
These findings came from a 2009 study by researchers from the University of Manitoba, which really set the ball rolling in terms of research on the benefits of creatine HCL supplementation for bodybuilding purposes.
So creatine HCL will provide you with the same effectiveness as creatine monohydrate, but in a smaller dose.
“I’ve exclusively used creatine HCL for the last decade.
Because monohydrate isn’t very soluble, the particles which sit at the bottom of your shaker will invariably sit on your stomach, drawing water around the intestines and leaving you feeling bloated for a while after drinking it.
It used to give me explosive diarrhea!
Creatine HCL allows me to get the same training benefits as monohydrate, without those unwanted side effects.”
This is great news, but it’s not enough to hail it as “the new king”.
To make a bold statement like that, we’d need more…
As of yet, this research does not exist.
The only further study which has looked at creatine HCL since then was performed by researchers from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who compared creatine HCL vs creatine monohydrate to see if HCL could perhaps improve upon the results monohydrate has been proven to give.
This would surely make HCL the top dog.
However, the results of the study were sketchy at best, and while it showed that HCL didn’t provide worse results, it cannot be argued that it was superior either because the results were statistically insignificant. It simply required a smaller dose to do the same job. (7)
It’s also worth knowing that the patent for creatine HCL was filed by the same team who created creatine ethyl ester, which hit the market with bold claims about being superior to monohydrate. Claims which have since been shown to be untrue. (8)
Creatine HCL – Final Thoughts
So do we have a new king?
We don’t know just yet.
What has been shown so far is that creatine HCL will provide the same muscle building effects (not superior) as creatine monohydrate, and it is capable of doing it via a smaller dosage, and that it’ll be absorbed better so if taking monohydrate typically leaves you feeling bloated or needing the toilet, creatine HCL may be the way to go!
More research is needed before we can consider it the true successor to the creatine throne, but it certainly looks promising.
If you’d like to give it a try, this is the one my male and female clients use.
If you enjoyed this article on the benefits of creatine HCL, all I ask is that you are kind enough to drop a like on it below.
- Rawson, E.S., et al. Effects of creatine supplementation and resistance training on muscle strength and weightlifting performance. J Strength Cond Res. (2003).
- Groeneveld GJ, et al. Few adverse effects of long-term creatine supplementation in a placebo-controlled trial. Int J Sports Med. (2005).
- Greenwood M, et al. Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury. Mol Cell Biochem. (2003).
- Lopez R.M., et al. Does creatine supplementation hinder exercise heat tolerance or hydration status? A systematic review with meta-analyses. J Athl Train. (2009).
- Shao, A., et al. Risk assessment for creatine monohydrate. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. (2006).
- Miller, D. Oral bioavailability of creatine supplements: Is there room for improvement? Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, (2009).
- de França, E., et al. Creatine HCl and Creatine Monohydrate Improve Strength but Only Creatine HCl Induced Changes on Body Composition in Recreational Weightlifters. Food and Nutrition Sciences. (2015).
- Spillane, M., et al. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2009).