Since creatine has been proven to be one of the more effective supplements out there, we thought we’d do a buyers guide for the different products out there. Though creatine in one form or another has been around for decades, there have been some significant improvements that make it both easier to consume and increased the efficiency with which it is absorbed by the body. Since creatine is a specific chemical formula there are very few significant differences between brand names and thus naming the best creatine on the market can be difficult. In this buyer’s guide we’re going to take a look at a few brands that offer both a high quality product and a reasonable price.
I’ve personally been using creatine monohydrate off and on since about 1995. When I first started reading about it in bodybuilding magazines it was touted as the miracle supplement. Like most, I did see considerable gains in strength once I started using it consistently. And while the formula for creatine hasn’t changed since the 90’s, the delivery system has. Here are our top 3 creatine products. They’re all ‘micronized’ creatine. We’ll get more into what that means below.
Does Creatine Actually Work?
So much of lifting, or any sport for that matter is mental, and this is what makes so many supplements difficult to judge. We’ve all had a day at the gym where we felt we could lift whatever we put on the bar. Conversely, we’ve also experienced days where even the lightest of weight felt significantly heavier than normal. Much of this is wrapped up in our attitude before we even get into the gym.
When you read a testimonial by a professional athlete or bodybuilder that their performance is enhanced by a particular product, it’s easy to get sucked in. After all, if it works for them, it should work for you right? And to a certain extent, through the placebo effect, you might experience enhanced results yourself. But most supplements haven’t been tested to a degree that actually proves the benefit of using them. Not to mention that some have side-effects that may make them completely worthless.
Of all of the supplements available in the world of sports and bodybuilding, creatine is one of the few that has actually proven in studies to be highly effective. The science behind it is fairly straightforward. At the most basic level, our body burns energy to move. This energy is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Any movement you make requires the use of this energy and our bodies have a limited store from which to pull. Our bodies are extremely efficient at restoring these levels through the use of glycogen. But this process takes time. This is why you run out of steam during a set, but can replenish your energy levels in time for your next set.
Creatine monohydrate enhances your energy levels by offering your body a very efficient fuel that can quickly be turned into ATP when these stores become depleted. The effect is that you are able to go further in each set than you would be able to otherwise.
Is Creatine Natural?
Creatine monohydrate is a naturally occurring substance that is found in much of the food we eat. Red meat is a good example. However, it is found in relatively small levels. Consuming large amounts is very difficult as it would require you to eat more meat than is possible for most people.
This is where creatine supplements come in to play. They help to boost the amount of energy your muscles can expend before exhaustion. There are several types of creatine. Most tend to agree that the best creatine on the market is micronized. The reason for this is simple. Standard creatine monohydrate doesn’t dissolve terribly easily. In fact, even when well mixed it can feel as though your drinking fluid with sand suspended in it.
Micronizing the creatine particles makes them smaller, which in turn allows them to dissolve more easily. It also has the added benefit of being easier to digest. One drawback of standard creatine is that it can cause some stomach discomfort. This can often be minimized or eliminated entirely with micronized creatine.
Absorption is the Key
When it comes to creatine, no matter which form you choose, the most important factor is the amount that is absorbed by your body. Micronized has one of the highest absorption rates of all available forms. This means that you can take less of it to get the same effect. Some studies have shown absorption rates of standard monohydrate being as low as 5%. This is why some products require a loading period. Even though you might be consuming a few teaspoons per day, only a small fraction is actually making it’s way into your muscles.
This also makes a big difference when it comes to price. Micronized products such as the BulkSupplements are ideal because they are not only reasonably priced, but they also have high rates of absorption. This means that the product will be both effective and will cost you less in the long run.
So if you’re looking for a good creatine product, any of the three we highlighted at the beginning of this article will work, but given the formula is the same, you’re better off going for the one that offers the most cost savings.