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Creatine Beyond the Basics

Q. Is there a difference between types of creatine that are currently available?

A. As some people are aware, you can now find creatine on the market in three forms: phosphate, citrate, and monohydrate. My feeling is that the phosphate variety is not easily absorbed by the body and for this reason will not yield effective and substantial results. The citrate variety seemed to be catching on for a time, but again the research is sketchy here. In fact, nearly all the positive clinical studies that have been done on creatine have utilized the monohydrate form, and this is the only form that I currently recommend.

Q. Is all creatine monohydrate alike, or are the name brands really better?

A. There’s a ton of cheap, generic creatine monohydrate on the market (especially on the web), but I’m convinced that most of it is of significantly lower quality than the reputable brand name versions. Supplement companies and distributors in the U.S. currently get their raw creatine from two primary sources: China and Germany. The creatine that comes in from China is almost always less expensive, but it’s also much more likely to be impure. Typically, it’ll be cut with the complex carb maltodextrin. This is the dirt cheap “creatine” that many wholesalers offer. No wonder some people don’t see any results. Reputable creatine suppliers prefer the German version, which is a bit more expensive but tests out at a significantly higher level of quality. With creatine you really do get what you pay for.

Q. Is micronized creatine just hype or is it really better?

A. Micronized creatine is very interesting. Basically, it’s produced through a process that finely grinds or “micronizes” the creatine particles themselves into particles that are 10, 15, even 20 times smaller than regular creatine particles. There’s no doubt that micronized creatine dissolves better in liquid—this just makes sense. It’s also theorized that the smaller particle size leads to easier and faster digestion and uptake into the blood. Individuals who report stomach upset with regular creatine intake almost always find the problem alleviated by switching to the micronized version. Many of the top creatine monohydrate products on the market—including AST’s Creatine HSC—have already switched to using micronized particles. This trend is likely to continue and accelerate in the near future.

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