Creatine is an organic compound that occurs naturally in the body and is one of the best supplements to support muscle growth. Found in foods such as red meat and seafood, it's very commonly produced as a supplement in form of powder or pills. Since creatine is an organic compound, your body can produce and store it. It’s primarily involved in producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which the body uses for energy. Your body uses creatine to help itself generate more ATP. While people do produce creatine, the amount produced is less than optimal and many people benefit by supplementing with creatine.
People take creatine to increase muscle capacity and lean muscle mass, enhance muscle fiber size, and help prevent tissue damage. In its powdered form, creatine can be easily added to water, pre-workout, or even post-workout drinks/shakes.
Comparing Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL
Not all creatine is the same. The two most popular supplement versions are creatine monohydrate and creatine HCL. Continue reading to learn the differences between them and which one is best for your goals.
What’s the Difference Between Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine HCL?
While several types are available, creatine monohydrate is the most popular with creatine HCL continuing to grow in popularity. Creatine monohydrate is also the most studied form of the compound, while newer forms like HCL have risen in popularity. But the list doesn't stop there as there are many forms available, such as creatine magnesium chelate and creatine malate, to name a few.
Creatine monohydrate is identical to the creatine naturally produced by your body. The “monohydrate” refers to its composition being made with a creatine molecule plus a water molecule. It’s treated as the standard for which all other forms are compared. So if you’ve read a study about the effectiveness of creatine, know the study was likely analyzing creatine monohydrate.
Creatine HCL is bound by a salt molecule (hydrochloride) which makes it more soluble in water. Increased solubility means it can be more easily dissolved in water and absorbed by the body. That’s why you may see some creatine HCL supplements claiming better results. But does increased solubility and absorption make it inherently better?
Which Creatine Is Better: Monohydrate or HCL?
Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t draw your own conclusions. Creatine monohydrate and HCL are effectively the same supplements; they are just composed differently.
According to claims, creatine HCL is more efficiently absorbed, so one would think it’s the better version. Logically, you could say faster absorption means your cells get creatine more quickly, leading to better results. But without enough data, you shouldn’t take that claim at face value.
On the other hand, creatine monohydrate may not be as soluble but offers the same results. To help you decide on the two, consider this: creatine monohydrate tends to be cheaper.
How Much Creatine HCL Is Equivalent to Monohydrate?
Since they’re effectively the same, should you take more/less of one to equal the other? Studies have shown creatine HCL is 38 times more soluble than monohydrate. In theory, you would need less creatine HCL to get the same effectiveness as monohydrate, but there’s not enough evidence to substantiate that claim.
If you plan on sticking to creatine monohydrate, be sure you’re going through a loading phase to get the most out of it. A loading phase refers to taking a supplement at high doses, sometimes multiples times, daily over a set period.
In practice, it can look like this: for 5-7 days, take four grams of creatine four times a day—or 20 grams daily.
After the loading phase, your body will have the creatine it needs, but not forever. That’s why you need to follow it up with a maintenance phase. You should get about 3-5 grams daily to maintain creatine stores during this phase.
Will Creatine HCL Make You Bigger?
While it’s popularly advertised that creatine HCL will make you bigger, stronger, or faster, there is no evidence to back it up. At the end of the day, taking creatine is all that matters in terms of growing bigger muscles.
Regardless of the type, creatine increases the phosphate available in muscle cells and enables faster regeneration of ADP into ATP. Having additional ATP available during exercise can improve your ability to increase output during short bursts of intense exercise. This increased output performed over extended periods will result in more muscle built than not taking any creatine.
Should I Take Creatine Before or After a Workout?
The great part about creatine supplementation is that there is no strict rule on when to take it. Rather, the most important variable is consistency. When your body has a consistent amount of creatine to work with, you’ll notice a difference during and after exercise.
All the Creatine Supplements You Want in One Place
Want to increase your muscle mass and energy? Start with a creatine supplement. Whether you’re looking for a Creatine Ethyl Ester, monohydrate, HCL, or other forms, you can find them at Nutrition Faktory. We carry various top supplement brands in-store and online. Find the brand you love or explore what’s out there today.