Buffered Creatine vs. Creatine Monohydrate Study Key Points
- Manufacturers market buffered creatine as a superior form of creatine. The study examined the effects of buffered creatine versus creatine monohydrate on muscle creatine content, body composition, and training adaptations.
- Interestingly, the results revealed that both forms of creatine boosted muscle creatine content and enhanced muscle mass and strength. However, no significant differences existed between the two forms.
Researchers have extensively studied creatine monohydrate, and it stands as the most widely used form of creatine supplementation. (António et al., 2021) However, with so many available options, which type of creatine is best for you? Buffered forms of creatine (i.e., kre-alkalyn) and creatine monohydrate are popular forms of creatine supplementation used by athletes and individuals seeking to enhance their performance and muscle strength. While there is ongoing debate about which form is superior, it is important to examine the scientific evidence to determine their relative effectiveness.
Understanding Creatine: A Brief Overview
Creatine, a popular supplement in the fitness industry, is known for its ability to enhance muscle growth, strength, and exercise performance, including muscle recovery. You can obtain it from dietary sources such as supplements or consume it through foods like beef and fish. The most common form of creatine is creatine monohydrate, which works by increasing the availability of ATP, the body’s energy currency. By understanding how creatine affects muscle cells and metabolism, athletes and bodybuilders can optimize their muscle building and recovery processes.
It is important to note that creatine use should be accompanied by proper hydration and following recommended dosages. The most common type of creatine supplement is creatine monohydrate, which is widely taken by athletes and bodybuilders to improve muscle performance during high-intensity exercises such as weightlifting, sprinting, and bicycling. Other forms of creatine don’t offer the same benefits as creatine monohydrate.
Creatine Monohydrate Benefits
Creatine is a well-known dietary supplement, top-rated among bodybuilders and weightlifters because it enhances anaerobic exercise capacity and increases training volume, leading to strength, power, and muscle mass gains. (Jäger et al., 2011) Furthermore, it is found in both dietary sources or naturally sources in food.
Creatine, a basic form used in bodybuilding, helps produce adenosine triphosphate, promoting muscle growth. Variants like creatine ethyl ester and creatine hydrochloride (HCL) exist. Some research connects creatine to elevated testosterone, showcasing its influence on leg and bench press exercises. Proper hydration is essential when consuming creatine to prevent adverse effects.
An Insight into Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine monohydrate (CrM) is the most extensively studied form of creatine. Research indicates that it increases muscle creatine concentrations by approximately 15-40%. (Greenhaff et al., 1994) Moreover, studies have also shown that nearly 99% of oral creatine monohydrate is taken up by tissues. (Persky et al., 2003) Notably, creatine monohydrate has a high safety profile, and it can be used in lower doses (1.5 grams per day compared to the standard creatine monohydrate dose of 5–10 grams), hence avoiding common adverse effects, such as an upset stomach.
What is Buffered Creatine?
Buffered creatine and creatine monohydrate are different forms of creatine with distinct chemical compositions. Manufacturers promote buffered creatine as having superior stability and absorption compared to creatine monohydrate. However, a recent study comparing the two forms of creatine found that consuming a buffered form with its raised pH value is not necessarily more efficacious or safer than creatine monohydrate. The study’s findings do not support claims that buffered creatine is a superior form of creatine to consume. Despite this, individual preferences and tolerance may still play a role in choosing between the two forms.
Comparing Buffered Creatine (Kre-Alkalyn) and Creatine Monohydrate Supplements
The study aimed to determine if supplementing the diet with buffered creatine was more effective in increasing muscle creatine retention, body composition, strength, and anaerobic capacity than supplementing with creatine monohydrate.
The participants were healthy, resistance-trained men divided into three groups. The study compared three groups:
- A group that received a buffered creatine monohydrate (KA-L) supplement at a low dose (1.5 g/day for 28 days.),
- A group that received a buffered creatine monohydrate supplement at a high dose (KA-H) (20 g/day for 7 days (loading phase) followed by 5 g/day for 21 days (maintenance phase)), and
- A group that received creatine monohydrate (CrM) supplement. (20 g/day for 7 days (loading phase) followed by 5 g/day for 21 days (maintenance phase).
The study comparing buffered creatine and creatine monohydrate showed no significant differences between the two forms of creatine in terms of muscle creatine levels, strength gains, changes in body composition, or body mass.
Results of the study clearly show that supplementing the diet with buffered creatine, along with maintaining a regular workout schedule and ensuring adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water, is not better or safer than creatine monohydrate for those looking to gain body mass. However, it is important to note that incorporating strength training into your workout routine can lead to more substantial gains.
This suggests that both buffered creatine and creatine monohydrate are equally effective in increasing muscle creatine content and improving strength. The study did not support the claims of buffered creatine being superior to creatine monohydrate(Jagim et al., 2012)
Is Buffered Creatine Better?
Contrary to some beliefs, the study’s findings do not strongly support the claims of buffered creatine’s superiority over creatine monohydrate. A critical review of the literature on creatine and its related compounds found that the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of newer forms of creatine, such as Kre Alkalyn, remian inconclusive. The review also highlighted that little to no evidence supports marketing claims that these newer forms of creatine are more stable or more effective in increasing muscle creatine levels (Kreider et al., 2022). However, it is important to note that the study did not find any evidence of bloating or cramping associated with the use of buffered creatine.
Implications of the Study Findings for Athletes and Bodybuilders
To wrap up, even though marketers present buffered creatine as a more effective supplement, limited scientific evidence supports its superiority over creatine monohydrate. On the other hand, Creatine monohydrate has been extensively studied and shown to be effective in increasing muscle creatine stores and improving exercise performance. Therefore, based on the available scientific evidence, creatine monohydrate remains the preferred choice for individuals seeking to enhance their athletic performance and muscle strength. (Antonio et al., 2021).
António, J., Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Gualano, B., Jagim, A. R., Kreider, R. B., Rawson, E. S., Smith‐Ryan, A. E., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Willoughby, D. S., & Ziegenfuss, T. N. (2021). Common Questions and Misconceptions About Creatine Supplementation: What Does the Scientific Evidence Really Show? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w
Greenhaff, P. L., Bodin, K., Soderlund, K., & Hultman, E. (1994). Effect of oral creatine supplementation on skeletal muscle phosphocreatine resynthesis. Am J Physiol, 266(5 Pt 1), E725-730. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.1994.266.5.E725
Jäger, R., Purpura, M., Shao, A., Inoue, T., & Kreider, R. B. (2011). Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids, 40(5), 1369-1383. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-011-0874-6
Jagim, A. R., Oliver, J. M., Sanchez, A., Galvan, E., Fluckey, J., Riechman, S., Greenwood, M., Kelly, K., Meininger, C., Rasmussen, C., & Kreider, R. B. (2012). A buffered form of creatine does not promote greater changes in muscle creatine content, body composition, or training adaptations than creatine monohydrate. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 43. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-43
Kreider, R. B., Jäger, R., & Purpura, M. (2022). Bioavailability, Efficacy, Safety, and Regulatory Status of Creatine and Related Compounds: A Critical Review. Nutrients. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14051035
Persky, A. M., Brazeau, G. A., & Hochhaus, G. (2003). Pharmacokinetics of the dietary supplement creatine. Clin Pharmacokinet, 42(6), 557-574. https://doi.org/10.2165/00003088-200342060-00005