Creatine Hydrochloride or HCL for short is the second most popular supplement behind monohydrate, with all of the same benefits in a smaller daily dosage.
While creatine monohydrate is the most tested of all the creatine supplements, the effectiveness and long term safety of creatine HCL has been tested and proven.
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What Is Creatine
Creatine is a naturally made chemical in your body that is very similar to proteins in the sense that it is made up of similar properties as amino acids.
95% of it is found in your muscle cells, and the other 5% is in your brain, liver, and kidneys. Creatine plays a significant role in the energy output your body uses during intense physical activities like strength training and high-intensity cardio workouts.
When your body runs out of energy the creatine stored in your muscles from supplementing with it then is used as a backup energy source.
What Is Creatine HCL (hydrochloride)
Creatine HCL is a concentrated form that has the natural acids replaced with hydrochloride acid making it more potent, allowing your body to absorb it quicker than monohydrates.
Since the creatine and the hydrochloride acid aren’t combined (there just mixed), this makes it much easier for your body to absorb while taking a smaller dosage.
What Does Creatine HCL Do
The short answer is when taken on a regular basis it will increase muscle mass, add strength, allow you to do more reps during your workouts, and improve your exercise
The longer technical answer is that it helps your body produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) ATP is basically the currency of energy. When you lift weights it makes the cells in your muscles require energy and your body supplies the energy by breaking down ATP, this is known as hydrolysis.
The problem is that there is not a lot of ATP to go around, and once you run out your muscle endurance and workout will start to sacrifice.
This is where creatine supplementation comes into play, your body can only store enough ATP for about 10 seconds of high intense workouts, at this point your body must start producing more ATP.
Creatine increases your bodies phosphocreatine which will be used to make ATP during strenuous activity, allowing you to workout longer, add reps, decrease muscle fatigue and increase your intensity.
Being able to workout harder, longer and at a higher intensity in the long run will give you faster results.
Creatine HCL Benefits
Since it’s one of the most proficient creatine supplements on the market it has a number of benefits over other creatine products:
- Can be taken in smaller doses
- Higher production of ATP for more energy during workouts
- Less water retention
- Decreased chance of cramps or muscle pulls
- No loading phase
- Less money overtime
- Becomes soluble in water quicker
Creatine HCL Side Effects
Creatine monohydrate and HCL has been tested more then any other supplement on the market allowing you to comfortably judge the long term and short term safety of the product.
There are some side effects that can come with creatine use but almost all of them can be avoided if you drink enough water while taking it.
These are some of them:
- Stomach pain
- Kidney stones
I want to point out again that when a healthy individual that doesn’t have any preexisting liver or kidney issues can avoid all of these above symptoms by drinking enough water on a daily basis while using creatine HCL, or monohydrate.
Is Creatine HCL Better Than Creatine Monohydrate
There haven’t been as many studies done on Creatine HCL as there has been on creatine monohydrate, and both products are used for the same exact reason.
One of the benefits of using Creatine HCL over Creatine monohydrate is that since the HCL form is lower in PH it is 60% more water-soluble.
The lower PH makes it much easier to dilute in water and is absorbed into the body quicker, this supposedly makes the side effects less pronounced.
I’ve heard from clients that they don’t feel any water retention from HCL, but they do from monohydrate.
I have used both forms and didn’t experience any of the negative side effects associated with either of them.
I also drink around a gallon of water a day, and this simple action will eliminate 99% of the side effects from creatine usage since it is one of the safest supplements to use.
Creatine HCL Dose
Creatine HCL is more soluble than other forms allowing a smaller dose to be more effective.
The recommended dosage is 750 milligrams a day is the lowest amount needed for considerable results but the common dosage is 2 to 3 grams per day.
If you don’t want to take the full dose at once you can spread it out but I don’t see an advantage to this.
Do You Load Creatine HCL
The vast majority of people will tell you this is the main benefit HCL has over monohydrate.
When you start taking creatine monohydrate you need to do a week long loading phase where you take 20 grams a day for seven days.
HCL is concentrated so you only need 2 to 3 grams a day, with no loading phase.
Your muscles will be fully saturated in about a week.
When Should I Take Creatine HCL
This is a debate that I don’t ever think will end, is it better to take it when you first wake up when your body is catatonic and craving nutrients, or before your workout to enhance power and strength, after your workout or before bed.
If you look at how creatine works you’ll likely realize that it doesn’t matter when you take it as long as you make sure to take it everyday.
You can decide, and then you’ll have your own opinion to keep the debate alive.
When you first wake up
The thought behind this is when you first wake up your stomach is empty and you’re catatonic from not eating for 6 to 8 hours making your body ready to absorb anything you put into it. On my off days, I take it first thing in the morning with my espresso shat.
After you have taken it for a few weeks your muscles will be fully saturated, at this point it doesn’t matter when you take it each day just as long as you are using it on a daily basis.
Before your workout
This argument wants you to believe that consuming it before your workout will increase your strength, force and endurance. Allowing you to activate more muscle fibers and as a result, lift more weight and lead to more muscle growth.
The problem I have with this is that as long as you take creatine every day your muscles are already saturated with it and you should already be seeing increases in strength, force, and endurance. I don’t see how this would make any difference.
After your workout
This is where your body is primed to absorb every gram of creatine and protein to repair itself from the epic workout that you just performed.
It’s because I like to add my creatine into my protein shake to make it more convenient.
What Should You Mix With Creatine HCL
The options below are some of the different ways people take creatine if you want to make it with water that is fine.
What you take creatine with isn’t as important as being consistent with it and making it every day.
A lot of experts will tell you to mix it with a fruit juice that is high in sugar. The thinking behind this is that insulin regulates the absorption of creatine, so if you spike your insulin, you will elevate absorption levels.
There is a problem with this, though; you have to use a fruit juice that has at least 100 grams of sugar to raise your insulin. Since you take creatine every day, the calories from the high sugar content are going to add up quickly.
I don’t feel that you receive any type of benefit that would garner, adding that many empty calories to your diet.
The best way to get results from creatine HCL is to abide by a strict diet and work your ass off in the gym
I mix my creatine with a protein shake just for the sake of convenience, I drink it after every workout and don’t have to worry about forgetting it.
Many people believe that there is a 30-minute window after your workout where your body is starved for nutrients and will use a higher percentage at this point than at any other point during the day.
Many people buy pre-workouts that have creatine in them already, or you can add some to it, I find most pre-workout supplements to be garbage, and it is just as beneficial or healthier at times to have a double shot of espresso.
Especially since caffeine is the main ingredient in pre-workouts, it’s just covered up by a bunch of other parts to make you feel like you’re taking something special.
This will also save you a lot of money.
I want you to look at the ingredients in your pre-workout and then do some research into them and tell me if you see anything in there besides the caffeine that is doing something beneficial to your results.
Creatine Bloating (water retention)
Creatine monohydrate will pull water into your muscles, helping them look bigger and heal quicker after workouts.
This can cause you to become dehydrated, which will cause you to bloat or retain water.
Toi minimize this, you should be drinking close to a gallon of water a day, yes that’s correct; you should be drinking water to stop bloating.
When your body becomes dehydrated, it starts to worry about your internal organs, so it pulls water from your extremities.
Your intestines are a very vital part of your body and are one of the areas your body will start to retain water.
This is where the bloated feeling comes from, so by drinking enough water and staying hydrated, you’ll decrease the amount of water retention your body will see.
Creatine Fat Loss
For some reason, creatine has a bad reputation when it comes to it, causing you to become fat; this isn’t true at all.
Creatine monohydrate can cause water retention, which will cause you to gain about 2 to 3 pounds of water weight in the first couple of weeks.
Creatine HCL is more soluble causing you to gain hardly any water weight.
The fact is that creatine has no calories; it doesn’t make you hungry or cause you to gain belly fat.
It is an essential supplement when losing weight due to how it will help you preserve muscle while on a calorie deficit.
What Food Is High In Creatine
If you’re supplementing with creatine, you don’t have to worry about adding any more through your diet since it will only be flushed out of your system anyway.
|Food source||Creatine Content|
|Shrimp||Minimal Amounts but really good|
Other Forms Of Creatine
I’m going to preference this by saying if you want to take a supplement, it should be creatine monohydrate or creatine HCL.
The other types haven’t been nearly tested as much, and there is no way of knowing if they are as effective or safe as these have proven to be.
The only information you’ll have is the guy at your gym swearing this type is the best, don’t listen to the know it all’s at the gym.
Do the research and trust the scientific data that has come out of hundreds of tests over the last two decades, telling you to pick between monohydrates or HCL.
I know there is still one of you saying, but I want to know what else is out there, so here is the list of other types of creatine supplements even though I strongly opposer you from trying them.
The name says it all; this is creatine that is in liquid form to make it easier to take when at the gym or on the go without having to take a shaker bottle.
This is a little silly to me since you can make a protein shake and add creatine to it or just mix up some with any liquid beforehand.
It all becomes the same thing in the end since there is no other benefit you receive from buying creatine in liquid form.
This is simply creatine monohydrate with the water removed to give you a little more creatine per gram.
This doesn’t make a difference once your creatine stores are fully maxed; it doesn’t matter that you are receiving a little more creatine per gram.
Creatine Ethyl Ester
This is creatine that has been attached to a fat-soluble ethanol ester to give you 3 grams of pure CEE in each one scoop serving.
This is another brand that is trying to say that it is absorbed easier and goes to the muscles that you need it faster.
This is stupid, I’ve said it a million times already, but once your muscles are saturated with creatine, it doesn’t matter how fast your next dose is absorbed.
Magnesium Chelate Creatine
This is a form of creatine where magnesium is combined with the creatine molecule or chelated with magnesium.
People will tell you that it increases your strength and endurance, this may be true, but there aren’t enough tests to prove that it’s efficient in increasing your strength or whether or not it’s safe to take long term.
Buffered creatine is like magnesium chelate except instead of the magnesium being combined with the creatine compound. It’s only mixed.
This is made by a company called creapure, who is based in Germany using a manufacturing plant that sets the highest standards in terms of quality, purity, effectiveness, and safety.
The way they manufacturer creapure monohydrate makes it more potent and pure than any other type.
Conclusion – Is Creatine HCL Better Than Creatine Monohydrate
There may be another type of creatine that is safer and more effective than creatine monohydrate, but I severely doubt it.
There are hardly any side effects associated with creatine monohydrate, and the ones that are reported are mostly from people not drinking enough water and becoming dehydrated.
I can’t in good conscience recommend another product that isn’t tested as much as creatine monohydrate and hasn’t proven its effectiveness and safety for decades.