Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Study Spotlight: Does the Type of Creatine You Take Matter?

Dr. Andrew Jagim

Dietary supplements are becoming more and more popular in today's world of athletics and the recreational fitness community. An ongoing concern of most consumers is the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements. One of the most well-researched dietary supplements on the market is creatine. There are over 1,000 peer reviewed publications investigating the effects of creatine supplementation and the list of positive benefits ranges from enhanced strength, power and muscle growth to more clinical-based benefits such as reduced symptoms of neuromuscular disorders, improved cognitive function and improved prenatal brain development. Now that we've established the benefits of creatine supplementation, a common question asked is: "What kind of creatine is the best?" Researchers in the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Lab at Texas A&M University designed an experiment to find out.

What did they do?
Researchers compared one of the more popular forms of creatine (creatine monohydrate) to a novel form of creatine known as Kre-Alkalyn. Kre-alkalyn is known as a "buffered creatine" which is purported to enhance the bio-availability of creatine within the body as it can withstand the acidic environment within the stomach. The study included 36 resistance-trained males who were divided into three groups: 1) Creatine monohydrate; 2) Kre-alkayln (manufacturer recommended dose); 3) Kre-alkyalyn (High dose). In a double-blind manner, the 36 resistance-trained participants (20.2±2 years, 181±7 cm, 82.1±12 kg, and 14.7±5 % body fat) were randomly assigned to supplement their diet with CrM (Creapure® AlzChem AG, Trostberg, Germany) at normal loading (4 x 5 g/d for 7-days) and maintenance (5 g/d for 21-days) doses; KA (Kre-Alkalyn®, All American Pharmaceutical, Billings, MT, USA) at manufacturer’s recommended doses (KA-L, 1.5 g/d for 28-days); or, KA with equivalent loading (4 x 5 g/d for 7-days) and maintenance (5 g/d) doses of CrM (KA-H). Subjects ingested the supplement for a 28-day period and resumed regular dietary and training habits during the study. Subjects were assessed for changes in body composition, muscular strength and anaerobic capacity before and after the supplementation period.

What did they find?
Results of the study indicated that creatine monohydrate lead to a greater (not statistically significant) increase in muscle creatine content as determined by muscle biopsies. Results also indicated that there were no significant differences in body composition following supplementation.

Each group experienced an increase in fat-free mass as determined by DEXA analysis with no differences between groups. Furthermore, there were no differences in body fat.

There was a significant increase in 1RM for bench press in all groups over time (97.6 ± 22.3 to 101.3 ± 22.6 kg, p < 0.001) with no differences among groups. Average power (p = 0.005), peak power (p = 0.003), and total work (p = 0.005) increased in all groups over time for the Wingate test with no differences observed among groups.

Neither manufacturers recommended doses (1.5 g/d) or KA with equivalent loading (20 g/d for 7-days) and maintenance doses (5 g/d for 21-days) of KA promoted greater changes in muscle creatine content, body composition, strength, or anaerobic capacity than CrM (20 g/d for 7-days, 5 g/d for 21-days). In addition, there was no evidence that supplementing the diet with a buffered form of creatine resulted in fewer side effects than CrM.

Take Home Message:

According to product claims KA is “up to ten times more powerful than ordinary Creatine”. The findings of the current study do not support claims that consuming a buffered form of creatine is a more efficacious and/or safer form of creatine to consume than creatine monohydrate.  However, there didn't appear to be any differences among groups for all the variables with the exception of muscle creatine content. So there doesn't appear to be much benefit which could be due to the short supplement period.  However if there are no performance-related differences I would recommend going with creatine monohydrate as it is MUCH cheaper than a buffered creatine.

Jagim, A. R., Oliver, J. M., Sanchez, A., Galvan, E., Fluckey, J., Riechman, S., ... & 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. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 9(1), 43.
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