Last post I compared creatine monohydrate to creatine ethyl ester, and concluded that monohydrate definitely has the upper hand for multiple reasons. Just because something is new, doesn’t make it better (and much of the time “new” supplements don’t have the kind of research backing it up that “old” supplements do).
Fortunately, though, the amount of people buying creatine ethyl ester has been declining in recent years since many people are starting to realize that it is not better than monohydrate.
What has not been declining, however, is creatine kre-alkalyn. This is supposedly the “new and improved” creatine, and the supplement companies essentially make two assertions (From bodybuilding.com):
- Ph buffered – Kre-Alkalyn is formulated with a higher Ph than other forms of creatine
- Kre-Alkalyn produces less waste product when digested*
- Take a smaller amount of Kre-Alkalyn per serving with the same results as other forms of creatine*
- No loading phase*
- Better absorption by muscle tissue*
- Less chance of holding water or bloating
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Since this article became longer than I had originally planned, I have split it up into two parts. This is part 1. You can read part 2 here.
Alright, so let’s do some digging!
PH BUFFERED, LESS WASTE PRODUCT & TAKES A SMALLER DOSAGE
Let’s kill 3 birds with one stone.
What the supplement companies are referring to here is that creatine is thought to breakdown somewhat in the stomach, due to the stomach acid, and turn into creatinine – a useless waste product.
We have already seen in my previous article that ethyl ester does breakdown in the stomach, which is one of the reasons that it is not very effective.
But what about monohydrate?
A study done by Adam M. Persky et al.: Pharmacokinetics of the Dietary Supplement Creatine showed that the breakdown of creatine monohydrate into creatinine is essentially a non-issue1:
…the rate of formation of the degradation product, creatinine, is increased in the presence of acid[66,68] and therefore accelerated degradation is possible in the lower pH of the stomach. However, creatine degradation to creatinine occurs at its maximal rate at pH 3–4. The degradation half-lives for the conversion of creatine to creatinine at pH values 1.4, 3.7 and 6.8 are 55, 7.5 and 40.5 days, respectively.
Thus, at a normal stomach PH level (about 1-3 when digesting food, as high as 4-5 when empty, as in the morning upon awakening) it would take anywhere from 7.5 to 55 days for HALF of the creatine to get broken down into creatinine. The authors conclude:
At these rates, less than 0.1g of a 5g dose would be lost in 1 hour. Therefore, the conversion to creatinine in the gastrointestinal tract is probably minimal regardless of transit time.
Well there goes the idea that creatine monohydrate produces a lot of waste product…
But just to add a little more evidence, there is also this study by Schedel et al. which concludes that “the degree of conversion of exogenous Cr [creatine] to Crn [creatinine] in the stomach and the gut can be considered as negligible following the first 6 h of ingestion.”2
Thus, since normal creatine monohydrate doesn’t produce a lot of waste product by itself, there is no need to PH buffer it like Kre-Alkalyn does.
So what about Kre-Alkalyn needing a smaller dosage?
- Persky, A. M. and G. A. Brazeau. “Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate..” Pharmacological reviews 53 (June 2001): 161-176.
Schedel, Jean-Marc, Hiroaki Tanaka, Akira Kiyonaga, Munehiro Shindo, and Yves Schutz. “Acute creatine ingestion in human: Consequences on serum creatine and creatinine concentrations.” Life Sciences 65 (October 1999): 2463-2470.