TL;DR Summary: What is the healthiest form of creatine?
The healthiest form of creatine is creatine monohydrate, according to clinical evidence. This form backed by the strongest research, with studies demonstrating its effectiveness at increasing your body’s stores and improving exercise performance without causing side effects or damaging health.
Creatine is fast becoming the most popular supplement among bodybuilders, powerlifters and strength athletes. Today, even your average gym rat who has no desire to compete is using creatine; gone are the days when this was a supplement just for athletes!
There’s a good reason for this trend: creatine is extremely effective! It is easily the most studied fitness supplement in existence, and the most thoroughly proven. Clinical trial after clinical trial has shown that creatine is highly effective for increasing strength and explosive power in a very short space of time.
Not only that, but creatine is super effective for rapidly gaining fat free mass. As a salt, creatine monohydrate pulls water into your muscle cells, making them swell. This increase in fat free weight helps you move more weight in the gym without you having to get fat – weight moves weight!
But we know that not all creatine is the same. The best creatine is usually the most effective creatine. But what about long term health?
What form of creatine is the “healthiest”?
What are the health risks associated with creatine anyway?
Are some forms of creatine unhealthy?
Let’s take a closer look at creatine to answer these questions in detail.
Is creatine healthy?
Creatine is generally very safe to use, even over long periods of time.
This is one of the most studied supplements in the world; there are hundreds of clinical trials available for you to read online which have looked at both the efficacy and safety of creatine. In no study we’ve seen did any participants report experiencing side effects.
Creatine has been associated with some side effects in the past, such as muscle cramping and stiffness. But these almost always result from overuse of creatine supplements; people either take far too much or they use it alongside other supplements and a high intake of salt and insufficient water consumption.
These side effects generally subside after you stop taking creatine.
The only real health concern with creatine is kidney stones.
There have been a few instances of creatine exacerbating kidney damage in people with existing kidney damage or disease. Obviously creatine consumption places an extra strain on the liver and kidneys, and as a salt it has the potential to accumulate in the kidneys, causing kidney stones.
However, if you do not already have kidney issues then creatine is unlikely to cause kidney stones. This is especially true if you are using a sensible dose (3-5 grams per day) of a high quality creatine supplement.
So what is the healthiest form of creatine to take?
Healthiest form of creatine
As we’ve already explained, creatine is, generally speaking, very safe. It is a naturally occurring compound found I plentiful amounts in the human body. Every time you eat half a pound of lean beef you consume a gram of creatine, so it is unlikely that 3-5g will cause much harm!
But what if we want to really minimize health and safety risks?
What is the best form of creatine to take for long-term health?
The healthiest form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. This is the most studied form of creatine, and the form with the best documented safety record across multiple clinical trials. While other forms of creatine are likely safe too, we know that creatine monohydrate is not harmful to health, even when used daily for long periods of time.
To reduce the chances of experiencing any side effects while using creatine, be sure to use no more than 5g of high quality, micronized creatine monohydrate per day, drink plenty of water, and reduce salt intake.
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Pavel Sadovnik is a leading biochemical scientist with a PhD in biochemical engineering. He has spent decades working in industry as a chemist and pjharmaceutical consultant. He has extensive experience with the supplement industry, and specialises in supplement tsting and formulation consultancy. He is the Editor of NARSTO.