What's The Best Creatine Type? Pros & Cons of Each Creatine

First of all, it is important to highlight that creatine is a normal diet component and that it is not considered a doping substance. Its use and sensible prescription by competent professionals has been accepted thanks to a consensus of uncountable anti-doping commissions, including the medical commission of the International Olympic Committee. As is the case with other supplements, there are different forms of creatine available on the market, and each type is different in composition, solubility, and effectiveness.

The difference lies in the way creatine molecules are linked, which causes them to be metabolised differently by the body. Some are more soluble than others, which increases their effectiveness, while others may be linked to chemicals that increase their absorption by the bloodstream and the muscle, influencing the need for a loading phase.

Related article - What is creatine?

Although the actual results and benefits are similar among all varieties, what are the pros and cons of the different creatine types out there?

Creatine Monohydrate

This is the most popular and best-selling type of creatine in the world. Each molecule is 88% creatine and 12% water, which means 1 gram of creatine monohydrate provides 880 mg of creatine.


  • Effectiveness – almost every study uses creatine in the form of creatine monohydrate and its results in terms of performance improvement and muscle and strength gains are more than proven.
  • Loading – no loading phase is required.
  • Price – it is usually the most inexpensive type of creatine.


  • Pharmacokinetics – it is not very soluble in water and little absorbed by the muscle (only 1%). Interestingly, some people don’t respond partially or even at all to this type of creatine (non-responders).
  • Side effects – as it is unstable in water, it may be more likely to cause some gastrointestinal discomfort.

Find a wide range of creatine monohydrate here

Micronised Creatine

It is essentially creatine monohydrate, but micronised, which means the creatine molecules have been divided or cut, increasing the surface area by about 20 times.


  • Effectiveness – as it is micronised, with a larger surface, it is better absorbed and more effective. Since it is “purer” than monohydrate, it can be more effective even for many non-responders.
  • Side effects – because it is better absorbed, there is a lower chance that it will cause any potential gastrointestinal discomfort.


  • Loading – it requires a loading phase for bringing more benefits.
  • Price – a little more expensive than creatine monohydrate.

Creatine Citrate

This consists of a creatine molecule that is linked to citric acid. Citric acid is a chemical that plays a role in the tricarboxylic acid cycle (also known as Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle) by contributing to the activation of phosphorylation processes (where macronutrients are converted into carbon dioxide and water) and therefore to the production of ATP (energy!).


  • Effectiveness – it is highly soluble in water and slightly better absorbed than creatine monohydrate.
  • Citric acid – it seems to activate the tricarboxylic acid cycle and increase energy production in the muscles.
  • Side effects – as it is better absorbed, like micronised creatine, there is a lower chance of any potential gastrointestinal discomfort.


  • Amount – this type of creatine is only 40% creatine, meaning it only provides 400 mg of active creatine per gram, so a double dosage would be required for it to be as effective as creatine monohydrate.
  • Price – it is more expensive than the previously mentioned types.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

Touted as the future of creatine supplementation, it consists of a molecule of esterified creatine monohydrate, i.e., creatine linked to an alcohol (ethanol) molecule. While normal creatine molecules have positive and negative charges, the ester bound to this molecule neutralises these charges. It contains 82.4% creatine, meaning it theoretically provides 8.2g of active creatine per dosage of 10g.


  • Effectiveness – being linked to an ester causes a change in the normal electric charges of the creatine, increasing its solubility and allowing for an absorption of almost 99% – it is thought to have absorption rates of up to ten times higher than those of normal creatine! There is no record of non-responders, and currently, it is being studied in cases where there is a lack of creatine transporters.
  • Dosage – since it has better solubility, its transport through the biological membranes is facilitated, and thus smaller dosages yield the same effects.
  • Loading – studies indicate no advantages of doing a loading phase.
  • Side effects – potential occurrence of gastrointestinal discomfort is almost inexistent.


  • Formulation – when taken in the form of powder, it can have an unpleasant taste. This can be overcome when taken in the form of tablets/capsules.
  • Price – more expensive than the previous ones.

Tri- & Di-Creatine Malate

These are types of creatine linked to molecules of malic acid, a naturally occurring acid found in fruits and vegetables, found in higher amounts in apples, cranberries, grapes and cucumbers. It is also widely used as a food additive (E-296), because of its flavouring and acidity regulating properties. It plays a role in the tricarboxylic acid cycle and ATP production. Whereas Tri-Creatine Malate has 3 malic acid molecules, Di-Creatine Malate has 2.


  • Effectiveness – malic acid is highly soluble and since creatine is linked to this compound, the entire molecule is more soluble and better absorbed. Tri-Creatine Malate seems to yield better results, with faster recovery, less fatigue during the workout, and greater energy production than Di-Creatine Malate.


  • Formulation – malic acid has a bitter taste and may impart an unpleasant flavour to the supplement.
  • Scientific evidence – while the ergogenic role of malic acid is clear on its own — improving the conditions for the conversion of chemical to mechanical energy in the skeletal muscle — its exact effects when combined with creatine are still unknown, so more studies are needed to clarify these metabolic processes.
  • Price – more expensive than creatine monohydrate.

Kre-Alkalyn Creatine

This one is considered by many to be the purest form of creatine. It is a buffered creatine molecule, which means that it is processed with a higher pH than traditional creatine monohydrate. The high alkaline pH (normally above 12) protects the molecules during their path through the digestive system, allowing for more creatine to arrive in the muscle cells.


  • Effectiveness – the molecule of Kre-Alkalyn does not go through the conversion process to creatinine, as it happens with creatine. Therefore the absorption rate is higher and faster, leading to more immediate results.
  • Dosage – the fact that Kre-Alkalyn can get to the muscle in higher amounts, means that much lower dosages are needed, compared to other forms of creatine.
  • Loading – no loading phase is required.
  • Side effects – since it is better absorbed, there is a lower chance that it will cause any potential gastrointestinal discomfort.


  • Scientific evidence – although the higher pH theoretically protects the molecules during their path through the digestive system, helping them get better absorbed and stored in the muscle tissue, this effect can be rapidly cancelled by the stomach acid if the formulation is not properly “protected” and enterically coated. More studies are needed to prove its effectiveness, in spite of most of the feedback from athletes being positive.
  • Price – more expensive.

View CSN's range of Kre-Alkalyn

Effervescent Creatine

Effervescent creatine consists of creatine combined with chemical compounds (normally a combination of citric acid, dextrose, sodium and potassium) that give it an effervescent quality, i.e., that makes it form bubbles.


  • Effectiveness – combined with other chemical compounds, it is more soluble and absorbable.
  • Formulation – it has a more pleasant taste thanks to the addition of other compounds.
  • Loading – no loading phase is required.


  • Composition – it contains sugar or sodium, two elements that athletes and fitness enthusiasts tend to avoid.
  • Scientific evidence – it does not seem to be more effective than creatine monohydrate, and more studies are needed to understand its mechanism of action.
  • Price – more expensive.

Creatine Phosphate

Creatine phosphate, also known as phosphocreatine or PCr, is a phosphorylated creatine molecule with 62.3% creatine and 37.7% phosphate.


  • Effectiveness – it yields results similar to creatine monohydrate in terms of performance increase and strength and muscle gains. Phosphocreatine replenishes the ATP used during muscle contraction: the higher the content of phosphocreatine, the greater and longer the capacity to perform physical effort will be.


  • Effectiveness – Although it seems to be beneficial that it is already conjugated with a phosphate group (given that creatine should first be combined with a phosphate group and converted into phophocreatine to be effective), the truth is that each creatine phosphate molecule ends up with a lower amount of creatine in comparison to creatine monohydrate, which is 88% pure.
  • Price – more expensive.

Creatine Orotate

This consists of a creatine molecule linked to orotic acid, a precursor for nucleic acids (the components of DNA and RNA molecules that are found in genes), which aid in the functioning of the cells and in the utilisation of energy.


  • Effectiveness – apparently, it yields better results than creatine monohydrate in terms of strength increase and fatigue reduction, since it increases the levels of carnosine in the muscles (a molecule that reduces muscle acidity).


  • Scientific evidence – more studies are needed to confirm its mechanism of action and benefits compared to other forms of creatine.
  • Price – more expensive.

Creatine Serum

This is one of the most controversial types of creatine. It basically consists of creatine dissolved in water, often with several added vitamins and amino acids.


  • Loading – it does not require a loading phase because it is easily absorbed by the body.
  • Convenient – it is very easy to use, only needing a drop under the tongue.


  • Scientific evidence – to date, there is only controversial scientific evidence and inconsistent results regarding the effectiveness of the serum. While some studies report remarkable results, others do not find any advantage. It does not seem to be more effective than creatine monohydrate.
  • Formulation – creatine molecules are unstable in liquids and being in a liquid environment for a long period will break them down into creatinine (which could be harmful to the renal system).
  • Price – very expensive.

Other Formulations

There are also so-called “creatine cocktails”, in which creatine is mixed with other amino acids, in formulations such as creatine pyruvate, creatine hydrochloride, creatine gluconate, creatine taurinate, creatine alpha-ketoglutarate, creatine decanate, creatine magnesium chelate, creatine nitrate, among others.


  • Effectiveness – theoretically, they can be extremely effective because they harness the synergistic effects of the combination of different supplements.
  • Formulation – it is very convenient to take two or three supplements combined in one single product instead of taking them separately.
  • Price – it can be cheaper than buying the two supplements separately.


  • Formulation – sometimes, other chemical products are also used to increase molecular stabilisation, but not all of their effects and interactions may have been thoroughly studied.
  • Scientific evidence – more studies are needed to understand the safety of the possible combinations.
  • Price – more expensive than creatine alone.

As always Team CSN are here to help, call or email us today and we can give you professional, unbiased advice on all your nutrition and supplement needs.