Build Muscle

A Complete Guide to the New Creatine

New twists on an old favorite make the already-effective creatine even better.

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CHOICE OPTIONS

Many new creatine products provide benefits beyond those experienced with creatine monohydrate. Consider the following five options: 

Creatine-Alpha-Ketoglutarate 

It was only a matter of time: First, we got used to the amino acid arginine having alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) attached to it in many potent nitric oxide (NO) boosters to improve its absorption. Other aminos followed, and soon manufacturers started adding AKG to creatine to aid absorption and uptake. Creatine-AKG is simply creatine bound to a molecule of AKG, a precursor of glutamine, which means creatine-AKG is not only absorbed better but also provides a source of glutamine (an amino acid crucial for muscle growth and health). AKG is readily absorbed by the intestines, which eliminates the possibility of gastrointestinal problems, as well as muscle cells, which means that creatine-AKG doesn'’t need the help of the creatine transporter to enter the cells. These properties let you take less creatine with fewer simple carbs. Additionally, your body uses AKG for fuel between sets to replenish creatine phosphate levels

Dose: Most creatine-AKG products provide 2-5 grams per dose.

Creatine Gluconate

One of the newest products is creatine gluconate, which is comprised of creatine bonded to glucose. This combination improves creatine's intestinal absorption because it's absorbed in a manner similar to regular glucose, a fast-digesting carb. The glucose also allows the creatine to dissolve well when mixed in water and helps it enter muscle cells by increasing insulin release.

Dose: Taking 3-5 grams of creatine gluconate per dose should prove effective.

Fall Supplement Guide: Specialty Supps

Creatine Ethyl Ester 

Creatine ethyl ester (CEE) is also known simply as creatine ester. It's formed by the addition of an alcohol and an acid to the creatine molecule. Adding the ester group enhances creatine molecules' ability to pass across cell membranes in the intestine (resulting in easier absorption) as well as muscle cells. CEE lets you take less creatine and skip all the carbs.

Dose: Most manufacturers suggest taking as little as 1-2 grams of CEE per dose.

Creatine Methyl Ester

Creatine methyl ester is creatine with a methyl group attached to it. A methyl group consists of a carbon atom combined with three hydrogen atoms. This organic attachment prevents the creatine molecule from breaking down as it's digested and metabolized; ultimately, this can lead to greater creatine uptake by the muscles. It also means that methylated products require less dosing than creatine monohydrate.

Dose: Most manufacturers suggest a dose of 1-2 grams of creatine methyl ester.

Tricreatine Orotate

The name may sound confusing, but it just indicates creatine bound to orotic acid. Okay, maybe that's not any less confusing. Orotic acid -- a precursor of nucleic acids (the building blocks of DNA) -- works by increasing carnosine levels in muscle. Carnosine is a compound of two amino acids (dipeptide) that helps muscle cells buffer the acidity that builds up during intense exercise. This keeps muscles contracting stronger for a longer period. Orotic acid also enhances the formation of creatine phosphate in muscle cells and improves muscle growth by supporting the production of key players in muscle-protein synthesis. By taking tricreatine orotate, you get all the benefits of creatine with the added benefits of orotic acid.

Dose: A typical dose of tricreatine orotate is 5 grams.

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