Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL – A Performance Comparison

I’ve been into Creatine on and off for several years now because it’s proven to increase exercise performance and speeds muscle growth.  However, there is a big debate on Creatine Monohydrate vs Creatine HCL.

These are the two most popular and effective types of creatine in the weight lifting world.  There are many different Creatine myths out there when it comes to Creatine HCL vs Creatine Monohydrate.

Because of this, I’m going to breakdown both of them listing the benefits and any possible negatives. We will also discuss how and why Creatine works to improve muscle gains and performance.

Creatine Is A Powerhouse

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - animated man doing a curl

Creatine is the most studied exercise supplement out there, and many in the industry feel that it is the most effective performance and muscle enhancer that you can take.

This supplement is found to provide more strength, faster muscle recovery and speed up resting time between exercises.  Some other benefits include increasing muscle mass and improving high-intensity exercise performance.

There are many other studies on how Creatine works with Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, but that isn’t our focus today.  The best thing about Creatine is that its claims are backed by science.

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in your body, but it can also be taken in through eating meat.  Additional supplementation from Creatine increases positive exercise endurance and muscle building effects.

When Creatine synthesizes, it begins a process that leads to increasing and maintaining adenosine triphosphate or ATP in your muscles.  Exercise triggers the breakdown of ATP into energy.  This is the main molecule that your body uses for muscle energy.

Depending on your maximum intensity, you will use this energy faster than your body can reproduce it.  This is why it is beneficial to supplement with Creatine.

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - man picking up tireBenefits Of Creatine

  • creates muscle volumization
  • reduces fatigue
  • adds more muscle mass
  • increases strength
  • faster sprint ability
  • stronger muscle endurance
  • resistance to fatigue
  • better muscle recovery
  • improves brain performance
  • improves high-intensity exercise performance

Best Creatine for Muscle Growth

Here are a few of my top recommendations of both Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine HCL, and blends of both.

I tried to keep it under $20 since spending more than this on Creatine doesn’t necessarily get you a better product.

ImageNameType of CreatinePriceBuy
Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - Kaged muscle creatine HCLKaged MuscleCreatine HCL$$CURRENT PRICE
Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - EVL creatine 5000Evlution NutritionCreatine Monohydrate$CURRENT PRICE
Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL- muscle beach creatine blendMuscle BeachMonohydrate/HCL Blend$$CURRENT PRICE
Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL - Genius Creatine power matrixThe Genius Brand3 in 1 Creatine Blend$$CURRENT PRICE

Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - versus logo

Both forms of Creatine can provide the benefits that are listed above, but those who take it tend to have their favorite.  These forms just go about working in a little different way.  One can be more effective for some things than others depending on the individual.

Creatine Monohydrate has been around longer, but Creatine HCL is a valid alternative.  Some manufactures will even combine Monohydrate and HCL for a more well rounded, blended supplement.

The main difference between creatine monohydrate and HCL for these two comes down to solubility.  Even though both have almost the same chemical makeup, they absorb water and in your body differently.

HCL will dissolve easier, is about 40 times more soluble in water, and helps reduce water retention in the intestinal tract.  This can make a significant difference since the amount that your body is able to retain is very important.

With both Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine HCL, it is important to drink a lot of water.  Be sure to keep yourself hydrated before and after your workout.  Creatine can cause your body to take on water, so this will help you avoid bloating.  Another reason to drink plenty of water is to help your body absorb this supplement.

Creatine Monohydrate is the form that is most likely to come with small side effects.  This can be avoided by making sure that the powder is fully absorbed in water before drinking it.  Creatine HCL is the only one that also comes in a pill form since it more easily absorbs in the stomach.

If you have any other question or comments regarding Creatine Monohydrate and HCL, please leave them below and I will respond.

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - scientists in a labWhat Is Creatine HCL

Creatine hydrochloride is made by attaching a hydrochloric acid group to a regular Creatine molecule to enhance its stability.  Hydrochloric Acid is a safe chemical compound that has been incorporated into foods for years.

This product was basically made in a lab by accident while experimenting with Creatine compounds.  The result was a purer and more soluble Creatine powder.

Creatine HCL Pros and Cons

From what we have learned so far, the obvious pro to HCL is its ability to mix in water.  This mean that your body will absorb a greater percentage of the powder.

A benefit to HCL is that it’s more convenient because of its ease of blending since some Creatine Monohydrates need warm water to dissolve.  Creatine HCL can reduce any possible side effects that people may get from under mixing Creatine Monohydrate.

HCL also has fewer impurities and is more concentrated, so the average serving is less than half the amount of Monohydrate.  Another benefit to HCL is that it seems to help to avoid any possible side effects such as bloating and stomach irritation.  For these reasons, Creatine HCL is becoming the most popular form.

As far as the “cons”, the one that stands out is the price compared to the Monohydrate form.  It’s around three times the amount.  With any Creatine, you may incur some additional water weight but also muscle mass weight as well.

Most problems occur when taking extremely high doses.  This is a bad idea to do with any exercise supplements.   People with intestinal issues, kidney disease, diabetes or other issues should consult with a doctor before taking any type of Creatine.

What Is Creatine Monohydrate

What Is The Best Pre Workout Without Creatine - creatine molecule

Creatine Monohydrate is the first and most popular form of Creatine.  It is also the most widely studied and most used form because it closely resembles the structure of our naturally synthesized Creatine.

The Monohydrate part of Creatine just means that it is one part Creatine to one part water molecule (mono).

Creatine Monohydrate Pros and Cons

Monohydrate has the most scientific support for its benefits since it has been around longer.  This type is just as effective as HCL and has the same effects such as increased muscle gain and exercise performance.

The Creatine Monohydrate form rarely has side effects if taken properly, so always completely dissolve this powder in water before taking it.  Also, make sure that this supplement is manufactured by a reputable company.  Because the Creatine Monohydrate is just as effective as other forms and is the most affordable, it is still the most widely used type of Creatine.

Monohydrate is known to have a few more “cons”, although proper supplementation is generally side effect free. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after taking it.

Besides not being as soluble in water, this kind of Creatine supplement has a recommended “loading” cycle.  This is where one should take this in larger doses for the first couple of days to build up the saturation in the body.

Unlike the HCL form, Monohydrate can be more likely to cause stomach discomfort and bloating in some.  Any form of Creatine can cause weight gain from water and increased muscle mass.  There is compelling scientific evidence that short or long time use of Creatine Monohydrate does not have any detrimental effects.

Proper Creatine Supplementation

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - man mixing a drink

The average person has around 120 grams of Creatine in their body naturally at all times.  You can also obtain Creatine from eating red meat, chicken, tuna, salmon as well as some other animal products.  Raw meat contains the most Creatine, and a vegetable diet contains none.

Your body is constantly burning Creatine, and the use is increased considerably when prompted by exercise.  Herein lies the need for Creatine supplementation.

Creatine can be taken before working out, afterward or both.  I recommend mixing it with your pre workout supplement or post workout protein powder.  Either way, be sure to drink a lot of water when supplementing with Creatine since this can help avoid any side effects.

For Creatine Monohydrate, the most effective dose is 5 grams.  Be sure, especially with Monohydrate that it dissolves properly in water.  Creatine Monohydrate unlike HCL, recommends a loading phase when first starting.  This entails taking 5 grams twice per day for the first few days.  Read the label since some brands may have slightly different directions.

Creatine HCL is a bit easier.  The quantity is less, with only 2 grams per serving and it mixes with water instantly.  Because of the improved absorption into your body, there is no loading phase.  Just as the Monohydrate form, you can benefit by taking before or after exercise.

Remember to drink plenty of water before and after your workout.  This will keep you hydrated and will help increase the amount of Creatine absorption.

If you have any questions or comments on the best ways to take Creatine, please leave them below and I will respond.

Creatine Safety

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - creatine powder scoop

Creatine is proven to be a safe ingredient.  However, like all products in the health supplement category, it is not FDA approved.

Because of this, Creatine does not have regulated manufacturing standards so there is no such thing as an FDA-approved Creatine. I recommend using a Creatjne made only by well known and reputable companies.

If you have any pre-existing kidney conditions or intestinal issues, be sure to consult your doctor before taking Creatine.  I’ve heard questions about Creatine cycling.  There is no reason to discontinue use or cycle off of Creatine from time to time.

Any time that you do stop, the body will continue to produce it naturally at the same rate.  Personally, I think it is a good idea to give your body an occasional break from any supplement.

So far, studies have shown that there are no long term side effects from taking any forms of Creatine.

Creatine Studies

Increased Muscle Function and Lean Mass

In one study completed on 60 women over a 24 week period, the placebo group tested against the group taking Creatine to see how this affects resistance training results.

The study found that creatine consumption, when used with resistance training, helped to increase muscle function and lean mass over the placebo group.

Increased Muscle Strength and Reduced Muscle Damage

In another study, 30 athletes were studied over four weeks to determine if creatine supplementation can increase muscle strength and reduce muscle damage.  They found that supplementation increased jump and sprint performance and worked to reduce muscle damage during resistance training.

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL - woman loading barbellSubstantial Increase in Bench and Squat Exercises

This study is where 19 men training with resistance had substantial increases in bench press and squats over the placebo group.  These increases showed the strongest by week five in a twelve week study.

Another thing that this suggests is that Creatine is more effective when taken over a period of time instead of just when needed.  By the end of the study, the Creatine group could bench 24 percent and squat 32 percent more than when they started the trial.

Amazon Reviews

Creatine is one of the best products available for enhancing exercise performance.  Evidence of this is on the many positive customer ratings both on Monohydrate, HCL, and the Creatine power blends.

Below is a screenshot of one of those reviews from a verified purchaser. You can click on the image to look at other Creatine powders.

Creatine monohydrate vs hcl - genius brand creatine

Creatine Monohydrate VS HCL

Final Comparison

Creatine HCL Vs Monohydrate - me scooping creatine

These are two different, yet very similar forms of Creatine.  The conclusion is that both have clear benefits when it comes to increasing muscle mass and improving exercise performance.

Creatine Monohydrate is the most studied, more popular and has been around the longest.  It’s also more affordable and very effective.

Creatine HCL is just as effective, but mixes better and is more soluble in water.   HCL is less likely to produce stomach discomfort or bloating.  Because of this, I feel that Creatine HCL has more advantages over the Monohydrate in today’s comparison.

When it comes to Creatine HCL vs Creatine Monohydrate, when mixed and taken correctly, neither comes with side effects.  Increase weight gain from water retention and muscle mass is always possible with any Creatine.  To use Creatine effectively, it is recommended to take it before your workout, afterward or both.

Remember to drink a lot of water before, during and after Creatine consumption.  It is important to stay hydrated helping to prevent water retention and to aid in the Creatine uptake.

If you have any questions or comments in regards to Creatine Hydrochloride vs Monohydrate, please leave them below and I will respond.

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