Your body's absorption of creatine is optimal if you take it just before or during a training session. That's why some athletes make their own creatine drinks and drink them while at the gym. But is the creatine in these homemade drinks stable? Yes it is. The coolest website on ergogenic substances has been doing some digging in old patent applications.
Creatine in powder form is stable. It'll keep for years. But the moment creatine comes into contact with water, the reaction in the formula below takes place: creatine is converted into the waste product creatinine.
That's why experts warn users about liquid creatine preparations – off-the-shelf liquid creatine and also home-brewed creatine drinks. As far as the OTS liquid creatine drinks go, the warning is probably valid, but there’s nothing wrong with homemade creatine drinks, going by a patent filed in 1999. For this researchers studied how long creatine remains effective in fluid. The researchers wanted to make drinks containing creatine.
So they put creatine in water and recorded how long it took for the compound to be converted into creatinine. The results are shown below. The process goes so slowly that the reduction isn't measurable until 8 hours later. And two to three days after making up the liquid preparation, 90 percent of the creatine is still in the liquid.
Acidity speeds up the conversion. The more acid – the lower the pH – the faster the conversion takes place.
Yoghurt drinks are also acid. They have a pH of around 4. In the table above you see that the amount of creatine in a yoghurt drink decreases so slowly that it's ok to put your creatine in a yoghurt drink. Even after a couple of days most of the creatine is still intact.
Going by the figures, which show the relationship between acidity and creatine concentration, you'd expect the amount of creatine in yoghurt drink to decrease more quickly than is shown in the table above. The reason that the creatine concentration goes down so slowly in yoghurt is because you keep the stuff in the refrigerator, where the average temperature is 4 degrees. The cooler the surroundings, the slower creatine in a liquid converts into creatinine.
A: pH = 3.5; B: pH = 5; C: pH = 6; D: pH = 7.
A pH of 7 is neutral. This is the pH of water. Milk, with or without protein powder, has a pH of 6.7. Sweet juices, like grape juice, have a pH of 4.5. Tomato juice has a pH of 4. Coca Cola has a pH of 2.8; stomach acid and lemon juice have a pH of 2.0.
The figures are convincing. Creatine converts so slowly into creatinine that you can also put creatine into slightly acid drinks and take it with you to drink. And if you keep your creatine drinks in the refrigerator, they'll stay good for days.
The figures, on the other hand, might make you sceptical about the quality of fluid creatine products. Maybe a solution containing creatine keeps for a couple of weeks under optimal conditions. But preparations generally sit on the shelves for months before they find their way to the buyer...
United States Patent US 5,968,544. Oct 19 1999.