While we may negate the increase in Hydrogen ion levels in skeletal muscle by increasing carnosine levels, we still must overcome one more obstacle in order to allow us to prevent fatigue while working out. In this case, we must use a compound which can ultimately increase the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels in muscle. ATP, as we all know, is a high energy nucleotide which acts as the major energy carrying molecule in our bodies.
Consequently, muscle fatigue is also related to energy loss in skeletal muscle, specifically, ATP being converted to adenosine diphosphate (ADP). In effect, one phosphate group is lost and must be replenished in order for the muscle cell to continue on working.
By supplementing with creatine, we are able to increase the levels of phosphocreatine in muscle. Phosphocreatine is a high energy buffering compound which is able to donate a phosphate group to ADP, allowing the formation of ATP once again.
In short, we can prevent or reduce fatigue from occurring by increasing phosphocreatine levels, which in turn will allow for the regeneration of ATP from ADP.
By addressing both the regeneration of ATP, while also limiting Hydrogen ion accumulation, we are able to provide a one-two combination that effectively reduces fatigue to an amazing degree.
If this weren't enough, the compound we have included may also increase the swelling of muscle cells, possibly increasing protein synthesis or inhibiting catabolism; the end result being an increase in muscle mass.
While creatine monohydrate isn't new or ground-breaking, it's scientifically sound, proven millions of times over in the real-world and an absolute must in any pre-workout formula [8-11].
The "Best" Creatine?
It seems there have been a myriad of creatine products on the market in recent years; each and every one of them claim to improve upon the original creatine monohydrate. Yet, not one of them has ever been able to do so. Though, should this really be a surprise?
It has been known for some time now that creatine monohydrate's bioavailability is nearly 100%, despite many marketing attempts to make you believe otherwise.
Yet, each one of these products has claimed that they could improve the product in some way.
The only reason for the stomach issues associated with creatine was the loading phase that was promoted when creatine first came out. This has since been disproven & NOT needed to achieve desired results...
First it was the effervescent formulations, claiming that the buffered product could resist acidic degradation of creatine to creatinine in the stomach, while at the same time, decreasing the transit time for the creatine to enter the small intestine from the stomach, again, hypothetically reducing the amount of creatine degradation.
Last, it was supposed to improve solubility of the creatine in solution, hypothetically resulting in improved absorption. Yet, scientific studies showed no improvement in absorption or bioavailability with these formulations.
The next attempt was to improve creatine absorption with various salts, the latest of which appear to be tri-creatine citrate and creatine pyruvate. Yet again, as you would expect, studies have shown no significant increase in bioavailability over regular creatine monohydrate.
Don't be fooled by slick marketing; some manufacturers may cite a study which had shown slightly greater (although not statistically significant and hence not accepted as likely being unique) plasma concentrations of creatine with the pyruvate salt in particular.
However, they will most certainly and conveniently leave out the scientists' own conclusions, "The higher plasma concentration with Creatine Pyruvate is unlikely to have been due to greater bioavailability, since the bioavailability of Creatine Monohydrate is known to be close to 100%" and "It is questionable if the small differences observed in the plasma concentrations with the three treatments would have any effect on the increase in creatine in muscle."
Yet another example of these futile attempts includes the creatine ethyl ester. This particular product also boasted claims of improved bioavailability by preventing the degradation of creatine to creatinine in the stomach, while also improving physiochemical properties conducive of improved bioavailability.
Yet again, the product failed to do so. In fact, not only did the addition of the ethyl ester not help, it actually was shown to accelerate the degradation of creatine to creatinine in an acidic solution. It can be estimated from such studies that the bioavailability of the creatine ethyl ester is actually far less than regular creatine monohydrate, which again, is already nearly 100% to begin with.
Perhaps other manufacturers will finally get the hint that creatine monohydrate isn't going to be improved upon as there is virtually no room for improvement. Yet, that won't stop them as history has shown.
Creatine monohydrate after all is an effective product. In fact, it's probably one of, if not the most scientifically validated dietary supplement in existence and it delivers real world results as well.
But remember, the marketing arm of these companies are banking on the fact that creatine is such a great supplement; a supplement that has become a staple for nearly all athletes and weightlifters, that they want to create their own unique version, touting some supposed added benefits. But as you've learned, there is no such thing.
"Jacob, doesn't creatine need a delivery system?"
Delivery Systems? Delivery Systems? You Talkin' Bout Delivery Systems?
The lack of bio-availability is NOT what causes the side effects from creatine.
It's the "loading phase" (20-30 grams per day!) that was initially touted (and still used by some today) when creatine first hit the shelves in the 90's...
Absolutely "genius" in marketing, as the "loading phase" quadrupled initial sales and caused an almost instant water weight gain so users were thrilled...
However, it wasn't all sunshine...
Peak creatine concentration in the body has a ceiling. Meaning, when peak concentration is reached, the body has no more room for the extra creatine...
So, it "flushes" it out...And this is why creatine got a bad wrap for not "absorbing" when, in essence, it was poor application...
You only need a few grams of creatine per day, that's it...
After 7-14 days, whether you take 30 grams of creatine a day or 2 grams of creatine a day, your blood concentration levels of creatine will be exactly the same...