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Male Kaged athlete holding a bottle of Creatine HCl

Creatine Hcl Benefits: Optimal Dose, Sources, And How To Take It


Creatine is an amino acid and one of the most popular, well-researched supplements in existence.

The Benefits of Creatine

In fact, creatine has hundreds of scientific studies across decades and decades demonstrating its benefit for sports performance, bodybuilding, muscle mass, and more.

Here are just a few benefits creatine has been shown to provide (Buford et al., 2007):

  • Increased strength and power* 
  • Increased muscle mass*
  • Improved between set recovery*
  • Improved sports performance*

Strengthened by decades of quality research, creatine has become one of the most popular and most commonly recommended supplements.

With its rise in popularity, many different forms of creatine have been produced. Each of these have slight differences.

Here we will break down the difference and benefits of an emerging form called creatine HCl.

We’ll focus on its benefits, the proper dose, when to take it, and more.

Behind the original creatine monohydrate, creatine hydrochloride (HCl) is the second most popular form.

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The Benefits of Creatine HCl

Within the human body, we produce around 1g of creatine per day which is synthesized mainly within the liver and kidneys (Persky et al. 2001).

The majority of creatine stores are found within muscle, and humans can obtain additional creatine externally via diet (foods such as meat & fish) and supplementation (Burke et al. 2008).

There are few considerations that give creatine HCl unique advantages.

1. Higher Solubility = Easier Mixing

Solubility or in this case, ‘aqueous solubility’ (solubility in water), describes how well creatine mixes and is absorbed.

Below is a list of the common creatine forms and their relative solubility score (the higher the score, the greater the solubility). 

As you will see, creatine HCl has  by far the best solubility.

Creatine Monohydrate: 1.0

Creatine Citrate: 3.0

Creatine HCI: 37.9

High Solubility means your creatine HCl will mix easily.  As you probably know from other forms, most creatine mixes terribly and leaves a chalky, unpleasant texture. It often clumps at the bottom of your shaker.|

2. High Cell Permeability

In this context, cell permeability describes how well creatine crosses the intestinal barrier. Creatine HCl also has high cell permeability.

3. Water Retention 

Creatine and water have a well-known relationship.

Many sources of creatine require a large amount of water to mix into a beverage form that can be enjoyed with decent mouthfeel. This is often why some people experience digestive issues and extracellular (outside the cell) water retention with creatine.

While creatine supplementation comes with a necessity to focus on hydration, many athletes appreciate being able enjoy a serving of Creatine HCl in less ounces of water than would be required to make monohydrate easily mixable.

This also makes creatine HCl the better choice if you’re looking to avoid the puffy, water-retained look. 

For this added benefit, many bodybuilders and physique competitors turn to creatine HCl.

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4) GI Distress

For those struggling with GI discomfort/distress on their regular creatine supplement, switching to a form of creatine, such as Creatine HCI which you can easily mix with less water, could help.

While some people may be just fine on other forms of creatine, many athletes prefer HCl for its easy mixability in less water. 

Overall, creatine HCl’s benefits come from the fact that it dissolves fully with less water, compared to traditional forms of creatine. 

Not All Creatine HCl is Created Equal: How to Know You’re Getting Pure, Quality HCl

If you buy creatine HCl, and it’s truly pure creatine HCl, the label will say “Patented C-HCl® and include information about the Vireo family of patents.

Only a select few brands were granted rights to use Patented C-HCl® in their pre- and post-workout formulas.

If you don’t see “Patented C-HCl®” and information about the patent numbers, then you have generic HCl that’s, simply,  not pure, original creatine HCl. 

Learn more about what makes our Kaged Creatine HCl, featuring Patented C-HCl®, is different.



What Is The Optimal Dose of HCl?

Regardless of the source, the muscle-building and performance benefits of creatine peak around 3-5 grams per day. 

This goes for creatine HCl as well.

However, this will vary based on your bodyweight. We recommended starting with 3 grams per day.

Remember to check your pre and post-workout supplement ingredient list. Just because it lists creatine, some products contain smaller amounts of creatine, meaning you will need to add additional creatine if you want to reap all the benefits.

For additional, unflavored creatine HCl that mixes easily with any supplement stack, you can check out  Kaged Patented Creatine HCl® .

As we mentioned, this form of creatine mixes easily, so it will dissolve in any stack and leave a smooth texture.


Do You Need to Load Creatine HCl?

Creatine loading is a debated topic within the bodybuilding community. The answer to whether or not you should load creatine may depend on the source and an individual’s goal.

Most sources of creatine do not need to be loaded and it provides no additional benefit (Willoughby et al., 2006), although loading may help you saturate the cells a few weeks faster. 

The same goes for creatine HCl.  Loading creatine HCl is not necessary. It really comes down to the individual. If you want to load creatine at the start, you can. 

The research shows that without loading creatine takes at least 28 days to accumulate in the body before providing benefits.

In simple terms, creatine loading is the fast-track, but it’s not necessary.


When Is The Best Time to Take Creatine HCl?

Creatine may be best suited around the workout; however, research has yet to reach a definitive answer. The research on creatine timing is mixed.

Some studies have found additional benefits post workout, which may be due to increased blood and nutrient flow to the muscle, caused by a variety of mechanisms such as GLUT 4 translocation (Steenage et al., 2000).

However, other studies have found no additional benefit  when testing creatine further from the post workout window.

Although this is when creatine was studied in isolation, other research has shown the insulin spike from protein and/or carbohydrates (like in your post workout shake) may aid in absorption (Steenage et al., 2000).

If you consume a post workout shake, it would make sense to throw your creatine in with it, much like Kaged does with  Re-Kaged.

What’s important about creatine isn’t when you take it, it’s that you take it.

We suggest taking it whenever works best for you. That could be your morning smoothie, your pre-workout stack, or post-workout shake.


Do I Need to Cycle Creatine?

Another popular strategy to cycle your creatine intake; however, no research has shown this to be superior to a consistent, daily dose (Willoughby et al., 2001).

Without evidence of health risk or performance improvements from cycling, you may just be wasting periods of time when your creatine stores become depleted.

Countless users have taken creatine daily for years without cycling it and have seen no adverse effects. In fact, they simply continue to gain from the benefits of creatine.

This goes for creatine HCl, as well as other forms of creatine.

Should I Mix Creatine With Other Supplements?

Some supplements may aid in creatine absorption, including protein and carbohydrates (Steenage et al., 2000). This strengthens the case to include creatine in your post-workout stack.

On the other hand, other supplements such as Beta alanine have recently been found to work synergistically and further increase its performance benefits (Hoffman et al., 2006). Beta alanine is one of the most popular ingredients in pre-workout supplements. So this strengthens the case to put creatine in your pre-workout stack.

On the whole, you definitely can stack creatine with just about any other supplement in your arsenal, but it’s not totally necessary.  Our creatine HCl also comes in a lemon lime and fruit punch flavors that’s delicious on its own.

Should Beginners Use Creatine?

Creatine is effective for everyone from beginners to advanced athletes. As a beginner, there are a few considerations to keep in mind, like the importance of hydration.
For all of this and more, check out our article on creatine for beginners.

If You Want to Try Creatine HCl...


Creatine HCl can be a great addition to your stack to get all the well-documented power, muscle, strength and between set recovery gains of creatine, in a highly soluble form.

At Kaged, our patented C-HCl product is one of the highest quality, purest products on the market.

 


References

Bakian, A.V., Huber, R.S., Scholl, L. et al. Dietary creatine intake and depression risk among U.S. adults. Transl Psychiatry 10, 52 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-0741-x

Vandenberghe, K., Gillis, N., Van Leemputte, M., Van Hecke, P., Vanstapel, F., & Hespel, P. (1996). Caffeine counteracts the ergogenic action of muscle creatine loading. Journal of applied physiology, 80(2), 452-457.

Persky A, Brazeau G: Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate. Pharmacol Rev 2001, 53:161-176.

Burke DG, Candow DG, Chilibeck PD, MacNeil LG, Roy BD, Tarnopolsky MA, Ziegenfuss T: Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2008, 18:389-398.

Gualano B, Artioli GG, Poortmans JR, Lancha Junior AH: Exploring the therapeutic role of creatine supplementation. Amino Acids 2010, 38:31-44.

Tarnopolsky MA: Creatine as a therapeutic strategy for myopathies. Amino Acids 2011, 40:1397-1407.

Buford T, Kreider R, Stout J, Greenwood M, Campbell B, Spano M, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Antonio J: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007, 4:6.

Hoffman, J., Ratamess, N., Kang, J., Mangine, G., Faigenbaum, A., & Stout, J. (2006). Effect of creatine and ß-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 16, 430-446.

Kaemmerer, W F et al. “Creatine-supplemented diet extends Purkinje cell survival in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 transgenic mice but does not prevent the ataxic phenotype.” Neuroscience vol. 103,3 (2001): 713-24. doi:10.1016/s0306-4522(01)00017-3

Miller, D. Oral bioavailability of creatine supplements: Is there room for improvement? Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2009.

Steenge GR, Simpson EJ, Greenhaff PL: Protein- and carbohydrate-induced augmentation of whole body creatine retention in humans. J Appl Physiol 2000, 89:1165-71

Willoughby DS, Rosene J: Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on myosin heavy chain expression. Med Sci Sports Exerc2001, 33:1674-81

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