Strength athletes who dissolve their creatine in fluid react a little better to the supplement than athletes who take their creatine in powder form. British sports scientists at University College Chichester discovered this over ten years ago.
You can dissolve creatine in water at home without having to worry that you’ll convert it into an inactive form. Creatine doesn’t start to break down until after 8-12 hours.
How well creatine dissolves in water depends on the temperature. We borrowed the data in the table below from an review article by Ralf Jaeger. [Amino Acids. 2011 May; 40(5): 1369-83.] The table shows the temperature at which different quantities of creatine dissolve in 1 l water.
4 degrees Celsius – 6 g
20 degrees Celsius – 14 g
50 degrees Celsius – 34 g
60 degrees Celsius – 45 g
The more acid a solution, the more creatine you can dissolve in it. This idea lies behind the many interesting forms of creatine that are available on the market: add an acidifier (and sell the result as creatine citrate, creatine malate or creatine pyruvate) and you’ll increase the solubility and your body will absorb the creatine better, the theory goes.
As far as solubility goes the supplement-makers’ theory holds water. In 1 l water at 20 degrees Celsius you can dissolve 14 g creatine, 29 g creatine citrate and up to 54 g creatine pyruvate.
Now, creatine citrate and creatine pyruvate don’t consist completely of creatine. So if you take that into account, then the solubility of creatine citrate and creatine pyruvate are respectively 1.6 and 2.6 times that of ordinary creatine.
All very interesting. But does it actually make any difference if you dissolve creatine – in whatever form – or not? According to the Brits it does.
They gave five test subjects a dose of 2.3 g creatine on three different occasions. On one occasion the researchers dissolved the creatine in 250 ml water at 30 degrees Celsius [solution]; on another occasion they dissolved the powder in a glass of iced water [the water was so cold that the creatine hardly dissolved] [suspension] and on a third occasion they mixed powdered creatine with ground up sweets [lozenge].
When the researchers examined the blood of their test subjects they saw that the creatine concentration was highest after they had ingested creatine in solution.
During the six hours that they monitored the blood of their test subjects, the researchers measured 20 percent more creatine after the subjects had drunk creatine that had dissolved than after they had drunk the solution.
Your muscles absorb creatine a little better during a training session. [Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2003 Mar; 13(1): 97-111.] So before, during or just after a workout is a good moment to drink your creatine solution.
According to Will Brink – and he should know – micronized creatine works best. Brink recommends the real Creapure. The renowned supplements expert explains why in the clip below.
Absorption of creatine supplied as a drink, in meat or in solid form.
Harris RC, Nevill M, Harris DB, Fallowfield JL, Bogdanis GC, Wise JA.
Exercise Physiology Research Group, University College Chichester, UK. email@example.com
We examined the plasma concentration curve obtained over 6 h after the ingestion of 2 g of creatine (Cr) (equivalent to 2.3 g Cr x H2O) contained in meat or in solution in five non-users of creatine supplements. Peak plasma creatine concentration was lower after the ingestion of meat but was maintained close to this for a longer period. Measurements of the area under the plasma concentration curve indicated approximate bioequivalence of creatine contained in meat with the same dose supplied in a solution. In a separate study, we examined the plasma concentration time curve after ingestion of solid Cr x H2O. Creatine ingested as a lozenge (crushed in the mouth and swallowed) or as a crystalline suspension in ice cold water resulted in a 20% lower peak concentration and 30-35% smaller area under the plasma creatine concentration curve than the same dose administered in solution. Despite a possibly lower bioavailability, 2.3 g Cr x H2O supplied in either solid form was nonetheless sufficient to raise the plasma concentration five- to six-fold in individuals with a mean body mass of 75.6 kg. We conclude that creatine administered as meat or in solid form is readily absorbed but may result in slightly lower peak concentrations than when the same dose is ingested as a solution.
PMID: 11811571 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]