Creatine is up there, arguably, with some of the best protein powders as one of the most popular supplements for training, however, you're probably wondering which out of Creatine Monohydrate or HCL is better.
Fortunately, we've put together this guide to talk you through some of the differences between the two, taking the pros and cons into consideration, before giving our overall verdict on which we think is best.
Let's dive in...
What's The Difference?
On the surface, both creatine monohydrate and HCL appear to be the same. In fact, the only way to tell them apart is at a molecular level.
Despite the small differences, the impact on how each type is absorbed and utilised by your body is significant.
It gets its monohydrate name as it contains one water molecule per one creatine molecule according to Healthline.
Some manufacturers take creatine monohydrate a step further by micronizing it, a process that simply refers to reducing the size of the particles as touched on in our guide to micronized creatine.
This is often regarded as the purest form of creatine as it can produce 100% blends like this one from Ultimate Nutrition.
Creatine monohydrate is also one of the most-studied supplements around, with the International Society of Sports Nutrition supporting its safety and effectiveness for training.
The alternative is creatine hydrochloride, or HCL for short.
As its name suggests, it's made by combining one creatine molecule with hydrochloride to produce, in theory, something more soluble and absorbent.
In fact, a study into the physicochemical characterisation of creatine found HCL 38 times more soluble than monohydrate which, in turn, is linked to reducing one of the biggest potential side effects of creatine - water retention.
Which Is More Effective?
Technically, both are created to be equally as effective and can facilitate improved athletic performance and strength when taken appropriately.
However, as previously stated, HCL is arguably more absorbent which, on one hand, should make it more effective whilst also minimising some of the more commonly seen side effects.
The issue is, research that looks specifically into HCL is limited as it is a far newer form of the supplement compared to creatine monohydrate.
However, while research is few and far between, there are some studies that compare the two.
For example, a 2020 double-blind study into the effects of creatine HCL on athletic performance found no significant difference in effectiveness between the two forms.
If you're still trying to decide between them, you may start to consider which is cheaper.
Generally speaking, creatine monohydrate is slightly cheaper than HCL.
It is worth considering though that some believe you require much less HCL per serving for it to be effective, however, there is essentially no formal research to prove this.
Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL: Which Is Better?
The answer to this question will ultimately come down to personal preference.
In our opinion, given the extensive amount of research into creatine monohydrates, we feel they're a slightly better option to go with right now.
When more research into HCL is concluded though, it may be the case that it takes the crown as the more effective creatine supplement given its suggested improved absorption.
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