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If you've ever taken a dietary supplement or muscle-building product, you likely have heard of creatine. As a supplement, it's backed by years of research showing it can increase muscle mass and improve exercise performance. But despite the fact that most athletes and gym-goers have heard of creatine, few know about its different forms.
In this article, we will teach you the difference between two of the most popular types, creatine monohydrate and micronized creatine, as well as find the best creatine supplement.
Table of Contents
What Is Creatine Monohydrate?
What Is Micronized Creatine?
Micronized Creatine vs. Creatine Monohydrate: Head To Head
Creatine monohydrate is the most popular and commonly used type of creatine. Creatine is an amino acid widely used by athletes and weightlifters to help increase muscle size, strength, and exercise performance. Creatine supplements produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which the body uses for energy production.
In addition to being the most popular, creatine monohydrate is also the least expensive type of creatine and is the most well-studied. Research suggests that creatine monohydrate is the most effective supplement on the market for increasing muscle mass and aerobic capacity. (1)
Compared to micronized creatine, monohydrate is cheaper with more proven results, but let's look at some of its other pros.
Increase Muscle Mass: The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) published a comprehensive review on creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Based on several hundred studies, over 70% found significant improvements in exercise performance and capacity, with the average gains ranging between 10-15%. Long-term studies on creatine monohydrate show that users gain twice as much lean body mass as those with a placebo. (1) Clearly, creatine monohydrate is one of the most potent muscle building supplements.
Improve Physical Performance: Athletes have taken creatine for decades to improve athletic performance in nearly every sport imaginable. Short-term studies show that creatine monohydrate increased maximum power (one-rep maximum) and resistance training work by 5-15%, single-effort sprints by 1-5%, and work performed during repetitive sprints by 5-15%. Similar studies showing short-term gains included cycling power, bench press and jump squat work, and improved soccer, running, and swimming performance. (1)
Improve Muscle Recovery: Part of the wide range of studies by the ISSN on creatine monohydrate included its ability to help athletes recover faster from high-intensity training. Five grams of creatine monohydrate consumed before exercise with 95 grams of carbohydrates (glucose) led to greater glycogen restoration than carbohydrates. (2) They also noted more significant recovery in muscle damage and recovery from intense workouts.
Enhanced Endurance In The Heat: Creatine monohydrate is extremely hydrophilic, naturally attracting water and pulling it into the muscle tissue. This is why many people experience bloating, especially in the loading phase. Creatine monohydrate is also osmotic, which means it can retain small amounts of water. In one study, researchers had athletes perform exercises to exhaustion in 86-degree F weather, giving one group 20 grams of creatine daily for a week. The creatine group had more intracellular water and reduced thermoregulatory or cardiovascular responses to heat. They concluded that creatine monohydrate promoted hyperhydration and a more efficient response to exercise in heat.
Although the benefits of creatine monohydrate are clearly well-researched, it's not without its cons, such as:
Mixability: Mixability is the biggest issue, as creatine monohydrate can be a gritty, sand-like texture that doesn't mix well and often clumps. Many users report a residue left at the bottom.
Bloating: Mild bloating/weight gain is often associated with creatine use. Many users can experience it during the loading phase due to increased water in muscle cells. Studies show users increase body mass by 1-2 kg (2-4 lbs) in week one of the loading phase.
Muscle cramps: Some people report muscle cramps with creatine usage, but no scientific evidence supports this.
Micronized creatine is a type of creatine monohydrate that goes through a process to shrink the particle size by 20x. The creatine molecules become smaller particles, which increase their solubility and mixability.
Compared to monohydrate, micronized creatine takes the top spot in the following categories:
Higher Bioavailability: The most significant difference between micronized creatine monohydrate vs. creatine monohydrate is the particle size. The smaller particles are absorbed much more easily by the body.
Better Mixability: Due to the smaller particle size, micronized creatine mixes much better than creatine monohydrate. No residue is left at the bottom, which ensures you receive the entire dose.
Higher Purity: Micronized creatine is the highest purity form of creatine available on the market, with several products containing 100% creatine monohydrate per serving.
However, there are still some downsides to choosing micronized, such as:
Only One Form: It usually only comes in powdered form, which limits users' options. Many people prefer a capsule or tablet version rather than mixing a drink.
No Added Benefits: Despite the smaller particle size, studies suggest there is no evidence that micronized creatine has higher bioavailability, higher creatine retention, or better performance benefits than creatine monohydrate. (3)
Bloating: Like creatine monohydrate, bloating can be an issue with micronized creatine, often causing stomach discomfort.
Lightheadedness/Dizziness: While it isn't common, some users report lightheadedness or dizziness due to micronized creatine.
Considering that micronized creatine is made from creatine monohydrate, they have several similarities. See the chart below for key differences between creatine monohydrate vs. micronized.
If you want to learn more about the difference in creatines, check out our article: What Are The Types Of Creatine?
Most popular form of creatine commonly used by athletes to increase muscle energy
Type of creatine that is processed into tiny particles to increase absorption
20x smaller than normal creatine
Pill, powder, or capsule
Usually only powder
Gritty powder that may clump or leave residue at bottom
Superior mixability, no residue remaining
Based on countless studies and extensive research, creatine monohydrate is a safe, effective way to increase strength, muscle mass, and physical performance. The best creatine monohydrate available is Muscle Feast Creapure Creatine Monohydrate.
This product uses Creapure, a patented version of creatine monohydrate that is considered the purest quality. Each serving contains 5.4 grams of 99.9% pure creatine monohydrate with no added ingredients. It's gluten-free, non-GMO, keto-, and vegan-friendly, so there are no allergens to worry about.
It even comes in the standard tasteless version and multiple flavors such as green apple, grape, and watermelon. They offer various sizes, with a 55-serving bottle and a two-month supply for $34.
The best micronized creatine product on the market today is Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine.
Optimum Nutrition is one of the top supplement manufacturers, setting the standard with scientifically proven, high-quality products at affordable prices. Each serving contains five grams of 100% pure creatine monohydrate derived from Creapure that is micronized for easy mixing and faster absorption.
This unflavored, keto-friendly powder comes in various sizes, with a two-month 60-serving bottle available for only $24.92. The product is tested for all banned substances and contains the highest quality creatine.
These are the most commonly asked questions related to creatine monohydrate vs. micronized.
Scientific evidence shows that creatine monohydrate is the best type of creatine for muscle gain.
While all types of creatine can potentially cause bloating, many believe that creatine HCL causes the least bloating since it is a more soluble form. Creatine ethyl ester, a type of creatine molecule with an ester attached, is believed to limit bloating. More studies are required.
Yes, you can still gain muscle and get big without creatine. Creatine is a supplement, meaning it enhances muscle growth, but it is not required.
Creatine hydrochloride (HCL) is a type of creatine that is molecularly bonded to hydrochloric acid to increase solubility and absorption. To learn more about this type, check out our article, Creatine HCL vs. Monohydrate For Muscle Growth.
This answer will depend on your goal and current diet, but creatine is better for improving physical performance and increasing energy. At the same time, protein is better to increase protein synthesis and build muscle tissue.
Studies show that taking creatine intake immediately post-workout is better than pre-workout to improve body composition and strength. (4)
While a moderate dosage of 3-5 grams is proven safe for teenagers, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against it, suggesting waiting until 18.
The debate between micronized vs. monohydrate creatine should come down to preference rather than which is better. Micronized creatine is made from creatine monohydrate, so it has all of the same effects and benefits; it's simply processed to a smaller particle size.
While some people prefer micronized creatine due to its better mixability and absorption, there is no right choice between them. Some athletes prefer micronized creatine because they believe it works faster, whereas others firmly believe in regular creatine monohydrate. Both creatine types have applications in the fitness world and improve exercise performance, so it all comes down to personal preference.
Since we covered everything on micronized creatine vs. monohydrate, check out our article on Creatine Pills vs. Creatine Powder: Which Is Better? To learn more, check out our articles What Are The Types Of Creatine? and the 8 Best Creatine Supplements.
Buford, Thomas W, et al. "International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 4, no. 1, 2007, p. 6, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/, https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-6.
Kreider, Richard B., et al. "International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Safety and Efficacy of Creatine Supplementation in Exercise, Sport, and Medicine." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 14, no. 1, 13 June 2017, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z.
Kreider, Richard B., et al. “Bioavailability, Efficacy, Safety, and Regulatory Status of Creatine and Related Compounds: A Critical Review.” Nutrients, vol. 14, no. 5, 28 Feb. 2022, p. 1035, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14051035.
Antonio, Jose, and Victoria Ciccone. "The Effects of Pre versus Post Workout Supplementation of Creatine Monohydrate on Body Composition and Strength." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 10, no. 1, 6 Aug. 2013, https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-36.
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