Creatine is the foundation of sports supplementation. In the current offer of numerous companies, you can meet a large number of preparations with this substance. What’s more, it often occurs in various forms. In our text, we confront the two most popular forms – monohydrate and malate. I invite you to read the following text, in which we will try to dispel some doubts about each of them.
What is Creatine Monohydrate?
Creatine monohydrate is a conglomerate of water and creatine molecules. This product is one of the most popular and common forms of creatine in the world. For many years and successfully used in sports supplementation. This preparation binds and retains water in cells at the same time, therefore it is not recommended for people with kidney disease.
Creatine monohydrate – effects
As previously mentioned, monohydrate is one of the most common nutrients that can be found in equipment and sportsmen. The mechanism of action of this substance in the human body is quite complicated. I will try, however, to bring this multi-stage process a bit closer.
The source of creatine for muscle cells can be twofold – we’re talking here about molecules derived from the liver or from synthetic supplements. The process of synthesis of creatine by the body is very long-lasting, therefore nutrients with this substance enable it to be delivered to our system more quickly. In muscular cells, creatine enters the mitochondria, which in turn produce ATP – one of the main energy relays. This compound is not only the basis for anabolism of proteins, but also the majority of life processes of the human body.
Creatine in the mitochondria is combined with adenosine triphosphate and is converted to phosphocreatine. This compound leaves the mitochondria and reaches the site of their original use of ATP. Here, the phosphate residue is removed and the adenosine triphosphate molecule is reconstructed. So it turns out that phosphocreatine is responsible for the transfer of ATP in the human body. The process is, however much more complex.
ATP can affect membrane receptors similar to anabolic hormones or adrenomimetics. Research proves that this process is always accompanied by adrenaline supporting the start of protein synthesis. The next step is protein binding with GTP – guanidinium triphosphate. This compound is caused by creatine previously delivered to the cell by ATP. The protein derived from GTP is responsible for the activation of enzymes known as cyclases. These enzymes, in turn, are triggered by the nitrogen oxide that I have already discussed many times. Active cyclases affect ATP or GTP and lead to the formation of further compounds – cyclic nucleotides, which are referred to as cAMP or cGMP.
Cyclic nucleotides lead to the activation of another group of enzymes called kinases. They, in turn, affect the elements regulating the transcription processes whose task is to initiate protein synthesis. Kinase interaction can be addressed directly to genetic material as well as to the so-called Koregulators and membrane receptors. The action on transcription factors consists in their phosphorylation, i.e. attaching the phosphate residue, which comes from the creatine provided by ATP.
It is worth devoting a few words to one of the most important kinases – mTOR. This compound monitors the energy and amino acid status of cells. At the moment when this level is too low, mTOR kinase transmits signals stimulating the body to protein anabolism. The amount of amino acids is determined by the leucine concentration in the body and the energy level due to the content of AMP – a compound resulting from the decay of ATP. The above information shows that high levels of AMP lead to inhibition of mTOR activity, which in turn inhibits protein anabolism. And here is where creatine appears, which, as mentioned earlier, leads to the reconstruction of adenosine triphosphate molecules.
The next step in protein synthesis is to give a signal about the start of this process. The first phase is RNA synthesis. Ribonucleic acid is a kind of start for a new protein. The production of this acid is possible thanks to initiation complexes, which must be appropriately stimulated. Their stimulation occurs through interaction by phosphate residues derived from the creatine provided by ATP. In turn, the activation of these phosphate groups is possible through appropriate kinases. The most important enzyme from the group of kinases is the mTOR compound described above.
The RNA acid is also responsible for the transport of amino acids. At this point, we refer to aminoacyl-tRNA. However, to create this relationship, creatine is necessary. Why? The reason is the adenosine triphosphate mentioned many times. Pre-amino acids are transformed into aminoacyl adenylate, which then exchanges ATP molecules to ribonucleic acid molecules. Only after completion of the above reactions, the body can begin the synthesis of new protein molecules. It is also worth adding that each of these processes is conditioned by the appropriate amount of creatine provided by ATP or GTP.
After the production of protein, the protein molecule is incorporated into the muscle fiber, which leads to an increase in overall muscle mass. And at this point, once again ATP appears – this time adenosine triphosphate gives information about the contraction, which means that it leads to the generation of an impulse. It turns out that creatine has an ergogenic effect, that is, it stimulates the muscle to work. This allows you to gain more strength, which is equivalent to using a larger load, and thus faster development of muscle mass.
In addition to the stimulation of anabolism, creatine monohydrate works anti-catabolic. This is conditioned by the buffer properties that lead to maintaining the optimal pH level in the cells. Simply put – creatine eliminates excessive acidity in the muscles, which usually arises after a long and intense physical effort.
In conclusion, the use of creatine leads to
– stimulation of protein synthesis, and thus the increase of lean muscle mass;
– increase in strength, improvement of results, as well as increase in efficiency and intensity as a result of increasing the amount of ATP;
– facilitating regeneration after physical exercise due to normalization of the pH level.
Supplementation with creatine monohydrate should mainly take place in accordance with the method of use on the label of the product purchased. It is assumed, however, that the dosage of this supplement can be divided into three main types
– cyclic (from 8 to 15 weeks) from 5 to 10 g per day broken for 1-3 servings during the day. Each of the portions of 2 to 5 g;
– cyclic with regard to the saturation phase (from 4 to 8 weeks)
Saturation phase 20 to 30 g per day divided into 4 to 6 doses. Each dose of 4 to 6 g. Maintenance phase 2 to 10 g divided into doses;
– constant from 0.03 to 0.05 g for every kilogram of body weight.
Research from 2012 carried out at the University of Life Sciences in Lublin, they confirm the benefits of using creatine. The research material consisted of six physically active men between the ages of 20 and 25, whose weight ranged from 70 to 90 kg. They were divided into two equal groups – control and research, in which a daily portion of creatine monohydrate was used in the amount of 15 g. This dose was divided into three doses of 5 g. Participants were subjected to a 6-week observation during which they performed the same training. In addition, once a week they were subjected to control tests in which they were measured
– body weight;
– body fat content and BMI;
– somatic features based on the chest and thigh circumference;
– sports performance (number of repetitions in barbell bench press and the number of barbell squats according to the RM parameter – maximum number of repetitions).
The results of the experiment are presented in the following way (results presented in averages for the whole group)
– body weight control group ^ by 0.77 kg / research group ^ by 1.97 kg;
– control body fat content ¡ 1.04% / research ¡ by 2.92%;
– chest circumference control ^ by 0.87 cm / test ^ by 5.5 cm;
– average number of repetitions in barbell bench press ^ by 46.14% / research ^ by 56.92%.
What is creatine malate?
The name of a malate is a supplement that is a combination of creatine with apple acid. The ratio of both substances is 13. The form of creatine in question is characterized by a more stable structure than the previously described monohydrate. It is conditioned by greater resistance to stomach enzymes. Creatine malate is very often found on the market under such names as tri-creatine malate, TCM, di-creatine malate.
Creatine malate – effects
The mechanism of action of creatine malate is based on the same effects as in the previously described monowodzanie. What is the difference between them? In the case of TCM, the lean muscle mass obtained is characterized by better quality in terms of optics. On the other hand, it should be remembered that the growth process is less effective than in the case of monohydrate. This is conditioned by the lower ability to retain water within the intercellular space.
Creatine malate is very often seen as an improved form of this compound. The argument in favor of this statement may also be the fact that this compound is characterized by faster and better solubility in water than monohydrate. This is due to the presence in the formulation of compounds such as citrates or pyruvates. The result of this state of affairs is the uptake of more nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract, which affects the more effective building of muscle mass.
Tri-creatine malate, like creatine monohydrate, is most commonly found on the market in the form of powder or capsules. This supplement can be found in the market in two forms – monopreparations or multi-component creatine stacks. Dosage of creatine malate is conditioned by such features as the form of the preparation, body weight or the type of physical exercise. As in the case of monohydrate, we distinguish more than one application method
– cyclic (from 4 to 12 weeks) 5 to 10 g of preparation per day divided into 1 to 3 servings. Each serving should be between 2 and 5 g;
– constant from 0.03 to 0.05 g of preparation for every kilogram of body weight.
It is also worth noting that creatine (regardless of the form) is better absorbed by the body after its administration with glucose. Therefore, it is recommended that you use it with fruit juice or immediately after consumption take a carbo or gainer conditioner. This form of administration enhances the effects of the preparation. In addition, it is worth remembering that the time of using creatine is of little importance – the most important thing is that supplementation with this compound should be systematic.
Although malate is one of the most popular forms of creatine, its “fame” is much smaller than its competitor. The diagnostic tests from 2012 can be used as evidence. The experiment was carried out on a group of 490 men between the ages of 17 and 36 who are practicing physical exercise.
The analysis used a questionnaire, which shows that over 76.5% of the respondents use creatine in their supplementation. In this group, more than 60.8% used this supplement to increase their body weight, and the mechanism of its operation was described as good by over 68%. The respondents were asked about the most common form of creatine taken in the majority, because in 85% they indicated monohydrate, and only 7.1% supported the form of malate.
Monohydrate and creatine malate – side effects
Creatine, like most supplements, carries the risk of side effects. The most common reason for this is incorrect or excessive supplementation. In a study conducted on a group of 175 athletes, attempts were made to determine the incidence of adverse symptoms in the form of diarrhea, muscle cramps and dehydration. The control group took a placebo, and the material had an experimental dose of 2 to 5 g creatine per day for a year. The results show that the incidence of side effects was almost identical in both groups.
It is also worth mentioning that the use of moron should take place with periodic breaks. Chronic use of this preparation in large quantities may lead to an increase in the concentration of formaldehyde in the body. It is a toxic compound that can lead to irritation of the gastrointestinal mucosa, as well as damage to the heart, central nervous system, liver and kidneys. It is worth remembering that each subsequent cycle should be preceded by at least one month’s break after the last creatine phase.
Creatine monohydrate or malate?
The result of the duel of these two supplements is difficult to determine, because each of the preparations has its advantages and disadvantages. The more popular monohydrate usually has a low price and shows faster results, but leads to the retention of more water in the body. On the other hand, we have an apple, the effects of which are less spectacular, and the costs of shopping are usually higher. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that it is TCM that makes the obtained results better in terms of quality, and what’s more, it is more easily soluble in water.