Study after study confirms Creatine as one of the safest, most effective supplements available for increasing strength and building muscle. However, for many of us, it just plain doesn’t seem to make a difference – research be damned. Now we finally may have some answers.
The latest research on “creatine non-responders” went back to the earliest studies on creatine's effectiveness in search of answers. This review found that much of the original research was done with populations outside the United States whose diet does not include as much red meat (naturally rich in creatine) as the average American's does.
When adjusted for diet, the biggest gains were seen in groups that didn’t eat much red meat, while the steak-eating crowd featured a higher percentage of “non-responders”.
If you’re vegetarian, you absolutely will benefit tremendously from adding creatine. If you’re a carnivore, it’s a little more up in the air how much you’ll benefit. Our recommendation would be to play it safe and use it – but with a few caveats.
Literally none of the research done by the unsponsored scientific community has seen an advantage to using any of the designer, goofy rainbow of creatines out there (Kre-alkalyn, Hydorchloride, etc). At best, they’re as effective as Creatine Monohydrate; at worst, they are, well... worse.
Stick to Creatine Monohydrate (micronized if possible, as the smaller particles make it easier to digest and may boost its effectiveness).
A legit Creatine Monohydrate product should be around 10 cents per serving – it’s a dirt-cheap insurance policy to add to a stack, just in case you are deficient and would benefit. It’s also possible to find protein powders that have added creatine monohydrate in them. Most of these products are effective, and generally reasonably priced.
Creatine is a great, but it's not a very effective pre-workout ingredient. It's effects are cumulative, over time, and in the short-term it can even briefly decrease performance. For many, creatine causes temporary digestive discomfort. If you’ve ever tried to deadlift with a case of the bubble guts, you know why it’s something to avoid.
Use creatine after training, when the receptors on muscle cells open up for superior up-take.
Using creatine pre-workout, when it’s less effective, may also account for many of the non-responder cases out there.
We left creatine out of our pre-training product, UNTAPPED, in favor of ingredients that are better suited to pre-workout and are better tolerated – we don’t want any stomach issues slowing athletes down.
However, we are fans of creatine and do think it’s a great ingredient to stack with UNTAPPED (though as mentioned above, creatine is best taken later in the day, separately, post workout). Some of UNTAPPED’s key ingredients are stored in muscle through a mechanism similar to the way creatine is absorbed, and UNTAPPED may boost creatine’s effectiveness.
Even though meat-eating, red blooded Americans may have hit or miss experiences with creatine, we think it’s still worth including in a solid supplement stack. Just be sure to use it post workout and don’t overpay for under-proven forms of creatine – stick to tried and true creatine monohydrate.