Something we get asked about a lot at Predator Nutrition is which creatine is the best one to buy. The majority of the research to date has been conducted using creatine monohydrate. Unfortunately some people fail to respond to this type of creatine and/or can get uncomfortable bloating or upset stomachs from creatine monohydrate. In response to this, supplement companies have constantly tried to seek out new forms of creatine. Among these, one of the most popular has been creatine ethyl ester. A recent study (1) put this form of creatine to the test.
Assess the claim that creatine ethyl ester can increase bioavailability of creatine absorption.
The study ran for seven weeks and tested for muscle mass, muscle strength, power, serum and muscle creatine levels, serum creatinine levels in 30 non-resistance trained males. In a double blind trial, participants were assigned randomly to either a maltodextrin (placebo), creatine monohydrate (CM) or creatine ethyl ester (CEE) group. Subjects dosed the supplements at a dose of 0.30mg/kg of fat free mass for five days (approximately 20g/day), followed by a period of dosing at 0.075mg/kg of fat free mass (approximately 5g/day).
There were significantly higher serum creatine levels in both the CM and placebo group compared to the CEE group, while serum creatinine levels were higher in the CEE group compared to the placebo and CM groups. Total muscle creatine content was significantly higher in both creatine groups compared to placebo. Significant changes in fitness variables were observed but there were no major differences between groups.
Compared to creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester was not as effective at increasing serum and muscle creatine levels or in improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power. Therefore, the study concluded the improvements in these variables was likely due to the training rather than supplement regimen.
This study was the first comparing creatine monohydrate with creatine ethyl ester over a sustained period of usage and benefited from the fact that there was a solid resistance training program which all subjects had to perform. Although diets were not standardised, subjects submitted four days of food records for analysis before the testing sessions.
Creatine ethyl ester was introduced to the market to attempt to improve the bioavailability of creatine by making it less hydrophilic. By doing this, the claim is that CEE can bypass the creatine transporter and lead to increased delivery of creatine to the muscles. In turn, the argument is that less creatine is needed to saturate the muscles which allows for lower dosing and less bloating.
A previous study by Child et.al (2) had shown that creatine ethyl ester is degraded at a high rate into the breakdown product creatinine while creatine monohydrate did not degrade. This study showed again that the CEE led to increased breakdown into creatinine with serum creatinine levels increasing 3-fold after the loading phase in the CEE group.
An interesting aspect of this trial is that neither of the supplements were considered to have been behind the gains made. This tells us that with newcomers to training, there is no requirement to start training and taking creatine as the gains come easy to new trainees anyway and the effects of the creatine would be masked. A better approach would be to introduce creatine after a few months of training.
In light of the results of research we would advise against the use of creatine ethyl ester.
Author: Reggie Johal
1. Spillane M et.al (2009): The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine level
2. Child R, Tallon MJ (2007): Creatine ethyl ester rapidly degrades to creatinine in stomach acid. 4th Annual International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference, 2007
© 2012, Reggie Johal. All rights reserved.