creatine monohydrate

Creatine HCL vs Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine. It’s one of the most extensively researched ingredients in the world. And in a world of getting ripped and smashing PBs, creatine is the undisputed champ. Put it this way - this powerhouse supplement has been under the microscope more times than a bodybuilder checks out his gains in the mirror. There, we said it. With a stack of studies backing up its creds, creatine is the go-to for anyone looking to level up their workout game. Think of it like this. It's like the secret sauce for your muscles, helping you push harder, go faster, and recover quicker. And it's not all about brawn; the brain gets a piece of the action too, with research suggesting some serious mental perks (Avgerinos, K et al., 2018).

What is creatine?

So, what is creatine? In short, creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Now, chemically, it shares similarities with amino acids and can be produced by the body from glycine and arginine, two amino acids. Besides endogenous production, you can also obtain creatine through dietary sources, especially by eating meat and fish.

man drinking out of a shaker

What does creatine do?

It's the gym junkie's holy grail to getting over those pesky plateaus and supercharging your gains. Think of it as your muscles' best mate, always there to give you that extra nudge when you're gunning for one more rep or aiming to add another plate to the barbell.

Creatine is key in helping your muscles produce energy, especially during high-intensity, short-duration exertions such as sprinting or lifting. Here’s the breakdown of what it does and how it works:

Energy boost for muscle cells

At its core, creatine increases the availability of creatine phosphate in your muscle cells. This molecule is a key player in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is often referred to as the "energy currency" of the cell (Wu, S et al., 2022). During intense physical exercise, ATP is broken down to produce energy. Creatine phosphate donates a phosphate group to the depleted ADP (adenosine diphosphate), regenerating it back into ATP. This process boosts your capacity to perform at maximum intensity for a longer period of time.

Enhance physical performance

By replenishing ATP levels more efficiently, creatine supplementation allows athletes, bodybuilders and everyday active individuals to maintain higher performance levels. This translates to significant improvements in strength, power output, and muscle endurance, which can help you push harder during workouts and recover quicker between sets (Wu, S et al., 2022).

Muscle cell volume increase

Thought the creatine benefits ended with just physical performance? Think again. Creatine also has a muscle cell volumising effect. Creatine works by drawing water into the muscle cells, in turn, increasing their volume (Chilibeck, P et al., 2017). Not only does this contribute to the appearance of larger and fuller-looking muscles, but may also stimulate muscle growth via cellular pathways.

Essentially, creatine supplements stock up your muscle cells with the ultimate energy boost, making sure you've got the juice to kick your workouts up a notch. Whether you're sprinting, lifting, or leaping, creatine is there to turn your effort into overdrive, helping you work harder, recover quicker, and get stronger, faster. And the best part? It's not just bro-science; it's backed by a ton of research. So, if you're looking to level up your game, get ready to meet your new workout wingman. Creatine isn’t just about getting swole; it’s about charging full steam ahead towards your fitness goals, one scoop at a time.

Creatine HCL VS Creatine Monohydrate: Which one is better?

When it comes to the heavyweight battle of creatine supplements, the two contenders that consistently go head-to-head are Creatine HCL (hydrochloride) and Creatine Monohydrate. Both have their loyalists and skeptics. Each creatine has its benefits when it comes to chasing those gains, but which one takes the crown? The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think, but we'll dissect the rounds of this bout to help you decide the best fit for your fitness regimen in an in-depth discussion. 

What is creatine HCL?

If you’re here, you’ve probably heard of the most common form of creatine monohydrate. But, what about creatine HCL? Creatine HCL (hydrochloride) is a form of creatine, one of the most popular and effective supplements for increasing muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance. So, what does HCL stand for? The most basic explanation: the creatine molecule is bound to hydrochloric acid. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the most basic, but you get the point. This modification is believed to enhance its solubility in water and its absorption by the body compared to creatine monohydrate (Tayebi, M. 2020).

Benefits of creatine HCL:

Creatine HCL supplements have garnered a lot of attention in recent times in the fitness and bodybuilding communities. While sharing the fundamental benefits of creatine supplementation, such as enhanced strength, increased muscle mass, and improved exercise performance, Creatine HCL also offers several unique benefits:

Enhanced Solubility: Creatine HCL is significantly more soluble in water compared to creatine monohydrate. This high solubility is believed to improve its absorption by the body, potentially leading to more effective results with lower dosages (Tayebi, M., 2020). And, it goes without saying, that reducing the dosage also reduces the cost, making it great for those with a supp budget in mind.

Decreased Water Retention: Some users prefer Creatine HCL because it appears to cause less water retention outside of the muscle cells. Of course, this is can be an attractive feature for athletes or bodybuilders who are particular about maintaining a more ‘defined’ physique without the bloating that can sometimes accompany creatine monohydrate supplements (Dalbo, V et al., 2008).

Minimal Digestive Discomfort: Anecdotally, Creatine HCL has been reported to cause fewer digestive issues, such as bloating, cramps and discomfort, than other forms of creatine. This benefit could be due to its better solubility and the fact that smaller doses are needed for effectiveness, placing less stress on the digestive system (Tayebi, M., 2020).

You might be thinking, ‘these benefits sounds compelling’, and you’d be right, they are. However, the vast majority of research on creatine's efficacy, including its safety profile and long-term effects on muscle growth and performance, has been conducted using creatine monohydrate. Consequently, while Creatine HCL presents an intriguing alternative, particularly for individuals who may not tolerate monohydrate well, the foundational benefits of creatine supplementation as a whole, remain consistent across both forms.

What is creatine monohydrate?

Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most popular and extensively researched supplements in the field of sports nutrition and exercise science...and for good reason. Don’t worry, we’ll get into that next. But first, it's a compound that combines creatine with one molecule of water, hence the name "monohydrate." Creatine itself is a naturally occurring substance found in muscle cells, which helps produce energy during high-intensity exercise or heavy lifting. Now, let’s talk benefits.

Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate:

Creatine Monohydrate offers an array of research-backed benefits, making it one of the most popular and trusted supplements among athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts. Here are some of the key benefits:

Increased Muscle Strength and Power : Numerous studies have shown that Creatine Monohydrate can significantly enhance muscle strength and power output during physical exercise. This effect is sought after in the fitness space for improving performance in high-intensity, explosive activities such as sprinting, weightlifting, and jumping (Forbes, S et al., 2023).

Enhanced Exercise Performance: Creatine Monohydrate supports an increase the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). This leads to improved performance in short-duration, high-intensity exercises, allowing athletes and fitness enthusiasts to push harder and perform better during their training sessions (Forbes, S et al., 2023).

Accelerated Muscle Growth: Supplementation with Creatine Monohydrate has been linked to faster muscle growth (Wang, C et al., 2018) . It increases water content in muscle cells, creating a cell volumisation effect that may play a role in muscle hypertrophy over time. Additionally, the ability to train harder and for longer durations can further stimulate muscle growth.

Improved Recovery: Creatine Monohydrate is known to aid in muscle recovery by reducing muscle damage and inflammation following intense exercise or physical exercise. It doesn’t stop there though. It also helps replenish ATP stores more efficiently, which can speed up recovery processes and reduce downtime between training sessions (Wax, B et al., 2021).

Enhanced Cognitive Function: Although best known for its benefits in physical performance and muscle growth, Creatine Monohydrate has also been shown to have potential cognitive benefits. How? Research suggests it may support brain function, in particular working memory, by increasing ATP availability, which is crucial for maintaining cognitive processes, especially under conditions of stress or sleep deprivation (Rae, C et al., 2002).

Safe and Well-Tolerated: Extensive research has demonstrated that Creatine Monohydrate is safe for long-term use in healthy individuals when taken at recommended doses (Buford, T et al., 2007) . Being one of the world’s most research supps, it comes with a strong safety record.

There is no doubt Creatine Monohydrate stands out for its ability to improve strength, performance, and muscle growth, alongside benefits in recovery and potential cognitive benefits. However, which one is best suited for your needs? Keep reading to find out.

Which creatine is best for your goals?

Choosing between Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine HCL comes down to youe individual goals, preferences, sensitivity to digestive issues and personal convenience. Both forms of creatine offer the core benefits of creatine supplementation - increased strength, improved exercise performance, and enhanced muscle growth - but they come with their own set of atrributes that might make one more suitable than the other for certain individuals. Here's a breakdown to help decide which creatine might be best based on different criteria:


If you’re looking to max out your muscle volume and gain that ‘swole’ look, you may prefer Creatine Monohydrate. On the other hand, if you’re someone who is strictly looking to gain a more ‘shredded’ and ‘defined’ appearance, then Creatine HCL may be more suitable.


If you’re someone who experiences regular digestive issues or bloating from Creatine Monohydrate, then you may find comfort (excuse the pun) in Creatine HCL.

Convenience and preference:

Again, this comes down to personal preference but let us break it down for you. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, Creatine HCL usually requires less of a dose to gain the same effects as Creatine Monohydrate. And due to its purported higher absorption rate, this can be preferable if you don’t like to consume large quantities of supps or large volumes of liquid. However, you may find simply adding Creatine Monohydrate into your protein shake just as convenient.

Ultimately, the "best" choice boils down to individual factors. If you're seeking proven effectiveness and cost-efficiency and don't mind the potential for mild bloating or a loading phase, Creatine Monohydrate could be your go-to. On the other hand, if you prefer a supplement that might be gentler on your stomach and don't mind paying a bit more for the convenience of a lower dose, Creatine HCL could be worth exploring.

It’s also worth consulting with a healthcare professional, especially if you have preexisting conditions or concerns about how creatine supplementation might fit into your health regimen.


The best creatine supplements

Looking for the best creatine powders Australia has to offer? You’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re opting for a budget-friendly option, pure creatine powder or boosted creatine supplement, ASN has it all. Here are our top creatine supplements:

The rundown

In the world of biceps, gym selfies and sports supplements, the debate between Creatine HCL and Creatine Monohydrate is one that garners considerable attention. It’s evident that both forms offer substantial benefits to athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts looking to enhance their performance, increase their strength, and accelerate muscle growth. However, the decision on which form of creatine is "better" isn't a one-size-fits-all answer; it hinges on individual goals, preferences, dietary considerations, and how one's body responds to supplementation.

To shop our range of creatine here to our creatine supplements collection or head in-store to shop. Want more on creatine? Check out these articles below:

The 7 Best Creatine Supplements

Creatine for Women: Benefits and How To Take

6 Proven Benefits of Creatine

What Does Creatine Do For Muscle Growth?

Creatine Benefits, Who Should Use It And How?


Avgerinos, K et al. (2018, April). ‘Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials’. PubMed Central.

Wu, S et al. (2022, March). ‘Creatine supplementation for muscle growth: A scoping review of randomized clinical trials from 2012 to 2021’. Nutrients.

Chilibeck, P et al. (2017, September). ‘ Effect of creatine supplementation during resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscular strength in older adults: a meta-analysis’. Journal of Sports Medicine.

Tayebi, M et al. (2020, October). ‘Is creatine hydrochloride better than creatine monohydrate for the improvement of physical performance and hormonal changes in young trained men?’ Science and Sports.

Dalbo, V et al. (2008, January). ‘Putting to rest the myth of creatine supplementation leading to muscle cramps and dehydration’. Br J Sports Med.  

Forbes, S et al. (2023, 25 April). ‘Creatine supplementation and endurance performance: surges and sprints to win the race’. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.  

Wang, C et al. (2018, 2 November). ‘Effects of 4-Week Creatine Supplementation Combined with Complex Training on Muscle Damage and Sport Performance’. Nutrients.

Wax, B et al. (2021, 2 June). ‘Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations’. Nutrients.

Rae, C et al. (2002, 22 October). ‘Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial’. Proc Biol Sci.

Buford, T et al. (2007, 30 August). ‘International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise’. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.