Monday, February 25, 2013

Creatine stability: facts and fiction. By Vic Goyaram

Creatine stability: facts and fiction
Researched and composed by Vic Goyaram
Kre-Alkalyn is marketed on the basis of the lack of stability of Creatine Monohydrate.
But is Creatine really unstable in the stomach?
Stability defined
Creatine stability can be defined as the rate at which it degrades into its degradation product Creatinine.  In a stable creatine preparation little degradation would occur. The most stable state of creatine is in the solid form. I have good news for creatine sellers because solid undissolved creatine is very stable. Even at temperatures of 40deg Celcius your tub of creatine monohydrate will not degrade. If you subject the powder to 60deg Celcius you will detect creatinine only after 44 months (1)! I witnessed the birth of liquid Creatines (e.g the GNC Creatine serum back in 2002) and knew straightaway that this formulation wouldn't last long on the shelves.

Creatine stability in solution
I am very sad to announce that Creatine is not very stable in solution. Therefore you should not mix creatine and leave the drink for a long time. The degradation of creatine in solution is dependent on the temperature and the pH. The higher the temperature and the lower (more acidic) the pH the faster the rate of degradation. If a neutral solvent is used (eg water) creatine is rather stable and here temperature will be the determining factor. The inclusion of Creatine in drinks is not a good idea and even if manufacturers bring out "novel" forms of creatine the stability won't necessarily be better, trust me. Here are some implications for the bodybuilder:
  • Do not mix Creatine in acidic solutions or hot solutions
  • You can dissolve Creatine in lukewarm but not hot water
  • If you mix creatine in water and can't drink it, store it in the fridge.
Creatine stability in the stomach
In the stomach, the issue of pH comes into play because as you know the stomach is an acidic environment because of the secretion of gastric juice which contains Hydrochloric acid. The lower (more acidic) the pH the greater the rate of degradation of creatine into Creatinine as shown in the graph below:
Degradation of Creatine increases with increasing acidity
Under low pH Creatine degrades by the process called intramolecular cyclization. Do not worry, I am not swearing at you. It means that the high acidity changes the open structure of creatine into the ring-like structure of creatinine.  

The conversion of Creatine into the waste product Creatinine
If creatine degrades in acidic pH why bother taking it then?
The industry has taken the observation that creatine is unstable in acidic solution to come up with more expensive "novel" forms of creatine like Creatine ethyl ester (CEE) and Kre-Alkalyn (buffered creatine). These novel forms, seriously lacking scientific backing, are pushed as being superior to creatine monohydrate in terms of being able to escape the degradative effects of stomach acids, thus more easily absorbed and bioavailable to the body.

Read this carefully please: Creatine can be stabilised by increasing the acidity further. While creatine degrades at pH 3.5, it is stable at a lower pH (below 3). The pH of the stomach is generally 2 and creatine is stable in the stomach (Ref 2,3)!! At such a low pH Creatine gains a positive charge in the NH2 group to become NH3+. This positive charge prevents the transformer movie to take place, meaning it prevents the molecular cyclization process that makes your urine expensive to occur.
At extreme low (acidic) pH creatine "mops" up the acidity. In this process it gains a a positive charge which prevents it from degrading
The take-home lesson
The take home lesson is that Creatine monohydrate is very stable in the stomach unlike the industry wants you to believe. The conversion of creatine to creatinine in the stomach and GI tract is minimal regardless of transit time.  The industry played with people's belief of the stomach being acid to introduce new pH stable forms of creatine on the market. This is because for every scientist who dug into the pharmacokinetic data on creatine there exists a million people who are unaware of the truth.

Creatine ester and kre-alkalyn  to Creatine monohydrate (4, 5).


1. Jäger R (2003) The use of creatine monohydrate in sports nutrition, Freising, Germany.

2. Deldicque L, Decombaz J, Zbinden Foncea H, Vuichoud J, Poortmans JR, Francaux M. Kinetics of creatine ingested as a food ingredient. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008;102(2):133–143.

3. Persky AM, Brazeau GA, Hochhaus G. Pharmacokinetics of the dietary supplement creatine. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2003;42(6):557–574

4. Jager et al. Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids. 2011 May; 40(5): 1369–1383


©,2013, Veeraj Goyaram, Bodybuilding Mauritius. Any reprinting in any type of media is prohibited.

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