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Types of Creatine: Find the Most Effective One

If you’re new to the supplement, you may be confused about all the different types of creatine out there. When looking for creatine to buy, you may have come across monohydrate, HCL, buffered, kre-alkalyn, and many more! 

When you’re unfamiliar with the different types of creatine, all these names can blend together and leave you super confused. You may have questions like what kind of creatine is best? Is all creatine the same? Should I be taking creatine as capsules or as powder? 

That’s why we’re here to clear the confusion, and settle the score on the different types of creatine. Keep reading to have all your questions answered. 

While there are numerous types of creatine out there, you should always go with a basic monohydrate supplement. This is creatine in its simplest form, and it is the cheapest, and most well-researched form of the supplement available.

Types of Creatine

What Types of Creatine Are on the Market?

1. Monohydrate

Monohydrate is creatine in its simplest form. It is what’s found in the vast majority of creatine supplements, and out of all the different creatine types, we strongly recommend this over any others. This is because it’s both the cheapest, and most well-researched form of creatine available on the market. 

Creatine monohydrate is well-known to provide significant benefits to nearly all athletes, including improved high-intensity exercise performance, muscle growthreduced fatigue, and better recovery. You will begin to experience the benefits of creatine once your body’s stores are fully saturated. With a simple dosage of 3-5g a day, you will fully saturate your creatine stores in around 2-4 weeks on average. 

The main reason companies offer other types of creatine is because they’re trying to get people to spend extra money on a product that will have the same basic effects as a much cheaper monohydrate supplement. Because of this, be wary of any company trying to market any of the other types of creatine mentioned on this list. These other types of creatine are little more than a marketing scheme.


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2. HCL

Creatine HCL is one of the most popular forms of creatine behind monohydrate. It is a product of Creatine Monohydrate and Acetyl Chloride which are used as reactants with ethanol as a solvent. This process produces Creatine HCL, which is much more soluble than creatine monohydrate. This means it will mix much easier in liquid. 

However, solubility is often conflated with bioavailability by those trying to sell Creatine HCL. While it’s often claimed that you can take less HCL to get the same effects as monohydrate, there is minimal evidence to back this claim up. 

Creatine HCL is also much more expensive than monohydrate. You can expect to pay up to 3x more for an HCL supplement compared to a monohydrate, making it a much less budget-friendly option. It’s also been around for far less time than monohydrate, meaning it has not undergone the rigorous testing of creatine’s most basic form. 

While HCL is likely completely safe, the lack of research surrounding it is concerning. Because monohydrate has been studied for decades, we can be more confident of its effectiveness and safety. 

3. Kre-Alkalyn (Buffered), Ethyl Ester, Creatine Magnesium Chelate, Etc.

After HCL, there are plenty of other less-common alternatives to Monohydrate available. These include kre-alkalyn, ethyl ester, citrate, tri-creatine malate, and too many others to name. 

While the marketing claims and chemical formulas vary, the same criticisms we made about Creatine HCL remain true. These alternative forms of creatine are designed to trick those who don’t know any better into spending more money on functionally the same product as monohydrate. 

While many of them likely deliver the same effects as monohydrate, they often cost significantly more. In fact, one study found that out of the 16 alternative forms of creatine available on Amazon, they averaged out to be around twice as expensive as monohydrate. 

On top of this, 88% of them had little to no evidence to support their claims of bioavailability, efficacy, or safety. So, if it’s not already clear, we strongly recommend sticking to monohydrate over any alternative forms of creatine. 

different tl products

What Is the Most Studied, Most Effective and Most Affordable Form of Creatine?

As you can see from the information listed above, the best form of creatine by far is monohydrate. Other forms of creatine are mostly marketing schemes to charge more for what boils down to the same basic product. 

What’s worse is that these products are not nearly as well-researched as creatine, meaning there may be adverse health risks associated with them that aren’t present with monohydrate. 

If you take one thing away from this article, it should be that any non-monohydrate form of creatine is not worth your money, and if you want all the benefits associated with creatine supplementation, go with monohydrate 100% of the time. 

creatine in hand

Powder vs Capsule Form: Is There a Difference?

Aside from different formulas, creatine can also come in different forms, usually powder or capsules. So, is there a difference here similar to the difference between monohydrate and other kinds of creatine?

If you’re buying a basic creatine monohydrate supplement, there won’t be any difference in its effects whether you’re taking it in a powdered or capsule form. The reason creatine comes in these different forms is simply because some people prefer one form over another. They will typically come with similar serving sizes, and similar prices as well. 

Overall, when making the decision between creatine powder and capsules, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

First, decide which supplement is more convenient for you to take. While most people find powder to be easier, some people may prefer to swallow a couple pills instead of mixing creatine into water. It’s also worth noting that getting specific doses will be easier with pills, as they’re usually 1g/capsule. 

However, this won’t be a factor for most people who take a standard serving of 5g a day. Ultimately, which form of creatine is right for you will completely come down to a matter of personal preference. Of course, whether you’re buying powder or pills, make sure it’s monohydrate!

Best Creatine: Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

transparent labs creatine hbm

If you’re looking for a high quality creatine monohydrate supplement, our top pick is Creatine HMB from Transparent Labs. 

Now, don’t be confused by the name – this is not a modified form of creatine. HMB is simply an added ingredient to the monohydrate base of this supplement. Each serving of Transparent Labs’ creatine supplement contains 5g of creatine monohydrate, making it the perfect dose for most people. 

So, you may be wondering, what is HMB? Transparent Labs claims that HMB has similar ergogenic effects to creatine (increasing power output & lean body mass, etc.), and this is partly true, although the ergogenic effects of HMB have less scientific evidence than creatine and require further study.

The other ingredient found in this supplement – Vitamin D – has a wide range of benefits. These include performance enhancing benefits like increasing muscular strength, as well as general health benefits like helping to prevent disease and improving bone health. Each serving of Creatine HMB contains 63% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin D.

transparent labs creatine hbm instagram
photo by @team_myhmb

Another reason Creatine HMB is such a great supplement is its flavor options. If you’ve been looking for a creatine supplement, you’ve probably noticed the vast majority of them are exclusively unflavored. 

Transparent Labs on the other hand offers 11 unique flavors to choose from! This makes Creatine HMB a great choice if you prefer a flavored drink, although they do also offer an unflavored version.

It’s worth noting that this is a fairly expensive supplement at around $1.50 per serving. If you’re looking for a more basic creatine, you can easily find a supplement for well under a dollar. 

Although the inclusion of HMB is unnecessary, the true value from this supplement also comes from the inclusion of Vitamin D and the multiple flavor options. 


What Type of Creatine Is Best?

Hopefully it was made clear in the article that the best form of creatine is monohydrate by far. This is the only form of creatine you should be taking because it is the simplest, cheapest, and most well-researched type of creatine available. 

What Is the Difference Between Types of Creatine?

The difference between types of creatine largely comes down to their chemical structure. Almost all types of creatine are simply products of monohydrate combined with other ingredients. Ultimately, monohydrate is the safest, most well-researched, and most effective form of creatine available. 

Does It Matter What Type of Creatine You Take?

Yes, while most alternative forms of creatine will have similar effects to monohydrate, they aren’t nearly as well-researched and will likely come at a significantly higher price. If you want all the effects of creatine at the best price possible, we recommend sticking to creatine monohydrate 100% of the time. 

Which Creatine Is Better Hcl or Monohydrate?

Monohydrate is the far superior option when compared to HCL for having a better price, and decades of research backing up its use. While HCL is more soluble than monohydrate, it does not appear to be more bioavailable. Overall, these 2 supplements will likely give you identical results, with monohydrate simply being the cheaper, more well-researched option. 


While there are numerous different forms of creatine on the market, there isn’t a single one that we can recommend over standard monohydrate. The vast majority of different forms of creatine are simply marketing gimmicks used to charge more for the same core product. 

On top of this, monohydrate is much more well-researched than any of these alternatives, making it the safest choice as well. While creatine is one of the best sports supplements available, don’t fall for any marketing tricks, and stick with monohydrate.

If you’re looking for a high-quality, deluxe monohydrate supplement, we recommend checking out Transparent Labs Creatine HMB.

Do you currently take creatine, or are you looking to try it for the first time? Were you aware that creatine monohydrate is the best, cheapest, and safest form of creatine around? Let us know in the comments below!

Also read:


  1. Richard B Kreider, Douglas S Kalman, Jose Antonio, Tim N Ziegenfuss, Robert Wildman, Rick Collins, Darren G Candow, Susan M Kleiner, Anthony L Almada, Hector L Lopez, “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine,” National Library of Medicine, (2017).
  2. Steven L Nissen, Rick L Sharp “Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis” National Library of Medicine, (Jul 2003), 94(2):651-9.
  3. R Aaserud 1, P Gramvik, S R Olsen, J Jensen “Creatine supplementation delays onset of fatigue during repeated bouts of sprint running” National Library of Medicine, (Jul 1998), 8(5 Pt 1):247-51.
  4. Matthew B Cooke, Emma Rybalka, Andrew D Williams, Paul J Cribb & Alan Hayes, “Creatine supplementation enhances muscle force recovery after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals” Harvard University Home, (accessed 2009).
  6. Guillermo Escalante a, Adam M. Gonzalez b, Dean St Mart c, Michael Torres a, Jacob Echols a, Mariesha Islas a, Brad J. Schoenfeld , “Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and cost of alternative forms of creatine available for purchase on are label claims supported by science?” Science Direct, (accessed 2009)

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Oleksandr Maksymenko

Author: Oleksandr Maksymenko
Certified Sports Nutritionist,
MSc Sports Dietetics

Experience: 7 years
Specializing in: Weight management, Fitness / Sports nutrition

Oleksandr is a professional fitness nutritionist certified by the Fitness Professional Association (FPA). He follows the principles of evidence-based dietetics and fosters a healthy relationship with food in his clients, ensuring there are no strict prohibitions on their favorite foods or frequent lapses. His primary goal is not only to achieve results for you but also to sustain them over the long term, all while enjoying tasty and delicious food.

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