When you're supplementing your diet with creatine, make sure you're getting the most benefit. Creatine is available in both powder and pill form. Choosing one over the other comes down to which one you find more convenient. Consult your doctor before adding creatine to your daily routine.
Creatine is a chemical already found in your body that helps your muscles make energy. It's considered a safe supplement, according to MedlinePlus, and is taken by athletes to help improve performance. While there is some evidence that creatine may benefit athletes, MedlinePlus reports that most of the studies on the supplement have been small, and more research is necessary to know how effective it is.
Powder vs. Capsules
Choosing powder vs. a pill may depend on your dose. One tablespoon of creatine powder is equal to 5 grams. The amount of creatine in a capsule depends on the manufacturer and may range from 0.7 to 2.5 grams per capsule. Convenience may also factor into your decision. You might prefer the ease of swallowing a premeasured pill as opposed to the mess and inconvenience of having to measure and mix the powdered creatine. As far as digestion goes, the gel capsule, which is a protein, should break open once it hits the acidic contents of your stomach, and the creatine should undergo the same digestive process as the powder.
How to Take Creatine
To maximize creatine levels in your muscles, it's recommended that you take the supplement with a simple carbohydrate. The powdered creatine can be mixed in a cup of juice or blended in a fruit smoothie. If you take creatine capsules, instead of water take it with a cup of juice.
If your goal is to build muscle, a 2001 study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that taking creatine with whey protein helped improve lean body mass better than a placebo. Add the protein powder to your fruit smoothie or creatine and juice mix.
Although creatine is considered safe, don't take a higher dose than recommended. High doses may affect kidney, liver or heart health, according to MedlinePlus. Also, creatine increases muscle fluid retention, so be sure to drink plenty of water when supplementing to prevent dehydration. You should not take creatine if you're pregnant, nursing or have kidney disease or diabetes. Always talk to your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet.
- MedlinePlus: Creatine
- GNC: Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
- GNC: GNC Pro Performance Creatine Monohydrate
- OptimumNutrition: Creatine 2500 Caps
- iHerb: Now Foods, Healthy Foods, Single "0" Gelatin Caps, 1000 Empty Capsules
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Your Digestive System and How It Works
- International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism: The Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation With and Without Creatine Monohydrate Combined With Resistance Training on Lean Tissue Mass and Muscle Strength