Have you been facing very slow progress, or have hit the dreaded plateau, despite pushing yourself to your limits at the gym? Are you trying to increase your muscle build and tone, or athletic performance with creatine supplement? In this article we talk about what is micronized creatine, along with the benefits.
I’m sure you have come across fitness influencers, or even your local gym, promoting creatine supplements as a holy grail product with the potential to revolutionize your fitness journey.
But is it worth it? What is this “miracle” ingredient, and how does it actually work? Well, we’re here to help you out with that.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a type of amino acid that is found in the muscles of the human body. While protein typically steals the limelight when it comes to aiding muscle gain and bodybuilding, creatine plays a key role in generating cellular energy in the form of creatine phosphate.
So, in other words, without creatine, there’s no energy production in the proteins of our muscles. Why so? Because 95% of the creatine in our body is synthesized naturally in our skeletal muscles (1).
The human body receives its creatine supply from the liver and from the food that we eat, which is generally around 2 grams per day. It has also been recorded that creatine can help with mental fatigue.
Now, this creatine content in our body can be increased through the supplementary intake.
Creatine Supplements Benefits
Creatine supplements are taken by high-performing athletes and personal trainers for enhancing their performance and endurance during high intensity sports or bodybuilding activities.
The following are the key benefits that we can associate with creatine supplements:
- Bigger and stronger muscle development.
- Increase in the protein synthesis in the body through increased ATP supply and thus giving more energy.
- Tuning the performance in both aerobic and anaerobic activities.
- Faster muscle recovery on the consumption of creatine supplements post-workout.
- Reduces the chances of bone decay.
- Relieves mental fatigue.
What are the Types of Creatine Supplements Available in the Market?
Researchers have spent nights and days improving supplement science with the aid of advancing technologies. Today, we have supplements to fill up practically any gap in your diet or lifestyle, and of course to aid you in the journey of achieving your dream body.
Research has determined the four major forms of creatine that can be safely consumed by humans, to add on to the naturally produced creatine in our body. Each one is different from the other in their solubility, composition, and efficiency.
Here are the four major types:
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Micronized Creatine
- Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE)
- Creatine Gluconate
Recommended: If you have stopped seeing results while working out, read our article on Progressive Overload.
What is Creatine Monohydrate and Why is it so Popular?
This is the best available and most popularly used form of creatine supplement. Creatine Monohydrate contains around 85-90% of pure creatine per molecule.
Also, this form of creatine has the most amount of clinical research backing it up, so we can be aware of every aspect of both benefits and disadvantages of Creatine Monohydrate.
Advantages of Creatine Monohydrate
This form of creatine has been used in the bodybuilding and athletics field for over decades because of the stellar results achieved from consuming it.
By far this has been recorded as the most effective and “pure” form of creatine. Structurally, the monohydrate forms the water content, while the rest of it is pure creatine.
Disadvantages of Creatine Monohydrate
The “purity” of Creatine Monohydrate is also, unfortunately, one of its pitfalls.
The water solubility of Creatine Monohydrate is not as much as it should be for ease of intake, and this might result in gastrointestinal problems and abdominal cramps.
Some people may also experience water bloating from consuming this form of creatine.
Also, due to the low surface area, only 1% of the total creatine consumed gets absorbed in our muscles.
What is Micronized Creatine?
Micronized Creatine is essentially a powdered form of Creatine Monohydrate, of which the molecules have been micronized or divided 20 times to increase the surface area for better absorption in the body during digestion.
Is Micronized Creatine Better?
The increased surface area improves the digestibility of Creatine Monohydrate due to its capacity for better absorption. Thus, the issue of stomach problems associated with Creatine Monohydrate is fairly resolved. Alongside, your body gets the maximum benefits of the creatine consumed.
Micronized Creatine powder is better soluble in water, yet has all the benefits that the conventional Creatine Monohydrate supplement delivers, and the undesirable side effects associated with Creatine Monohydrate are also avoided through Micronized Creatine supplement consumption (2).
Research has now proved that the purity and efficacy of Micronized Creatine is much greater than the monohydrate form of Creatine. This opens an opportunity for all those who did not respond well to the Monohydrate variant of creatine supplements to try out this more effective form.
However, irrespective of all the benefits, these are a bit more expensive than the regular form of Creatine Monohydrate, which may be a decisive factor for consumers.
Recommended: Here is the best way to manage and track your gym progress.
Creatine: Micronized vs Monohydrate
As we have already discussed, Micronized Creatine is a form of the standard Creatine Monohydrate in which the molecules of the creatine are broken down 20 times into further smaller pieces of sizes of 0.36 to 9 microns, and hence turned into a powdered version.
This, as a result, causes creatine to become more easily soluble in water, which in turn makes it easier for people to consume after their workouts.
Also, since the molecules get broken down exponentially, the overall surface area of Creatine Monohydrate increases which directly influences the absorptive property of the creatine supplement.
The bigger the surface area, the better would be the digestion inside our gastric systems, that is, better would be the absorption of creatine by our body. As a result, the problem with the conventional 1% absorption of creatine in the body of the conventional Creatine Monohydrate supplements has been resolved favorably by the micronized variant.
Micronized Creatine has been marketed as a more preferred form of creatine-based sports supplement for almost around a decade now.
Athletes and trainers have been choosing these supplements as the best variant of creatine without second thoughts, even though they cost higher than the usual creatine monohydrate supplements which are widely available in the market now.
Recommended: Checkout our article on the topic: Creatine: With Milk or Water?
Micronized Creatine Powder Benefits
Still not convinced about the merits? Here are some further insights on the general benefits of Micronized Creatine over practically any other creatine supplement:
Increased Metabolic Energy
The faster and easier absorption of Micronized Creatine in the body tissues helps with more energy synthesis for athletes (3).
Even though it has a loading phase before it actually starts working, the results are evident and impactful. So, in my opinion, waiting out the loading period should not be much of a deal-breaker if you get superior benefits.
As we have discussed earlier, micronized creatine powder contains powdered micro particles of Creatine Monohydrate, which increases the ease and speed of solubility in any liquid you decide to pair the supplement up with.
A pairing liquid base is necessary to easily consume the supplement, digest it better, and for the proper physical absorption of it inside the body.
The better solubility in liquids has given this supplement a better market hype among athletes and bodybuilders.
Compared to the conventional Creatine Monohydrate supplements which are very poorly soluble in water, micronized creatine shows the tendency to remain suspended in the mixture for a considerable while, instead of settling down at the bottom of the container after some time like the standard Creatine supplements.
More Serving per Dose
The benefit of getting a greater muscle build after hours of working out and improved stamina is a dream come true for all gym buffs and athletes out there.
Even with smaller doses, the better bodily absorption of Micronized Creatine provides a huge boost in the energy generated within your body and better muscle build due to improved water retaining characteristics within the muscle fibers.
All the Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate without any of its Pitfalls
Since micronized creatine is a finely milled version of the standard consumable creatine monohydrate, it provides all the benefits associated with the intake of normal creatine supplements, along with additional benefits which we just discussed.
As you know by now, creatine is responsible for a better toning of the muscles and performance of the individual, and creatine can generate energy in the body and promote protein synthesis (4).
Usually, for the regular creatine supplements, the absorption of pure creatine by the body after the supplement is consumed is limited to 1% of the total weight of the supplement intake- which is rather less for obtaining the desired results.
Also, regular creatine supplements come associated with cases of stomach problems and bloating.
All these issues are avoided with the replacement of the regular supplements with Micronized Creatine supplements which provide more absorption, more energy synthesis, and better physical outcomes, minus all the complexities and physical discomforts.
What is the Creatine Loading Phase?
Creatine supplements are considered to be one of the best supplement products present in the current market for athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts.
The creatine supplement needs to be consumed by people following three stages or phases– the loading phase, the maintenance phase, and the No-creatine phase. Each phase has a certain number of days, as assigned by your fitness expert, based on your present body weight, lean muscle content of your body, and your fitness goals.
The Creatine Loading Phase, popularly known among bodybuilders as Creatine Loading Cycle, can be described as that exact duration taken by our body in order to saturate the muscle fibers with absorbed creatine, along with the naturally generated creatine in the body.
In simpler terms, the Creatine Loading Phase is that period where you have to consume a higher quantity of the creatine monohydrate or the micronized creatine powder for a fixed number of days, as advised by your fitness coach, so as to attain that stage where your muscles would not be able to store the same dose of creatine anymore.
So it can be understood that the main motive of this phase is to max up our intramuscular creatine storage in a limited time period. But, why is it necessary?
Why Should We Saturate Our Muscle Fibers with Creatine?
The Creatine Loading Phase is not necessary, but it can help, because the more your muscles and tissues will contain creatine, the higher would be the generation ATP, which is the body’s energy currency.
This will help enhance your stamina, lower your fatigue, improve muscle recovery, and retain water in the muscles to give them better tone and mass.
Creatine Loading also increases protein synthesis in the body and helps gain more muscle.
Is the Loading Phase for Creatine Absolutely Necessary?
Even though creatine loading has a significant amount of benefits associated with the process, it is not strictly necessary that you follow it.
If the creatine loading phase is followed, you will be able to saturate your muscles with creatine within a week Whereas if you choose to not follow the loading phase, it might take you around a month to attain the required saturation.
This is applicable for all the involved phases in the creatine consumption process popularly followed by athletes and advised by experts. That is, none of the phases are obligatory, but they definitely yield you superior benefits of adhered to.
These stages of intake of creatine supplements are generally suggested as a precaution in order for our bodies to gradually adjust to the sudden increase of the content of Creatine in the body and prevent any adverse adaptation.
Micronized Creatine Powder Dosage
The best-advised dosage of Micronized Creatine powder is in compliance with the phase-wise introduction of the supplement into Loading Phase and Maintenance Phase.
During the loading phase, you load higher amounts of creatine into your body for about a week. Then, you take the normal servings during the maintenance phases.
Here’s an overview of both the phases in detail:
Loading Phase Dosage
It is important to maintain the consumption of small doses of around 5 grams of Micronized Creatine Powder throughout the day during this phase. You should be consuming the supplement at least 4-5 times in a day for 5 days or maybe a week.
The absorption rate increases if the Creatine powder is consumed along with a high GI food source like fruit juice or fast carbs (dextrose monohydrate).
The timings of your doses of the creatine supplement can be easily aligned with breakfast, lunch, and before and after workout routines.
Maintenance Phase Dosage
The maintenance phase continues for the next three weeks after the first week of the loading phase.
For these 3 weeks, the daily suggested dosage of Micronized Creatine powder is once or twice a day, an amount of 5 grams at a time.
This would help in the creatine retention in the muscle fibers.
No-Creatine or Break Phase Dosage
After the loading and the maintenance phase, for the next 3 weeks, ideally you should not be consuming any creatine. Instead, during this time, your body would be utilising all the stored creatine to the fullest.
After this phase, you should restart the cycle once again.
It is important to note that while you are maintaining the micronized creatine cycle, it is absolutely necessary to keep yourself adequately hydrated throughout the day.
Are Creatine Supplements Safe?
There have been many researches conducted on the new creatine supplements and their physical impact on the bodies as compared to old competitions in the market, including whey protein supplements, or casein powder supplements.
Although there have been no recorded major side-effects of creatine supplement consumption in general, it has been noticed in a few case-specific studies that there was an increase in Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels by approximately 60% in the body (5).
Higher DHT levels, in turn, have been associated with hair loss and hairline recession.
Side Effects of Creatine Supplements
Creatine supplements top the chart of best sport performance-enhancing supplements available in the market. However, creatine supplements are not without side effects, even though they are not “severe”.
The usual side effect that most people face when consuming creatine is digestive system issues.
Associated cramps, bloating, uneasiness, and weight gain are other typical side effects that have been noticed. However, these typically happen when your body is adjusting to the introduction of creatine supplements into your routine, and should typically go away after the Loading Phase.
Take care, however, as dehydration, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis, and damage to the liver and kidney can be caused due to overdosing or irregular dosage of creatine supplements.
What are the Side Effects of Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Supplements?
Although the market claims that Micronized Creatine powder has the least associated side effects, it is not completely foolproof.
Because of the higher absorption rate of Micronized Creatine supplements compared to the regular creatine ones, the side effects are not as aggressive. However, there have been recorded certain side effects that resemble the ones for general Creatine Monohydrate supplement, albeit dialled down.
These side effects include:
- Gastric problems.
- Stomach cramps.
- Appetite loss (Here’s how to increase your appetite).
Excessive creatine loading can result in an increase in the formation of formaldehyde in our bodies which can cause severe health issues in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
Micronized Creatine can be claimed to be a better version of creatine monohydrate. Their compositions are the same but for micronized creatine powder, the grains are very fine and that helps in better absorption and better water solubility. Also, better digestion can resolve the immediate side effects of abdominal cramps and bloating generally caused by monohydrate supplements.
Another aspect is that many non-responders to Creatine Monohydrate have experienced results after using Micronized Creatine in the proper dosage routine.
So if you happen to be one of those who didn’t respond well to Monohydrate supplements, it’s time you test out the Micronized Creatine powder.
Micronized Creatine or Creatine Monohydrate powder can be readily found over-the-counter at most stores that sell supplements.
Due to its popularity, you won’t have any trouble finding a plethora of creatine powder variants online. The tough bit is getting over the decision fatigue.
Always make sure to check the reviews and ratings of the product and the credibility of the manufacturer to ensure safety. Ideally, before you start with any new nutritional supplement, you should consult a doctor- the same applies for Creatine powder.
Creatine Monohydrate is the best form of creatine supplement that would help with mass gain and bulking. Micronized Creatine supplements are, however, the same product with better benefits but are also higher priced.
It is advisable to use micronized creatine supplements for best results. As of 2021, the best rated creatine supplement for bulking is the Staunch Creatine Monohydrate Powder. You can also consider the Nutricost Creatine Monohydrate Powder, as well as the Vitadirect Creatine Monohydrate Powder.