Creatine is an organic acid that helps provide cells and other muscles with energy and is commonly used to support athletic endurance and muscle recovery. Chemically, it is a derivative of several amino acids including glycine, arginine and methionine. Creatine powder is the most common delivery method of creatine when sold as a bodybuilding and exercise supplement. It is also sometimes used by vegetarians because, although creatine can be produced through chemical synthesis in the human body through vegetable sources, meat is the only direct natural source of creatine.
Creatine supplements can also be found in pill or liquid form, but powder is the most popular form of the supplement. This is probably due to a common belief that pills take longer to digest due to their coating. Some also believe that liquid formulas may not contain as much pure creatine as powder and that the creatine content in liquids may become corrupted over time. Those who do prefer pills or liquid formulas usually cite convenience as their reason, as creatine powder needs to be mixed with a drink before consumption.
When using creatine powder, users should drink more water than usual, as creatine can contribute to cell water retention. It is commonly recommended to mix creatine powder with a drink that is high in natural sugars as well, as this may help the absorption process. Grape juice is a popular choice since the citric acid in some other juices is often suspected to lessen creatine's effect. "Loading phases," in which a large amount of creatine powder is taken initially followed by less and less per week, are frequently recommended by trainers.
There are four main types of creatine: monohydrate, phosphate, citrate and ester. Creatine monohydrate is creatine bound with a small percentage of water and was the first type of creatine introduced to the market. The other forms of creatine are attached to different chemical compounds and are promoted as providing increased absorption or greater efficacy. Creatine powder with creatine monohydrate remains the most common — and usually the least expensive — of the creatine supplements.
Creatine powder and protein powder are the two top supplements used in body-building. Many supplement trends have come and gone, but these two have stood the test of time through clinical trials and user experience. This is perhaps because both protein and creatine occur naturally in the body and are known to be directly involved with muscles — protein aids in muscle growth, and creatine provides muscles with energy.