Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL – What’s the Difference?

Time to Read: 5 minutes

Creatine supplementation yields significant physiological benefits, including boosting the amount of creatine stored in the muscles. The substance promotes the production of a molecule known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which helps generate high levels of energy in muscle cells. Hence, supplementation may enhance athletic performance.

Research studies revealed that athletes can increase concentrations of creatine in the body by 20 percent after six days of constant use. Many people mix creatine with water, protein shakes, juice, and other fluids to modify the flavor. In turn, users may notice an increase in strength, lean muscle mass gains, improved muscle recovery, or a reduction in fatigue. As you start shopping for creatine, you’ll quickly discover that it is predominantly offered in two different forms. So what’s the difference between Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL?

Differences between Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL

Creatine hydrochloride (HCL) and creatine monohydrate come with minor differences in taste, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects. They serve the same purpose, but creatine HCL is more soluble in water and other fluids than the monohydrate variant. It derives the high solubility from hydrochloride, which also contributes to its stability.

Creatine monohydrate has been widely used as a supplement for many generations. Scientists have proven its effectiveness more than other types of creatine. Many users opt for this version due to its purity, which is approximately 99.8 percent. Additionally, creatine monohydrate is a more affordable option than HCL.

Effectiveness

Creatine monohydrate is a potent option that delivers results like other forms of the substance, including creatine hydrochloride. Taking the supplement may help you boost energy levels, run faster, improve mental performance, and promote muscle endurance. In the end, it can be difficult to separate creatine HCL and creatine monohydrate when it comes to effectiveness.

Price Difference

When it comes to pricing, monohydrate is the clear winner, coming in much cheaper than HCL on a gram basis. That said, creatine hydrochloride requires much smaller doses, so when you consider that you use significantly more monohydrate for the same effect, the difference in cost is not as significant. Ultimate, the cost of both monohydrate and HCL are low and the differences are almost indistinguishable. 

Amazon has plenty of options for both Monohydrate and HCL that you can look at to compare costs.

Convenience

Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine HCL are both quite easy to consume. Both are typically added to a glass of water to drink. As previously mentioned, creatine HCL dissolves much faster in water than monohydrate, so HCL can be added to and consumed in water much faster. HCL does, however, have a sour taste to it that monohydrate does not. This could be off-putting to some, but many people report HCL to taste like a sour lemonade, which some don’t find too bad.

Side Effects

Both creatine monohydrate and HCL come with limited possibility to trigger adverse reactions. The monohydrate variant is unlikely to cause serious issues in people without pre-existing health conditions. Its widespread use over many years has allowed scientists to assess the supplement’s efficacy and safety more than creatine hydrochloride.

On the downside, reduced solubility and poor absorption associated with creatine monohydrate may contribute to water retention and stomach discomfort. In some cases, less than three percent of the substance makes its way across intestinal cells in one hour and thirty minutes. Poor absorption can translate to limited uptake of the supplement by the body.

The solubility of HCL eliminates issues relating to water retention by dissolving 38 times faster than monohydrate. Faster absorption into the bloodstream counteracts the possibility of developing side effects. The body finds it easier to break down and absorb the substance. Scientific evidence confirmed that creatine hydrochloride has a superior permeability in the gut than monohydrate.

Dosage

HCL delivers the desired results in smaller doses. Taking smaller doses of between one and two grams each day can be sufficient. Unlike creatine monohydrate, HCL is available in a micronized form. The smaller size allows you to take less HCL to achieve the same result yielded by larger doses of monohydrate.

Furthermore, you need reduced amounts of water, which prevents bloating and other gastrointestinal side effects linked to monohydrate.

For many people, the ideal dose for creatine monohydrate is five grams, compared to 1-2 grams of HCL.

Taste

Creatine HCL has a salty-sour taste, which differs significantly from creatine monohydrate. To modify the supplement’s bitter taste, mix it with flavored water or other types of juices. Meanwhile, creatine monohydrate has no flavor or smell. You can mix it with any drink and have no effect on the taste.

Creatine Monohydrate vs HCL – Which Is Best?

When it comes to creatine monohydrate vs HCL, there are a few minor differences. Some people favor one for the other based on personal preferences, while scientific evidence does not provide a strong basis for differentiating between the two supplements. The solubility and smaller doses associated with HCL are two of the most significant factors that separate the substances. Monohydrate provides a cheaper option but comes with reduced solubility and absorption.

We can’t say that one is better than the other. Regardless of which you choose, we have included our recommended version of each below: