Last week I explained how high temperatures increase creatine degradation rate and how this might reduce the amount of creatine you are actually ingesting following its mixing in liquids. I now explain how heat also increases creatine’s solubility, effectively increasing the amount of creatine that goes into solution. How to offset these two apparently dichotomous effects in order to optimize creatine availability for maximal absorption is the topic of today’s post.
Creatine’s Insolubility Causes Problems
One of the most problematic aspects of dietary supplementation with creatine monohydrate powders are their poor solubility - this annoying feature gives rise to a range of inconveniences ranging from not being able to get your creatine into solution to persistent diarrhea.
Heating Increases the Amount of Creatine That Goes Into Solution
Although this may sound like a contradiction it is not. Recall from the last post that heat increases the disorder of our “creatine in a glass” system, which translates into more creatine molecules being randomly dispersed (dissolved) in our liquid. In fact, increasing the temperature increases the solubility of creatine in water significantly. In practical terms, going from 10 to 50 degrees Celsius increases the solubility of pure creatine monohydrate about three-fold. This is an important consideration, since creatine is rather insoluble; typically about 14 grams of pure creatine monohydrate can be dissolved in a liter of water at room temperature (25 degrees Celsius). Importantly, this values drops to around only 8 grams of creatine being able to be dissolved in one liter of water right out of the refrigerator (4 degrees Celsius). And, of course, creatinine production will also increase, although much less significantly than the increase in creatine solubility. Can you see where I am going with this?
Your Creatine Still Won’t Dissolve??
If you are still having problems getting all your creatine into solution, then maybe you are adding too much powder, or have too little liquid in which to dissolve it. At room temperature you should be able to dissolve around 7 grams of creatine per 16 ounces of water (approximately 0.5 liter). Heat the solution to 50 degrees Celsius (warm) and you should be able to increase this amount to around 17 grams per 16 fluid ounces, or about 5 grams in 5 fluid ounces. This is more than enough creatine to ingest at one time for most athletes.
The maximal amount of creatine that is absorbable by a human being is explained in my creatine guide. Go to the follow link for more information about the guide: http://www.creatinemonohydrate.net/creatineguide
So, is it pointless to heat your creatine solution before taking it?
It is a tradeoff, as most things are in life. Fortunately, this one issue has a clear upside. Here is my reasoning…
While it is true that heating your solution of creatine monohydrate will increase the rate that it converts into creatinine, the rate of degradation (conversion into creatinine) is relatively small - only of the order of a few percent after a few hours. This represents only a relatively minor change in functional creatine content. On the other hand, heating your creatine solution will significantly increase the amount that goes into solution, which, in turn, will alleviate certain forms of gastrointestinal discomfort as well as increase the amount of creatine that can be absorbed into the blood stream from your digestive tract.
Go ahead and heat up your creatine solution to assist in dissolving it, but drink it almost immediately afterwards and don’t overdo it with the heating. If you can drink it comfortably within a few minutes of mixing it, the temperature should be ok and the degradation of creatine (to creatinine) should be minimal.