Kre Alkalyn (TM) is a patented creatine mixture that claims to be 10 to 20 times more effective than straight creatine monohydrate at getting into the muscle cells. It is claimed by the patent holder that Kre Alkalyn uses a buffering agent to make more creatine active and stop the conversion to creatinine. Creatinine is a byproduct of creatine metabolism and considered a waste product making it undesirable for the bodybuilder.
Standard Creatine comes in many forms that compete with buffered creatine like creatine malate, creatine citrate, other creatine salts, creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester. These forms of creatine also claim to have near 100% absorption and are touted to be better forms of creatine as well. To test the claims that Kre Alkalyn has better bioavailability we can look to the scientific literature. Also, what does the scientific literature say about the claims that 90% of creatine is converted to creatinine and therefore useless? Is Kre Alkalyn worth the extra money?
According to its patent, buffered creatine uses one of the following ingredients to act as the buffering agent: soda ash, magnesium glycerol phosphate, hydroxide, carbonate, bicarbonate, chloride, tree latex or a phosphate. These buffering agents in theory help stop the conversion of creatine to creatinine in the acidic stomach. This conversion is supposedly stopped by adding in these buffering agents which counter the stomach acid.
Buffered creatine does have some studies posted to the All American EFX web site. Do the studies support the notion that Kre Alkalyn is vastly superior to creatine monohydrate or creatine salts like creatine malate or creatine citrate and creatine ethyl ester? The first study may support some slight improvement over other forms of creatine when examined.
Using 24 healthy Bulgarian weight lifting competitors, buffered creatine did show a roughly 2% increase in weight lifted over creatine monohydrate. To put this in perspective, if a powerlifter put up 300lbs on a squat, after 60 days the creatine monohydrate group would lift 325lbs and the Kre Alkalyn would lift 332lbs. Not exactly the stellar performance differences and vastly different absorption that is claimed by the Kre Alkalyn folks. Sure, lifting 7 extra pounds over 60 days is impressive, but it isn’t life altering weight even for a well trained athlete. Additionally, this study clearly is in dispute with their assertion that 90%+ of creatine monohydrate taken as a supplement is turned into creatinine in the stomach and thus inactive.
While it is significant to see an increase of 7lbs of weight lifted, is it possible that the real reason that Kre Alkalyn performs better is due to the bicarbonate in the product? I personally think that makes the most sense. Certainly more than 10% of creatine monohydrate is active, contrary to the Kre Alkalyn claims, so it isn’t the additional creatine that is having the slight improvement. It is most likely the bicarbonate. As an ergogenic aid, bicarbonate is very useful to performance athletes. If you are not aware, you probably own bicarbonate already, It’s called baking soda.
So, perhaps the “secret” to Kre Alkalyn is really just 5 cents worth of baking soda, which we know is good for performance athletes. A study of baking soda in performance athletes confirms this assertion. “Sodium bicarbonate and Na-citrate seem to be effective in activities with a sufficient duration to generate a difference in the hydrogen ion gradient, characterized by a very high intensity and involving large muscular groups.” (1) Large muscle groups is exactly what was studied in the Kre Alkalyn paper, so, for large muscle groups clearly, bicarbonate will increase performance and thus may explain the additional benefit achieved in the Kre Alkalyn study.
I suppose this is a benefit of taking Kre Alkalyn, the addition of bicarbonate. For the extra price though, it hardly seems worth any extra money. Considering that the study from the Kre Alkalyn site used 7.5g of Kre Alkalyn per day and that will cost you about 35 dollars, it hardly seems like Kre Alkalyn is a good deal compared to creatine monohydrate and a teaspoon of baking soda as the buffering agent. Additionally, more advanced creatine complexes are on the market that contain crucial cofactors that enhance creatine, like beta alanine and hydrolyzed amino acids. These complexes are usually cheaper and would certainly have benefit over both standard creatine monohydrate and Kre Alkalyn. Almost no one takes straight creatine any more, since there are advanced blends that have eclipsed them in performance by marrying the creatine with numerous cofactors.
There are other studies from the Kre Alkalyn web site that show indeed this form of creatine with a buffering agent is stable and non-toxic, which is to be expected. Another study shows that Kre Alkalyn again preforms slightly better than creatine monohydrate on a VO2 max test, but again this is probably due to the increased bicarbonate in the mix, not that the creatine itself is changed in any way or is absorbed better.
According to this study the Kre Alkalyn seems to be missing one key factor of creatine monohydrate supplementation, increased DHT levels. These increased DHT levels in young people may be whats causing them to get cranky on creatine, but may also increase their penis size and potentially make them taller (4). This benefit is seemingly negated by buffered creatine for some strange reason. Perhaps the additional acidic environment pushes the body to manufacturer more DHT from other sources than testosterone which is a very good thing for young people. The fact that this healthy benefit is negated is a knock against buffered creatine.
So, what about the claims that Kre Alkalyn is better absorbed due to creatine monohydrate being broken down nearly 90% by the stomach? The scientific literature completely debunks this claim. In fact scientific studies show creatine monohydrate can certainly be 100% absorbed, one study stating “Creatine seems to be totally absorbed since no creatine or creatinine was detectable in feces.” (2,3) and Creatine Salts such as creatine citrate and creatine malate have also shown to have nearly 100% absorption (3). This completely debunks the myth from All American EFX, the maker of Kre Alkalyn, that buffered creatine is a better form of creatine for absorption and debunks the assertion that 90%+ of standard creatine monohydrate turns to the waste product, creatinine. Using muscle creatine levels as the standard, it was shown that almost all creatine forms are absorbed and utilized.
All of this serves to really debunk the assertion that unbuffered creatine is inferior to Kre Alkalyn. The data seems to indicate that any benefit from Kre Alkalyn is probably due to the bicarbonate or other buffering agent. The small amount of bicarbonate makes the supplement perform slightly better than standard creatine monohydrate, but the differences are very slight even in performance athletes. If you really wanted buffered creatine, bicarbonate can be had in any kitchen in America as “baking soda”. You can make your own Kre Alkalyn by adding 1 teaspoon of baking soda to your creatine drink.
A serious deficiency of most Kre Alkalyn supplements on the market is that they seem to be missing the various advanced cofactors found in the most pre-workout drinks. These cofactors, like beta alanine show an increased improvement over straight creatine, making them a key component of any pre-workout creatine drink (5). The lack of things like beta alanine make most Kre Alkalyn supplements inferior to the current leading pre-workout powders.
Creatine is great for you and should be used by any serious bodybuilder. It is a proven supplement with benefits for powerlifters, bodybuilders, the elderly and middle aged men and women. No matter what form you use, make sure you add this impressive nutrient to your workouts and enjoy the numerous benefits.
1. Sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate: ergogenic aids? J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Feb;19(1):213-24. Requena B, Zabala M, Padial P, Feriche B. Department of Physical Education and Sport, University of Granada, Spain
2.Jäger R, Harris RC, Purpura M, Francaux M. Comparison of new forms of creatine in raising plasma creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Nov 12;4:17.
3.Deldicque L, Décombaz J, Zbinden Foncea H, Vuichoud J, Poortmans JR, Francaux M. Kinetics of creatine ingested as a food ingredient. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008 Jan;102(2):133-43.
4. 5 alpha-reductase deficiency in patients with micropenis. J Inherit Metab Dis. 1997 Mar;20(1):95-101. Gad YZ, Nasr H, Mazen I, Salah N, el-Ridi R. Human Genetics Department, National Research Center, Dokki, Giza, Egypt.
5. Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46. Hoffman J, Ratamess N, Kang J, Mangine G, Faigenbaum A, Stout J. Dept. of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ 08628, USA.