Micronized Creatine vs Creatine Monohydrate (What’s The Difference?)

January 21, 2024

So, you’ve chosen to start using creatine based on all its benefits for health and performance. While investing your money into a product, you might as well choose the product that will give you the most bang for your buck. But who comes out on top in the standoff between micronized creatine and creatine monohydrate?

Micronized creatine is just creatine monohydrate broken down into smaller particles, and there is no evidence that it will be more effective than its big brother, creatine monohydrate.

If the two are equal, why is there so much buzz behind micronized creatine, which is much more expensive than creatine monohydrate? Once we break down the science, it can help you to see beyond marketing claims and make an educated choice as a consumer.

What Is Creatine Monohydrate?

Creatine is a non-protein amino acid compound that combines amino acids arginine and glycine [1].

“Creatine monohydrate” means that each creatine molecule is paired with one water molecule (monohydrate). The chemical formula for creatine monohydrate, C4H9N3O2·H2O, illustrates the combination of creatine with a single water molecule [2].

Introduced to the market in the early 1990s, creatine monohydrate is the predominant form present in dietary supplements and food products and is extensively referenced in scientific literature  [1].

Pros & Cons

Past studies suggest that taking creatine monohydrate at the recommended doses – 4 doses of 5 grams per day for 5–7 days or a steady lower daily intake of 3–6 grams for 4–12 weeks – can boost muscle creatine retention by around 20% to 40%, depending on initial muscle creatine levels [3, 4, 5, 6].

It also tends to increase brain creatine content by 5–15% [7, 8, 9]. Creatine monohydrate supplementation shows promise in improving short bursts of intense exercise and enhancing training effects in different age groups, including teens [10, 11, 12, 13], young adults [1, 14, 15, 16], and older individuals [1, 17, 18, 19].

Overall, high-intensity exercise performance can see a 10–20% boost, with more significant improvements in those starting with lower muscle creatine and phosphocreatine levels [20].

Positive effects have been noticed in various activities like weight training [21, 22, 23, 24], running [25, 26, 27], soccer [28, 29], swimming [11, 12,  30], volleyball [31], softball [32], ice hockey [33], golf [34], and more [35].

Both men and women, across age groups from kids to seniors, seem to benefit from creatine monohydrate supplementation without adverse or harmful side effects [1].

Creatine does not lead to dehydration, fat gain, sleep impairments, or hair loss

The only possible con is that there might be some water retention in the first week of loading due to initial water retention [36].

However, this water retention subsides after the loading phase is completed. If you want to avoid this, you can only use the maintenance dose of 3 – 5g once a day for a minimum of 28 days, although this will take longer to provide performance and body composition results [1].

What Is Micronized Creatine?

Micronized Creatine vs Creatine Monohydrate

Micronized creatine is just creatine, most often creatine monohydrate, broken down into smaller creatine particles [37].

Micronized creatine is marketed as more “bioavailable” (absorbed better) than regular creatine, leading to fewer side effects like bloating and gut issues.

Pros & Cons

Micronized creatine offers the same pros and cons as creatine monohydrate in terms of performance and health benefits.

There is no evidence that micronized creatine leads to less water retention and bloating or improved absorption and efficiency [31].

Because of the smaller particle size, micronized creatine may be more soluble in water, but it does not necessarily mean you absorb more of the creatine once it is in your stomach [31].

What’s The Difference Between Micronized Creatine & Monohydrate?

Micronized creatine is broken down into smaller particles [31]. It is marketed to be absorbed better and be more bioavailable.

Bioavailability refers to how easily the body absorbs a drug or substance, reaches its target, and becomes ready to affect physiological functions [38].

Creatine monohydrate is 99% bioavailable [2, 5, 39], so you will get the full benefit of creatine by just taking it in its original form.

Should You Take Micronized Creatine Or Monohydrate?

When you compare the two side by side, they offer the exact same benefits, although micronized creatine often comes with a higher price tag.

In a study done on the available forms of creatine found on Amazon.com, it was discovered that the alternative forms of creatine cost ~116% more per gram of creatine in comparison to creatine monohydrate.

Although the manufacturers used evidence from studies conducted on creatine monohydrate to substantiate why their product will be superior [31].

This leads the consumer, who is not actively going to read the studies they are using as “evidence” to be misled through claims that are actually not grounded in science.

Myths that creatine leads to gut issues or bloating have not been proven in intervention studies [1] when creatine is taken in the correct dosages.

If you take too much creatine at once (the upper limit in research so far is 10g at a time), you increase the risk of getting gut issues [1].

Instead of choosing micronized creatine in the hopes of preventing this (even though there is no research showing that it will work), take creatine in the suggested doses: for a loading phase, take 4 doses of 3 – 5 grams per day, and for a maintenance phase take 5 grams per day [1].


In the standoff between micronized creatine and creatine monohydrate, creatine monohydrate still comes out on top because it is less expensive and considered one of the most extensively researched, effective, and safe supplements on the market.

Even though there is a lot of marketing buzz behind alternative forms of creatine, like micronized creatine or creatine HCl, there is no evidence that they are superior to good ‘ol creatine monohydrate.


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About the Author

Hanli is a Registered Dietitian with a special interest in sports nutrition. She has a Master's degree and is currently a PhD candidate focusing on adolescent athlete nutrition. She has published research in the Obesity Reviews journal and is a research coordinator at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa.

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