It’s a question I see asked now and again, “Why Does Creatine HCL Taste Sour?”
Creatine may well be one of the most popular and widely researched supplements, but that doesn’t mean that all creatine is the same.
I would hazard a guess that most people start out with creatine monohydrate.
However, it seems as though a high percentage of people eventually switch to creatine HCL.
This is often due to certain stomach-related issues that are commonly associated with creatine monohydrate.
And I’ll discuss these in more detail in a moment.
With that being said, for those who have made the “switch”, they frequently complain about the salty, acidic, or bitter taste of creatine HCL.
So, I’ll now reveal the reasons why your creatine HCL tastes sour.
Why Does Creatine HCL Taste Sour?
The main reason that creatine HCL tastes sour is because a hydrochloride group (HCL) is attached to the creatine in order to improve its stability. The addition of HCL dramatically increases its solubility. However, HCL will also lower the pH of creatine, which in turn makes it more acidic. And this is why Creatine HCL tastes sour.
1. Increased Creatine Solubility Affects the Taste
Creatine HCL will always taste slightly sour or acidic due to the inclusion of hydrochloride (HCL).
In its most basic form, hydrochloride is known as an acid salt, which is the result of mixing hydrochloric acid with an organic base.
So, just the inclusion of the words, “acid salt” should give you an idea of the taste of creatine HCL.
However, there is good reason to add hydrochloride to creatine, and in truth creatine HCL is typically seen as a better option than creatine monohydrate.
Basically, the addition of hydrochloride dramatically improves the solubility of chlorine.
In fact, you should find when mixing creatine HCL in water that it should dissolve almost immediately.
Furthermore, it shouldn’t cause a sediment deposit at the bottom of your glass or mixer.
This is actually extremely desirable, although you’ll often find that creatine monohydrate does leave a sediment.
The particles of creatine that sit at the bottom of your glass will not be absorbed by the body properly.
In fact, they generally just sit in the intestines, whereas the aim is to actually be absorbed by the intestines.
Now, creatine automatically draws water towards it, which is also why your muscles often look bigger and fuller when you’ve been taking creatine for a while.
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With that being said, this isn’t a particular good thing when you have creatine sitting in the intestines.
Once more, this creatine will draw water towards your intestines, which can cause stomach discomfort or diarrhea.
The simple fact that creatine HCL has been proven to be 40 times more soluble in liquids than creatine monohydrate ensures that you’re less likely to experience any stomach-related issues.
There is also research that shows that creatine HCL is absorbed by the intestines 60% better than creatine monohydrate.
So, in effect, the increased solubility is great news for creatine takers, although you’ll have to learn to live with the sour taste of HCL.
2. What Do You Mix Creatine HCL With?
Okay, the standard way to mix creatine, regardless of the type, is with water or juice.
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Realistically, the best option will always be water, as this way you’re not adding any extra ingredients.
What I mean by this is that most juices will also contain carbs and sugar, which is something you may need to be wary of if you’re trying to lose weight or lower body fat.
With that being said, I know many people complain of the disgusting taste when mixing creatine HCL with water.
Plus, this is obviously not helped by the almost salty-like taste of HCL.
However, I know that many people aren’t particularly impressed when mixing HCL with juice.
In fact, HCL will usually completely alter the taste of juice.
I’ve personally tried HCL with both orange and apple juice, and I’ll have to admit it tasted terrible.
Most lifters are also wary of mixing creatine HCL with their protein shake, as once again, it seems to completely alter the taste.
Saying that, I have tried creatine HCL with an extremely sweet vegan chocolate protein shake, and that did seem to do the trick.
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However, the best option I think I have seen is if you take a pre-workout, then mix your creatine HCL with that.
Most pre-workouts are not only full of caffeine, but various sweeteners too.
And you can pretty much guarantee that a pre-workout will mask the taste of just about anything.
But, I can also see that this will cause confusion as to when is the best time to take creatine.
3. When is the Best Time to Take Creatine?
I’m going to go completely against the grain here, and say that I think creatine is best taken both before and after your workout.
And you can obviously take creatine whenever you feel like on your rest days.
There have been numerous scientific studies on the use of creatine, and when it’s best to take it.
In truth, there was hardly any difference between taking creatine before or after your workout.
That being said, when these results were looked at in slightly closer detail, there was evidence that creatine MIGHT be better after your workout.
Now, I really want to stress the word “might”, as this was lost on most people.
Unfortunately, the media, bodybuilders, and even supplement manufacturers seemed to jump on the “post-workout bandwagon.
So, you’ll frequently hear that creatine is best taken after your workout.
But, as I say, the initial research findings showed that there was very little difference whatsoever.
Therefore, if the sour taste of creatine HCL is bothering you that much, you could split your daily intake to pre and post workout.
So, you could mix 2.5g with your pre-workout drink, and then another 2.5g with your protein shake.
This way you’ll also be dissolving less creatine HCL in two separate drinks.
The result is that hopefully you’ll be able to mask the taste, while still receiving the full benefits of creatine HCL.
4 Reasons Creatine HCL is Better Than Monohydrate
So, as you can see, the main reason that creatine HCL tastes sour is due to the inclusion of hydrochloride (HCL).
HCL is attached to creatine in order to improve its stability and solubility.
However, HCL will also lower pH of creatine, thus making it more acidic.
And this is why creatine HCL is often described as sour, bitter, salty, or acidic in taste.
With that being said, it’s important to realise that the increased solubility of creatine HCL increases absorption by the intestines.
In fact, creatine HCL is said to be absorbed by the intestine 60 times better than creatine monohydrate.
And it is this absorption rate that makes creatine HCL less likely to cause the stomach-related issues more commonly associated with creatine monohydrate.
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Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.