Creatine Serum – Separating Fantasy From Reality
The characters in this industry never cease to amaze me (or should I say sicken me.) From the sneaky magazine-supplement company conspiracies to the outright frauds, the supplement consumer has to continually be on his guard. It’s like one giant carnival with booth after booth of rigged games and cheap prizes for those unfortunate enough to be sucked in by the strobe lights and slick pitch lines. The problem is, the only winners are the ones taking your money.
As you probably know we will occasionally test companies supplements, especially if something about a product or label doesn’t seem right. We’ve tested protein bars, Andro supplements, protein powders, creatine powders, liquid protein supplements, Chrysin supplements, and the list goes on and on. As long as I have been doing this, and as many pathetic test results that I have seen I still get that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach when the lab tests confirm my suspicion. I guess I’m too intimate with this industry to let it just roll off my shoulders. And because of this intimacy it doesn’t take long for the empty feeling to turn to anger. I imagine if I didn’t care it wouldn’t bother me. But I do care and it bothers the hell out of me.
For some reason I always catch much more grief when I reveal the test results than I do praise or thanks. This grief comes mostly from the companies that are making the garbage products of course, but also from the stores that are profiting from the big margins by selling the bogus supplements. And believe it or not, I sometimes even catch a little grief from consumers that have bought and used or are using the bogus supplements.
Now I can certainly understand the supplement companies and the retail stores that sell their supplements lashing out when they get “caught”, but when a consumer gets angry when we reveal to him or her that they are being scammed by an immoral supplement company, that still confuses me. I guess it’s a deeper psychological issue that I have yet to comprehend. Hey, no one likes to admit they’ve been “had”. It’s not a good feeling.
Anyway, I certainly never meant to be the police of the industry, but I seem to have been thrust into this position by my own accord. Like I said, if I didn’t care I wouldn’t be doing the testing to begin with. It’s expensive, distracting, and time consuming. Even with all the headache, the lawsuits, and the overall pain in the ass factor I know it’s all for a greater good.
Over the past couple of years, and more so this last year, a company called Muscle Marketing has been selling a product called Creatine Serum. It’s a liquid creatine supplement that they claim is 100% stable and far more effective than creatine powder. I first ignored the product and wrongly assumed that everyone knew creatine in a liquid degrades rapidly. I never really gave it more than a glance. Well as this company started advertising heavily and more and more retail stores and gyms began carrying the product, I gave it closer scrutiny. And when I did I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Creatine Serum is a liquid creatine supplement (Well it’s marketed and sold as a creatine supplement.) sold in a uniquely shaped red plastic dropper bottle. It comes in many flavors and now in varying formulations. If you take a look at how Creatine Serum is marketed it’s pretty easy to see what this company is doing. They are playing on all the inconveniences and misconceptions of powder creatine and claiming that their Creatine Serum is not only free of side effects (that don’t exist with powder creatine in the first place), but also that it’s more effective. They also claimed to have defied science and made creatine stable in a liquid for 2 years. This is their attempt to discredit creatine powder in order to generate greater sales of their liquid product. Typical sports nutrition marketing, but they go about in a very misleading and deceptive manner.
They have a chart on their bottle that lists the positives of the Creatine Serum verses the negatives (according to them) of the powder.
Let’s see if we can clear through some of the hype and get to the facts so you can decide if you should spend your hard earned money on this supplement as this company is trying so hard to persuade you to do.
Here’s what they claim for the Creatine Serum and here are the facts.
Serum: No loading – take just minutes before exercise.
Powder: Loading required: must be taken in large amounts for 5 days prior to exercise.
Supports For Their Claim
None – No scientific studies or data backs up their claim that there is no need to load with Creatine Serum. In other words, they made this up to convince you to buy it.
You don’t have to load with any creatine. It’s not mandatory. However, scientific studies show that you can achieve maximum muscle creatine saturation in 5 days through a 5 gram – 4 times a day protocol. Scientific studies also show you can achieve muscle creatine saturation by taking 3 grams once a day for 30 days. Each way has its advantages and disadvantages.
So their claim that there is no need to load with the serum verses a need to load with powdered creatine is completely misleading and void of the physiological facts involving the body’s utilization of creatine. If you want to achieve muscle creatine saturation in the same amount of time you will have to go through the loading phase with the serum just as you do with the powder. It’s that simple. It does not matter if it’s in a liquid form or not. Your body utilizes it the same way.
For this company to insinuate that their creatine somehow acts differently in the body than creatine powder is pure wishful thinking on their part. Or attempted deception on their part. I guess it depends on how you look at it. They’re either deceiving you or they’re just totally inept and actually believe what they are saying.
A simple “show me the science” will leave you and them empty handed.
Serum: No maintenance – take only on training days
Powder: Daily maintenance – must be taken even on non-training days.
Supports For Their Claim
None – No scientific studies show that their creatine serum does not need to be taken on days you don’t train. They also made this up to convince you to buy it. Why wouldn’t you need to take it on non-training days?
They are trying to convince you that just because it’s a liquid there is no need to take it on days you don’t train, but you must take the powder on days you don’t train to achieve the same results. Again this is another very misleading statement. And it’s simply not true. Creatine will saturate your muscle cells whether you train or not. Taking the creatine serum on training days and not on non training days would act exactly the same as taking powdered creatine on training days and not on non training days. Because the Creatine Serum is in a liquid form does not add any special ability to the creatine that would enable you to only have to take it on training days. If you want a continual creatine supply to the muscles you will need to take it every day. The liquid medium does not change this.
By making this claim they are trying to mislead you into thinking that their product is superior when no evidence even comes close to suggesting this. In fact, the science indicates the exact opposite due to creatine’s rapid degradation in a liquid medium.
Serum: Instant absorption.
Powder: Takes one hour or more to digest.
Supports For Their Claim
None – No scientific studies show that their creatine serum is absorbed instantly or any faster than powdered creatine. Again, they made this claim up too.
Just because it’s a liquid does not mean your body does not have to digest it. That’s absurd. In fact, there is no evidence and certainly no scientific study showing that this creatine serum is absorbed, enters the bloodstream, or saturates muscle tissue any faster than powdered creatine.
Serum: Completely assimilated into the muscles in minutes.
Powder: 50% wasted during the digestion process.
Supports For Their Claim
None – No scientific studies show that their creatine serum is assimilated into the muscles in minutes and no science shows that creatine powder is 50% wasted in the digestion process. In other words, this has no truth backing it whatsoever.
It is physiologically impossible for this creatine serum to be “Completely assimilated into the muscles in minutes”. That would be nice, but even an intravenous injection would not enable this to happen. And nowhere in the scientific research is there any indication that 50% of powdered creatine is wasted during digestion. They just made this one up as well. Like all the other claims so far, they completely made it up with no means or scientific data to back it up. None.
Serum: 100% stable: 2 year shelf life.
Powder: Unstable: rapidly degrades into waste product creatinine.
Supports For Their Claim
None – No scientific studies show that their creatine serum is stable at all much less that it has a 2 year shelf life. There are specific FDA protocols that are used to establish “shelf life” and I am not aware of any stability testing done on this product.
All of our analytical test showed that Creatine Serum contains high levels of creatinine. In fact the creatinine levels were as much as 600% greater than the creatine levels. I can only conclude through the analytical testing that Creatine Serum is highly unstable. The scientific and chemical reference books are correct and Creatine Serum degrades as quickly as any creatine would that is put into a liquid.
Serum: Does not cause water retention, bloating or cramping.
Powder: Causes water retention resulting in dehydration, bloating and cramping.
Supports For Their Claim
None – No scientific studies indicate that Creatine Serum works any differently than creatine powder. In fact, it’s physiologically impossible and to suggest that it does is completely untrue.
Creatine in a liquid, if it remained stable (all lab analysis shows that creatine degrades into creatinine in solution), would act no differently in the body than creatine in a powder form. Their own statement about powder creatine, “Causes water retention resulting in dehydration, bloating and cramping.”, is incorrect, contradictory, and misleading. If creatine causes water retention then how can it cause dehydration? And we are back to the fact that the creatine molecule is the same whether it’s in a liquid medium or a powder, so it will impart the same physiological effect either way.
Because creatine is in a liquid does not mean it will function any differently. Also, the negatives listed on their bottle for powder creatine are simply not true and have no scientific validity.
That’s like saying, “Muscle turns to fat, but if you take my product muscle will not turn to fat.” If it’s physiologically impossible for muscle to turn into fat in the first place how is taking my product going to stop something that would never happen? Call this what you want, but I call it a blatant misleading statement designed to sell you on a product by giving it virtues that don’t exist.
Serum: Stay with your normal water intake.
Powder: Must consume extra water to counteract dehydration.
Supports For Their Claim
None – No scientific studies indicate that Creatine Serum works any differently (if at all) than powdered creatine. No studies suggest you need to consume any less water with Creatine Serum than with powdered creatine. They made this one up too.
Creatine imparts a portion of its benefit by its ability to hyper-hydrate the muscle cell. You consume extra water while taking creatine to assist this hyper-hydration. You don’t drink extra water to prevent dehydration because of the creatine. As I said before, the creatine molecule is the same regardless of what medium it is delivered in. If you could maintain a stable creatine solution then its physiological effect on the body would be no different than creatine in a powder form. So to take full advantage of a “liquid” creatine you would need extra fluid to assist the creatine’s effect on hydrating the muscle cell.
If creatine caused dehydration it would cause this whether it was in a powder form or liquid form. It would not be because of the powder. It would be because of creatine’s physiological effect on the body. But there is no scientific evidence indicating that creatine causes dehydration.
They are trying to instill some magic quality to Creatine Serum and at the same time bucking the physiological effects creatine, in any form, has on muscle hydration. It’s like saying, “Fertilize your lawn with this ‘special’ fertilizer and you won’t have to water your lawn in the summer time like you do with the other fertilizers”. Grass needs water in the summer regardless of the type of fertilizer and when taking creatine your body needs fluid to provide the extra hydration (not to counteract dehydration) to the muscle cells no matter what type of creatine it is.
A quick look in the Merck Index (The bible in the scientific community for all chemical monographs.) clearly tells you the following:
“1 gram of creatine dissolves in 75 milliliters of water” and “in aqueous solution creatinine is formed, and aqueous and alkaline solutions contain an equilibrium mixture of creatinine and creatine, while in acid solutions the formation of creatinine is complete”
In other words, you can only dissolve 2 grams of creatine in each bottle of Creatine Serum and that creatine will partially or fully degrade into creatinine depending on the pH of the liquid it’s dissolved in.
This is no surprise and is common knowledge to anyone with just the slightest understanding of chemistry and our testing proved this to be exactly the case. Every bottle we tested had less than 1 gram of creatine in the entire bottle.
In fact, if they attempted to put the amount of creatine they claim is in each bottle it certainly would not dissolve and would have a consistency of a very thick paste or mud. You wouldn’t use a dropper to administer a serving you would use a fork.
They also claim that Creatine Serum is 100% stable and remains that way for 2 years. By this they mean that the creatine does not degrade into creatinine in the liquid. The analytical tests revealed just the opposite. Each bottle contained more creatinine than creatine and according to expiration dates on the bottles tested none were more than a couple of months old.
Their promotional statements are misleading, incorrect and factually and educationally void of any scientific validity. As I read the side of this bottle I’m left to wonder how they can legally and morally sell this product with the claims they are making. Their entire promotion of this product is based on absolutely no scientific substantiation whatsoever. Not even a backyard study.
Even on their web site they are quick to cite scientific studies extolling the positive effects of creatine, but the peculiar thing is the studies that they so quickly reference are studies done using powdered creatine and not Creatine Serum. Imagine that, they use the science from the very creatine powder they say is no good in the promotion of their liquid creatine.
As one of my colleagues said, they took every negative ever unjustifiably associated with creatine and said because theirs is in a liquid it will not cause any of them. And by doing this, not only are they obviously ignorant of the scientific research on creatine, but they are making up imaginary benefits for the Creatine Serum that solidifies their total lack of knowledge.
When it comes to analyzing the Creatine Serum the tests speak for themselves. Less than 1 gram of creatine is in each bottle of Creatine Serum. This actually blows me away. The fact that they make such phenomenal claims about their product and yet there is less than 1% of the amount of creatine that their label says there is.
As with many companies in this industry, this one is no different. They are all after a piece of the pie. The bigger the piece they can get, the more money they’ll make. And as you can see they’ll stop at nothing to sell their products.
There are consumer protection laws in this country to help guard the consumer from such fraud. Just this week a company known for selling two weight loss products, “Fat Trapper” and “Exercise in a Bottle”, through late night and weekend infomercials was fined 10 million dollars for misleading hundreds of thousands of consumers with the promotion of their products. In the case of Creatine Serum I don’t see any difference. A lie is a lie, and the law says you cannot lie to sell your products. The only reason companies like this one have yet to face the same type of penalties is because our government simply does not have the resources to prosecute all of them. But in due time their fraudulent behavior will catch up to them. In the meantime, don’t be sucked in to the hype.