Creatine monohydrate vs ethyl ester

By: Jose Antonio PhD

Date Published: July 2011
In the ongoing debate between which is better, creatine monohydrate versus creatine ethyl ester, the winner is? Creatine monohydrate!1 What’s odd about this debate is folks claiming CEE (creatine ethyl ester) as being superior to creatine monohydrate have NEVER produced evidence to show that it is even equal to CrMono (creatine monohydrate). NEVER. It’s like claiming to be the best team in pro football during the Pre-season. Folks, it just doesn’t work that way. So after years of waiting for a head-to-head comparison, science confirms what many have thought all along. CEE isn’t even on par with CrMono. In a study lead by one of the leading sports nutrition scientists West of the Mississippi, Dr. Darryn Willoughby and his band of merry men studied how a seven-week supplementation regimen combined with resistance training affected body composition, muscle mass, muscle strength and power, serum (blood) and muscle creatine levels, and serum creatinine levels in 30 non-resistance-trained males. Subjects were randomly assigned to a maltodextrose placebo (PLA), creatine monohydrate (CrMono), or creatine ethyl ester (CEE) group. The supplements were taken at a dose of 0.30 g/kg fat-free body mass (which is approximately 20 g/day) for five days followed by ingestion at 0.075 g/kg fat free mass (approximately 5 g/day) for 42 days. So it is your basic loading phase followed by a maintenance phase. By Day 6 and Day 48, CrMono produced higher levels of serum creatine than CEE. And interestingly, by Day 6 and Day 27, CrMono produced higher muscle creatne levels than CEE although by Day 48, CrMono was still higher (but it wasn’t statistically significant over CEE). One of the more telling results is the fact that CEE results in a much greater conversion to creatinine. Say it isn’t so! OMG! Yes, science has determined that by Day 6, 27 and 48, CEE produced 2 to 3 times more creatinine than CrMono. According to these eggheads, when compared to creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester was not as effective at increasing serum and muscle creatine levels or in improving body composition, muscle mass, strength, and power.

Thus, one can reasonably conclude that CEE is not superior to CrMono. In fact, many of the markers of creatine metabolism suggest that CEE is in fact inferior to CrMono. Because the subjects in this study were untrained, this explains why there weren’t great differences in the training adaptations. One might reasonably conclude that in trained folks, you’re better off sticking to CrMono than CEE.

**One final comment: the beauty of science is in its ability to resolve disputes. For those of you on the CEE bandwagon, perhaps it’s time to jump off that ship.

Jose Antonio PhD is an avid outrigger paddler and the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (




1. Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, et al. The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009;6:6.