“The secret is out: Kre-Alkalyn is the biggest breakthrough in bodybuilding technology since the release of creatine monohydrate!”
This quote is from one of the many ads used to sell Kre-Alkalyn to the bodybuilding world. Of course, Kre-Alkalyn has been around for a few years now, so it’s not exactly a secret anymore.
What is Kre-Alkalyn? Simply put, Kre-Alkalyn is…creatine monohydrate. So how can creatine monohydrate be a bigger breakthrough than, well, creatine monohydrate? According to U.S. Patent #6,399,661, Kre-Alkalyn isn’t any old creatine monohydrate—it’s been treated with alkaline salts to render a high pH when dissolved in water.
Why does that matter? According to the patent:
“Research has shown that known creatine delivery systems actually have the human body ingesting creatinine, a poison and toxic byproduct. It is believed that the main reason for complaints resulting from creatine consumption, namely, stomach cramps, edema, bloodedness and dehydration, is caused by the body’s defense to this toxic compound.
The known oral creatine supplements are dissolved in acidic solutions having a pH range of from 3-6. Research has shown that at these pH levels, the rate of conversion of creatine to creatinine is almost instantaneous.”
So according to “research,” we’re being poisoned by our creatine supplements! Just add water and kaboom—instant creatinine.
Jeffrey Golini, the inventor of Kre-Alkalyn and founder of All-American Pharmaceutical & Natural Foods Corporation, conducted this research using Near Infrared Analysis (NIR). Golini claims his research also showed that creatine conversion to creatinine is reduced in alkaline solutions—and is effectively zero at pH 12. This is the rationale for Kre-Alkalyn: its high pH supposedly ensures it will be 100% stable in solution.
No creatinine conversion = no side effects = more creatine available to your muscles—or so the reasoning goes. Since Kre-Alkalyn has never been tested in humans under controlled conditions, there’s no direct proof. Thus the case “for” Kre-Alkalyn rests on the case against regular creatine monohydrate. Let’s see how the charges stand up to examination, one by one.
1. Regular creatine monohydrate converts to creatinine within minutes of being dissolved in liquid.
To be blunt, Golini’s research has never been published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal. This means his data has never been examined or verified by other researchers familiar with creatine monohydrate or NIR measurements. All we have is Golini’s word to go on.
Independent research tells a different story. Dr. Roger Harris, for example, demonstrated that creatine monohydrate was completely stable in water for up to 8 hours at room temperature; and that subsequent degradation over 3 days was quite low. In his own patent, Dr. Harris also stated: “…the conversion of creatine to creatinine at acidic pH is actually sufficiently slow as to allow physiologically useful amounts of creatine to remain…after considerable periods of time.”
More recently, NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy) experiments by Dr. Tony Wallner of Barry University confirmed that creatine is quite stable when dissolved in water. According to Dr. Wallner, he and his students “…found creatine to be stable in water solutions for much longer periods of time than minutes (more on the order of weeks).“*
There is indirect evidence as well, in the form of human studies that measured serum creatinine after subjects consumed creatine dissolved in liquids such as water, coffee or tea. According to a review article based on 9 such studies (Ann Pharmacother. 2005 Jun;39(6):1093-6.), “…creatine supplementation minimally impacts creatinine concentrations.” This would not be true if the creatine used in these studies degraded to creatinine before the subjects drank it; or from exposure to stomach acid.
To make a long story short, the claim that creatine rapidly converts to creatinine in liquid just doesn’t hold water.
2. The conversion process of creatine to creatinine is pH dependent.
This is partially true: according to Dr. Harris’s data, creatine breakdown after 3 days in solution at 25o C was 4%, 12% and 21% at pH 5.5, 4.5, and 3.5, respectively. The influence of pH is real enough, but even under acidic conditions, creatine breakdown is hardly “near spontaneous.”
3. Creatinine is a dangerous ‘bio-waste’ material and is responsible for creatine side effects.
It’s true that creatinine is a waste product of creatine metabolism. In blood/urine tests, it’s used as a marker to identify possible kidney problems. There is zero data, however, to show that creatinine toxicity is responsible for the occasional side effects associated with creatine.
In fact, it’s doubtful that the modest increase in serum creatinine seen with creatine supplementation causes any toxic effects. After all, creatine monohydrate is more than just a sports nutrition supplement—it’s also used therapeutically, to help people with neurodegenerative diseases and genetic defects in creatine metabolism. It’s even been given “orphan drug” status for use in clinical trials for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
In other words, creatine monohydrate is used to treat sick people. This would be inconceivable if creatinine “toxicity” was a genuine risk.
4. Kre-Alkalyn is more stable than regular creatine monohydrate.
Needless to state, this contention rests on the premise that creatine monohydrate is inherently unstable under normal conditions of use… which—as noted above—is debatable. As we’ve seen, creatine monohydrate is quite stable “as is”… something that’s even more stable is nice, I suppose, but probably not necessary.
But is it actually true? What proof is there, beyond Jeff Golini’s claims, that Kre-Alkalyn actually is more stable? Could it be the same… or even less stable than creatine monohydrate?
Interestingly enough, this question was raised over two years ago, by Dr. Mark Tallon and Dr. Robert Child. In 2007, they presented a poster titled Kre-alkalyn® supplementation has no beneficial effect on creatine-to-creatinine conversion rate at the annual International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) conference in Las Vegas. Here’s the money quote from their abstract:
“In contrast to the claims of All American Pharmaceutical and Natural Foods Corp., the rate of creatinine formation from CM was found to be less than 1% of the initial dose, demonstrating that CM is extremely stable under acidic conditions that replicate those of the stomach. This study also showed that KA supplementation actually resulted in 35% greater conversion of creatine to creatinine than CM. In conclusion the conversion of creatine to creatinine is not a limitation in the delivery of creatine from CM and KA is less stable than CM in the acid conditions of the stomach.”
Unfortunately, the abstract caught fire on the internet, as it “proved” Kre-Alkalyn was actually less stable than creatine monohydrate. All-American Pharmaceuticals and Natural Foods Corp. reacted by demanding a retraction from Tallon and Child, then filiing a lawsuit against them for “intentional interference with economic relations” and “business libel”.
For the record, the company recently won a default judgement, as Tallon/Child failed to respond to the suit. In fact, they have yet to publish their data in any peer-reviewed journal, despite their insistence (in prior correspondence) that a manuscript was being prepared.
To be honest, I have little interest in who ultimately wins (or loses) this particular fracas. But it just so happens that the complaint provides information about Kre-Alkalyn stability lacking on All American’s web site (where Kre-Alkalyn stability is presumed). Evidently two independent tests were performed under the auspices of Royal Knight Inc. (a research and consulting company). According to the summary in Exhibit D:
“…The Bulgarian laboratory used the Jaffe reaction quantitative, [sic] for the purpose of determining the amount of creatinine generated from any Kre-alkalyn degradation detectable at fixed time points (10 – 20 – 30 -, and 60 minute, respectively), under acetic [sic] pH conditions (1.2, 4.5, and 6.8, respectively). Multiple duplicated runs of Kre-alkalyn under these conditions generated data which indicated an average of approximately 12.5 micrograms (+ 1.5 micrograms) of creatinine per every one-milligram of creatine in the sample, irrespective of when the sample was assayed…
…The Tucson laboratory used the Jaffe reaction to observe the reaction kinetics (the rate of any creatine-to-creatinine reaction). Creatine (buffered at pH 12) was subjected to degradation at physiological temperature over the course of 120 minutes. Data indicated that the transformation proceeded very, very slowly…
Based on the test results generated, Kre-alkalyn appears generally stable under physiological temperature, in a wide range of pHs”.
Although this data is just as tentative as Tallon’s/Child’s, it’s reasonable to take it at face value. While it doesn’t answer the “more-or-less” question directly, it confirms Kre-Alkalyn is sufficiently stable under physiological conditions to do what most people expect from a creatine supplement.
Ironically, the same conclusion can be drawn from Tallon’s and Child’s abstract. Although the wording is (unnecessarily) dramatic, in reality, “35% greater” than “less than 1%” is still a pretty small number. Under the circumstances, I doubt the difference reported would be physiologically relevant.
At any rate, taking points #1–#4 into consideration, there isn’t much of a case “for” Kre-Alkalyn… at least at this point. All American Pharmaceutical and Natural Foods Corp. appears to be trying to make one, however. As of this writing, four “studies” are posted on All American’s web site, but—just like Tallon’s and Child’s abstract—critical details are lacking, and none are peer-reviewed.
So what’s the bottom line? Well, for one thing, Kre-Alkalyn is still creatine monohydrate. While there are no reliable studies confirming Kre-Alkalyn effectiveness, there are anecdotal reports from users who swear by it. It’s not expensive and apparently not harmful, so it remains as one of the many alternatives to regular creatine monohydrate on the market.
Nonetheless, potential users should choose a creatine supplement with eyes wide open, and not on the basis of misleading advertising claims. As Paul has written in detail, regular creatine monohydrate is a safe and effective supplement for anyone wishing to improve performance and increase lean body mass—and anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
Kre-Alkalyn supplement brands include:
All American EFX capsules, softgels, powder, liquid
PBL Kre-Alkalyn Xtreme
SciFit Kre-Alkalyn 1500
Fusion Nutrition Purple K
Ultimate Nutrition Kre-Alkalyn
Elite Delivery Technologies Elite-K
Supplement Direct Pure Kre-Alkalyn
Shocker Nutrition Kre-Alkalyn
*Personal communication, 10/19/07