Creatine vs Beta Alanine: Which Is Better for Performance?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 29, 2024
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Nutrition supplements can be a scary world filled with a lot of false claims. There are a million supplements that claim their ingredients have the magic formula for growing muscle mass.

A lot of people come up to me wondering if creatine or beta-alanine is a better choice for gym gains.

Let’s take a look at what creatine and beta-alanine are and what they do for your muscles while you exercise.

Quick Summary

  • Which supplement is better between creatine and beta-alanine depends on your fitness goals. If you're looking to power your workouts, creatine is ideal, while beta-alanine is effective in boosting endurance and preventing fatigue.
  • Combining creatine and beta-alanine supplements can give you an edge for enhanced performance, particularly for those high-intensity workouts
  • For more effective results, it's better to take both creatine and beta-alanine supplements 20-30 minutes before your workout.
  • From my experience, the synergy between creatine and beta-alanine is unmatched for clients aiming to push their limits in high-intensity workouts

​What Is Creatine?

Creatine is an organic compound found naturally in your system. Creatine supplementation is popular because it helps with muscle strength and performance.

If you do a lot of resistance training or weight training, then creatine is an essential supplement for you.
In my practice as a personal trainer and nutritionist, I've observed this firsthand with one of my clients who integrated creatine supplementation into their fitness routine. They experienced a noticeable increase in available energy for their muscles, which translated into improved exercise performance and enhanced results.

​What Is Beta-Alanine?

protein powder in white sieve, beta alanine molecule

​Beta-alanine is one of the non-essential amino acids. Beta-alanine supplementation is useful because it produces muscle carnosine.

Your muscle carnosine levels are critical for reducing lactic acid accumulation. Lower lactic acid levels allow your muscles to improve your exercise capacity.

Related Articles: Why Is Beta-alanine in Pre-workout?

While beta-alanine supplementation is effective it's also beneficial to know that certain dietary sources can naturally boost these levels. Incorporating foods rich in beta-alanine, like chicken, beef, and fish, can complement your supplementation routine.

I've personally seen how incorporating beta-alanine-rich natural foods and supplementation has boosted the muscle carnosine levels of some of my clients and dramatically reduced their lactic acid accumulation, allowing them to train harder and longer.

​What Does Creatine Do?

​There are numerous benefits of creatine. First, it’s important to note that there are different types.

The most common version is creatine monohydrate. It’s the most researched, and it has scientific evidence of having health benefits.

There are other variants of this compound, but they are not as heavily researched compared to creatine monohydrate.

​Creatine... not only have research findings consistently backed up creatine’s efficacy, but new benefits pop up each year.

- ​Kamal Patel, Director of Examine.com

Creatine's benefits are not just limited to physical performance. Anecdotal reports show that it may also have cognitive benefits, enhancing mental clarity and focus, which is invaluable during workouts and competitions.

I've personally witnessed the remarkable transformation of one of my clients who incorporated creatine into their training regimen. They not only experienced significant improvements in their physical strength and endurance but also reported enhanced mental sharpness, allowing them to stay focused and motivated throughout their workouts and competitions.

Other Creatine FAQs:

How Does Creatine Work?

creatine molecule, pills arranged in various shapes

​Creatine is produced by your body naturally. When you exercise, your muscles use it to provide energy. People like to take creatine monohydrate supplementation to give their bodies more power and strength.

Here’s a quick list of benefits:

  1. Produces muscle cell energy, as per research published in the National Library of Medicine [1]
  2. Increases muscle mass
  3. Improves muscle endurance
  4. Speeds up muscle growth
  5. Increases lean body weight

It's worth noting that genetic predispositions can influence how effectively your body utilizes this supplement.

Some individuals may experience more pronounced benefits due to their genetic makeup, which is an exciting area of ongoing research.

​What Does Beta-Alanine Do?

Beta-alanine supplements boost your carnosine levels. If you have more carnosine, then you have a higher chance of increased exercise volume. ​It may ​improve your muscle performance by allowing less lactic acid buildup.

The science can be a bit tricky, but here is how your muscles create fuel during exercise:

  • ​Glucose (the primary source of energy) gets broken down into lactic acid
  • ​Lactic acid produces hydrogen ions
  • ​Hydrogen ions lower your pH level
  • ​Development of acidity occurs which leads to fatigue

​The only way to prevent fatigue is by taking beta-alanine to increase your muscle carnosine levels. It acts as an acid buffer to reduce muscle acidity. Less acidity means more power to put in your exercises.

Another benefit of this amino acid is the effects of body composition. Beta-alanine increases training volume and can increase lean body mass as shown by a study published by the National Institutes of Health [2]. Other health benefits of increasing your beta-alanine levels include:

  • ​Reducing oxidative stress
  • ​Improvement in body composition
  • ​Increase muscle endurance

​Can Creatine And Beta-alanine Be Combined?

​Yes, creatine and beta-alanine can be combined to enhance performance. Studies published in the National Library of Medicine suggest that creatine and beta-alanine supplements can improve strength power, lean mass, and body fat compared to a placebo group [3].

This synergistic effect is particularly notable in high-intensity interval training and could be the edge athletes are looking for.

​When Should I Take Creatine And Beta-Alanine?

powder in glass jar with wooden spoon

You should take creatine and beta-alanine supplements 20-30 minutes before exercise. This includes if you're combining them or taking them individually. Also, consider taking them for some time during a loading phase.

In my experience as a trainer, I've seen people taking 20 grams of creatine for 5-7 days before switching to 3-5 grams per day.

For others, a front load of beta-alanine for two weeks before a combination with creatine works for them better. What I'd recommend is consulting a healthcare professional to determine what's the best way for you. For more information, see this in-depth guide on When is the best time to take creatine?


​References:

  1. ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2780977/
  2. ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19210788/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17136944/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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