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.

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.
The body stores creatine and converts it into power for your exercise performance. Creatine supplementation means that you will have more fuel to use for muscle function.

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.

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 research 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

But how does it 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 [1]
  2. Increases muscle mass
  3. Improves muscle endurance
  4. Speeds up muscle growth
  5. Increases lean body weight

What Does Beta-Alanine Do?

Beta-alanine supplements boost your carnosine levels. If you have more carnosine, then you have higher chances of increased exercise volume. It may improve your muscle performance by allowing less lactice acid build up.

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 one study [2] suggests that it can increase lean body mass.

Other health benefits of increasing your beta-alanine levels include:

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

See the best beta-alanine supplements here.

Can Creatine And Beta-alanine Be Combined?

Yes, creatine and beta-alanine can be combined.

There have been several studies [3, 4] that suggest that creatine and beta-alanine supplements can improve strength power, lean mass, and body fat compared to a placebo group.

I enjoy the benefits of this combo, and I take Transparent Labs’ Stim-Free Pre-Workout to get it in my system.

I’m a fan of it because it contains the correct dosage of all of the ingredients. It’s a huge help toward improving my gym performance and rep work.

When Should I Take Creatine And Beta-alanine?

powder in glass jar with wooden spoon

If you have creatine and beta-alanine supplements, then you can take both at the same time before your workout. The Stim-Free Pre-Workout recommends taking it 20-30 minutes before you exercise.

You could also consider taking them for some time during a loading phase.

For example, some people recommend taking 20 grams of creatine for 5-7 days and then switch to 3-5 grams per day.

Another recommendation is to “front-load” only beta-alanine for two weeks. Then you can start taking creatine in conjunction with it.

I would recommend talking to a health professional about what is best for you. For more information, see this in-depth guide on When is the best time to take creatine?

What Should I Look For In A Beta-alanine And Creatine Supplement?

I would first look at the ingredients list to make sure that you are getting the correct dosage. A proper supplement should have 2-5 grams of beta-alanine and 3-5 grams of creatine. Nutrition content will vary between people.

It’s not necessary to take more than that, and there haven’t been any reports of severe side effects if you do.

The second thing I would look for is looking to see if it has creatine monohydrate. As I mentioned before, it is the best and most researched version of the compound.

Which Supplement do we recommend?

Creatine helps with creating power, while beta-alanine focuses on preventing fatigue. In effect, it can help you achieve more with interval training and other exercises.

If you're asking which is the better supplement, the short answer is it depends on your goals. To maximize the performance benefits of both supplements, you could take them separately, but I like taking Transparent Labs’ Stim-Free Pre-Workout.

Most athletes I know also recommend this product, as it helps them achieve better performance during their routine.

It can’t get any easier to get the correct dosage to get the maximum effective results I want in a workout.

Do you currently have creatine and beta-alanine in your supplementation? Let us know in the comments what your results have been with it!

Related post: Creatine vs. Whey protein review

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2780977/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19210788/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17194255/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17136944

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