Maximizing your exercise performance is all about optimization, especially regarding your supplement stack. Unfortunately, the world of sports nutrition supplements can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Millions of dietary supplements claim they will improve athletic performance and help you build lean muscle mass. Two supplements that can actually help in that department are creatine and beta-alanine.
So do you really need them both, or is one better than the other? When it comes to creatine vs beta-alanine, the results are clear. We'll take a deeper look at that question in the guide below.
- Beta-Alanine Vs Creatine: What's The Difference?
- What Is Beta Alanine? (Pros & Cons Examined)
- What Is Creatine? (Pros & Cons Considered)
- Can You Combine Creatine And Beta-Alanine In Your Stack?
- Frequently Asked Beta Alanine Vs Creatine Questions
Beta-Alanine Vs Creatine: What's The Difference?
Beta-alanine and creatine are backed by significant evidence and scientific research supporting their ergogenic benefits.
However, there are some fundamental ways in which creatine monohydrate and beta-alanine are different. How each one works and affects your performance is distinctly different. Let’s take a look.
How They Work
Creatine supplementation increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) used as muscle fuel and energy. It supplies short spurts of power and strength.
Beta-alanine increases muscle carnosine content, which inhibits the build-up of lactic acid.
That results in more power, speed, and higher exercise capacity. A lactic acid build-up can create a dip in power, so less lactic acid accumulation will increase your time to exhaustion.
That allows you to increase your volume, strength, and performance.
Creatine and beta-alanine are very different molecularly as well. Both creatine and beta-alanine supplements are nonessential amino acids naturally produced by your body.
However, creatine is a combination of three amino acids; arginine, methionine, and glycine, while beta-alanine is a single amino acid.
See Below - Beta Alanine Molecular Structure
The primary food sources for beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate are poultry, fish, and red meat.
These foods also provide arsenine and carsonine, but they break free into essential and nonessential amino acids upon digestion.
Your body gets beta-alanine deposited in the muscles from the nonessential acids to reduce fatigue levels.
Studies have shown that more than half of vegans and vegetarians have less muscle carnosine concentrations than omnivores.
Learn More - Is Creatine Vegan? (Find Out Which Brands Are Safe)
You can obtain sufficient amounts of beta-alanine from your diet, but supplements are recommended to raise its levels further, especially if you do high-intensity exercise and resistance training.
Most research on creatine shows that creatine monohydrate is the safest, most effective form. In addition, Micronized creatine monohydrate has been shown to saturate the muscles the best.
You should Stick with powdered creatine and beta-alanine and skip the liquids. And unless you love taking several pills, skip those too.
You’ll have to take several capsules daily to achieve the recommended dosages compared to one scoop of powder.
Price & Availability
Beta-alanine and creatine supplements are both as widely available as pre-workout supplements. Prices for creatine will vary depending on the brand and other various factors. Creatine generally starts at around $20 and can cost upwards of $50.
A tub of beta-alanine can run anywhere between $12-$40 or higher. As with anything you buy, the cheapest is rarely the best, but the most expensive isn’t always your best option either.
So do your due diligence when researching your supplements.
What Is Beta Alanine? (Pros & Cons Examined)
Beta-alanine is a lot like creatine. Beta-Alanine is a non-essential beta-amino acid naturally produced by the human body, and you can find it in foods like chicken, meat, and fish.
When you supplement with beta-alanine, it’s converted into muscle carnosine. As a result, beta-alanine raises muscle carnosine levels to act as a lactic acid buffer.
Your body creates lactic acid from the build-up of hydrogen ions, and when lactic acid rises, it increases the acidity in your muscle tissue. When acidity increases your muscles, it can result in a loss of endurance and power.
Benefits Of Beta-Alanine
Because beta-alanine helps increase carnosine production within your muscle tissue, it can improve muscular and aerobic endurance.
It also affects body composition. Beta-alanine increases training volume and can increase lean body mass.
Beta-alanine intake also limits fatigue during training. Having more energy during training is undoubtedly a good thing, but the implications of this are enormous.
For example, if you usually perform three sets of 8 repetitions on the bench press at 175lbs, you might be able to do 3 sets of 10 reps when you supplement with beta-alanine.
This also causes significant increases in volume load across the duration of a training session. This is why beta-alanine supplementation has significantly enhanced muscle growth and fat loss when combined with intense exercise.
Potential Side Effects Of Taking Beta-Alanine
Beta-alanine supplementation is perfectly safe for healthy individuals at recommended doses. The only reported side effect is paraesthesia which is a tingling sensation.
However, research indicates you can avoid this by using divided lower doses or supplementing with a sustained-release formula.
What Is Creatine? (Pros & Cons Considered)
While beta-alanine is just one amino acid, creatine is a combination of the amino acids methionine, arginine, and glycine.
Creatine is naturally synthesized in your body by the liver and kidneys but most stored in your muscle tissue. Close to 95% of creatine is stored in your skeletal muscle but can be found throughout your body.
Creatine is naturally found in the body and available in many foods we eat, but supplementing with it will increase the phosphocreatine in our body above baseline.
An increase in phosphocreatine will elevate the energy our body can produce and use in the form of ATP. Creatine forms ATP, your body’s natural energy supply.
Related Article - Creatine Vs Glutamine (Major Differences You Should Know)
Benefits Of Taking Creatine
The benefits of creatine are numerous.
Creatine monohydrate supplementation increases muscle creatine and delivers more ATP directly to your muscle tissue. This provides fuel during explosive movements, heavy lifting sessions, or high-intensity training.
Research suggests that creatine supplementation will increase sports performance so you can achieve greater gains in muscle strength, speed, muscle growth, and muscle function.
Lifting more weight and performing more reps are excellent benefits, but this has further performance benefits outside of muscle performance if you take a long-term approach.
During a long-term training program, lifting more weight every session puts your muscular and nervous systems under more mechanical load.
That will stimulate greater training adaptations, leading to greater improvements in strength and will increase performance overall.
Participants in one study supplemented with creatine had 8% greater strength improvements than those who didn’t take creatine. And that’s despite performing the exact same training program.
And this was a short-term study. The results are astronomically larger when you look at the effects of creatine over the long term. It doesn't end there, though!
Since creatine allows you to lift more weight, you get an immediate increase in the total volume you lift each session. Volume, in this case, is sets x reps x load. This is crucial because training volume is one of the largest predictors of muscle growth.
So combining creatine supplementation with a long-term exercise program causes larger improvements in muscle size than simply training alone.
And although bodybuilders use it, creatine is increasingly being looked at by people wanting to improve brain function.
Potential Side Effects Of Taking Of Creatine
Since creatine helps with exercise performance so much, there must be a catch, right?
Fortunately, the only adverse effects caused by creatine that have been seen in clinical studies is weight gain. The weight gain caused by creatine is typically due to water retention.
Related Article - Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight? (Fat Or Water Retention)
Other side effects of creatine could include:
Can You Combine Creatine And Beta-Alanine In Your Stack?
Both creatine and beta-alanine have proven to produce tremendous when it comes to endurance and preventing muscular fatigue. As an added bonus, the supplements work synergistically together to improve endurance even more.
The supplements are often thought of as catalysts for each other and improving their potency. If you stack them, it’s best to drink plenty of water, using a beta-alanine and creatine stack, around a gallon a day.
Here are just a few benefits of stacking beta-alanine and creatine together:
- Active strength boosters
- Increase aerobic endurance
- Boost mental clarity and focus
- Enhance lean body composition
- Buffer muscle fatigue
- Build muscle mass
- Improve recovery rates
You’ll reap the most rewards from your gym sessions when you stack beta-alanine and creatine together.
Each supplement can produce dramatic results, even during the first couple of weeks. However, when you stack beta-alanine and creatine, it leads to outstanding results if you compare it to taking just one.
In one study, subjects who took beta-alanine and creatine lost body fat and gained muscle without changing their diet or workout program. A group taking only creatine lost no body fat.
Several studies suggest that creatine and beta-alanine supplements together improve strength power, lean mass, and body fat compared to a placebo group.
Both supplements are cheap, low risk, and highly benefit endurance athletes and pure strength athletes alike. Many people cycle the supplements to give their body rest.
Doing this will still produce results, but it could compromise consistency in the long run. Long-term usage of beta-alanine and creatine will help you achieve your fitness goals.
Frequently Asked Beta Alanine Vs Creatine Questions
You can take your beta-alanine and creatine daily, together or separately, at any time during the day, depending on your preference. Many fitness enthusiasts will stack both supplements and take them soon before or after their workout for greater gains since they work well in conjunction with one another.
Beta-alanine requires a loading phase. During the loading phase, take a minimum daily dosage of 3.2 grams of beta-alanine per day for at least one month. Then, take 2–5 grams daily. Consuming beta-alanine with a meal can further increase carnosine levels. Creatine also requires a loading phase. Start by taking 20–25 grams of creatine, split into 4–5 equal doses for 5–7 days. Once you’ve completed the loading phase, you can take 3–5 grams daily to maintain your muscle stores.
Many athletes hat supplement beta-alanine will experience a pump from beta-alanine, especially if they take more than 1000 mg at a time.
Your goal as an athlete, even if you’re just a weekend warrior, is to increase athletic performance. No matter what physical performance means to you, adding proven supplements is crucial to fuel muscle growth, endurance, and training capacity.
Clinical evidence shows that supplementing with beta-alanine and creatine results in improved performance outcomes and several other benefits, especially when combining beta-alanine and creatine. So when it comes to creatine vs beta-alanine, both are winners.