Maximizing your training performance is all about optimization. No matter if your goal is to increase strength, improve endurance, or build more muscle mass, both creatine and beta-alanine can help take your performance to the next level. As two of the most scientifically backed and well researched supplements to date, let’s dig into the facts and find out the real differences between creatine vs beta alanine.
What Is Creatine And What Does It Do?
Creatine is a combination of three different amino acids – methionine, arginine, and glycine. Creatine is naturally synthesized in your body by the liver and kidneys, yet the majority is stored in your muscle tissue. Creatine forms adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s natural energy supply.
Supplementing with creatine will deliver more ATP directly to your muscle tissue, providing fuel during explosive movements, heavy lifting sessions and or high intensity training. Studies have shown that creatine can improve athletic performance, leading to greater gains in strength, speed, and muscle growth.
There are several different types of creatine, which are sold and marketed other than traditional creatine monohydrate such as, creatine HCL, creatine ethyl ester, creatine nitrate, and Kre-Alkalyn. Studies have shown however that there are no real performance differences amongst other versions of creatine when it comes to muscle growth and performance, besides Kre-Alkalyn.
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Kre-Alkalyn is a ph correct form of creatine monohydrate and was created to address the negative side effects seen in creatine monohydrate namely the toxic conversion to creatinine, which can cause bloating, cramping, and water retention. One of the problems with creatine monohydrate is that it requires what’s called a loading phase. Studies show that in order for creatine to actually work, it requires loading at least 10-15g per day, for up to 10 days. As you can imagine, you’re going to be using a ton of creatine, before it even starts working. This is due to the poor absorption rate. Kre-alkalyn is ph corrected and does not require a loading phase, since it has such better bioavailability.
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Head-to-head have shown that Kre-Alklayn is the only alternative to creatine monohydrate that demonstrates superior performance measures, in bioavailability, endurance, and strength outcomes as compared to creatine monohydrate [R].
In a double-blind controlled study, 24 male Olympic weightlifters were administered 5g of kre-alkalyn or creatine monohydrate per day for 8 weeks. Performance measurements were taken at 1RM for squat, snatch, clean and jerk, and high snatch.
After 8 weeks, the results showed that the Creatine Monohydrate group displayed an average increase over baseline of 8.39% for the snatch, clean & jerk, high snatch, & back squat. The Kre-Alkalyn group displayed an average increase over baseline of 10.76%.
By comparison, the average increase in total lifts for the KreAlkalyn group in the snatch, clean & jerk, high snatch, & back squat was 28.25% over the Creatine Monohydrate group. [R]
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Benefits Of Creatine
- Increases muscle mass and strength
- Improves Speed And Sprint Performance
- Enhances Brain Function
- Improves Athletic Performance
What Is Beta-Alanine And What Does It Do?
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential beta-amino acid and is naturally produced by the body and can be found in food such as chicken, meat and fish. Unlike the other 20 non-essential amino acids, beta-amino acids have their amino group bonded to the β carbon rather than the α carbon.
When you work out, your body relies on breaking down carbohydrates into glucose for energy, which results in the production of lactic acid increasing muscle acidity. Lactic acid is created from the buildup of hydrogen ions (H+), which causes your muscles pH to drop, therefore when lactic acid rises, it linearly increases the acidity in your muscle tissue. When acidity increases your muscles lose the ability to contract and results in a loss of endurance and power. Beta-alanine, specifically the patented ingredient CarnoSyn® buffers hydrogen through an increase in carnosine content, which will help your muscles contract for a longer period of time and delay the onset of fatigue.
Carnosine is a di-peptide/beta-amino acid composed of the amino acids, beta-alanine, and l-histidine. Studies have shown elevated muscle carnosine levels can fuel endurance, optimize recovery, build muscle strength, and enhance peak performance [R].
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Several studies have shown that supplementation with beta-alanine increases muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58 percent in just four weeks, and 80 percent in 10 weeks after supplementation [R]. Higher carnosine levels, means greater delayed lactic acid build up, resulting in more training, and harder workouts.
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Benefits Of Beta-Alanine
- Improving endurance
- Delaying muscle fatigue
- Increasing strength
- Optimizing recovery from intense exercise
What’s The Difference Between Creatine Vs Beta-Alanine
There are a few fundamental ways in which creatine and beta-alanine are different. To start the direct mechanisms of action and specifically, how each one works and affects your performance, is distinctly different.
How They Work
Creatine increases ATP, which is directly used as muscle fuel and energy, which supplies shorts bouts of power and strength. Beta-alanine works to increase carnosine content, which inhibits the build-up of lactic acid, resulting in more power, speed, and higher rep volume. Lactic acid creates a drop in power, therefore, with less lactic acid, time to exhaustion will increase, increasing training volume, strength, and performance.
Molecularly, creatine and beta-alanine are very different as well. Although creatine and beta alanine are both nonessential amino acids, which are naturally produced by your body creatine is a combination of three different amino acids; arginine, methionine, and glycine, while beta-alanine is a single amino acid.
Both Are Found In Animal Proteins
Since they’re both amino acids, creatine and beta-alanine are naturally found in dietary sources such as animal proteins, like chicken, beef, and turkey, eating creatine and beta-alanine rich foods, is not enough to propagate performance benefits.
Creatine And Beta-Alanine Are Better Together
What’s unique about creatine and beta alanine, is that they are both backed by a significant amount of evidence and scientific research supporting their ergogenic benefits. In fact, creatine and beta-alanine are the most well researched sports performance products with over 600 research studies combined [R].
Research shows that stacking creatine with beta-alanine composition significantly improves greater gains in strength, endurance, body composition, and performance than compared to supplementing creatine or beta-alanine alone.
A study published in The International Journal Of Sports Nutrition And Exercise Metabolism, examined the effects of creatine and creatine stacked with beta-alanine on strength, power, body composition, and endocrine changes were examined during a 10-wk resistance-training program amongst collegiate football players.
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Thirty-three male subjects were randomly assigned to either a placebo (P), creatine (C), or creatine with beta-alanine (CA) group. During each training session subjects were assessed for strength (maximum bench press and squat), power (Wingate anaerobic power test, 20-jump test), and body composition.
Creatine stacked with beta-alanine appeared to have the greatest effect on lean tissue accruement and body fat composition [R]. For even better performance results, stack Kre-Alkalyn with Beta-Alanine instead of creatine monohydrate.
What’s The Recommended Dose Of Creatine And Beta-Alanine
Creatine and beta-alanine also share another common characteristic – they both require a loading phase and proper dosing protocol, in order to derive optimal performance benefits.
Creatine requires a dose of 10-15 g per day for at least 10 days. Creatine supplementation will increase muscle creatine and phosphocreatine levels approximately 15-40% within skeletal muscle tissue will enhance anaerobic training capacity and improves performance outcomes. Kre-Alkalyn creatine however, does not require a loading phase, due to the optimal absoprtion rate and bioavailability.
Beta-Alanine should be at least 3.2g per day for a minimum of four weeks. If you want to maximize athletic performance and endurance, it's recommended to supplement with 6.4g. Carnosyn has a loading period of 28 days and should be taken every day on training and non-training days to maintain optimal levels of carnosine in the body.
Beta-alanine, like creatine, requires a loading phase. To obtain optimal muscle-building results, you must supplement a minimum daily dosage of 3.2 grams of beta-alanine per day for at least four weeks. Studies prove that increasing beta-alanine intake to 179 grams over 28 days (an average of 6.4 grams per day) can significantly amplify muscle performance.
Studies also further demonstrate that dosing even more CarnoSyn® results in exponentially increased gains. Put simply, the more carnosine, the better.
Creatine Vs Beta-Alanine: Takeaway
Your goal as an athlete, is to maximize athletic performance. Whether that means rowing harder, lifting heavier, cycling faster, or hammering out more reps, supplementation with proven ingredients is crucial to fuel muscle growth, endurance, and training capacity. Clinical evidence shows that more muscle carnosine content and creatine phosphate, can improve performance outcomes, and induce even greater performance gains when taken together. It's hard to argue with science, especially when study results are easily replicated through real world outcomes.
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Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94. PMID: 12701815.