The Great Pre-Workout Debate: Creatine or BCAAs?

Article Summary

  • Creatine and BCAAs have both been recommended to athletes as pre-workout supplements.
  • What is creatine? What are the benefits?
  • What is BCAA?
  • Comparing and contrasting the two supplements

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Creatine or BCAAs: Which one is better to take before you workout?

Both Creatine and Branched-Chain Amino Acids (commonly known as BCAAs), are frequently recommended as performance-boosting supplements that will help athletes and fitness enthusiasts achieve their goals. There is even a great deal of debate over which one is best to take before working out.

Rather than wading into that debate, this article aims to discuss the  pros and cons of both supplements and help you decide which is best for your own routine. As you’ll soon realize, there are merits to both supplements, and they can even work synergistically.

 


Creatine

Creatine is an amino acid found in muscle, as well as in the brain. Creatine is thought to help build lean muscle mass, improve strength, and aid in muscle recovery. It does all of this by building up stores of phosphocreatine in the muscles which in turn leads to increased ATP production. It is most useful in activities where speed and energy is required, such as in sprinting and building muscle. Creatine is often used to support explosive energy and heavy lifting. The best natural sources of creatine are red meat and seafood.

How often can I take Creatine?

Creatine needs to be taken regularly to build up stores in the muscle, and it is considered safe to take on a daily basis at low doses, or less frequently at higher doses. Long-term daily dosing can be 3-5 grams, which will result in a gradual increase within the body. Alternatively you can load up on creatine by taking around 20 grams per day in 5 gram segments throughout the day, then reduce to 3-5 grams for longer term use. Creatine should be taken with increased water consumption to avoid dehydration. [1][2]

Are there side effects to Creatine?

While creatine has been shown to be safe and effective through hundreds of studies performed over the years, there are a couple things to keep in mind. In certain individuals, creatine can lead to muscle cramps, upset stomach, and dizziness. People with liver disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disease should not take creatine. If you ever experience side-effects, or have concern about taking Creatine, it’s advised you consult with a medical professional.

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BCAA

Instantized Branched Chain Amino Acids

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  • Increases Lean Muscle Mass
  • Decreases Muscle Loss
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BCAAs: Branched-Chain Amino Acids

BCAAs are thought to aid in muscle recovery, promote muscle synthesis, and increase fat loss. BCAA supplements typically contain three amino acids: isoleucine, leucine and valine. Amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of protein, and they play a significant role in the repair and building of muscle tissue.

On their own, BCAAs are not considered to be a complete protein, like you would get from consuming meat, eggs, fish, or dairy. To be considered a complete protein, all 9 essential amino acids must be present. Herein lies one of the chief criticisms of BCAAs: they aren’t a complete food-sourced protein, and might not be as beneficial.

How often should I take BCAAs?

However, BCAAs can be used to boost your levels of these critical amino acids and ensure your body is in an optimal muscle building state. They are an affordable option to help build lean muscle mass.

With respect to dosing, 5-20 mgs daily is safe, and taking it just before you workout or during the workout is optimal, although there are benefits to consuming BCAAs throughout the day and in conjunction with a healthy diet.[1][2][3]

Are there side effects to BCAAs?

Much like creatine, BCAAs can occasionally result in muscle spasms, stomach cramps, and dizziness in certain individuals. As with any supplement, always listen to your body and consult with a medical professional if you have questions or concerns.

 


 

Is Creatine or BCAAs better, and can I take both?

Knowing which of these supplements is right for you depends on your fitness goals and regimen. It’s an individual choice that depends on your diet, the types of exercises you’re doing,

and your interest in endurance vs power. BCAA’s will help build lean muscle and improve endurance. Creatine aids with explosive power and bulking.

If you are in a position where you are interested in all of those benefits, it is safe and possible to take both! Creatine and BCAAs can be stacked as a pre-workout supplement that targets strength, speed, recovery, muscle growth, and more. By including both Creatine and BCAAs in your nutrition regimen, there is the potential to supercharge your workout results.

For more than 20 years, Allmax has been a trusted source of professional-grade supplements like Creatine and BCAAs. You can find both at allmaxnutrition.com, along with a wide range of other pre and post-workout supplements, including Isoflex protein powder, weight gain and weight loss supplements, essential vitamins, and so much more.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-creatine#basics

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19545329/branched-chain-amino-acids

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-873/creatine

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19545329/branched-chain-amino-acids

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/when-to-take-bcaa#benefits


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