WHICH IS BETTER: CREATINE OR BCAA?
It is frequently asked which supplement is superior to branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and creatine. Both are amino acids, but their structural makeup and training benefits differ. It is critical to understand the differences between "BCAA vs Creatine" when comparing the two.
The three branched chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are three of the nine necessary amino acids (EAAs). Creatine is made up of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine. It is naturally produced by the body.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE AMINO ACIDS?
Protein is constructed from amino acids. To ensure proper growth and health, 20 amino acids are required. These are classified as essential or non-essential amino acids. The body produces 11 non-essential amino acids naturally, but it cannot produce 9 of the 20 amino acids on its own. Essential amino acids are the nine amino acids listed above. The EAAs must be obtained from food or supplements.
WHAT ARE BCAAs, AND HOW DO THEY WORK?
The BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and each one serves a different purpose in terms of training effects. BCAAs differ from other amino acids in that they are present in the supplement in free form and are broken down in the muscles rather than the liver. This means they start working faster in your body. Each of these are EAAs with a distinct role in how they function in the body. Let's take a look at how each amino acid works.
WHAT IS LEUCINE'S ROLE?
Leucine, a branched chain amino acid, is essential for increasing muscle protein synthesis. During exercise, the rate of protein breakdown outpaces the rate of muscle protein synthesis. The body requires branched chain amino acids or dietary protein to increase leucine levels in order to recover muscle protein synthesis. This is why BCAAs and solitary leucine are frequently used by athletes to stimulate muscle growth. Leucine causes several physiological changes. It reduces the formation of the eIF4E and eIF4G complexes, which results in an increase in protein synthesis.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN HIGH LEUCINE LEVELS?
The following foods contain high levels of leucine:
- Chickpeas are legumes.
- Basmati rice
- Soy beans
WHAT EXACTLY DOES VALINE DO?
Valine promotes muscle recovery and helps to delay fatigue. It promotes muscle growth and tissue repair by competing with tryptophan for transportation to the brain, thereby decreasing 5-HT synthesis in the brain. This means you'll be able to push yourself harder for longer periods of time in the gym or during an athletic competition. 5-HT is also known as serotonin. Serotonin causes fatigue, and because it is produced by tryptophan, fatigue is delayed when valine competes for transportation to the brain.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN HIGH LEVELS OF VALINE?
Foods with high valine levels include:
- Dairy Items (especially cottage cheese)
- Meat (Red)
As you can see, all three essential amino acids are easily obtained through food. However, for training purposes, this may not be feasible because you would need to digest these prior to training. Instead of being digested, BCAA supplements are absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE BCAA SUPPLEMENTS?
A study on BCAA supplementation and effective nutrition strategies discovered that a daily dosage of four to twenty grams is recommended for optimal results, including combating muscle protein breakdown. It was also discovered that taking supplements for longer periods of time while following a strict training plan improves athletic performance.
Furthermore, taking more than 200mg of BCAA supplementation per kilogram of bodyweight per day for ten days was discovered to be the most effective way to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. This was especially true when the supplement was taken prior to working out.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE BCAA SUPPLEMENTATION?
According to the findings of the previous study, pre-workout branched chain amino acid supplementation is the most effective. Another study found that taking repeated BCAA supplements before exercise had a better effect on preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and EIMD than taking repeated supplements after exercise. More research is needed, however, to provide conclusive evidence on the best time to take BCAA supplements.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE-EFFECTS OF BCAA SUPPLEMENTS?
In most cases, taking BCAAs will not cause any problems. However, there are some potential side effects. This is why, before taking any supplements, you should always consult with a doctor, qualified dietician, or coach. BCAAs are not considered dangerous because they are naturally occurring and essential to the body's health. Nonetheless, digestive problems are possible. This includes nausea, bloating, diarrhoea, vomiting, and, in some cases, fatigue and concentration loss.
People with diabetes should consult their doctor before using BCAAs because they help control blood sugar levels. They are also not advised for pregnant or nursing women. Now that we've dissected BCAAs, let's turn our attention to creatine
WHAT EXACTLY IS CREATINE?
Creatine is a type of amino acid known as a 'tripeptide molecule.' This means that it contains arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine, unlike BCAAs, is produced by the body and provides increased energy during workouts by producing Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP).
Creatine's main purpose is to give you more energy to work out. When combined with BCAAs, it provides a good balance of energy supply, endurance, fatigue reduction, and muscle breakdown prevention. This is why people training to gain lean muscle mass frequently combine creatine and BCAAs. Creatine, unlike BCAAs, is not absorbed into the muscles but is stored as creatine phosphate and interacts with ADP molecules to produce ATP, an energy source during performance and training.
CREATINE'S THREE MAIN TYPES
Creatine supplements are available in a variety of forms. The following are the main three:
MONOHYDRATE OF CREATINE
Creatine monohydrate is by far the most popular creatine supplement. A substantial body of scientific evidence backs it up as a safe and effective supplement. Creatine monohydrate is creatine bound to a single water molecule. When the water molecule is removed, creatine anhydrous is formed (anhydrous means "without water"). This form of creatine is slightly more pure, containing 100 percent creatine by weight as opposed to approximately 90 percent creatine by weight in the monohydrate.
Creatine monohydrate frequently increases the water in muscle cells, causing muscles to feel and look 'bigger' in response, explaining its popularity among bodybuilders and athletes looking to increase lean muscle mass.
CREATINE MONOHYDRATE BENEFITS
- Has An Excellent Safety Record
- It is supported by over 1,000 scientific studies.
- Promotes Strength, Power, and Lean Muscle Mass
- Is the least expensive form of creatine
- Is the most widely available type of creatine
ETHYL ESTER CREATINE
Creatine ethyl ester (CEE) has undergone chemical modification by the addition of an ester group. The addition of an ester group to creatine monohydrate allows for a greater amount of creatine to be absorbed. The goal of creatine ethyl ester is to make creatine supplementation available in smaller doses due to CEE's ability to impact cellular function more effectively. The esterification process is how CEE accomplishes this (attaching the ester group to creatine monohydrate). As a result, the creatine ester is more able to penetrate the cell wall. When it does, creatine has the potential to influence cellular function.
It is still unclear whether creatine ethyl ester can achieve the goal of providing the benefits of creatine monohydrate in a lower dose. Some studies show that consuming creatine ethyl ester supplements improves absorption, while others show that it doesn't. Absorption has been found to be less successful in other investigations.
HYDROCHLORIDE OF CREATINE (HCL)
The study that showed creatine hydrochloride was 38 times more soluble in water than monohydrate sparked the most interest in this form of creatine. This presented the prospect that a smaller dose would be more beneficial while also lowering the risk of adverse effects like stomach problems. There have been no human studies on this, thus the efficacy of HCL will have to wait till genuine data is available.
OTHER STYLES OF CREATINE
Creatine nitrate, creatine magnesium chelate (which has a magnesium molecule connected), and Kre-Alklyn (which is buffered with an alkali, such as sodium bicarb) are some of the other types of creatine. make it more alkaline and thus mitigate any potential digestive issues, have shown no definitive improvements in performance over monohydrate.
WHAT EFFECTS DOES CREATINE HAVE ON THE BODY?
Creatine boosts energy and endurance during workouts when used in training. Because of its water-retention properties, it, like BCAAs, aids in recovery and fatigue, reducing recovery time and promoting muscle growth. Creatine is an excellent supplement for bulking up and building muscle growth since it provides extra energy for higher reps and HIIT workouts. Creatine can also be used as a pre-workout supplement and is easily mixed into shakes or similar protein powder blends.
When used in conjunction with BCAAs as a pre-workout supplement, you get the best of both worlds: protein and energy for increased power and endurance. Apart from its performance benefits, creatine has been shown to have antioxidant properties, which aid in anti-aging, reduce mental and physical fatigue, and lower blood sugar levels.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN CREATINE?
Creatine is abundant in the following foods:
- Meat (Red)
- Pork loin
- Leg of lamb
- Wild boar
- Pumpkin Kernels
- Black Sesame Seeds
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS OF CREATINE?
Creatine, like any other supplement, is safe in the recommended doses. Creatine, on the other hand, raised some concerns about the effects it could have on liver and kidney health. Research has not supported claims of liver and kidney damage, bloating, dehydration, muscle cramps, weight gain, and digestive issues. According to more authoritative studies, creatine is one of the safest supplements available.
Creatine was even suggested to be an anabolic steroid. As a result, it is not suitable for usage by teenagers or women, and should only be used by professional bodybuilders, who have gratefully been dismissed. Creatine reduces the quantity of water stored in the body, and dehydration and cramping are usually associated, according to one of the concerns highlighted regarding cramps and dehydration. To date, no research supports these claims, and additional studies found that over three years, college athletes who used creatine had fewer instances of cramping, muscle injuries, and cramping than those who did not use creatine.
WHEN SHOULD CREATINE BE USED?
There are three schools of thought about when to take creatine for the best results. There are three groups: 'before the workout,' 'after the workout,' and 'take it whenever.' You can take it whenever you want, even though there are valid arguments for all three. However, there is a case to be made for taking it before and after your workouts, as adding creatine before a workout will provide more energy, and taking it after will allow for recovery.
If you eat properly, adding creatine in doses of 3-5 grams per day as an optimum dose will undoubtedly yield results. While you can 'load' your creatine dose for the first week to increase cell saturation, taking more creatine after that has no effect.
Can I Take BCAAs and Creatine Supplements Together?
Yes, BCAAs and creatine can be combined. They do, however, function differently. When you combine them, you get both protein sources for new muscle synthesis and energy for your workout. This potent combination provides you with increased power and endurance.
Creatine is a better choice for sprinters, boxers, and powerlifters who require a burst of energy quickly. Creatine supplementation prior to intense training helps your body get the quick energy it needs during muscle contraction and strength building.
BCAA is better suited to bodybuilders, rowers, and crossfitters who require increased endurance, energy, and assistance with recovery after exercise. BCAAs contain leucine, which aids in muscle repair.
Is Taking BCAA Supplements Safe?
BCAA supplements are generally safe to take for the majority of people. Although studies on the safe upper limit are scarce, those that are available report that total BCAA intake of 15-35 grams per day is usually adequate.
However, BCAA supplements are not recommended for people who have ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. People who have maple syrup urine disease, a rare congenital disorder, should also limit their intake.
Their bodies are incapable of properly breaking down BCAAs.
Will Creatine make you appear larger?
Creatine causes muscle cells to store more water, making your muscles appear fuller and larger. Not only do the muscles appear larger, but they also grow larger.
Typically, an increase in size occurs within a few days or weeks of beginning the supplement.
How to Take Creatine Supplements?
Creatine supplementation occurs most quickly during the loading phase. This entails taking a high dose of creatine for a few days, followed by a lower dose.
For 5 to 7 days, take 20-25 grams of creatine per day in 5-gram doses. This is followed by a daily maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams of creatine.
When Is the Best Time to Take BCAA?
It is entirely dependent on your exercise regimen. Using BCAA as a pre-workout supplement improves performance and muscle growth.
BCAA supplementation in the middle of a workout/activity has also been shown to have significant benefits both during and after the performance. It is most common in long-distance runners. BCAA assists them in increasing their speed and endurance.
Post-workout BCAA supplementation improves muscle recovery and reduces post-workout muscle soreness. It provides amino acids that aid in the synthesis of new muscles.
What Happens If You Stop Taking Creatine?
Creatine can be discontinued because it is not required to be taken indefinitely. However, your creatine levels in your muscles will begin to fall about two weeks after you stop taking it.
By 4-6 weeks, the extra creatine will have washed out of your muscles and your body will be back to its baseline level of production. If you continue to be an athlete, powerlifter, or engage in strenuous exercise, your performance will suffer as a result of your low energy.
However, adequate creatine-rich food can help to alleviate the problem. Creatine can be found in red meat, poultry, and seafood.
Is BCAA the same as creatine?
Although both are amino acid supplements, the distinction is in their structure and the benefits they offer. While BCAAs aid in the synthesis of muscle protein, creatine provides quick bursts of energy for strength-building exercises and activities.
Can I gain weight without taking creatine?
Creatine is not required for muscle growth. In fact, many people have successfully built muscle and become stronger without using supplements like creatine for many years.
Both BCAAs and creatine have a measurable and effective impact on performance, endurance, muscle growth, muscle recovery, injury prevention, and other human health benefits beyond workouts and fitness. Including creatine in your BCAA pre-workout will benefit your training. If you stick to the recommended dosages, you should have no problems and only see good muscle growth and health in the future.