Most of us have heard of drug interactions. Sometimes one treatment nullifies the effect of another, and sometimes the combination causes dangerous effects.
But the interactions are not always negative. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium, and in the field of exercise and physical performance there are many more examples. One of them is the combination creatine + beta-alanine. In this article we will review this combination and some other popular alternatives.
Creatine + Beta-alanine
Both supplements are quite common among high performance athletes and body builders. At first glance, they have a lot in common, but also some differences that complement each other.
How They Work Together
Creatine and beta-alanine improve physical performance and muscle mass through different mechanisms:
- Beta-alanine combines with histidine to form carnosine, a small peptide with antioxidant properties. By accumulating in the muscle, it also improves strength and favors the growth of muscle fibers (1).
- Similarly, creatine is transformed into phosphocreatine and speeds up the formation of energy in the form of ATP. It also promotes muscle volume by facilitating the passage of water to muscle fibers (2).
How They Complement
In addition to providing greater strength and muscle gain, creatine and beta-alanine have divergent but complementary effects:
- Creatine favors short, intense workouts, such as high-intensity anaerobic exercise, because it enhances ATP (instantaneous energy) creation.
- Beta-Alanine is ideal for long workouts where endurance is more important than strength because it helps manage lactic acid (the substance that causes post-workout muscle soreness).
Furthermore, in aerobic exercise, creatine increases muscle energy more efficiently while beta-alanine accelerates muscle recovery in prolonged anaerobic exercise. So that one is not limited to cardio and another for weights, but they complement each other in any type of training.
For this reason, it is worth highlighting a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, where the combination and each supplement was used separately in the training of American football players. Those who took the combination greatly increased their muscle volume and decreased their body fat levels without altering their diet or changing their training (3).
Other Effective Combinations
In what other ways can you combine creatine to get the most out of it? We leave you to finish some ideas to complement the effects of your supplements:
- Creatine + Whey Protein : It is probably the most popular combination. Whey protein is high in leucine, an amino acid necessary for muscle mass. It will act in conjunction with creatine to give volume to your muscle mass.
- Creatine + Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) : It is a good alternative to beta-alanine if your exercise sessions are long and require a little resistance.
- Creatine + Glutamine : While creatine helps you during exercise, glutamine will be very helpful in accelerating muscle recovery. Use this combination if your training sessions are very demanding.
- Kashani, K., Rosner, MH, & Ostermann, M. (2020). Creatinine: From physiology to clinical application. European journal of internal medicine , 72 , 9-14.
- Varanoske, AN, Stout, JR, & Hoffman, JR (2019). Effects of β-alanine supplementation and intramuscular carnosine content on exercise performance and health. In Nutrition and enhanced sports performance (pp. 327-344). Academic Press.
- Hoffman, J., Ratamess, N., Kang, J., Mangine, G., Faigenbaum, A., & Stout, J. (2006). Effect of creatine and ß-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism , 16 (4), 430-446.