What Is the Connection between Creatine and Beta Alanine?

Synthia L. Rose

Creatine and beta alanine are both supplements used by sports players and bodybuilders to boost athletic performance. Known for enhancing the amino acid supply in muscle tissue, creatine and beta alanine protect the muscles from damage and pain. These two supplements also boost energy during exercise and aid athletes in healing from high-stamina workouts.

Creatine can be taken alone or combined with beta alanine.
Creatine can be taken alone or combined with beta alanine.

While creatine can be taken alone to improve physical ability, athletes are embracing research showing that beta alanine can make creatine substantially more effective. Researchers estimate that, by itself, creatine is responsible for increasing athletic power by roughly 10 percent to 15 percent. When combined, however, creatine and beta alanine can purportedly enable power increases of up to 35 percent to 40 percent. The effects of supplementation are most notable during maximum exertion for repeated, but short, bursts of effort lasting no more than 2.5 minutes.

Creatine, popular among bodybuilders and weightlifters, plays a role in the body's production of adenosine triphosphate, which is necessary for muscle contraction.
Creatine, popular among bodybuilders and weightlifters, plays a role in the body's production of adenosine triphosphate, which is necessary for muscle contraction.

There are several ways athletes can combine creatine and beta alanine to reap benefits. One way is for athletes to take beta alanine daily for four or five weeks and then add creatine as a daily supplement during just one of those weeks, usually the fourth or fifth week. During such a cycle, users typically take from 800 mg to 1 g of beta alanine, three or four times daily. Creatine, in amounts ranging up to 5 g daily, is taken three to four times a day for the designated week.

Another schedule of supplementation includes taking both creatine and beta alanine every day. For this schedule, generally moderate amounts are taken, ranging from 4 g to 6 g for beta alanine and 3 g to 5 g for creatine. Many manufacturers of power supplements target athletes by combining creatine and beta alanine in one capsule for convenient daily consumption.

Muscles receive a spike in carnosine, a nutrient comprised of amino acids, after exposure to beta alanine. This reflects the ability of this supplement to alter the ratio of components composing the muscle tissue. Boosting carnosine through beta alanine use enables greater efficiency and endurance in resistance training and weight lifting, but not in aerobic training.

Creatine, on the other hand, can enhance both aerobic and anaerobic training, enabling better performance in high-speed running, swimming or power lifting. While muscles have natural stores of creatine, creatine supplementation gives the body more access to the energy-stimulating nutrient. As a result, muscles can grow larger, develop more power and fuel more extreme workouts before reaching failure. In addition to fueling better workouts, pairing creatine and beta alanine can help users reduce body fat to develop leaner physiques.

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