The number of supplements in the fitness world can be overwhelming and difficult to understand. But at the same time, choosing the best supplements for your fitness goals is a vital aspect of getting the results you want.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and creatine are two of the most popular fitness supplements on the market. If you’re trying to build muscle, it might be hard to decide if you need one or both to optimize your growth and performance.
Here’s a breakdown of BCAA vs creatine, so you can decide which one is best for you.
BCAA and Creatine: What are They?
Both BCAAs and creatine are safe and natural supplements used to improve athletic performance and body composition.
BCAAs - Branched-chain amino acids are three essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that have a unique structure to benefit muscle growth. The “branched-chain” refers to part of the molecular structure that branches out to one side.
Amino acids in general make up the structure of protein, which is known to be an important component to muscle structure.
However, essential amino acids can’t be made in the body, and therefore must be consumed in the diet. BCAAs are found in protein-rich foods like meat, poultry and eggs, but athletes and those who train rigorously may need more than what they can get from their diet.
Creatine - Creatine is produced from amino acids in the body, but is also a very popular fitness supplement. It plays a role in energy production, especially during intense mental or physical exercise. It has some similar properties to amino acids, but offers a slightly different benefit.
Benefits of BCAAs for Muscle Growth
Here are some of the ways BCAAs may promote muscle growth.
Faster metabolism - The unique structure of BCAAs allows muscles to metabolize and use them directly, rather than metabolizing them in the liver first. This is especially useful for working out, because the muscles reap the benefits quickly and efficiently.
Improved endurance - BCAAs may also help suppress serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which induces fatigue during exercise. Combined with the possibility that they help the blood carry more oxygen to the muscles, BCAAs may help to improve endurance during a workout.
Optimal recovery - Finally, BCAAs may help with muscle repair and soreness. That means the muscles recover faster, muscle fibers repair themselves and grow quickly, and you get back into the gym sooner to build more muscle.
Benefits of Creatine for Muscle Growth
Creatine is all about energy, strength and power during a workout. In fact, taking a creatine supplement can improve all three of these things.
To put it simply, creatine helps your body produce energy more quickly and promotes lean muscle.
ATP - Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a vital element of your metabolism that breaks down during exercise. If your body is slow to produce more, you start to feel fatigued.
However, supplementing with creatine helps your body produce ATP faster, giving you more energy during a workout. Creatine is most useful during high-intensity exercise like sprints.
IGF - 1 - Creatine also plays a role in building lean muscle mass. It raises the level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is an anabolic hormone (meaning it builds muscle). It also brings more water into the muscle, which also facilitates growth.
Recovery - Finally, creatine can support muscle repair by improving cell signaling, while also reducing muscle and protein breakdown.
BCAA vs Creatine: Which One is Right for Me?
Whether BCAAs or creatine is better will depend on your fitness goals, as well as your diet.
If your workouts are based on endurance, BCAAs might be more beneficial for you. If your workouts are intensity or power-based, creatine may be the better choice.
Considering your diet, you may choose BCAA vs creatine or vice versa based on your ability to meet your protein needs. If you’re able to get enough protein from your diet and/or protein powder, you may not need BCAAs. However, if your protein needs are high and you’re unable to consistently meet them, a BCAA supplement will likely help.
Finally, think about your end game. If you want to build lean mass while cutting fat, the most popular choice is usually BCAAs. On the other hand, if you’re working on bulking and building strength, creatine may give you better results.
Whether you choose to supplement creatine or BCAAs, you need to put some thought into choosing the best quality supplements. Clean, reliable products such as our branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and creatine monohydrate powder are easy to use and offer great benefits without a bunch of additives.
Final Thoughts: Creatine vs BCAA
Both BCAAs and creatine will improve your workouts and body composition. However, it’s important to learn exactly how each supplement works to determine which one will give you optimal results.
Before you choose, consider the types of workouts you’re doing, your diet, and your goals in terms of body composition and strength vs. endurance. Once you understand how creatine and BCAAs function in the body, and how that fits into your overall fitness goals. you’ll be able to decide which supplement is best for you.