Creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are two of the most common bodybuilding supplements on the market. There are literally hundreds of products that make use of these ingredients to one degree or another. Naturally, some people cannot help but wonder if it’s a good idea to mix them. Let’s take a closer look at this issue and see if we can give them a definitive answer.
Why Use Creatine?
Creatine is popular for several reasons. First, it delivers more energy to the muscles. Your body gains energy from food, drink, and other forms of sustenance. Before this energy can be used, it has to be converted into a substance called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). A dose of creatine causes your muscles to produce more phosphocreatine, and phosphocreatine is used by the body to produce ATP. The result: More energy and less soreness/fatigue.
Because of this, creatine has long been known for its ability to produce improvements in muscle strength and size. By improving the anaerobic capacity of the muscles, it allows you to get more muscle with less time.
Why Use BCAAs?
Branched-chain amino acids are also very popular. Amino acids, in general, are very important to muscle growth and protein synthesis, acting as “building blocks.” However, we are talking about only three of them: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Their molecular structure is a little bit more complex when compared to other amino acids, which is why they have been found to have some special properties.
BCAAs are essential amino acids, which means that your body needs to obtain these substances from an external source. Many foods contain BCAAs, including milk, beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beans and rice. Laboratory experiments on human muscle tissue samples have proven that BCAAs will stimulate protein synthesis, improving muscle growth as a result.
These proteins also seem to have a positive effect on blood sugar balance, making it a great choice for those with blood sugar issues. They also help to reduce fatigue by helping the brain to produce higher levels of serotonin.
The Element Of Timing
There is a long-running debate as to whether you should take your workout supplements before, during, or after a workout. In a previous article, we determined that it was better to take BCAAs after a workout, even though the other methods would also produce favorable results. But what about creatine?
Based on the available evidence, it seems that creatine can be taken either immediately before or immediately after a workout. It doesn’t seem to matter as long as you take the creatine within that relatively small window of time.
Do These Supplements Mix Well?
Now we come to the important question: Should BCAAs and creatine be used together? Let’s look a little closer at this issue. For a start, we decided to do some searches to see if there are any negative issues that have been known to arise from the combination of these two substances. One of the key concepts of chemistry (including body chemistry) is this: Some substances are just incompatible, and violent reactions happen when they are mixed. For instance, you can light a match with sulfuric acid because it reacts violently with the chlorate-based chemicals that are present in the match head. However, we find no evidence that BCAAs and creatine are inherently incompatible.
There are actually quite a few supplements on the market that use a combination of these ingredients. If this were unsafe, such products would probably not be approved by the FDA (or most other regulative bodies). Here is one study that might offer us a little more specific information.
In the study linked above, a workout supplement consisting of many ingredients was tested. Creatine and BCAAs were among those ingredients, and no negative side effects were observed. As for effectiveness, the study did find the supplement to be effective for its intended purposes. It produced a higher level of mental alertness, a reduction in overall fatigue, and better performance overall.
We found another study that was quite similar. Like before, they tested a mixed-ingredient supplement that included both BCAAs and creatine. This example might be a little better because the mixture consisted mostly of creatine, caffeine, and amino acids. Thus, there are fewer factors to be considered. This mixture was found to be effective in producing improvements in aerobic performance, total workout volume, and lean body mass.
Let’s take a look at one more study of this type. Once again, researchers tested a supplement containing both of our target ingredients. Once again, the supplement was found to be both safe and effective. One interesting aspect of this work is that they attempted to determine if this supplement would have any effect on the hormonal-anabolic response. They found that this response was unaffected.
In all three of these cases, we can see that no adverse effects resulted from the combination of these two ingredients. Therefore, it seems fairly safe. However, we might have found one reason for concern. According to this research, the action of creatine kinase (a form of creatine found in the brain) might be inhibited by a big dose of BCAAs. Studies performed on rat brains did indeed suggest this possibility. The good news is that creatine kinase is not quite the same as the creatine in your supplements, so you probably don’t have anything to worry about here.
After scouring the internet for all the information we could find, we have come to the conclusion that it is perfectly okay to mix creatine with BCAAs. Neither of these supplements is dangerous on its’ own, as both are found naturally within the human body. There is also no evidence to suggest that either of these supplements are dangerous.
Logically, there is no reason why either of these substances would inhibit the other. BCAAs are just extra protein, and creatine is just a little bit of extra energy. Thus, there is no conflict between their effects. We thank you for reading this article, and we hope that you will follow us on Facebook so that we can bring you more good information that will help you to achieve the peak performance that we all want.