Sometimes we all need a little help from our friends, especially during a tough training session...
With so many supplements on the market, it can be tough to work out which are worth it, and which are just a load of hot air. Today we’re putting two of the most popular supplements on the market, BCAAs and Creatine, to the test in the battle of the supplements.
Okay so first things first, what actually are they?
Let’s start with BCAAs. BCAAs (or Branched Chain Amino Acids) are made up of three essential amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Essential amino acids are amino acids that cannot be produced by the body, and therefore we have to get them from food, such as meat and cheese, or supplements.
According to some research, combining BCAAs with your resistance training can help increase muscle mass and fat burning, encourage hormonal balance and help with muscle soreness and recovery.
Creatine (Creatine Monohydrate), on the other hand, is made from two amino acids: arginine and methionine. Unlike Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine these are not an essential amino acid meaning that our body produces the creatine naturally. Despite being produced naturally, Creatine is one of the most popular and highly studied supplements and supposedly comes with a tonne of benefits.
Taking creatine supplements has been shown to improve your performance, increase energy and muscle mass while also reducing the potential of injury during your training.
Both sound pretty good, right? But which is better? There is only one way to find out. It’s time to start talking about science.
When it comes to BCAAs, plenty of studies have shown that they come with many benefits, most notably that they help to reduce muscle damage and soreness and reduce your recovery time.
However, there is little evidence that suggests a supplement is necessary for this as the majority of people get plenty of BCAAs in their diet alone. While BCAA supplements might help to stimulate the muscle building response after weightlifting, other muscle-building supplements are much more effective. As long as you’re getting your BCAAs, you’re fine, whether that be from BCAAs, whey protein or a good old chicken breast.
When considering creatine supplementation, these also come with a lot of benefits. Research shows that creatine can increase muscular force, power and mass while also helping to reduce fatigue. One study showed that the use of creatine supplementation while resistance training increased muscle strength by 8%. However, it’s not all good news. Creatine loading can lead to initial weight gain due to water retention in the muscles, plus without sufficient water intake stomach cramping can occur – so make sure you’re staying hydrated!
So, which is better?
Neither BCAAs or Creatine supplements are necessary to smash your workout. However, they do both come with benefits. For those with low protein intake, BCAAs can provide an affordable, low calorie and easy way to promote muscle protein synthesis. Creatine, on the other hand, can help provide rapid energy and functions more for strength building may be the choice of those of you who are powerlifting for example.
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to the question which is better (even science is torn on this one) – the truth is, it is very much dependent on your goals.
It seems like the battle of the supplements when it comes to BCAAs VS Creatine has yet to be won.
If you could only choose one supplement, which would it be - BCAAs or Creatine? Let us know in the comments.