Creatine Vs BCAAs – Which Is Better For Building Lean Mass In 2023

Creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are both used by athletes to help with training, so it’s easy to assume that they are basically the same thing.

But even though these two supplements can both be beneficial to you, there are some important differences between them.

Let’s take a look at how creatine and BCAAs differ in terms of how your body uses them, how effective they are, and what kind of benefits you can expect to get from each of them. So here we go BCAA vs creatine

The Science Behind Each Supplement

What’s The Difference Between Creatine And BCAAs? In any given grocery store, you’ll find shelves of dietary supplements.

Beyond multivitamins, there are pills to boost energy levels, improve skin, or even help you build muscle.

While they’re not regulated by the FDA (and may or may not be effective), many athletes rely on these supplements to improve their performance or physique.

On top of that, many pre-workout products contain both creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

So what exactly are these workout supplements good for—and what is their difference?

What Are BCAAs?

Branched Chain Amino Acids are building blocks of protein found in foods like meat, eggs, soybeans, and nuts.

They’re unique because unlike other essential amino acids, we can only get them from food sources.

They include three essential aminos: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Why Do Athletes Use Them?

BCAAs have several benefits for those who work out frequently, especially for those who partake in high-intensity exercise.

First, they reduce fatigue by helping your body conserve muscle glycogen stores.

When working out intensely, your body draws on sugar stored in muscles to create fuel for working muscles.

If your supply is low, then fatigue kicks in; however, research shows that taking a supplement before exercise can increase blood sugar levels and reduce feelings of fatigue during workouts.

That’s right, muscle building, better performance, increased muscle recovery and decreased muscle soreness.

  1. Studies also show that athletes who supplement with BCAAs recover more quickly after exhaustive exercise
  2. Because they lessen fatigue and recovery time during intense training sessions (like weightlifting), using BCAAs allows an athlete to train harder more often than someone who doesn’t take it daily. Research suggests ingesting 0.30 grams per kilogram of bodyweight provides these benefits without causing any side effects
  3. Side Effects Since BCAAs are naturally occurring amino acids, they’re unlikely to cause serious side effects when taken as directed—though some individuals will experience negative reactions to high doses. Some people experience digestive distress such as bloating or nausea after consuming large amounts of BCAAs, so start off slowly if you choose to use it regularly.

Need to stock up on BCAAs? Check them out here.

What Is Creatine?

While BCAAs offer a number of benefits, creatine supplementation is another substance you can take to help improve performance in your workouts.

Most experts agree that creatine being so well researched makes it one of the best supplements.

While it’s most commonly used by bodybuilders, it’s also used by athletes who perform strength-based exercises such as weightlifting.

A lot of people mix up creatine with protein powders because they come in powder form; however, that doesn’t mean they’re one and the same.

Like protein powders, creatine isn’t essential for survival—you can get all you need from eating meat or fish.

You don’t even have to buy it from a supplement store; many people make their own at home with recipes readily available online. 

Want to know the difference between pre-workout and creatine? Read more here.


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When Should You Take Them?

BCAA supplements are generally taken when your body is most likely to be in a catabolic state.

This is because BCAAs can only fuel muscle growth when there are adequate levels of leucine in your blood.

Leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates protein synthesis, so if you’re taking BCAAs with inadequate levels of leucine (or any other essential amino acids), you’re wasting your money.

Because many serious lifters do not take advantage of proper nutrition throughout their training day, it’s a good idea to take BCAAs during your workout as well.

By providing amino acids at two separate times throughout your lifting session, you’ll increase your opportunity for muscular hypertrophy while also preventing unnecessary muscle breakdown caused by intense training sessions.

Creatine supplements are ideal for those looking to build lean mass: For people who have trouble putting on weight and size, supplementing with creatine might be a better choice than BCAA.

This is especially true if your primary goal is building lean mass over increasing strength or performance.

Creatine has been shown time and time again to have very positive effects on lean muscle gain, which should be every lifter’s goal regardless of experience level or program goals.

It’s crucial that you drink plenty of water while supplementing with creatine, though; without proper hydration, you won’t get optimal results.

If you don’t feel like drinking water all day long, look into buying powdered creatine mixed with juice instead – just remember to keep everything mixed properly!

How Much Creatine Should You take?

There are different forms of creatine available, including creatine monohydrate, citrate, malate, nitrate, chloride, and more.

Depending on your level of activity and fitness goals, exercise performance, and athletic performance, you may need to take a different form than someone else.

Of course, age matters too:

The younger you are, the less likely it is that you’ll need a supplement to increase your levels of creatine.

As a general rule of thumb—and based on research findings—most people benefit from taking 3–5 grams per day.

If you’re sedentary or older than 40 years old, stick with 2–3 grams per day.

But if you have weight-lifting experience or are very active (cycling, swimming), go ahead and push up to 5 grams per day.

If using creatine alone doesn’t produce great results within six weeks, says Price, consider stacking it with beta-alanine.

And don’t forget about post-workout supplementation!

In fact, some studies suggest combining both creatine and whey protein after training can lead to double muscle growth in just 10 days.

Need to refill your creatine stocks? Browse for supplements here.

How Much BCAAs Should You Take?

There are different forms of BCAAs available as well; two common varieties include leucine and valine.

Leucine may be better for helping prevent soreness, while valine has been shown to play a role in slowing muscle loss during exercise.

Taking five grams of BCAAs before and after exercise appears effective for building lean muscle mass and strength, notes Trexler.

Leucine also affects glucose metabolism which has positive implications for preventing diabetes.

Most experts recommend ingesting 1–2 grams immediately following exercise, then another 0.5 grams every hour until bedtime.

So if you’re looking for ways to boost protein intake without eating meat or dairy products, be sure to add BCAAs into your diet plan!

What’s best depends on where you’re at in life – but generally speaking, younger guys shouldn’t need supplements beyond what they get through a regular diet alone.

Should You Mix Them Together Or Use Them Separately?

This is an important question that many people don’t know how to answer. To make it simple: creatine and BCAAs should be used together.

Most serious lifters will end up using both since they are two completely different things that complement each other perfectly. 

By combining them, you can maximize your workout by building muscle and increasing strength even more than if you were to use just one of them.

BCAAs can also play a role in giving your body energy after a hard weight lifting session, which helps you recover faster so you can get back into the gym and keep working towards achieving your fitness goals.

For some people who have trouble digesting creatine properly or those who want an extra energy boost during their workout with no additional negative side effects, taking BCAAs alone may be a better option for them.

Are There Any Side Effects Or Adverse Reactions To Taking Them Both Together?

Though it’s important to note that most people can take creatine and BCAA together without side effects, there are some instances where they may not be recommended.

For example, if you have diabetes or you have a history of kidney disease, you may want to avoid taking both creatine and BCAAs at once.

Those with compromised immune systems also often need to steer clear of both supplements as well.

In addition, those under 18 who plan on taking creatine should speak with their parents first; while creatine is safe for young people to use, there have been anecdotal reports of increased acne in young men who use creatine.

That said, unless your body reacts poorly when supplementing with only one of these ingredients (more on that below), most doctors recommend taking them together because they complement each other so well.

Which Is The Better Option – Creatine or BCAAs?

Supplement manufacturers will often tout one over another, but which is better for your fitness goals – creatine or branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)?

The answer may depend on what your goal is. 

If you’re trying to gain muscle mass, creatine can be a useful supplement to take before and after a workout.

BCAAs are typically taken during training; they’re absorbed quickly into muscles, so there’s more of them around as you work out than if you took them after a workout.

So if you want to build muscle as quickly as possible—by training hard while taking quick-digesting aminos—you might consider going with BCAAs instead of creatine.

That being said, I use BCAAs that have creatine and glutamine included. So, that’s an easy option for you.

So whether you mainly do weight training, high-intensity training or bodyweight strength training both supplements will play a crucial role in achieving your goals.

As always I’ll close this article with a link to my FREE Ebook. Train wherever the f*ck you want.

It is my guide to training on your own terms!

And if you have found me on youtube yet have a watch of this video I posted recently where I try the Navy Seals fitness test!