BCAA vs Creatine: Which Gives You More Bang For Your Buck?

Image of amino acid powder

If you could choose one workout superpower, what would it be?

Superhuman strength, or lightning fast recovery?

We can't promise that taking either supplement will earn you the attributes of a superhero. But one thing is for sure, creatine does increase strength and BCAAs quicken recovery. But which is best?

You'll soon find out, in our straight-talking bcaa vs debate.

BCAAs: The Recovery Supplement

Image of a runner getting a drink of water during a race

Naturally abundant in protein powders, meat, fish, and many other of our daily foods branched chain amino acids are classed as essential because our bodies cannot produce them.

Although BCAAs consists of three amino acids — leucine, isoleucine, and valine — it is leucine that gets the most attention, due to being the protein synthesis switch, which initiates the recovery process.

A popular recovery supplement, BCAAs are typically used around training, and particularly intra-workout, for minimizing the amount of protein breakdown, which is an opposing force against muscle growth.

They can also help recovery by decreasing muscle soreness. Having DOMS in the days following your workouts is very common, but if they are persistent and incredibly intense, they may be doing more harm than good.

Who Could Benefit From Using Them?

image of a female sprinter

Bodybuilders & Weightlifters

Strength and physique athletes can use BCAAs to speed up muscle recovery, which can potentially lead to quicker muscle growth and strength gains.

Athletes

Muscle soreness reduces power output, which is a critical component of any athlete's performance. Prevent DOMS slowing you down by timing BCAAs around your workout.

Those On Cutting Diets

When you're in a calorie deficit, there's no denying that the chance of sizable muscle loss increases. As we begin losing fat, it becomes tempting for our body to break down muscle instead of fat.

We can minimize these side-effects by spiking protein synthesis throughout the day, and one of the most convenient ways to do this is to drink BCAAs between meals, which prevents catabolism.

Product

Strengths

Our Rating

Price

#1 Scivation Xtend

BCAAs

7g


Servings

30


Strength

The Best of the Best

#2 BulkSupplements BCAA

BCAAs

1.5g


Servings

333


Strength

Best Value

#3 ON BCAA Capsules

BCAAs

1000mg


Servings

200


Strength

Best capsules

#4 BSN Amino x

BCAAs

10g Total Amino Acids


Servings

30


Strength

Best Tasting

#5 Evlution BCAA Energy

BCAAs

5g


Servings

30


Strength

Not bad, but the caffeine isn't for everyone

Who Should Avoid Them?

Budget supplement users

Don't focus on less critical products like BCAAs at the expense of the foundations like creatine and whey protein.

Rank Beginners

Bcaas can still be useful for novices, but because you're in the ‘newbie gains' phase, you're unlikely to see any noticeable difference by taking them.

Creatine: The power powder

man about to perform a deadlift in the gym

Unlike essential amino acids, creatine is naturally produced by our bodies. A staggering 95% of it is stored in the muscles, with the remainder being spread out over our hearts, lungs, spleen, kidneys, and brain.

Despite being naturally found in foods such as red meat, fish, and poultry, we need to supplement with it if we want to gain noticeable improvements in performance.

Bodybuilders and athletes commonly load creatine for faster results, which include more strength, muscle growth, and increased body weight.

Taking a smaller daily amount can achieve the same results as loading over the long-term. However, the fast-results that loading can provide may motivate some people to train harder and hit the gym more consistently.

Who Can Benefit From Taking It?

  • Powerlifters & Weightlifters: explosive strength is a critical component of weightlifting performance.
  • Bodybuilders: not only does creatine make you stronger, research shows that it also makes you more muscular.
  • Women: one study shows how women who took creatine throughout a 10-week training program, grew 60% more lean mass than those who got a placebo.
Image of a shirtless bodybuilder loading weights onto a barbell

Who Should Give It A Miss?

As one of the safest and most highly researched supplements on the market, there are no glaring reasons why someone would want to avoid it.

However, research studies are always performed on healthy people. So, if you have pre-existing issues with your liver or kidneys, consult with your doctor first before taking it.

It also makes your body retain water. So, if you're on a weight loss diet, you may want to avoid it if you don't like the thought of a mini body mass increase. Note that creatine does not cause a gain of fat tissue.

Product

Strengths

Our Rating

Price

#1 ON Micronized Creatine

Dose

5g


Servings

114


Strength

The Best of the Best

#2 BulkSupplements Monohydrate

Dose

2.5g


Servings

400


Strength

Best Value

#3 Muscletech Cell Tech

Dose

5-10g


Servings

56


Strength

Best For Weight Gain

#4 Naked Creatine

Dose

22g


Servings

200


Strength

The Fastest Dissolving

#5 Met Rx Creatine 4200

Dose

4.2g


Servings

40


Strength

Good product but It's 6 pills per serving

Should I Take BCAA Or Creatine For Muscle Growth?

So, what exactly is the difference between creatine and BCAAs when it comes to muscle growth?

While they can both effectively add slabs of meat to your frame, they do it in very different ways.

Creatine builds muscle indirectly. By enabling us to lift heavier weights than usual, and perform more total work (or volume) during training, we are indirectly rewarded with more muscle growth, as a side effect from being stronger.

BCAAs, on the other hand, contribute to gains in muscle mass by increasing recovery from training and other physical stressors, such as a game if you're an athlete.

How About For Weight Loss?

Image of a slim woman measuring her waist

Neither supplement directly causes your body to drop fat. However, both supplements have their place in fat loss regimes, and can undoubtedly polish off a solid diet.

While also being calorie-free, creatine is an excellent strength-boosting addition to any physique orientated weight loss program. Aside from having no calories, it enables you to push yourself harder in the gym, which results in a higher number of calories being burned, and eventually, more fat loss.

Contrary to popular belief, branched chain amino acids are not calorie-free. However, their calorie value is very minimal, and in the grand scheme of things, it is unlikely to affect your weight loss progress.

While they don't increase strength to the same degree as creatine, they can help to preserve muscle mass by reducing levels of protein breakdown in the muscles. And as you might know, weight loss and cutting diets can leave you open to muscle loss, if you don't supply the muscles with enough quality amino acids.

The Verdict

Overall, both supplements are highly effective for growing new muscle. With decades of scientific research supporting its effect on strength gain, there is no better supplement than creatine for increasing power and explosiveness.

As the body cannot produce branched-chain amino acids by itself, getting them elsewhere is critical for developing your physique and nourishing your body.

That said, you can get away without taking BCAAs if you consume enough high-quality protein. However, drinking them intra-workout is still a sensible strategy for preventing protein breakdown during training.

We hope you enjoyed our bcaa vs creatine debate, and hopefully, you have a better understanding of their differences. Click here for our take on the best supplements for muscle growth and fitness.

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Bernie
Bernie
Bernie loves keeping active, playing every sport under the sun before finding weightlifting. He tests and reviews supplements for the site and when he’s not training, you can catch him traveling, hiking, and thinking about his next meal.

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