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    13 / May / 2022

    Creatine or Brand-Chain Amino Acids: Which Supplements are Right for You?

    In this article, we will compare two common supplements: creatine and branched-chain amino acids. With a detailed understanding and comparison of both products, you will have a better idea of which supplement is better suited for your workout routine. 

    Creatine or Brand-Chain Amino Acids: Which Supplements are Right for You?

    Estimated read time: 6.5 minutes

    Are you looking to add an extra edge to your workout routine? If so, you have likely done some research on common workout supplements. Researching supplements can feel overwhelming because there are many forms of them on the market, each with their own benefits for your fitness goals. 

    With this, it can be difficult to know which one would be most beneficial for you. 

    Ultimately, the answer isn’t the same for everyone. It all depends on the exercises you do, your specific body-type, and your own fitness related goals. But thankfully, this is why we are here to answer your questions at Akfit.

    Since 1989 Akfit has operated as a Canadian specialty fitness store located in Sudbury, Ontario and we’ve been working closely with our clients to help them reach their fitness related goals by selling a wide range of fitness equipment. 

    At Akfit, we don’t just sell fitness equipment, but we also sell a variety of BioSteel supplements tailored for your workout goals. In turn, we have expertise when it comes to understanding and differentiating fitness supplements, such a pre-workout, as it pertains to reaching your fitness goals.

    In this article, we will compare two common supplements: creatine and branched-chain amino acids. With a detailed understanding and comparison of both products, you will have a better idea of which supplement is better suited for your workout routine. 

    In this article:

    1. What is a Supplement?
    2. What is Creatine
    3. Benefits of Using Creatine
    4. What are Branched-Chain Amino Acids
    5. Benefits of Using Branched-Chain Amino Acids
    6. Which Supplement is Best for You?
    7. Reach Out to Akfit
    Biosteel - Plant & Whey Protein, Creatine & BCAAs

     

    What is a Supplement?

    Before diving into Creatine and Branched-Chain Amino Acids specifically, let’s discuss pre-workout supplements in general.

    Supplements are designed for bodybuilding or enhancing athletic performance. These supplements are commonly taken to increase energy, focus, and endurance during workouts

    Supplements are usually made of a variety of different ingredients such as creatine, caffeine, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s), but the ingredients ultimately depend on the product. These supplements are usually consumed as a powder or capsule. 

    Examples of supplements can include:

    • Creatine
    • Branched-chain amino acids
    • Caffeine
    • Beta-alanine 
    • Nitrate
    • Sodium Bicarbonate
    • Citrulline

    If you suffer from kidney or liver disease, you should not take creatine. Creatine may also not be safe for those with diabetes as it can alter blood sugar levels. Creatine is also not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

     

    What is Creatine?

    Creatine is a natural substance found in muscle cells and helps your muscles produce energy during high-intensity workouts. 

    When you supplement creatine into your workout, you increase your sores of phosphocreatine, which is a form of energy within your cells. The result is your body will also produce a more high-energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

    However, while the majority of creatine is found in your muscles in the form of phosphocreatine, about 5% of this natural substance in your body is found in the brain, liver, and kidneys. 

    Creatine is generally the most popular supplement among bodybuilders for these exact reasons. 

     

    6 Benefits of Using Creatine

    Since creatine is such a popular supplement among bodybuilders, is should be no surprise that using creatine comes with a variety of benefits such as: 

     

    Creatine Helps Muscle Cells Produce More Energy

    As previously mentioned, creatine helps increase phosphocreatine in your muscles. Phosphocreatine promotes the formation of ATP which is a key molecule your cells use for energy. 

    When you exercise, ATP is broken down to produce energy. Formulating more ATP fuels your muscles with more energy for higher-intensity exercises. 

     

    Creatine can Speed up Muscle Growth

    Creatine is known to speed up muscle growth short-term and long-term. 

    Increased muscle growth in the short-term is usually in conjunction with increased water levels in your muscles. However, in the long run, creatine promotes muscle fiber growth in combination with elevating your workout performance. 

    In fact, taking creatine for as little as 5-7 days can show short-term improvements in muscle growth and is widely considered the number one supplement for building muscle mass. 

     

    Creatine can Promote High-Intensity Exercise Performance

    Since creatine promotes the increased formation of ATP, your performance in high-intensity workouts can drastically improve. Creatine can actually promote the following as a result:

    • Strength
    • Muscle mass
    • Muscle endurance
    • Sprinting
    • Brain performance
    • Resistance to fatigue 

     

    Creatine Could Help Fight Neurological Diseases 

    A key component of the development of neurological diseases is the decrease of phosphocreatine in the brain. 

    Since consuming creatine can increase the levels of phosphocreatine in your brain, your brain may be able to be more combative to diseases such as:

    • Alzyheimer’s disease
    • Epilepsy
    • Ischemic stroke 
    • Brain or spinal cord injuries

     

    Creatine can Promote Better Brain Function

    Your brain needs a sufficient amount of ATP in order to perform complicated tasks. Since creatine can increase ATP and phosphocreatine levels, it is also known to promote brain function by increasing dopamine levels and mitochondrial function.

    This can be even more desirable for vegetarians as meat is considered one of the best dietary sources of creatine. 

     

    Creatine can Support Many Functions in the Muscles

    Regularly taking creatine can alter multiple cellular paths that can promote muscle growth. In fact, consuming creatine can boost the creation of proteins which create muscle fibers.

    Creatine supplements can also increase the amount of water levels in your muscles. This process is called cell volumization and also promotes the speed of building muscle. 

     

    Drawbacks of Using Creatine (Potential Side Effects)

    Creatine may not be for everyone, as we previously noted, creatine should be taken if you suffer from kidney or liver disease. Creatine is also not recommended for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

    A few other side effects of taking creatine could include:

    • Kidney damage
    • Liver damage
    • Bloating
    • Muscle Cramps
    • Dehydration
    • Digestive problems
    • Compartment syndrome
    • Rhabdomyolysis 

     

    What Are Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

    Branched-chain amino acids (commonly referred to as BCAA’s), are considered essential nutrients commonly found in foods. These nutrients are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Your muscles will burn BCAA’s for energy. 

    Unlike creatine, BCAA’s are not produced within the body, and must be consumed by either supplements or in food. Common foods BCAA’s can found in include:

    • Meats such as beef, chicken, fish, and eggs.
    • Corn
    • Lentils
    • Chickpeas
    • Whole wheat
    • Brown rice
    • Baked beans and lima beans 
    • Milk, soy, and whey proteins
    • Almonds, brazil nuts, and cashews 

    Using BCAA’s as a supplement is also known to promote muscle growth, but is also known for boosting metabolism, they can help speed up muscle recovery, and significantly improve your endurance. 

    However, before regularly using BCAA’s as a supplement, you should talk with a doctor if you are taking these medications: 

    • Diabetes medications
    • Thyroid hormone
    • Proglycem
    • Corticosteroids
    • Parkinson’s medications

    You should also consult with your doctor if you have chronic alcoholism or branched-chain ketoaciduria. If you are breastfeeding or pregnant you should avoid taking increased BCAA’s altogether. 

     

    4 Benefits of Using BCAA’s

    Using BCAA’s as a supplement in can result in some of these benefits:

     

    BCAA’s can Help Prevent Muscle Wasting

    Muscle wasting (breakdown), can occur when protein breakdown exceeds muscle synthesis. 

    Muscle synthesis is the process of muscle proteins being rebuilt. Your body is constantly in a cycle of muscle breakdown and muscle synthesis. 

    This process of muscle wasting can be a symptom of malnutrition or with chronic infections, cancer, or with increased periods of fasting. This also becomes more of an occurrence as you age. 

    BCAA’s account for 35% of all essential amino acids in muscle proteins. Thus the consumption of extra BCAA’s can help combat muscle wasting.

     

    BCAA’s can Help Reduce Exercise Fatigue

    Consuming BCAA’s is known to help with reducing fatigue from working out. Your muscles use the BCAA’s in your body during exercise causing levels of BCAA’s in your blood to decline as well. 

    When this takes place, the levels of tryptophan in your brain will increase. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin in your brain which is a chemical believed to contribute to fatigue during exercising. In turn, consuming BCAA’s can help with reducing exercise fatigue. 

     

    BCAA’s can Decrease Muscle Soreness

    If your fitness routine is a new one, it wouldn’t be uncommon to feel some form of muscle soreness. Muscle soreness will usually have an onset of 12 to 24 hours after exercising and can last up to 72 hours. 

    BCAA’s can decrease protein breakdown during exercises and also decrease levels of creatine kinase, which is a common indicator of damage to your muscles. 

    In turn, consuming BCAA’s may promote recovery time from muscle soreness and injury. 

     

    BCAA’s can Promote Muscle Growth

    Similar to creatine, using BCAA’s as a supplement can also promote muscle growth through the results of faster metabolism, improved endurance, and the potential for stronger recovery from muscle injury. 

    Leucine, which is a BCAA, also promotes muscle synthesis which as mentioned above, increases muscle growth. 

    While BCAA’s play an important role in helping build muscle, your body still requires all the essential amino acids to maximize your results.

     

    Drawbacks of Using BCAA’s (Potential Side Effects)

    As previously mentioned in this article, if you have chronic alcoholism or branched-chain ketoaciduria, you should consult your doctor before taking any BCAA’s.. If you are breastfeeding or pregnant you should avoid taking increased BCAA’s altogether. 

    A few other side-effects of taking BCAA’s could include:

    • Vitamin-B depletion 
    • Lower serotonin levels
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Lower blood-sugar levels
    • Abnormality in protein metabolism

    When BCAA’s are taken in large amounts, you could feel these side effects:

    • Nausea
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of coordination
    • Increased insulin resistance 

     

    Creatine vs. BCAA’s: Which Supplement is Right for You?

    Ultimately, the supplement that is right for you depends on your exercise routine, your body type, and your specific fitness goals. Your diet should also be considered before taking any supplements as well.

    Creatine is more likely optimal for you if your workouts are aimed at building muscle mass and are more high-intensity or power based. 

    Whereas BCAA’s are probably more suitable for you if you want to build lean mass while cutting fat, and if your workouts are more based on endurance.

    For more information on other nutritional supplements, check out our article All You Need to Know About Akfit’s Best Selling Nutrition Products.  You may also find helpful tips from our article What You Need to Know About Fitness and Supplements

     

    Reach Out to Akfit

    As we have outlined, creatine and BCAA's have their own unique benefits. The supplement you want to include in your routine should depend on the type of exercise you are performing, your diet, and your health. 

    However, as previously outlined, there are many more pre-workout supplements to choose from other than creatine and BCAA's. So which one is really the right one for you?

    Thankfully we at Akfit are here to help! We sell a variety of nutritional supplements that are designed to help you achieve fitness related success. 

    If you are unsure of which supplements are best for your workouts, you can always reach out to us. We also offer virtual consultations, or you can visit us in-store and discuss any of your fitness related concerns and needs. 

    Our fitness experts will work closely with you to ensure that you will have the proper product and knowledge to help you achieve your fitness related goals. 

    We also offer fast Canada-wide shipping from Sudbury, Ontario. If you purchase fitness equipment from us too, you can also request an installation

    No matter what your fitness related plans are, we at Akfit are here to help you during your journey. 


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