Creatine vs Beta Alanine: Do You Need Both? 4 Differences

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Creatine and beta-alanine are two of the most popular supplements for performance, so you’re probably wondering how the two compounds differ and whether it makes sense to take them together. As a personal trainer, I advise clients on which supplements would be most beneficial for their goals, so I’ll help you determine whether you should take creatine, beta-alanine, or both. 

Key Takeaways

creatine vs. beta-alanine comparison chart
  • Creatine improves high-intensity exercise performance (e.g., heavy-weight training), muscle recovery, and cognitive function.
  • Beta-alanine delays fatigue, limiting the burning sensation you feel when pushing your muscles to failure, and allowing you to train for longer.
  • Creatine is best for short bursts of high-intensity activity, whereas beta-alanine is best for bouts lasting over a minute. You can combine these supplements to improve sports performance and facilitate strength and muscle gain.

What Is Creatine?

what is creatine?

Creatine is a compound created by the body from three amino acids: methionine, glycine, and arginine. The body produces limited creatine, but you boost creatine stores by consuming creatine-rich foods (e.g., red meat) or supplements.

Creatine is the market’s most widely researched performance supplement because it supports energy production

Most creatine is stored as phosphocreatine in the muscles, which helps to produce energy more rapidly for high-intensity activities like sprinting, weightlifting, or football. 

When working at higher intensities, creatine is a limiting factor because when depleted, the body shifts to a slower energy system with less force output. By supplementing with creatine and increasing creatine storage in the muscles, you increase the fuel available for high-intensity activity and delay fatigue.

Therefore, creatine supplementation improves performance at higher intensities and boosts muscle recovery between workouts and bouts of physical activity.

What Is Beta-Alanine?

what is beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is an amino acid naturally produced in the body and found in foods like poultry, pork, beef, and fish. The amino acid is well-known for its performance-enhancing benefits, specifically for activities that last 60 to 240 seconds (e.g., CrossFit). 

Beta-alanine is a building block for carnosine molecules, which serve as a buffer for hydrogen ions. Hydrogen ion accumulation in the muscles causes a burning sensation and muscle fatigue when working at higher intensities. 

Increasing the buffering of hydrogen ions by supplying more carnosine slows the drop in pH in muscle cells, allowing you to train for a more extended period before fatigue and acid buildup set in.

If you want to learn more about the science behind hydrogen ions and fatigue, watch this video.

Beta-alanine is most beneficial for activities lasting over a minute because this is when hydrogen ions start to build up during exercise, causing your muscles to burn and impairing your performance.

Like creatine, it’s best to supplement with beta-alanine for the associated benefits simply because the body doesn’t produce large amounts, and you can’t get that much of the amino acid through food.

Creatine vs. Beta-Alanine Comparison Table

The following table compares creatine and beta-alanine in some of the most popular categories to give you a brief overview:

Primary RoleSupports energy production for intense activities (sprinting, weight lifting, etc.)Supports carnosine production
Mechanism of ActionImproves ATP availability for energy in your musclesIncreasing carnosine levels offers a buffer for hydrogen ions that delays fatigue
Best ForStrength athletes, bodybuilders, and sprintersCrossfit and other bouts of activity lasting 1-4 minutes
Key BenefitsPromotes strength, explosiveness, and muscle growthIt improves muscular endurance by delaying fatigue and the burning sensation in your muscles
Athletic PerformanceHighly beneficial for short bursts of intense activitiesUseful for intervals that last at least 60 seconds
Recommended Dosage3-5 grams daily3.2–6.4 grams daily
Possible Side EffectsMinor GI discomfort (e.g., bloating)Paresthesia (a tingling sensation on the skin)
Scientific SupportExtensive scientific supportEstablished and scientifically supported benefits
Timing ConsiderationDoesn’t matterDoesn’t matter

Differences Between Creatine vs. Beta-Alanine

The three main differences between creatine and beta-alanine are:

1. Mechanism of Action


Creatine is primarily stored as phosphocreatine in the body, which donates phosphate molecules and leads to faster energy production to fuel high intensity, allowing trainees to perform slightly better during short burst activities like sprinting, interval running, and weight training.

Check out this video for a more in-depth explanation of how creatine works.


Beta-alanine is a precursor for carnosine molecules and is typically the limiting factor for their production. In other words, the body produces carnosine molecules at lower rates because it doesn’t have enough beta-alanine.

By supplementing with beta-alanine, you encourage your body to synthesize more carnosine, which acts as a buffer for hydrogen ions that build up during physical activity.

To learn more about how beta-alanine works, check out this video.

2. Associated Benefits


Creatine can boost strength and power while delaying time to exhaustion and speeding up muscle recovery between workouts and bouts of exercise (e.g., sets at the gym).

Additionally, data suggests that creatine can improve memory and overall cognition, likely because it supports ATP production and because the brain requires a lot of energy. 

The brain accounts for approximately one-fifth of the body’s total energy expenditure. Improving ATP availability gives the brain more energy to carry out its processes.


As mentioned, Beta-alanine shines primarily in activities that last 60 to 240 seconds, meaning it can improve in high-rep bodybuilding-style training, CrossFit, interval running, and even sports involving repeated bursts of intense activity: soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.

3. Side Effects


Some of creatine’s potential side effects include dizziness, elevated blood pressure, diarrhea, and muscle cramps.

However, these are extremely rare. Most people who experience side effects report feeling bloated or a bit nauseous, and this typically happens during a loading phase (where one takes 20-25 grams of creatine for 5-7 days to achieve muscle saturation more quickly), which is unnecessary.


A relatively common beta-alanine side effect is paresthesia––a tingling sensation on the skin. 

While it may feel uncomfortable, it’s nothing to worry about and typically passes within minutes.

How To Pick Between Creatine vs. Beta-Alanine

Consider the following factors to determine which supplement is best:

High-Intensity Performance

Creatine is ideal for those looking to boost their performance in intense activities like sprints and weight training.

Creatine reliably boosts strength and power while speeding up muscle recovery, allowing trainees to work out harder and accumulate more training volume.

Some researchers claim that beta-alanine may also be helpful alongside creatine for high-intensity activities, claiming that the burning sensation can occur sooner (within 15-30 seconds) and lead to fatigue.

There isn’t enough research to support the theory that beta-alanine supplementation benefits bouts of activity under a minute. So, creatine is the clear winner if you have to choose one supplement. 

Muscle And Strength Gains

Creatine is the best choice for muscle and strength gain because research suggests it reliably boosts strength and power, allowing trainees to improve work capacity. Beta-alanine also has the potential to encourage muscle growth but is less effective for strength gain.

For instance, if someone could do six reps with a given weight without creatine, they may be able to do eight, nine, or even ten reps with consistent creatine supplementation.

Consistently doing more work leads to superior adaptations in muscle and strength gains.

Beta-alanine can also be beneficial, more so for muscle growth than strength gains. By delaying the burning sensation and fatigue, trainees can perform better in higher-rep sets and increase their training volume.

Registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Arlene Semeco supports this theory:

“It’s possible that beta-alanine improves body composition by increasing training volume and promoting muscle growth.”

Weight Loss

Creatine and beta-alanine are helpful during a weight loss phase, thanks to their positive impact on athletic performance.

Creatine can help trainees retain strength while shedding fat and gives the appearance of more defined muscles. 

Beta-alanine can delay fatigue and increase training volumes (sets and reps), allowing trainees to burn slightly more calories per session.

Both effects are beneficial during a cut, allowing trainees to work out harder, create a more potent stimulus, burn extra calories, and maintain muscle mass more effectively.

Timed Trials And Endurance Capacity

Beta-alanine is the superior supplement in this category because it improves athletic performance in the 1-4 minute range.

Research also suggests that beta-alanine supplementation may improve sprinting performance at the end of an exercise bout, possibly improving timed trial performance (e.g., 400m dash).

That said, creatine would be more beneficial if the timed trials lasted less than a minute (e.g., 60m sprint). 

Creatine 101: Mini Guide

Creatine Pros vs Cons

How To Take Creatine

How Long To See Results?

A loading phase leads to quicker muscle saturation and allows you to reap benefits in as little as a week. However, it may take up to 40 days (depending on your daily dose) to see results without a loading phase.


  • Increases strength and power
  • Encourages muscle growth
  • Boosts performance at higher intensities
  • Speeds up ATP regeneration
  • Improves cognition and memory
  • It may support muscle recovery


  • Water retention
  • Potential digestive discomfort (especially if you do a loading phase)
  • Requires daily supplementation

Creatine Recommendation: PeScience True Creatine+

PEScience True Creatine

PeScience True Creatine+ is my favorite creatine supplement because it’s affordable, effective, and well-tolerated. It dissolves readily in liquid and doesn’t change the flavor of your drink. 

One customer wrote:

“This product does not have any taste, so I mix it either in my pre-workout or in my protein shake, and there is no change to the flavor, which is what I wanted.”

The product is also third-party tested, which means another organization has tested it for purity and overall quality, ensuring label accuracy and ruling out the presence of cheap fillers or harmful chemicals.

Beta-Alanine 101: Mini Guide

Beta-Alanine Pros vs Cons

How To Take Beta-Alanine 

  • Dosage: 3.2 to 6.4 grams daily
  • Timing: It doesn’t seem to matter.
  • With meals: Taking it with food may improve absorption, but the difference is likely insignificant.
  • How to mix: Mix the powder with a liquid (water, juice, or even a sports drink) and enjoy. You can also take it as part of a pre-workout supplement formula.

How Long To See Results?

Contrary to popular belief, beta-alanine’s impact is not immediate. Like creatine, it takes time to build up in the body, leading to a noticeable difference. 

According to data, a loading phase (4-6 grams daily) for at least two weeks is necessary to increase carnosine levels enough to experience the benefits. In other words, you need to take beta-alanine consistently for a while to see a performance boost.


  • Increases muscle carnosine levels
  • Delays fatigue and the burning sensation
  • Improves cardiovascular performance
  • Boosts timed trial performance
  • Promotes muscle growth


  • It causes a tingling sensation (paresthesia)
  • It takes time to build up and improve performance (approximately four weeks)
  • Requires daily supplementation

Beta-Alanine Recommendation: Bulk Supplements Beta Alanine

BulkSupplements Beta Alanine 1kg

One of my favorite beta-alanine products is from Bulk Supplements. The product is unflavored and mixes well with liquids, making it easy to consume. Plus, it’s pretty affordable, with a 6-gram dose only costing $0.66.

Here’s what a customer wrote in their 5-star review:

“I was excited about the low price for this product, especially knowing that Bulk Supplements are well-reviewed for quality and purity on ConsumerLabs.”

I prefer purchasing beta-alanine on its own rather than buying it as a pre-workout because it requires daily supplementation, and it’s best not to take pre-workout every day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Creatine and Beta-Alanine Be Taken Together?

Yes, you can take creatine and beta-alanine together because the two compounds work in different ways and deliver complementary benefits. Creatine primarily boosts high-intensity exercise performance, whereas beta-alanine is more geared toward endurance and timed trials.

What Have Studies Shown Regarding The Long-Term Safety and Efficacy of Creatine and Beta-Alanine?

The literature suggests that creatine and beta-alanine are safe for long-term use when taken at the recommended dose. However, it’s always best to consult your doctor if you’re unsure or have a medical condition.

Is There Any Impact On Hydration and Electrolyte Balance When Supplementing With Creatine or Beta-Alanine?

Creatine may impact hydration status to a degree since it promotes water retention in the muscles. Beta-alanine doesn’t seem to have an impact.

Should You Cycle Creatine and Beta-Alanine?

No research suggests you must cycle creatine or beta-alanine for superior benefits or to avoid adverse effects. However, you can take a break from these compounds every few months to save money and put yourself at ease.

Can You Take Creatine and Beta-Alanine If You’re Vegetarian or Vegan?

Yes, vegans and vegetarians can take creatine and beta-alanine. In fact, these supplements may be particularly beneficial on a plant-based diet because both compounds are primarily found in animal products.

Other Creatine Comparisons


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About The Author

Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov is a certified conditioning coach, personal trainer, and fitness instructor. With more than nine years of experience in the industry, he’s helped hundreds of clients improve their nutritional habits, become more consistent with exercise, lose weight in a sustainable way, and build muscle through strength training. He is passionate about writing and has published more than 500 articles on various topics related to healthy nutrition, dieting, calorie and macronutrient tracking, meal planning, fitness and health supplementation, best training practices, and muscle recovery.

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