26 April 2018

Creatine vs BCAAs – the lowdown on why they work, and which one we think is best

We break down two power powders to help you choose which one suits you best.

Add power to your training plan by finding the most effective teammate for your standard whey shake.

Creatine reduces your optimal rest periods by 120 seconds, which means you can lift heavy on a HIIT schedule, while BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are shown to add 12% to your life expectancy.

But which scoops up the crown?

Lab talk


Combined with weight training, creatine slows the loss of bone mass as you age and could ease the effects of osteoarthritis. – University of Saskatchewan


A hefty dose of BCAAs pre- and post-workout means you'll hold onto more muscle mass when on a kilojoule-restricted plan. – The International Society of Sports Nutrition

Read more: The 20 pieces of equipment you need in your home gym

Myth buster


Ignore the scare stories – researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, found that creatine and protein supplementation isn’t actually harmful to your kidneys.


Numerous studies have found that BCAAs help prevent muscle break-down and post-gym soreness, but there’s little evidence they garner major increases in muscle mass.

Best match

Creatine is best for the...

Sprinter, boxer and powerlifter

While BCAAs are more suitable for the...

Bodybuilder, rower and crossfitter

Coach's call


“Unlike BCAAs, taking a creatine supplement before explosive training helps provides the rapid energy needed during muscle contraction." – Dalton Wong, TwentyTwo Training


“BCAAs have much the same benefits as a whey shake with only a third of the calories. They also contain leucine, supporting muscle repair.” – Alex Mateus,

Read more: Four ways to build the ultimate protein bowl that you can throw in your bag and take wherever you go

The MH verdict

Creatine wins! Unless you’re sticking to a kilojoule deficit, BCAAs bring little benefit beyond that found on a balanced plate of food. Creatine’s proven performance-enhancing boost to strength, muscle mass and recovery makes it the smartest step-up in supplementation.

But what do you think?

According to a recent Twitter poll, 71% of you pick creatine.

This article was originally published on

Image credit: iStock


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