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BCAA vs Creatine: Making the Right Choice

Published : May 24, 2022 7 mins read Updated On : May 21, 2024

If you are an athlete or a fitness enthusiast, training is a crucial part of their routine. You always want to push your limits to gain maximum benefits out of your session. But at some point, your body cannot push any further and you have to put down that dumbbell or weight. This is where many people turn to supplements to enhance their exercise performance by increasing their energy, stamina and reducing their muscle soreness.

Creatine and BCAA are two of the most widely used gym supplements to improve exercise performance, reduce muscle breakdown and improve post-workout recovery. But there is so much confusion around these supplements. You also must be wondering which one is the best for the workout. Well, in this blog we will analyses both the supplements and their benefits for the workout so that you can make the right choice.

BCAA vs Creatine: Making the Right Choice

What are BCAA?

BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids are a combination of three essential amino acids – Valine, Leucine & Isoleucine. These are called essential amino acids as our body cannot produce them and thus, we require to get them from the food we eat or through supplements. Many studies have found that consuming BCAA drink intra-training can help increase fat and mass burning and help reduce muscle soreness and recovery time.

What is Creatine?

Creatine or Creatine Monohydrate is a combination of two amino acids – Arginine & Methionine. However, like BCAAs, these are not as essential as our body can produce them naturally. However, taking creatine supplements has been shown to improve performance, boost energy, increase muscle mass and reduce the risk of injury.

Difference Between BCAA and Creatine

BCAAs are essential amino acids, meaning the body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained through diet or supplementation. The three essential BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. 
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in foods like meat and fish. It is also synthesized by the body from amino acids. 
They are crucial for protein synthesis, which is the process of building and repairing muscle tissue. 
It plays a key role in producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy currency of cells, particularly during short bursts of high-intensity exercise.
BCAAs are often consumed before, during, or after workouts to support muscle growth, reduce muscle soreness, and improve exercise performance. 
Creatine supplementation is popular among athletes and bodybuilders because it can increase muscle phosphocreatine stores, leading to improved performance in activities that require short bursts of intense effort, such as weightlifting or sprinting. 
They can also be used as an energy source during prolonged exercise, helping to delay fatigue. 
In addition to enhancing athletic performance, creatine supplementation may also promote muscle growth, increase strength, and aid in recovery. 

BCAA vs Creatine for Muscle Growth

BCAAs, particularly leucine, are known to stimulate protein synthesis, which is essential for muscle growth and repair. By providing the necessary building blocks for protein synthesis, BCAAs can support muscle growth and recovery, especially when consumed around the time of exercise. BCAAs may be particularly beneficial for individuals engaging in fasted training or low-protein diets, as they provide a readily available source of amino acids (1).

Creatine primarily works by increasing the body's stores of phosphocreatine, which is used to rapidly produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) during short bursts of high-intensity exercise. By allowing individuals to lift heavier weights or perform more reps during resistance training sessions, creatine supplementation can lead to greater muscle stimulation and, ultimately, muscle growth over time. By increasing phosphocreatine stores, creatine supplementation can improve strength, power, and muscle endurance during resistance training (2).

In terms of muscle growth specifically, creatine may have a slight edge over BCAAs due to its ability to enhance strength and performance during resistance training, leading to greater muscle stimulation and adaptation.

BCAA Vs Creatine for Athletic Performance

BCAAs can provide several benefits for athletic performance, particularly in endurance and prolonged exercise. They serve as a source of energy during exercise, helping to preserve glycogen stores and delay fatigue. These supplements can also support muscle preservation during periods of calorie restriction or intense training, which is crucial for athletes aiming to maintain lean muscle mass (3).

Creatine is renowned for its ability to enhance performance in high-intensity, short-duration activities. It increases phosphocreatine stores, leading to improved ATP production and greater power output during explosive movements like sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting. Creatine supplementation has been shown to enhance strength, speed, and muscle endurance, particularly in exercises requiring maximal effort (4).

For endurance athletes: BCAAs may offer more significant benefits due to their ability to support sustained energy levels, delay fatigue, and reduce muscle breakdown during prolonged exercise.

For strength and power athletes: Creatine is often favored for its proven ability to improve performance in explosive, high-intensity activities, leading to gains in strength, power, and muscle mass.

BCAA Vs Creatine for Post-workout Recovery

BCAAs play a crucial role in protein synthesis, which is essential for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue damaged during exercise. BCAAs may also reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle damage, allowing for faster recovery between workouts. Additionally, BCAAs can be rapidly absorbed by the body, making them an ideal option for post-workout supplementation to initiate the muscle repair process quickly (5).

While creatine is not directly involved in the muscle repair process like BCAAs, it can indirectly support post-workout recovery through its performance-enhancing effects. Creatine helps in post-workout recovery by restoring your glycogen levels (6).

In terms of post-workout recovery specifically, BCAAs may have a slight edge due to their direct involvement in muscle protein synthesis and their ability to reduce muscle soreness and damage.

BCAA vs Creatine to Prevent Muscle Breakdown

Consuming BCAAs before or during exercise can provide the muscles with a readily available source of amino acids, reducing the need to break down muscle tissue for energy. BCAAs, particularly leucine, also activate the mTOR signaling pathway, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis and inhibits muscle protein breakdown. By promoting protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown, BCAAs help preserve muscle mass and prevent muscle breakdown during periods of exercise or calorie restriction.

While creatine itself does not directly prevent muscle breakdown, its performance-enhancing effects can indirectly contribute to muscle preservation. By improving strength, power, and exercise capacity, creatine supplementation allows individuals to train at a higher intensity and maintain muscle mass more effectively. Additionally, creatine may help spare muscle glycogen during exercise, reducing the reliance on muscle protein as an energy source and potentially minimizing muscle breakdown.

In terms of preventing muscle breakdown, BCAAs may have a more direct impact due to their role in stimulating protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown during exercise. However, creatine can still support muscle preservation by enhancing performance and reducing reliance on muscle protein for energy.

What is the Best Time to Consume BCAA Supplement

The best time to consume BCAA supplement is during the workout. Taking BCAAs during exercise can help sustain energy levels, reduce muscle fatigue, and minimize muscle breakdown by providing a continuous supply of amino acids to working muscles. Consider sipping on a BCAA drink or supplement throughout your workout, particularly if it lasts longer than an hour.

What is the best Time to Consume Creatine Supplement

Pre-workout without creatine supplement is a bit strange since it is the go to pre-workout supplement for gym goers. Taking creatine before the workout ensures elevated creatine levels during exercise, potentially enhancing performance. While the timing of creatine ingestion isn't as critical as with some other supplements, taking it before your workout can help ensure creatine stores are maximized when you need them most.


While BCAA and creatine both have their benefits, choosing the right supplements depends on your body's need and individual fitness goals. No one comes out as a clear winner in all the aspects. They each have their specific benefits for muscle growth, athletic performance and post-workout recovery. While BCAA is more preferred by cyclists and swimmers, creatine is generally preferred by weightlifters. Hope this blog helped you to understand the difference between the two supplements so that you can make an informed decision. Let us know in the comment section which supplement is your favorite and how it has helped you in your workout.


1. Is BCAA better or creatine?

BCAA and creatine serve different purposes: BCAA supports muscle recovery and reduces fatigue during exercise, while creatine enhances strength and power for short bursts of high-intensity activity. The choice depends on individual goals and training needs.

2. Can I replace creatine with BCAA?

While BCAAs and creatine both offer benefits for exercise, they serve different roles. BCAAs focus on recovery and endurance, while creatine enhances strength and power.

3. Does BCAA increase muscle size?

BCAAs, particularly leucine, support muscle protein synthesis, which can contribute to muscle growth over time when combined with resistance training and adequate nutrition.

Neel Visaria
Neel Visaria
Health and Fitness

Neel is an expert blogger who just loves writing about health and fitness. He makes sure that his blogs are fun to read but also informative. Neel is committed to spread awareness through his blogs... Read More

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