Creatine and Beta-Alanine

You've probably heard of creatine - a common workout supplement - and it's possible you've heard of beta-alanine as well.

However, have you ever thought of what they could do together? In this article, we'll look at the history of using creatine, and the research behind pairing creatine and beta-alanine together.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is an organic compound found in your muscles. Your body produces about half of what you need in your liver and kidneys, and the other half comes from diet – things like milk, red meat and seafood are some sources.

Creatine supplies energy to muscles for movement and contraction, so those interested in improved performance might choose to add more to their diet through a supplement.

How Does Creatine Work?

Everybody talks about creatine ... but what exactly does it do? Well, creatine can actually do quite a bit for your overall performance. For one, creatine can help help your body more quickly cycle a form of energy called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

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This is an energy source your body can utilize in quick bursts for explosive movements and producing maximal effort in training. If you were to go attempt a new personal record for your deadlift ... Your body would utilize ATP to generate the power it needs.

The problem is, these ATP stores only last a few seconds, which is where creatine comes into play. One way that the supply of ATP can be regenerated is through a molecule called phosphocreatine. This phosphocreatine is donated from creatine to ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) in order to produce more ATP.

For this reason alone, creatine is super popular amongst athletes for improving strength, power, and overall athletic performance.

On top of these benefits though, creatine can also help keep muscle cells healthier and more hydrated. Some studies have even found that creatine may have some benefits for certain aspects of cognitive function (1)!

What Is Beta-Alanine?

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that your body uses to help produce carnosine. Carnosine is stored in your muscles and helps buffer acid accumulation during exercise.

You may be thinking, "What's the big deal?" Well, this can actually be very helpful for your performance and endurance.

How Does Beta-Alanine Work?

When you work out and your muscles begin to fatigue, this fatigue is the result of muscular acidosis. In order for your body to help buffer this acid accumulation, carnosine is required. This is where beta-alanine can make a difference!

Since beta-alanine can help the body produce more carnosine, beta-alanine can help delay muscle fatigue and improve endurance. This is why you'll find beta-alanine in a majority of pre-workouts on the market: it can be a game-changer!

Now, if you're curious about how creatine and beta-alanine team up, keep reading.

The History of Creatine

The introduction of creatine in the early 1990’s provided what many people feel was the first ingredient with legitimate evidence, which fueled the exploration of the “next creatine”. A number of alternative forms of creatine have been introduced, often with a higher price tag, but lacking in conclusive evidence that provides justification for these added costs (2).

Unfortunately too, the path to the top has resulted in the introduction of a number of ingredients with questionable efficacy, and as a result the list of foundational ingredients seemingly gets smaller and smaller. Creatine was different not only because it worked but because of how it worked. By enhancing the body’s ability to reproduce energy, a number of beneficial outcomes have been realized.

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Creatine operates as a buffer inside muscle cells which results in greater rates of energy production. The rest is history whereby supplementation with creatine consistently increases various parameters of sports performance (2, 3).

This function led scientists to investigate other buffers inside muscle cells which may also aid in improving the cell’s ability to resist fatigue. With a greater ability to resist fatigue, outcomes such as improved sports performance and management of various diseases may be realized.

Scientists determined that carnosine also functions as an extremely powerful buffer in muscle cells (4, 5), and if muscle carnosine levels could be increased so too might the cell’s ability to resist fatigue. Interestingly, supplementing the diet with carnosine is not effective because it can’t be absorbed into the blood (which means it can’t be transported to muscle tissue) (6).

Thus, carnosine levels do not increase inside muscle, which means its ability to function as a buffer also won’t be impacted. Supplementing the diet with beta-alanine, one of the compounds which the body needs to produce carnosine, increases carnosine levels in muscle (5). And these increased levels have been consistently shown to increase various aspects of sports performance (7).

Creatine and Beta-Alanine: The Research

While functioning in a similar manner, the pathways associated with beta-alanine and creatine are distinctly different, which begs the question, “What would happen if I combine creatine and beta-alanine together?” Would the same effects be realized as seen when taking either creatine or beta-alanine? Or ... would they work together and result in even greater performance?

A limited number of published studies and articles have addressed these questions. Two of these published reports were well-designed studies which used college-aged men as participants. In both studies, the participants ingested in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled manner either placebo, creatine, beta-alanine or creatine + beta-alanine for 28 days. These studies did not employ any form of exercise training so a maximal exercise test was completed before and after supplementation and a number of performance measures were assessed.

In one study (8), physical working capacity increased to a greater extent when beta-alanine and beta-alanine + creatine were ingested in comparison to the changes seen when placebo was ingested. The other study (9) attempted to measure a series of aerobic exercise parameters (time to exhaustion, lactate threshold, aerobic power, etc.) and did not report any consistent benefit impact for any of the supplement combinations.

Overall these studies were not overwhelmingly supportive of the combination of creatine and beta-alanine together, but the fact no exercise training was employed and the type of assessment performed (which some may consider to be more aerobic in nature) might explain the lack of beneficial results. Regardless, these studies were some of the first completed and a series of additional studies are needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Around the same time, another study was completed which used collegiate football players as research subjects. In this 10 week study, and in a double-blind manner, the athletes were placed into one of three groups: placebo, creatine or creatine + beta-alanine, where they ingested their assigned supplement each day for the duration of the study (10).

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This is an excellent study to discuss because it used a four day/week, whole body heavy resistance training program which was intended to build strength and muscle mass. Before and after the ten week exercise and supplementation period, the athletes were assessed for changes in strength, body composition, power production and hormonal changes.

When the creatine + beta-alanine combination was ingested, significantly greater improvements in percent body fat and lean mass were found when compared to the other supplementation groups. In addition to these favorable changes, upper and lower-body strength changes were greater when either creatine or creatine + beta-alanine was ingested when compared to the changes seen when placebo was ingested.

Finally, the total training volume performed for both upper and lower-body exercises was greater when creatine + beta-alanine was ingested when compared to the other two groups. This last finding, in addition to the more favorable improvements in body composition, suggests that creatine + beta-alanine may favorably improve the quality of workouts.

A number of studies need to be conducted yet to fully realize the potential impact of combining beta-alanine and creatine together, but the available research involving resistance training athletes is promising. In the only published study devoted to the topic, greater improvements in body composition, training volume and strength improvements were realized when the two supplements were combined.

Future research will certainly determine the final details regarding their use, but at the current time, resistance training athletes may be able to combine the two and experience heightened and greater adaptations to their training.

Get The Right Supplements With 1st Phorm

Looking to find the right creatine and beta-alanine supplements to start your fitness journey? 1st Phorm has you covered.

When it comes to creatine, the most researched and effective form is creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate also happens to be the most pure and affordable form of creatine too! That's why we offer a pure Micronized Creatine Monohydrate powder at 1st Phorm. It is an easy-to-mix powder that comes unflavored and is perfect to throw in your pre-workout, post-workout shake, or even just your favorite glass of fruit juice.

While we do not offer beta-alanine as a standalone product, we do offer a few incredible pre and intra-workout blends that offer a full serving of beta-alanine!

For an extra boost in energy, endurance, focus, and blood flow, try Project-1! This loaded pre-workout is designed to take your workouts and performance to the next level.

Or, if you're not looking for a product with caffeine, we also have Endura-Formance. Endura-Formance is a non-stimulant pre-workout that actually combines creatine, beta-alanine, and several other ingredients to improve overall performance. If you like working out at night, or just aren't a big fan of caffeine or stimulants, endura-formance is definitely worth a try!

Now, are creatine and beta-alanine going to help you see jaw-dropping results? The truth is, it depends, just like it does with any other supplement you take or plan to take. I say this because supplements alone aren't going to make or break the results you see.

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If you're pursuing any specific health or fitness goals, your nutrition and exercise routine as a whole is going to have the biggest impact. After all, supplements are literally just there to supplement the nutrients you aren't getting from your nutrition! So, if you're struggling to see the results you truly want ... just know that we're here to help.

In fact, that's why we created the all-in-one tool for your health and fitness: The 1st Phorm App. Inside the app, you'll get access to:

• Custom macros and nutrition planning
• Workout programs catered to your goals
• 1-on-1 assistance from your own advisor
• Education videos and live streams
• Food logging and tracking
• Body metrics and progress tracking

…and so much more!

We also have a team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches who are here to point you in the right direction for FREE. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at anytime!


(1) Avgerinos KI, Spyrou N, Bougioukas KI, Kapogiannis D. Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Exp Gerontol. 2018 Jul 15;108:166-173. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2018.04.013. Epub 2018 Apr 25. PMID: 29704637; PMCID: PMC6093191.

(2) Buford, T. W., R. B. Kreider, et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr (2007) 4: 6.

(3) Kreider, R. B. “Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations.” Mol Cell Biochem (2003) 244(1-2): 89-94.

(4) Abe, H. “Role of histidine-related compounds as intracellular proton buffering constituents in vertebrate muscle.” Biochemistry (Mosc) (2000) 65(7): 757-765.

(5) Harris, R. C., M. J. Tallon, et al. “The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis.” Amino Acids (2006) 30(3): 279-289.

(6) Bauer, K. and M. Schulz. “Biosynthesis of carnosine and related peptides by skeletal muscle cells in primary culture.” Eur J Biochem (1994) 219(1-2): 43-47.

(7) Artioli, G. G., B. Gualano, et al. “Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance.” Med Sci Sports Exerc (2010) 42(6): 1162-1173.

(8) Stout, J. R., J. T. Cramer, et al. “Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women.” Amino Acids (2007) 32(3): 381-386.

(9) Zoeller, R. F., J. R. Stout, et al. “Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion.” Amino Acids (2007) 33(3): 505-510.

(10) Hoffman, J., N. Ratamess, et al. “Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab (2006) 16(4): 430-446.