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Why You Should Stack Creatine & Beta-Alanine

Stacking Creatine and Beta-Alanine For Better Results

Average: 4.2 (25 votes)
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The combination of creatine and beta-alanine just may be the best kept secret in bodybuilding. This stack yields muscle gains, improved strength and endurance.

The effectiveness of creatine supplementation is well known. Creatine increases lean muscle mass, boosts strength, and provides you with more energy during intense workouts. Combine the effectiveness of creatine with the fact that it has no side effects, and you have a recipe for a best-selling supplement. It can’t get any better then this, right?

Wrong. New research is revealing a synergistic, beneficial relationship between creatine and the popular bodybuilding supplement beta-alanine. A study by Hoffman, J., et al. (2006)1 revealed that a group of males supplementing with the combination of creatine and beta-alanine gained more lean mass and lost more bodyfat than a group supplementing with only creatine.  It is also noteworthy to mention that this study was performed on collegiate football players, and not on inexperienced lifters.

A second study by Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O'kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke M.(2006)2, analyzed the aerobic benefits of beta-alanine as a stand alone supplement compared to the creatine/beta-alanine combination. 55 subjects participated in the study, and it was revealed that “a significant time effect” was observed for the individuals supplementing with the creatine/beta-alanine combination, in 5 out of the 8 measured parameters. Simply put, researchers noted that creatine used with beta-alanine boosted endurance performance.

Lyle McDonald, author of The Protein Book and The Ketogenic Diet and a renown body recomposition expert, had this to say regarding the combination of beta-alanine and creatine:

Relatively speaking, beta-alanine (an amino acid derivative) is fairly new on the block. As a matter of background, beta-alanine along with the amino acid histidine are used by the body to make a skeletal muscle buffer called carnosine (which is also sold for supplementation). Athletes involved in high intensity activities such as sprinting and bodybuilding have been found to have higher carnosine levels than endurance athletes and carnosine has been suggested to improve performance by helping to buffer acidosis. However, at least in animals, beta-alanine seems to work more effectively at raising tissue carnosine levels. At the very least, it's cheaper and you need less of it.

Two studies came out last year examining the impact of beta-alanine supplementation on human carnosine levels and found an effect, high intensity bicycle performance was also increased. Recently, the idea that stacking creatine with beta-alanine has been suggested. In premise, by buffering acidosis, beta-alanine might allow a lifter to get more reps at a given load; like creatine this would be expected to improve the rate of gains.

It is apparent that beta-alanine works as an effective amplifier for creatine, providing more endurance, strength, fat loss and muscle gain. The next time you cycle creatine, try stacking it with beta-alanine. Both supplements are very inexpensive, and just may well be the best bang for your buck in the entire supplement realm.

Overhead press

The creatine and beta-alanine supplement stack is a must try. It is inexpensive, and potentially the best legal and natural performance aid in the supplement industry.

More About Beta Alanine

Most bodybuilders know quite a bit about creatine. But ask them about beta-alanine, and you’re likely to hear: “Yeah, I’ve heard of that stuff. Never used it, but heard of it.” What is beta-alanine, and what does it do?

Beta-alanine is a natural occurring amino acid that works to improve intramuscular carnosine concentrations. Higher intramuscular carnosine concentrations help to provide you with higher energy levels, and better endurance and athletic performance.

Numerous studies exist that reveal the following benefits of beta-alanine supplementation:

  1. Beta-alanine boosts explosive strength and power.
  2. Beta-alanine increases muscle mass.
  3. Beta-alanine heightens muscular anaerobic endurance.
  4. Beta-alanine increase aerobic endurance.
  5. Beta-alanine assists you in training harder and longer.

A Beta-Alanine and Creatine Cycle

The benefits of beta-alanine supplementation improve the deeper you get into a cycle. Lifters who supplement with 4 to 6 grams of beta-alanine on a daily basis can expect to increase muscle carnosine by up to 60% after only a month. After an additional 35 days of beta-alanine supplementation, it is possible to add up to 20% more muscular carnosine.

Because the benefits of beta-alanine supplementation get better with time, it may be in your best interest to front load beta-alanine for a couple of weeks prior to beginning your creatine cycle. Creatine is generally utilized for 4 to 12 week periods. For longer creatine cycles, it may not be necessary to front load beta-alanine.

Your daily beta-alanine supplementation should involve taking approximately 800 mgs at least 4 times per day. Beta-alanine has a limited half-life in the body, and the effects of supplementation will be dramatically reduced if this protocol is not followed. Consider taking beta-alanine every 4 hours.

It should also be mentioned that the benefits from beta-alanine supplementation are completely gone 3 weeks after you end your cycle. Carnosine levels gradually return back to normal. For this reason, expect a noticeable decrease in performance when you cycle off a creatine and beta-alanine stack.

Also, it is recommended that you supplement with taurine during and after your beta-alanine cycle. Beta-alanine supplementation is known to deplete taurine levels.

Here is a recap on how to maximize the beta-alanine and creatine stack:

  • Frequency. Beta-alanine must be taken every 4 hours with approximately 750 to 800 mgs. Aim for a range of 4 to 6 grams per day.
  • Taurine. Supplement with taurine when using beta-alanine.

There is no research revealing any dangers associated with long term beta-alanine or creatine supplementation. It is generally recommended that you stick with a maximum 12 week cycle for both supplements. Here are some possible beta-alanine/creatine cycle approaches:

CreatineThe 12 Week Cycle

This is an extended cycle for individuals who prefer to stay on creatine as long as possible. Beta-alanine is not front loaded during this cycle. Start both supplements at the same time, and don’t forget to add in taurine supplementation as well.

  • Weeks 1 to 12. Creatine
  • Weeks 1 to 12. Beta-alanine
12 Week Front Loaded Cycle

This cycle will have you front loading beta-alanine for 2 weeks prior to starting your creatine cycle. When you begin taking creatine, you should hit the ground running and feel some impressive benefits.

  • Weeks 1 to 12. Beta-alanine.
  • Weeks 3 to 12. Creatine
8 Week Cycle

This 8 week cycle uses the same approach as the 12 week cycle. There is no front loading of beta-alanine. You will gradually see an increase in benefits, and by the end of the 8 weeks your performance will be peaking.

  • Weeks 1 to 12. Creatine
  • Weeks 1 to 12. Beta-alanine
4 Week Creatine Cycle

For many, creatine supplementation works too well. If you’re like me, you get strong back pumps and prefer to stick with shorter creatine cycles. In this case, I recommend running 4 weeks of beta-alanine prior to running your creatine cycle. This will maximize the benefits of the creatine/beta-alanine stack for the entire 4 week period, heightening muscle growth, and strength and performance gains.

  • Weeks 1 to 8. Beta-alanine
  • Weeks 5 to 8. Creatine

Final Thoughts

A very small percentage of lifters receive little to no benefit from creatine supplementation. I still recommend that these trainees try the creatine/beta-alanine stack. As for everyone else...this supplement stack is a must try. It is inexpensive, and potentially the best legal and natural performance aid in the supplement industry.

Some of the brightest names in the supplement game trumpet the exciting possibilities of the beta-alanine/creatine combination. The stacking of these supplements just may be the most under-hyped, best kept secret in the industry.

References

(1) Hoffman, J., et al. (2008). Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med. In press.

(2) Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O'Kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke M: 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.

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  • About The Author
    Steve is a powerlifter who has also spent 20 years training in bodybuilding. He is a national level competitor training for an all-time over 50 raw world record.
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Comments (84)

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phillip m. bustos
Posted Wed, 06/09/2010 - 11:52

this article is awsome. i am new to working out and have a couple of questions.is this something i could do since i am just starting out? and could i use fat burners and protien with this? thanks

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 06/09/2010 - 14:58

I would try creatine for a month to see how your body reacts first. You can definitely use protein with this stack! As far as fat burners, you can use them with creatine and beta alanine.

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Mark
Posted Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:10

Steve,

I am a 100,200 meter sprinter. My track season starts in early March and runs until are championship meet in early June. My question is from now 10/18/11 to 6/1/12 how should I use and cycle Creatine, Betaalanine so I can peak for my conference championship on 6/1/12.

Thank you
Mark

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aSS-eVoulution1
Posted Mon, 03/17/2014 - 21:18

Don't use fat burners please, it is only hypocrisy, here is the secret to fat loss, eat low glycemic load/index foods + eat no more than 50-70 gram carbs divided along the day + take 3 grams divided of cinnamon powder a day to improve insulin sensitivity + cut 500 calories of your daily needs for 6 days a week, and in the 7th day eat whatever you want (you can call it a cheat day, where you eat additional 1000 calories to cheat on your body, so your leptin hormone levels don't drop) + exercise weight lifting for 3-4 days a week, and on the non-weight lifting days find time to do sprints/intense jump rope.
----
If you want to gain muscle don't apply what I said above, eat like a beast lion if you want to gain muscle, more calories so that your body can create new muscle tissue, water, vitamin C, vegetables, protein, good fats, omega 3, and things like this article, etc... , then when you think it is the time to get ripped apply the above, you may choose not to follow my advise but believe me I'm so educated in these things, and most importantly I'm ripped and shredded, and I'm sure it works.

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lee
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 07:05

it seems kind of pointless to take this supplement, due to the simple fact that 3 weeks after you cycle off it you lose that muscles mass. so in order for me to maintain i have to keep cycling on and off this? correct?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 09:40

It's not pointless at all. I generally keep the strength gains I receive from creatine. And training with more strength encourages the body to add new muscle mass.

It's quite the opposite of pointless.

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Alex
Posted Fri, 04/22/2011 - 14:35

Hi,

it is not muscle mass that wears off after 3 weeks, its is effects that alanin/crea stack gives you, more endurance, stamina etc.

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Victor
Posted Thu, 12/20/2012 - 17:11

You dont have to keep cycling off the product......you can take creatine and then stop taking it and you wont lose your results, unless your body is very dependent on creatine. For example if you take alot of creatine, like 2 times a day or every day a week your body will get used to it. You have to watch how much you take and when you take it. It also isnt going to work if you dont drink water. You have to drink plenty of water for this to work

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mnsjason's picture
mnsjason
Posted Thu, 12/20/2012 - 17:20

Creatine is certainly not a product that you would need to cycle out of your supplement stack, however I just wanted to point out that your body stores creatine in skeletal muscle tissue, and there is a limit to how much it can store. It's recommended that creatine be taken daily to maintain this level, and it's perfectly safe to do so. Also, creatine isn't a substance that your body builds a tolerance to, or for that matter, a dependency. You may notice a decrease in performance if you stop taking creatine, but this isn't due to any dependency issue. Creatine simply ensures that during a workout, ATP production is maximized by providing the necessary phosphates. You would not lose the gains you've made if you were to stop taking creatine. You are dead on about drinking plenty of water.

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aSS-eVoulution1
Posted Mon, 03/17/2014 - 21:24

When taking such a thing, you will have what is called a water retention inside of your skeletal muscles so your it appears fuller/a little bigger, but when you cycle off as you call it, this water goes away so you think you have lost mass but it is not true, your muscle will be defined better, this supplement work is to give you more reps which mean more gains, and water retention doesn't have to do with the muscle tissue.

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Ryan
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 08:02

Can you take beta-alanine with any kind of fruit juice or is it like creatine where only certain kinds like grape juice? And could I mix both of them into one drink?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 10:00

Hi Ryan,

as far as I know there are no issues with taking beta alanine with juice or any other liquid. You could take it in grape juice with creatine, or by itself. Or you could take it with a whey shake.

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chris
Posted Sun, 07/11/2010 - 09:57

Steve, I'm going to try this out, but don't know much about taurine. How much taurine should one supplement/day, and also I know taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks, does it make you restless, should it be taken in the morning etc.?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Mon, 07/12/2010 - 09:32

Hi Chris,

I would recommend 3 to 5 grams a day. I think 3 would be fine, but taurine is relatively inexpensive, so you could run 5 grams per day without it costing an arm or a leg. I would simply take taurine with every whole foods meal.

Taurine itself doesn't make you restless. Studies have shown that taurine in combination with caffeine improves mental focus.

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Don
Posted Wed, 08/11/2010 - 19:36

Hi I was reading this article - thanks heaps.

Random question - whats this about some juices not working with creatine? I take it with water or with Just Juice. Could you tell me if its designed to work better with specific juices?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 08/12/2010 - 11:15

Hi Don,

You can increase the uptake of creatine by creating an insulin spike. Insulin is an extremely anabolic hormone and can transport nutrients throughout the body quickly and effectively. The easiest way to create an insulin spike is by using creatine products that are mixed with simple carbohydrates like Nutrex Volu-Gro and Gaspari SizeOn. Or, another method is mixing your creatine monohydrate supplement with dextrose. You need to take about 70g of destrose to get a good insulin spike. You can also take it with something like grape juice.

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Ross
Posted Tue, 03/22/2011 - 14:47

I read the combination of protein (40g) & dextrose (40g) actually yields a better insulin spike than dextrose in higher amounts alone. Not only are you saving yourself the damage of taking in an extra 30g of sugar, you are also getting in some mass building protein.

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Eamon
Posted Thu, 08/19/2010 - 13:07

Hi ther, just wondering do u know of any ready made creatine b-alanine product rather than taking the two separate?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 08/20/2010 - 10:35

Hi Eamon,

There aren't any that I know of that contain the correct amount of creatine, beta-alanine and taurine.

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Darius
Posted Wed, 09/01/2010 - 10:25

HI...

I am going to test this awesome stack, Creatine and Beta-alanine!

Is it needed to load creatine(20g per day) when it stacked with Beta-alanine ?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 09/01/2010 - 15:12

Hi Darius,

You don't have to load creatine. I'm running this stack right now myself and didn't load. I jumped straight to 10 grams of creatine per day.

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Andy
Posted Fri, 09/10/2010 - 19:48

Hey...
i am a college 400m runner and i have used creatine in the past and have gotten great gains through it...being a longer sprinter and researching i came across beta-alanine and found it would help with my training...i was wondering that i am not a body builder and if i was going to stack both of them would i need a lower amount a day? plus i just started my fall training im lifting 3 times a week and running 5 days a week.

Thanks

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 09/15/2010 - 13:31

Hi Andy,

You could try using it in a smaller amount. I would make sure to take some every 4 hours. The capsules I use are 750 mgs, so you may need to get powder to take a smaller dosage. The powder can be a bit bitter, so if you have a choice, I recommend the capsules.

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joe
Posted Sun, 09/26/2010 - 12:19

Hi, thanks for the post, very interesting. Could you tell me what form is better? the capsule or powder form?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 10:25

Hi Joe,

I like powder creatine and capsule beta-alanine. BA is very bitter, and powder doesn't taste the best. Creatine powder is generally more cost effective, but if you find pills that are reasonable priced, it's ok to use them. With creatine it doesn't matter much.

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Bruce
Posted Wed, 09/29/2010 - 06:04

I was wondering if you could help me out here,i use Con-Cret creatine they say you don't have to load up on it like other creatines and you don't have to cycle off, so my question is how long can i stay on it without harming myself.I've been on it for roughly 3-4 months now until someone told me 6 weeks max,but at popeyes thet said you can stay on as long as you like.Can you let me know who is right Thanks.I don't get no side effects and i feel and look good when on it. Bruce

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 10/06/2010 - 09:57

Hi Bruce,

Creatine is a safe supplement, and you can use it for extended periods of time. Many lifters choose to use creatine for 2-4 months at a time, and then to give their body a slight break for a month or two.

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Wade
Posted Mon, 10/11/2010 - 11:41

Quick question, do I still take my pre-wo N.O. with this stack or just the stack before and after wo and forget the N.O.?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Mon, 10/11/2010 - 12:47

Hi Wade,

You can continue to use NO.

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Runningback
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 12:50

How should college football players more so the runningbacks use this? I use only Force Factor right now but after reading the article in Men's health would like to start this. What are the best brands and if in pill forms let me know.

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 15:25

Hi AB,

Make sure you drink plenty while suing this stack, especially before and during practice. I recommend the follow supps for a good mix of price and quality:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/store/dymatize-creatine-monohydrate.html

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/store/now-beta-alanine-caps.html

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/store/allmax-taurine.html

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Coach C
Posted Tue, 11/09/2010 - 09:55

One more question, I bought these products and will have the players cycle on for 12 weeks at a time. I read that when you come off, there will be a noticeable decrease in performance so what should be taken during the periods of cycling off.

This is for the football players.

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:42

Hi Coach,

There isn't really an equivalent replacement for creatine. Best to cycle off when you aren't relying as heavily on performance.

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matt
Posted Sun, 01/09/2011 - 22:33

I have a question in regards to supplements. In the supplement guide it describes the creatine bata-alanine stack and how it must be cycled. My question is how long should the off cycle be and also if any of the other supplements listed above in the supplement guide need to be cycled.

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:31

Hi Matt,

You could stay off this stack as little as 4 weeks, and probably no longer than 6-8 weeks.

In general most supplements don't need to be cycled, the exception being products like testosterone and growth hormone boosters.

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vish
Posted Mon, 01/10/2011 - 19:06

ive never taken creatine or beta alanine. im thinking of doing the 12 week cycle..what do you think? also do i need to load on the creatine and/or beta beta alanine?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:27

Hi Vish,

Creatine is hands down the best muscle and strength building supplement on the market. It's also fairly cost effective. I would give it a try at least once.

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vish
Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:51

Do you think I should try creatine for a month or so, possibly give it a week break then do a cycle with creatine and beta alanine? if not how would you suggest I go about it? Thanks

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 12:04

Hi Vish,

It's not a bad idea to use creatine for a month first, then take a break for a month, and if you like it running a big cycle as detailed in this article.

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robert
Posted Wed, 03/02/2011 - 22:17

Steve,

I just bought creatine and beta alanine to start my 12 week cycle. I bought 500 mgs of taurine, should I take one every time I take a beta alanine?

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Harry
Posted Tue, 04/05/2011 - 09:34

I started the combi Creatine, Beta Alanine and Taurine 3 weeks ago and it seems to work. INstead of normal Creatine Monohydrate i use the potent Kre Alkalyn. I also use Whey proteine with it.
Even i am only using it 3 weeks now i already gained around 10% strenght in most exercises, much more then in previous cycles where i only used Creatine with Whey.

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arthur
Posted Thu, 07/07/2011 - 13:07

While there is certainly potential for problems when taking these two together beta alanine & taurine(they share the same transporter into tissues), how can i take them at the same time?

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xlarge18
Posted Fri, 09/02/2011 - 09:00

would this be correct for an 8 week cycle of creatine, beta Alk and taurine?

1-4 weeks

Beta Alk 750mgs dose every 4 hours ie. 1 cap of now beta pill.
taurine 3g dose WITH Beta Alk every 4 hours

5-8 weeks

same as above but add 10g dose of dyamatize creatine mono once a day.

after 8 weeks end creatine and beta Alk for at least 4 weeks but continue to take one dose of taurine 4 times daily for weeks 9-11.

CORRECT?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:29

Hi XL,

That looks good. It appears that a solid range of beta-alanine to be within is 4-6 grams per day, so I would try to come lose to the 4 gram mark. I suggest 3/4 grams with every protein feeding if you want to keep things real simple.

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Manuel
Posted Thu, 10/06/2011 - 06:45

What do you thin of this stack: mono, beta alanine, arganine, and maltodextrin ? Post would be protein shake, mono, what else?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 10/06/2011 - 16:38

That looks good Manuel. i would suggest adding a multivitamin and fish oil at some point during the day.

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Rugby
Posted Mon, 10/17/2011 - 21:22

Hi Steve,

When taking 800 mg 4 times per day, must I take creatine with it every time? If so, how much? Take taurine separately? During the 12 week cycle is it necessary to supplement on rest days?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 10/18/2011 - 13:33

No you don't need to take creatine with the beta-alanine. Taurine you can take when convenient. I tend to put some into my protein shakes. It mixes rather well.

You will need to run this stack on off training days.

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Mark
Posted Wed, 11/02/2011 - 16:14

Hey Steve,
I've been reading about this stuff all morning/some afternoon, but still can't get a straight answer on a few things.

1) When you take take the creatine/BA stack and you're off the cycle, do you stop taking both creatine and BA or just Creatine? My understanding was the BA just causes a build up of carnosine over time. So not sure why you would need to cycle off of it?

2) How does a preworkout supplement like Jack3d play into all this? I've been using that for awhile, and after some research, found that it had pretty much everything that's been discussed above (BA, creatine, L-arginine, and some other stuff).

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 11/03/2011 - 20:41

1) In general there is no urgent need to cycle beta alanine. I mainly recommend cycling off both to save a bit of money when off creatine. Many pre-workout formulas have beta alanine in them and it's not uncommon for trainees to use it year round.

2) Jacked has about 3 grams of creatine. If using Jack3d I would still recommend about 5 grams of creatine post-workout, and creatine on off training days. Also, the beta-alanine in jack3d is minimal. As mentioned in the article, it's best to take in beta alanine several times per day at regular intervals. So jack3d helps some, but is not a complete creatine/beta-alanine supplement in and of itself.

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