Creatine + beta-alanine may boost physical & cognitive performance in military personnel: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© designer491 / Getty Images
© designer491 / Getty Images

Related tags Creatine Cognitive function Sports nutrition beta-alanine Military

One week of creatine supplementation at the end of a four week beta-alanine supplementation protocol may boost physical and cognitive performance compared to beta-alanine alone.

Data published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health​ indicated that adding the creatine loading week to the beta-alanine (BA) supplementation led to significantly greater performance on vertical jumps, a measure of leg power.

Mathematical processing tests also scored higher in the combination group, reported scientists from Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences (Iran), Brandon University (Canada), and Acadia University (Canada).

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study examining the effects of one week of creatine loading in conjunction with four weeks of BA supplementation on physical and cognitive performance in military personnel,”​ they wrote.

“Considering that the amount of physical and cognitive stress on army forces while maintaining health and performance is crucial, it would be deemed necessary to utilize effective nutritional strategies and dietary supplements to support their overall health and well-being as well as minimizing likelihood of injuries in any form.”

An interesting and practical study question

Commenting independently on the study’s findings, Chad Kerksick, PhD, Assistant Dean, Research & Innovation and Director of the Exercise and Performance Nutrition Laboratory at Lindenwood University, told us the study focused on an interesting and practical question as both beta-alanine and creatine are useful supplements for military personnel.

“The supplementation regimen also offers key insight into how different competitive athletes may want to co-ingest both supplements,”​ said Dr Kerksick, “but one should not look past the importance of the lack of placebo group. It's a key issue as it undermines our ability to understand how much beta-alanine may be exerting an impact.”

Dr Kerksick also noted that one could make argument that results observed in the vertical jump were solely due to creatine.

“Most studies seem to indicate that for 6.4 grams per day of beta-alanine four weeks is needed to see any ergogenic outcomes,” ​he said. “Especially since there isn’t a placebo group, we don’t know if the results could be entirely due to creatine.”

Because of this, Dr Kerksick said the results should be viewed as preliminary, especially since both supplementation regimens were on the very minimum of what has been shown to be efficacious for each nutrient.

Study details

The researchers recruited 20 young male soldiers to participate in their study. The men were all assigned to four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation (6.4 grams per day), with half of the men randomly picked to also received creatine for the final week at a dose of 0.3 grams per kg of body weight per day. The other half received a placebo in addition to the beta-alanine, so not a true placebo control for the whole study.

The data indicated that the creatine plus beta-alanine group displayed a significant improvement in both physical performance and mathematical processing compared to baseline, while there were no changes from baseline for the beta-alanine-only group.

The researchers also reported that the combination group also had significantly higher levels of resting testosterone compared to beta-alanine alone.

On the other hand, no significant differences between the groups were observed in sprint tests, peak power, fatigue index, or results from the chest press and leg press.

The researchers called for, “further well-controlled studies are required to confirm these findings and to assess other cognitive domains.”

Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
2022, 19​(13), 7992; doi: 10.3390/ijerph19137992
“Effects of Four Weeks of Beta-Alanine Supplementation Combined with One Week of Creatine Loading on Physical and Cognitive Performance in Military Personnel”
Authors: M. Samadi et al.


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