Critical review of creatine and branched-chain amino acid supplements

Athletes often turn to supplements such as creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to enhance muscle strength and recovery. These supplements may also benefit people with muscular diseases and those recovering from knee surgery. However, tests by ConsumerLab.com show quality problems with 36% of supplements recently selected for review. Three creatine supplements were found to contain unacceptable levels of creatine breakdown compounds, and two of these products provided only tiny amounts of creatine. In addition, the BCAA “blends” in some products were found to consist mainly of compounds other than BCAAs, with only 5% to 10% of listed amounts being BCAAs.

“It can be very difficult for people to know what they are getting from muscle enhancement supplements,” said Tod Cooperman, M.D., ConsumerLab.com‘s President. “It is important to read labels carefully and be skeptical of contents unless verified by a third party,” he added.

In addition to a range in quality, the price of products varied widely. The lowest cost to get the equivalent of 5 grams of high-quality creatine monohydrate from a supplement was 9 cents, and for 5 grams of BCAAs it was 31 cents, while the cost was well over $1 to get these same ingredients from some other products.

The new Product Review of Muscle Enhancement Supplements is available here. Included are findings for eleven supplements selected by ConsumerLab.com and eight supplements that passed ConsumerLab.com‘s voluntary Quality Certification Program . Two products similar to one that passed testing are also identified. Products covered in the report are:

  • Betancourt Nutrition Chewies,
  • BIORhythm AfterGlow,
  • Body Fortress Super Advanced Creatine,
  • BodyTech 100% Pure Creatine Monohydrate,
  • Dymatized Nutrition BCAA Complex 5050,
  • EAS Phos HP,
  • Life Extension Branched Chain Amino Acids,
  • MET-Rx BCAA 2200,
  • MRM BCAA+G,
  • Muscle Marketing USA ATP Creatine Serum,
  • Muscle Marketing USA Endurus Runners Serum,
  • MusclePharm Creatine,
  • Myology BCAA 2200,
  • ON Micronized Creatine Powder,
  • Precision Engineered BCAA 2200,
  • Six Star Pro Nutrition Creatine X3,
  • Solgar BCAA Plus,
  • Ultimate Nutrition 100% Crystalline BCCA,
  • Vitacost ARO Black Series Amino Plus,
  • Vitacost Creatine, and
  • VPX Creatine Plasma.

The report also provides information about the uses, dosage, and potential side effects of creatine and BCAAs and explains differences among forms of these ingredients, such as creatine monohydrate, creatine AKG, dicreatine malate, and KreAlkalyn.

Since 1999, ConsumerLab.com has been a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Membership to ConsumerLab.com is available online, providing immediate access to reviews of more than 1,000 products from over 400 brands. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.

 

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