Betaine HCL and Creatine: An all-powerful combination?
Betaine HCL has hit the news recently as a powerful digestive aid and muscle builder, but why? Well, there are two types of betaine and both have been shown to help improve your health. Betaine is available as both betaine hydrochloride (betaine HCL) and as betaine anhydrous, also known as trimethylglycine (TMG). Both are forms of betaine, but betaine HCL should not be taken on an empty stomach because of the HCL attachment. However, when taken with meals, betaine HCL is able to perform its full function with you feeling perfectly fine. Betaine HCL is a powerful digestive aid, donating hydrochloric acid to the stomach to help break down proteins and meals. Betaine anhydrous is derived from choline and has been shown to lower homocysteine levels, which in turn enhances creatine uptake in the muscles. Here is a full list of benefits observed from betaine supplementation:
- Oxidation of fatty acids (lipolysis, aka fat loss)
- Increases SAM-e levels in the brain
- Improves intestinal health
- Protects liver and kidneys
- Helps Prevent osteoporosis, cardiovascular thrombosis and arthroscleroris
Multiple studies have also linked betaine to enhanced power output in athletes, mostly in terms of anaerobic strength performance. These athletes saw increases in their squat, bench press and bike pedaling power when supplementing with betaine. Because of these positive studies, many companies have started throwing betaine in their protein powders and creatine mixes.
Betaine is also highly synergistic when taken with creatine. By preventing the production of homocysteine, betaine leads to a higher production of creatine in the body as well as a higher absorption and utilization rate of supplemental creatine because more of it can be used without being broken down. Betaine is being thrown in virtually every creatine and protein product now because of this reason. Betaine also propels the repair of joints and even liver tissue, supporting improved recovery. New research supports that betaine can directly enhance muscle power and strength. The betaine HCL can be taken with meals and betaine anhydrous can be taken with sports supplements or with creatine without risk of an upset stomach.
Many users supplementing with both betaine and creatine enriched products have been complaining about their muscle getting bigger and stronger. Well, not exactly complaining, but definitely bragging. There’s a good chance the creatine being added to these products is better absorbed in the betaine enriched products because of betaine’s effects on homocysteine levels. We suggest picking up a few betaine supplements and combining them with creatine monohydrate, like BodyStrong Creatine Monohydrate. That way you can effectively have the best of both worlds: the great gains experienced from combining betaine and creatine, and saving some money by avoiding the high markups on betaine enriched creatine/protein products.
Different Betaine HCL supplements
If you’re new to buying betaine, here are some of our favorite betaine recommendations based on price, quality, popularity and brand reputation:
- Country Life Betaine HCL: Contains betaine, pepsin, papain and bromelain, but not quite as concentrated in pure betaine compared to the others.
- Now Betaine HCL with pepsin: Same potency and quality as the Body First brand, but a little more expensive. Most end up choosing the Body First Betaine.
- Twinlab Betaine HCL: A stronger version of the Natrol Betaine HCL, but not quite as concentrated as the Body First and Now brands.
- Now TMG (Betaine Anhydrous): A chemically different form of betaine anhydrous that doesn’t have the hydrochloric acid base attachment, so it can be taken outside the scope of a meal without having to worry about indigestion.
- Jarrow TMG Crystals: Pure betaine anhydrous extracted from sugar beets in a crystalline form.
- Jarrow TMG Capsules: Same betaine anhydrous as described above, except in capsule form.
**Winner- Betaine HCL: Now Betaine HCL with pepsin
**Winner- Betaine Anhydrous (TMG): Now TMG (Betaine Anhydrous)
The ultimate betaine supplement combos
- Betain + Whey Protein + Creatine: The betaine helps your body better break down and absorb the protein and of course pairs well with creatine.
- Betaine + Creatine + BCAAs + Citrulline + Glutamine: This is a great intra-workout drink to help with muscle energy, recovery and growth. Highly recommended, well studied, and praised highly by all who try it and enjoy its gains.
- Scivation Xtend BCAAs + Betaine + Creatine: Scivation Xtend BCAAS is a combination of BCAAs, citrulline and glutamine with electrolytes. Adding a bit of betaine anhydrous and a 5 gram scoop of creatine can really spice this blend up and take it to the next level.
- Betaine + Creatine + Digestive Enzymes: This is the perfect combo to take with a meal. The betaine and digestive enzymes help your body break down meals and utilize nutrients. The creatine is better absorbed because of the insulin spike from the meal and the betaine.
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