by Anthony Roberts
Betaine is derived from beets, a nitrate-rich food that has been shown to improve exercise performance. Creatine is perhaps the world’s most exhaustively studied nutritional supplement, and boasts unparalleled safety and efficacy. Betaine is well known to be a methyl donor to guanidinoacetate (through methionine) that can aid in the synthesis of creatine in muscle. Combining betaine & creatine in a nutritional supplement would appear to be a no-brainer. We often hope for synergy between ingredients (1 + 1 = 3), but often we’ll settle for an additive effect (1 + 1 = 2).
Unfortunately, when we add betaine to creatine, what we get is the same exact results as the creatine alone. That’s right…when you combine creatine plus a nitrate source, you don’t get better results than simply taking the creatine alone. Even more interesting is the fact that this study, one of the few on Betaine supplementation that wasn’t funded by someone selling it, shows that the dietary nitrate doesn’t do anything on it’s own (paradoxically, another study on Betaine, which was previously thought to increase Nitric Oxide levels, actually didn’t).
Here’s the Creatine + Betaine study: