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Creatine vs Whey Protein
Which One Is Better for Building Muscle?

Creatine Vs Protein Featured Image
Isaac Robertson
Written by Isaac Robertson
Last Updated on

​What’s worse than putting hours and hours into the gym without seeing hardly any results?

It can feel like you’re working out for nothing, and it can be very tempting to give up on all your hard work.

If you feel this way, don’t give up just yet! You may want to consider taking a supplement or two to give you a boost.

Whey protein and creatine are two effective supplements that are both well-known for their muscle building benefits.

But if you had to pick one, which one should you buy?

We look at the pros and cons of each one and finally settle the great debate on who the winner is...

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in your muscle cells. It helps your cells produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) a.k.a. cellular energy.

With more ATP, your body has more energy to perform better and recover quicker.

Your muscles naturally create 1-2 grams of creatine a day. Increasing their creatine intake is a popular method for bodybuilders and weightlifters who are looking to gain more.

creatine vs whey

​​​​1. Benefits of Creatine

male flexing his muscles

Taking creatine supplements (monohydrate) can improve your performance, especially during high-intensity exercises or heavy weightlifting.

When taken over time, it can also increase muscle mass and strength, and aid in muscle recovery post-workout. An added benefit is how cheap creatine is compared to other supplements. [1]

These positive effects were attributed to an increased total creatine pool resulting in more rapid ATP regeneration between resistance training sets, allowing athletes to maintain a higher training intensity and improve the quality of the workouts along the entire training period

Cooper, R.PhD from University of Greenwich

2. Recommended Dosage

If you are looking to gain muscle, the recommended dosage of creatine is 20 grams a day in the first week where it's called the "loading period" and after that, it's 3-5 grams a day for a few weeks.

The loading period prepares your muscles to store more creatine. After the loading period, you decrease your daily dose to a maintenance level.

3. When Should You Take It?

Creatine should be taken before or after your workout for muscle gain.

Some people prefer to take creatine after their workout to aid in the recovery process and help their bodies absorb more important nutrients.

Others take creatine before their workout to prepare for exercise by loading up on ATP. It is up to you to decide which works best for you.

fit woman drinking creatine

​4. Cons of Creatine

man consulting a doctor

There are no long-term safety concerns when taking creatine, although it is recommended that you consult a doctor before taking it if you have a history of liver or kidney issues.

It is also recommended that you should not take this supplement if you are under the age of 18.


When purchasing creatine, make sure you buy creatine monohydrate to avoid taking supplements loaded with unnecessary additives.

As with taking any new supplement, some possible side effects include water retention, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, cramping, and dehydration. [2]

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is one of two proteins that are found in milk and is a byproduct of cheese production.  

Technically, whey is the watery part of milk. It is separated from the other protein—casein—when cheese is being made.

Most commonly taken as a protein powder, it is usually flavored and added into recipes such as smoothies.

whey protein vs creatine

When used as a dietary supplement, protein powders are a great way to add more protein to your diet and potentially improve your sports performance and form.

1. Benefits of Whey Protein

female body builder

Whey protein has been proven to aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, and increase strength and muscle gain. It also increases certain hormones that help in muscle growth, such as insulin. [3]

Unlike other proteins, it is absorbed very fast, making it the best protein to achieve your goals quicker.

Protein itself is an important part of nutrition and health. It is the building block of the human body and the building block for growing muscles.

2. Recommended Dosage

For muscle gain, the recommended dosage of whey protein is 25-50 grams a day, which is about 1-2 scoops of protein powder. It can be added into several recipes to increase your protein intake.

​However, even when taking whey protein supplements, you should still make sure you are still getting protein from other sources, such as meat and dairy products.

3. When Should You Take Whey Protein?

The best time to take whey protein is before, during, or after your workout for muscle gain.

Taking it pre-workout can stimulate muscle growth by creating a positive nitrogen balance in your body. Taking it post workout can aid in muscle repair and recovery by providing them with much-needed nutrients.

4. Cons of Whey Protein

man do not want to drink whey protein

Whey protein is a safe dietary supplement to ingest. However, if you have a liver or kidney issue, consult a doctor before starting to use it. Be aware that it does contain a small amount of lactose.

While it is less than 1% lactose, if you are lactose intolerant or are very sensitive to lactose, you may still feel side effects such as digestive discomfort and abdominal pain. [4]

​You can learn more here:

Can you use creatine and whey protein together?

Both creatine and protein powder are great supplements to take for muscle gain, especially if you take the two together.

​Whey protein helps provide your body with the amino acids it needs to grow and strengthen. Creatine, on the other hand, provides you with extra energy to expend during a workout.

Your body uses the protein to build new muscle and creatine gives you the energy to perform the exercises that do so. Whey protein with creatine creates the perfect match for growing your muscles.

Taking these two supplements together, as well as adding more creatine and protein-rich foods to your diet, such as red meat and fish, will show great results.

Is creatine or whey protein better?

If you’re short on cash and have to choose between the two, you should choose creatine over whey protein.

Even though you can increase your creatine intake by eating foods such as meat or dairy products, you won’t consume anywhere near the recommended maintenance level of 5 grams a day through food alone.

The creatine absorbed from food may be enough for the average person, but if you are looking to build muscle, you will definitely need more.

fit woman holding a bottle of creatine vs whey protein powder

When it comes to protein, most people will meet their protein requirements from their diet, so a supplement is not needed to see muscle gain. You can see fantastic results just by taking creatine alone.


References

1. (2012, May 4). FAQ: Can I consume whey protein if I’m lactose intolerant? [Web log post]. Retrieved December 18, 2018, from wheyproteininstitute.org

2. Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012). Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 33. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33

​3. Atli Arnarson, PhD, 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Whey Protein, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-whey-protein

4. Carly Schuna, Can Lactose Intolerant People Drink Whey Protein Shakes?, retrieved from https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-lactose-intolerant-people-drink-whey-protein-shakes-11706.html

About the author

Isaac Robertson

Isaac Robertson

I’m a personal fitness trainer and nutritionist living in sunny Indianapolis, IN. I’ve spent the last 8 years staying at the forefront of the health and fitness industry. In that time, I’ve helped hundreds of people shed the excess weight and get into shape, maintaining their healthy new lifestyle through proper training and eating habits. You can read more about me here​.

  • Hey, thanks for this explanation. I’ve been torn what to take between creatine or whey protein for muscle building and weight loss. Guess I’ll have to stick with your recommended supplement then.

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