Creatine vs Whey Protein: Which One Should You Buy?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 29, 2024
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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...

Quick Summary

  • To enhance muscle building and recovery, consider supplementing with creatine for increased ATP production or whey protein for rapid protein synthesis.
  • Creatine is a cost-effective supplement that can increase muscle mass and strength over time, with a recommended loading dosage of 20 grams per day initially.
  • The National Institute of Health states that prolonged use of creatine can lead to enhanced muscle mass and strength, as well as improved recovery after workouts.
  • Personally, I find creatine to be an indispensable part of my fitness regimen for its affordability and significant impact on my workout intensity and recovery.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance 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 power to exercise 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.

1. Benefits of Creatine

muscle growth

From my own experience, I've found that adding creatine supplements (monohydrate) to my routine has given me a noticeable boost, especially during my high-intensity circuit training and heavy deadlift sessions.

According to the National Institute of Health, 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

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.

It's important to change the amount of creatine you take daily, so your body won't get used to it and will continue to be effective for use.

3. When Should You Take It?

fit woman drinking creatine

You should take creatine 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.

Here is an in-depth guide on the best time to take creatine.

4. Cons of Creatine

consulting a doctor about trt

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 accoding to HealthLine include water retention, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, cramping, and dehydration [2].

What Is Whey Protein?

whey protein

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

Whey protein has been a staple in my diet ever since I started focusing on building muscle. It's fascinating to know that this powerful supplement starts its journey as the watery part of milk during cheese production. I've always preferred it over casein because it feels lighter on my stomach and I can drink it right after my workouts without feeling bloated.

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

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

According to a research by HealthLine, 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.

In my quest for muscle gain, I've been sticking to the sweet spot of 1-2 scoops of whey protein daily, which is about 25-50 grams. It's easy to remember and even easier to add to my post-workout shakes or morning oatmeal. This simple habit has been a game-changer for my recovery and growth.

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?

You should take whey protein before, during, or after your workout. 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.

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4. Cons of Whey Protein

man do not want to drinkl 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, according to a study by WeekAnd, 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:


Bioavailability and Absorption Rates

The body absorbs creatine and whey protein differently, and there are methods to enhance their bioavailability.


Creatine is primarily absorbed in the small intestine. When consumed, it's converted to creatine phosphate, which is stored in muscles for energy production during short bursts of intense activity.

To improve creatine's bioavailability, it's often recommended to consume it with a source of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein.

This combination triggers insulin release, promoting creatine uptake by muscle cells. Some advanced forms of creatine, like creatine monohydrate with micronized particles, can enhance absorption due to their increased surface area.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is rapidly absorbed due to its high-quality amino acid profile. It's absorbed in the stomach and small intestine.

To improve its bioavailability, it's advisable to consume whey protein in liquid form, as it's absorbed more quickly than solid foods.

Additionally, taking whey protein with other nutrients like carbohydrates can promote a more balanced and efficient amino acid delivery to muscles.

Can You Use Creatine and Whey Protein Together?

You can use creatine and whey protein powder together. 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.

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.

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

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

Other related posts:


Why is creatine better than whey protein?

Creatine is better that whey protein because it boosts the production of ATP and hydration, while whey protein helps with daily protein consumption. So, if you get enough protein from other meals like poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, plant proteins, and so on, a protein powder may not be essential.

Does creatine grow muscle faster than whey?

Both creatine and whey grow muscle faster. Creatine improves recovery and muscular development by increasing capacity during high-intensity exercise. While ingesting whey protein in conjunction with exercise promotes and increases muscle protein synthesis, you should observe improved muscular growth over time.


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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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

  1. 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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