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Creatine vs Whey: Which is Better for Building Muscle?

What are the key differences between creatine and whey and what are their benefits? Read to find out.

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Creatine and whey protein are two of the most popular supplements among bodybuilders and athletes. If you’re new to taking supplements it can be confusing figuring out how they differ, why people take them, and how they take them. Luckily, we’ve got you covered! We’re going to highlight the benefits of creatine, whey protein, and help you decide which one best suit your individual goals.
 

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a compound made from a combination of amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine plays an important role in the production of Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP; ATP is the cellular energy currency of cells. ATP powers our movements, it’s the primary energy source fueling explosive movements like sprinting, throwing, and lifting.

Creatine gets stored in the skeletal muscle with another compound (phosphate) as phosphocreatine. When our bodies need to generate more ATP, a phosphate group from phosphocreatine can be donated to combine with Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) to form ATP. If ATP is the energy currency that powers our cells, then think of creatine as a savings account that stores phosphate for rainy days (or in our case for explosive movements during our workouts).
 

The Benefits of Creatine

Creatine is one of the most researched sports nutrition supplements in the world. In the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s position statement on creatine they stated, creatine monohydrate is the most effective supplement currently available for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass.[1]

Some key benefits of creatine include [2,3,4,5,6]

  • Increased maximal strength
  • Increased maximal power
  • Increased high intensity exercise performance
  • Increased lean muscle mass
  • Increased cycling power
  • Increased sprint performance
  • Increased work capacity
  • Increased anaerobic threshold

 

How to Use Creatine in Workout Routine

Creatine is typically consumed before or after a workout. Creatine can be loaded, 0.3 g/kg body weight/day to reach a saturation point and then 3-5 g can be taken daily for maintenance.[7] The goal with creatine supplementation is to saturate your muscles so ultimately the most important detail is to consume enough (about 5 g/day) consistently. 

What is Whey Protein?

Whey Protein is a complete protein meaning it contains the nine essential amino acids (EAAs) that our bodies can’t make on their own. Whey protein is one of the primary components of dairy protein, it accounts for about 20% of the protein in cow’s milk. Whey protein is a well-regarded protein source because of its high bioavailability, fast absorption rate, and rich content of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) including leucine.

 

The Benefits of Whey Protein

Protein has been researched extensively for its role in building muscle. In the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s position stand on protein and exercise they recommend a daily protein intake of 1.4-2.0 g/kg/day for most individuals looking to build or maintain muscle mass.[8] Whey protein is one type of protein that has been used in many research studies.

Some key benefits of whey protein include [9,10,11,12]

  • Increased muscle protein synthesis
  • Improved body composition
  • Enhanced strength
  • Decreased appetite when whey protein is consumed prior to a meal
  • Increased recovery from resistance training
  • High bioavailability
  • Rapid absorption
  • Rich in essential amino acids (EAAs) including branched chain amino acids (BCAAs)

 

How to Use Whey Protein in a Workout Routine

Whey protein is typically consumed after a workout. While the post-workout window can be a great time to drink a whey protein shake, you can drink it at any time of the day to help meet your overall protein intake goals. For the purposes of building muscle and increasing strength, total protein intake is more important than timing.[13] 

The Difference between Creatine and Whey Protein

Creatine is an organic compound made up of three different amino acids. The gains in muscle mass from creatine are primarily from the ability to increase high-intensity exercise performance.

Whey protein is made up of a range of amino acids including the essential amino acids, conditionally essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids. The gains in muscle mass from whey protein are primarily from its ability to increase muscle protein synthesis.

Which is Better: Creatine or Whey Protein?

This answer will depend on your individual goals and diet. If you’re looking for a supplement with direct performance benefits like increased strength and power, creatine will be ideal.

If you’re looking for a supplement that helps you reach your daily protein intake goals, whey protein will be ideal. If you’re on a budget and deciding between the two, creatine is less costly. If you’re new to training, whey protein can help you reach your protein intake goals.

Nailing your macros will play a bigger overall role in reaching your muscle-building or fat loss goals.

Should You Take Creatine + Whey Protein Together?

Yes! Creatine and Whey Protein can be stacked together. Creatine can help support increased strength, power, and muscle mass. While whey protein can help provide your body with essential amino acids to build more muscle. 

 

Creatine and Whey Protein Supplements

COR-Performance Creatine: Featuring the premium micronized version of Creatine Monohydrate, COR Performance Creatine delivers superior mixability and absorption, allowing you to reap the benefits of increased performance, lean muscle, and strength.*

Cellucor Whey Sport: As a perfect all-in-one post workout solution, Whey Sport is the go-to for athletes seeking a delicious high-quality protein powder with added ingredients for strength & performance. With incredible flavors and an NSF-Certified for Sport certification, Whey Sport is the choice of athletes of all types - both on and off the field.*

COR-Performance Whey: For nearly a decade, COR-Performance Whey has been setting the standard in delicious high-quality protein. With incredible gluten free flavors and digestive enzymes in every serving, COR Whey continues to raise the bar with every scoop.*

 

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469049/

[3]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14636102/

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14767410/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5477153/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852797/

[10] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531714001663

[11] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2017.1344591?src=recsys&journalCode=uacn20

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537849/

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879660/