What is the Difference Between Whey Protein and Creatine?

Jami Yontz

Whey protein and creatine are both considered essential supplements for people who are interested in body building, strength training and high performance workouts. Each of these supplements serve different purposes and provide essential nutrients for the body, and they can be used in conjunction with one another. Whey protein is a type of protein that provides the nutrients the body needs to build muscles, while creatine is an organic acid that provides the energy to the muscles.

Both protein and creatine supplements are popular in the bodybuilding community.
Both protein and creatine supplements are popular in the bodybuilding community.

Whey protein is created in the cheese-making process. This byproduct contains all of the essential amino acids. Whey protein contains the highest amount of protein of any supplement, and it is easily digested, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed by the body quickly. Whey protein can be consumed in three different forms: whey protein isolate, concentrate and blends.

Creatine supplements provide extra energy resources for the body.
Creatine supplements provide extra energy resources for the body.

Creatine supplements provide a boost of creatine, which is involved in the body’s process of producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy source that is produced during high-energy activities, such as weightlifting or sprinting. Creatine is only stored in small amounts in the body, and the supplements provide extra resources during intense activities, allowing a person to extend his workout that much more. This extra energy is essential when trying to quickly grow body mass.

The amino acids in whey protein -- whether found in foods or drink supplements -- are essential to muscle health.
The amino acids in whey protein -- whether found in foods or drink supplements -- are essential to muscle health.

Whey protein and creatine differ in that whey is not naturally found in any food products. Creatine is found in lean red meats, fish, cranberries and milk. Also, the body can create its own creatine from amino acids within the body. The human body requires very little creatine, but protein provides the structure of the body’s cells and is involved in producing hormones, enzymes and antibodies.

Creatine, popular among bodybuilders and weightlifters, plays a role in the body's production of adenosine triphosphate.
Creatine, popular among bodybuilders and weightlifters, plays a role in the body's production of adenosine triphosphate.

Another difference between whey protein and creatine is that the body reaches a threshold for the amount of creatine it can absorb. Usually, people will load with creatine for weeks or months, and then they will either discontinue use or simply take a small dosage each day to maintain their creatine levels. While it is possible to overdose on protein, the body can absorb 30 grams of protein at a time; the daily recommended intake for bodybuilders is 1,500 milligrams of protein per 2.2 pounds (about 1 kilogram) of body weight.

Creatine is involved in producing ATP for high-energy activities.
Creatine is involved in producing ATP for high-energy activities.

Whey protein and creatine both promote muscle building, but they do it in different ways. Creatine, along with carbohydrates, provides a person with energy for physical activities, during which the muscle fibers in the body are broken down only to be rebuilt during the recovery period. Protein is needed during this recovery period to grow and repair the muscle fibers that were broken down during high-intensity workouts.

Creatine is found in lean red meats.
Creatine is found in lean red meats.

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Discussion Comments

stoneMason

I'm so glad that there is an article on this topic because this is something that most people who are into body building are confused about. Many people think that whey protein and creatine can be substituted for one another, when that's not the case at all.

I actually understand that some may not be able to use both because supplements can get expensive. Whey protein is more expensive than creatine. But if I absolutely had to choose one, I suppose I would choose whey protein since it's already a fast absorbing protein that contributes to muscle mass quickly.

literally45

@fify-- Not necessarily, it actually depends on various different factors. Whey is a protein and creatine is something that helps the body use nutrients like protein. So there is greater benefit in taking them together.

Some people don't take whey at all. If one already has a very balanced diet rich in natural protein like milk, tuna, cottage cheese, etc. whey protein may not be necessary. But the same person may choose to take creatine to help their body use the protein.

On the other hand, if one has a poor diet and doesn't get enough protein, then taking creatine is probably not going to help. So the priority needs to be protein, which can come from natural foods or whey supplements.

fify

So is it a bad idea to use one of these without the other? Must they be used together for the most benefits?

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