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What is the better supplement: Creatine or Whey?

Updated: Dec 23, 2020



Introduction



Whether you’re new to bodybuilding or not, it’s common to see people take certain supplements to help with their fitness. No, I’m not talking about steroids, that’s not the move.


Two common ones are Creatine and Whey protein powder. You may have seen or heard of these before, but do you know what they really do to your body?


There are also many questions of whether these two things are related, and if they are, which is better? Before we decide a winner, let’s go over general knowledge of what creatine and whey protein are.



What is Creatine?



Creatine is a natural substance, particularly found in muscle cells, which turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine increases your body's level of ATP which helps it perform better during exercise. This has been proven to increase muscle mass, strength, and endurance.


There are many forms of Creatine, but the most well-researched one is Creatine Monohydrate. A university study by David L. Mayhew on “Effects of long-term creatine supplementation on liver and kidney functions in American college football players” stated that “Therefore, it appears that oral supplementation with CrM has no long-term detrimental effects on kidney or liver functions in highly trained college athletes in the absence of other nutritional supplements.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12500988/



Pros

  • Just like your muscles, your brain stores phosphocreatine and requires plenty of ATP for optimal function

  • Creatine supplements can be highly beneficial for vegetarians because they lack natural creatine due to not consuming meat

  • Can also fight muscle loss in older adults

  • May improve brain function

  • Cheaper than Whey protein


Con

  • Creatine can cause bloating or stomach discomfort if you take too much at one time.



What is Whey?



There are two proteins that are found in milk: casein and whey.


Whey is produced by milk being warmed up, pasteurized with bacteria, powdered rennet being added, and then boom. The curd or the milk protein that is in a solid form gets separated from the whey. They do this by getting the cheese that was made (try making a picture or use arrows to explain the process)


Get the milk (let’s use a cow for an example) -> The Milk is cooled and then pasteurized -> The enzymes during the pasteurizing process separate whey and casein -> liquid whey goes through more processes to remove carbohydrates, fats, and minerals ->The whey will be dried to become powder.


This is the process that is taken to make the different protein powders bodybuilders or anyone use for their drinks. There are other places you can find whey, such as the liquid that is in a yogurt can.



Pros

  • Builds muscle (duh)

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Anti-cancer properties

  • Helps you lose weight

  • Moderates blood sugar levels

  • Prevent cellular damage

  • Fill up hunger faster(makes you feel satiated)

  • improves the immune response in children with asthma. One small study involving 11 children, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, found that children with asthma who were supplemented with 10 gram whey protein twice daily for 1 month had an improved immune response.


Cons

  • Lactose- Some people that have trouble digesting certain food can experience symptoms such as bloating, gas build up, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Though most of these symptoms occur when that person is found to be lactose intolerant.

  • Could be expensive

  • Whey protein not only contains protein but can contain various levels of sugars and fat.



Similarities and Differences


However you look at it, whether you buy whey protein powder or creatine, they both will help you gain the muscle mass you were looking for. Whey protein makes your muscles repair faster when exercising so your muscle gain is increased. And creatine increases your exercise capacity- thus allowing you to workout for longer periods of time so you can get those extra reps in. At the end of the day, they will both get the job done, though differently.


A study from D. MICHAEL FRY and M. F. MORALES shows that the presence of creatine in the muscle acts as an anabolic signal for muscle building. This signal brings on both increased muscular activity as well as muscle mass. Creatine also temporarily increases the water content of the muscle which gives it a more “pumped” look. Of Course this does not necessarily mean an increase in muscle mass.


Fry D, Morales M. A reexamination of the effects of creatine on muscle protein synthesis in tissue culture. J Cell Biol. 1980; 84(2): 294-297

Ingwall JS, Weiner CD, Morales ED, Stockdale FE. Specificity of creatine in the control of muscle protein synthesis. J Cell Biol. 1974;62(1): 145-151.

Whey protein builds muscle by proving protein and amino acids, which are the building blocks for building muscle.


For difference, whey works more on giving protein for muscle repair, while creatine focuses on giving your muscle cells more energy (better for HIIT workouts and sports).



Why You Should Take Both



It is ideal to take both so you can experience benefits from both ends of the spectrum. When you take them doesn’t matter, but ideally it is more convenient to take whey protein after your workout and to couple that with creatine.


A study was done comparing the effects of men taking whey protein alone, whey and creatine, and a placebo group. (They were all on a strength training program).


The results showed that the group that took both whey and creatine experienced significantly more muscle mass as well as an increase in bench press strength by 17% while the other groups only experienced about 7-8%.

Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Davison KS, et al. The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without creatine monohydrate combined with resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscle strength. Int J Sport Nutr Exer Metab. 2001;11:349-64.



Which Creatine or Whey You Should Buy



Creatine: We recommend just getting your creatine from Optimum Nutrition as it has over 20,000 reviews and most of them rated it 5 stars.


Whey: We prefer getting a Gold Standard for your whey protein. You can decide how many pounds you need and what flavor.


P.S. Extreme Dark Chocolate is amazing!


If you are lactose-intolerant or have skin problems because of milk, you can go for vegan protein product, like Vega.



Conclusion



Now that you know the differences between Whey and Creatine, you are better equipped in achieving those gains. However you should know that since these are supplements, you won’t see much results if your diet isn’t lacking in protein. Since these are only supplements you shouldn’t depend on them as your sole source of protein. For best results eat foods high in protein like eggs, cheese, fish, and yogurt.