Creatine is an acid produced within your body, while whey protein is a protein that supplies amino acids for your body to use as needed. Both are helpful for recovering from workouts, and both provide noticeable benefits. Creatine is commonly found in red meats, and whey protein is part of the process of making cheese and is now marketed as a supplement. Consult your physician before beginning any diet, exercise or training program.
Creatine monohydrate is the most commonly-sold form of creatine and the cheapest. Creatine monohydrate has been shown to improve short-term muscular endurance. Improvements include maximal power and strength, work performed during sets of maximal-effort muscle contractions, single-effort sprint performance and work performed during repetitive sprint performance. Other types of creatine exist, such as creatine ethyl ester, but have not shown to be more effective than creatine monohydrate, despite their increased cost.
Whey protein is a source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids are used for many functions within the body and can even support neural functions. Amino acids are also broken down and consumed for tissue repair and remodeling when muscle strain occurs, such as during resistance training. As your training intensity and volume increase, your protein needs will increase, and using a whey protein supplement is one method of meeting these needs.
Creatine and Whey Protein
You can take creatine and whey protein together. When you consume creatine with protein, both are absorbed and utilized on an as-needed basis. A study published in 2001 in the "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" showed that those who combined creatine with whey protein experienced the most gains in strength. You do not need large doses of creatine, which may cause stomach upset. Five g per day is enough to maximize your body's creatine levels after a month.
Getting the Most Out of Each
Taking a simple sugar such as dextrose or maltodextrin can increase your recovery, assuming you combine it with protein. The ideal time for this to occur is post-workout, when your insulin levels are high and your muscle glycogen levels are low. This will cause the sugars and amino acids to be drawn into your muscles to replace what you have burned. Adding creatine can take advantage of the insulin response, which is decreased within 24 hours of training.
- "Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry"; Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Performance and Training Adaptations; Richard B. Kreider; Februrary 2003
- "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition"; The Effects of Creatine Ethyl Ester Supplementation Combined with Heavy Resistance Training on Body Composition, Muscle Performance, and Serum and Muscle Creatine Levels; M. Spillane, et al.; February 2009
- "Journal of the American College of Nutrition"; Beyond the Zone: Protein Needs of Active Individuals, Individuals; Peter W. R. Lemon; 2000
- "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism"; The Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation with and Without Creatine Monohydrate Combined with Resistance Training on Lean Tissue Mass and Muscle Strength; D.G. Burke, et al.; September 2001
- "Journal of Applied Physiology"; Early Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Recovery is Enhanced with a Carbohydrate-protein Supplement.; John L. Ivy, et al., October 2002
- "Journal of Applied Physiology"; Protein- and Carbohydrate-induced Augmentation of Whole Body Creatine Retention in Humans; G.R. Steenge, et al.; September 2000