Can You Take Creatine & Protein Powders Together After Working Out?

Chocolate whey isolate protein in shaker, closeup
Protein shakes provide essential nutrients for a healthy body. (Image: deymos/iStock/Getty Images)

Much speculation surrounds the use of creatine and protein powder before and after workouts. What you should take and when is critical for obtaining maximum results from your workouts. Knowing how your body reacts to each of these supplements will help you determine whether they should be taken together or separate and whether you should take them before your workout, after your workout or both. Check with your doctor before supplementing with creatine.

Benefits of Supplementing With Protein Powder

Protein Powder 2
Supplement before and after workouts with protein powder. (Image: SCHUBphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Protein powder formulas provide the essential amino acids your body requires when building muscle protein. While protein is provided in meats, eggs, milk, beans and many other sources, they must go through a time-consuming digestion process before they are available to your body for building muscle protein. For this reason, it is important that you supplement before and after workouts with a shake made with protein powder providing an immediate or an almost immediate source of the necessary amino acids for building human protein.

Enhancing Your Workout Results With Creatine Supplementation

Man Lifting Dumbbells
Creatine can play an important role in maximizing your workout results. (Image: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

Milk, along with casein and amino acids, contains creatine. Creatine has long been used by bodybuilders for maximizing the results of their workouts. Using a creatine supplement before your workout provides the extra energy for working your muscles a little longer and preventing early fatigue. However, creatine used after your workout will supply the energy your body requires for muscle growth. According to Dwayne Jackson, Ph.D., and Jim Stoppani, Ph.D. of Muscle and Fitness, “Getting another dose of creatine post workout is smart because this is when creatine uptake is maximal, thereby ensuring that levels in the muscle are maxed out. In addition, brand-new research suggests that creatine has antioxidant properties. This can help limit muscle damage caused by heavy training and enhance recovery.”

The Best Time for Creatine Supplementation

Bodybuilder working out
The best time to take creatine is right after your workout. (Image: Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images)

For maximum muscle gains, the best time to take supplements such as creatine is immediately after your workouts, according to Weighttraining.com. Creatine uptake is at its highest levels right after you workout so this is an ideal time for creatine supplementation. Jackson and Stoppani also state that “brand-new research suggests that creatine has antioxidant properties. This can help limit muscle damage caused by heavy training and enhance recovery.”

The Best Time for Protein Powder Supplementation

Fitness Woman
Protein powder should be taken after your workout. (Image: GeorgeRudy/iStock/Getty Images)

The best times for protein powder supplementation are immediately after your workouts. A review in the February 2008 issue of "Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism" explains that the benefit of this timing is probably related to the increased blood flow which increases the transport of the creatine and amino acids to skeletal muscle. If you do not take the creatine and protein powder together, you will end up with a timing issue since you need both creatine and protein powder soon after your workouts.

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