Performance boosting sports supplements are nothing new. In fact, for as long as humans have been testing themselves against one another, they’ve been looking for ways to tip the balance in their favor.
For example, ancient Olympic athletes ate bull testicles to boost strength and stamina, and runners in South America consumed coca leaves (cocaine!) to increase their endurance. While sports supplements have come a very long way since those days, athletes and exercisers are still looking for that elusive edge that will allow them to perform at their best.
There are lots of different sports supplements to choose from, and new ones are seemingly invented weekly. While some are worthless and have no proven effects, others are backed by science and have been used for decades. Any supplement still on the market clearly works, or it would have been withdrawn long ago.
Two of the most popular and well-researched supplements are creatine and whey. In fact, for many exercisers, these products are considered training and nutritional staples.
But what do these supplements do, and which one is best? Can you take both of them? In this battle of creatine vs. whey, we answer all these questions and more!
Creatine vs. Whey – Which Is Better?
What Is Creatine
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that is made from two amino acids – glycine and arginine.
Your body produces creatine, and it’s also present in animal proteins, such as beef, chicken, and fish. Creatine plays a crucial role in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, which is your body’s primary source of chemical energy. When ATP is metabolized, it becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which has very little value.
However, your body can use creatine to turn ADP back into ATP again. Taking creatine increases your creatine phosphate stores, and it’s this phosphate molecule that your body uses to turn ADP into ATP. In short, the more creatine phosphate you have, the more ATP you’ll be able to make, and the faster you’ll be able to turn ADP back into ATP.
The benefits of using supplemental creatine include:
- Longer, harder workouts
- Faster muscle repair and growth
- Less muscle breakdown
- Increased muscle size
- Increased strength
- Increased anabolic hormone production
- Faster fat burning
In addition, creatine may be good for your health, too.
Health benefits of creatine include:
- Better brain health
- Improved cognition
- Lower blood glucose
- Healthier bones
- Less age-related muscle loss
- Better heart health
- Prevention and treatment of non-alcoholic liver disease
Creatine has been in use for over four decades and is generally regarded as safe. However, it can cause muscle cramps and stomach upsets in some people.
What Is Whey?
Whey is a source of dietary protein. There are several types of whey, including whey isolate, whey protein concentrate, hydrolyzed whey protein, and whey protein blends. Protein is critical for muscle repair and growth, which is why it’s such a popular supplement with bodybuilders and strength exercisers.
Whey is made from milk and is a by-product of cheese manufacture.
It contains all of the essential amino acids, which your body uses like building blocks to repair and build muscle, especially after training. As well as being a popular nutritional supplement, whey is also used as an animal feed.
The benefits of whey include:
- Muscle repair and growth
- Weight loss
- Lower blood pressure
- More stable blood glucose
- Antioxidant effect and protection from free radicals
Like creatine, whey has been heavily researched and is a very safe supplement. That said, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider. For starters, whey is made from milk, and milk contains lactose. Lactose is a common cause of allergies and sensitivities. Also, because whey is made from milk, it’s not vegan-friendly, although lacto-vegetarians can still use it.
Finally, some whey protein products contain artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. While generally regarded as safe, some people prefer to avoid these ingredients, and they may even cause issues for sensitive people.
Should You Mix Them Together?
While creatine and whey are very different supplements, they work really well together, and there is no reason not to mix them. In fact, taking creatine and whey together after training could speed up your recovery.
For best results, combine five grams of creatine with 20-30 grams of whey protein.
Mix with water and chug them down as soon as you can after your workout.
Add a source of carbohydrate, such as glucose, to boost recovery even more.
Which One Is Best?
In the battle of creatine vs. whey, there is no clear winner. Both supplements work but have very different effects.
Creatine works on a biochemical level to increase workout performance, boost energy, and speed up recovery. Think of creatine as a workout supercharger.
In contrast, whey is basically a convenient way to ensure that your diet contains enough protein. Most exercisers need about 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilo of body weight, and while you can get enough protein from the foods you eat, using whey makes the process easier.
So, if you want to boost your workout performance, creatine is probably the best supplement. But, if you want to make sure you get the protein you need for muscle repair and growth, whey is the better choice.
Creatine and whey are both valuable supplements, even though they work in very different ways. Creatine boosts chemical energy in your muscles, so you can train longer and harder. In contrast, whey provides your body with the protein it needs for muscle repair and growth.
Each one can help you get more from your workouts, so you make faster progress. They’re both so effective that it’s hard to choose between them, and it makes a lot of sense to use them both.
However, it’s important to remember that nutritional supplements like creatine and whey should be used as additions to and not a replacement for a healthy diet. Adding any supplement to an otherwise unhealthy diet means you won’t get such good results.
Also, even the best supplements won’t do much if you aren’t training hard and consistently or aren’t getting enough rest and sleep. They’re powerful, but not THAT powerful! Think of supplements are effort multipliers; the harder you work, the harder they’ll work, and the more beneficial they will be.
So, prioritize your workouts and diet and then add supplements like creatine and whey to bolster your efforts. Think of supplements as the cherry on the top of your workout and healthy eating ice cream sundae!