Supplements, proteins, shakes, vitamins, and many more are common terms athletes and people in the fitness world are familiar with. There are countless products available to help you achieve your desired goal, whether you want to increase muscle mass or lose weight.
Two common supplements that people use to boost protein and enhance their performance in the gym are creatine and whey protein. Many athletes choose to incorporate these two supplements to help promote muscle growth or mass, give you more energy during workouts, and even possibly lower blood pressure and increase brain function. But do you need to take both?
Neither is necessarily better than the other, so deciding whether to add creatine or whey into your routine is going to be a unique decision for everyone. It will require you to weigh certain factors. Both are popular choices for different reasons; however, they are two completely separate things.
It will depend on your body type, exercise routine, fitness goals, and more to decide which one will help you achieve the best results. In this article, we will explore the main differences, benefits, effects, and when and why you should take creatine and whey. This way, you can understand and decide if adding creatine or whey protein into your life is right for you.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a protein that comes from dairy, specifically in the cheese-making process. It comes from the liquid part of the milk when it is separated from the cheese. Once this is separated, it leaves you with leftover isolated proteins called whey. About 80 percent casein and 20 percent whey can be found in the leftover protein liquid.
Casein is another type of protein that is in the same family as whey protein. Whey protein is full of amino acids; it actually contains all nine essential amino acids that we need to survive. It can easily be turned into a powder form, so it is so popular in the fitness world and used in lots of protein shake recipes.
Whey protein contains large amounts of energy that can easily be released into our bodies and are called globular proteins. This is when the molecular structure of the protein is folded.
Overall, whey protein is a popular supplement for people who put themselves through high-intensity workouts and need to keep their energy replenished. It can also be helpful to build muscle and is available in lots of brands and sizes. Whey protein designed specifically for the fitness community even comes in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors.
How Does It Work?
Whey protein works in the fitness world as a muscle builder and energy booster. People who work out with a lot of cardio and heavy lifting use up a lot of energy during their workout, so incorporating whey protein can help replenish some of that lost energy.
It works by providing our bodies with essential amino acids, one of which in whey protein is called Branched-Chain amino acid. This specific amino acid can be metabolized by our bodies and form muscle mass. More muscle mass means lifting heavier weights, becoming stronger, and achieving your desired fitness goals.
However, if you are not doing high-intensity workouts, taking in a lot of whey protein can actually result in unwanted weight gain. Many of the flavored supplements on the market also contain added sugars, so it is important to see how your own body reacts to whey protein and if you should continue taking it or not.
When Should You Take Whey Protein?
You should think about taking whey protein if you work out frequently and they are intense workouts. We recommend taking your whey protein powder anywhere from 16 to 60 minutes after you finish your fitness.
When you finish working out, there is a time period followed by this exercise, commonly known as the anabolic window. This is when your body is most efficient at converting protein into muscle, making it the best time to consume your whey protein.
Benefits of Whey Protein
There are many benefits to incorporating whey protein into your daily workout routine. We have already gone over a few, such as increased energy and muscle mass, but what other added benefits are you getting from whey protein?
- Potentially lower your blood pressure – Many studies have shown that consuming dairy, in general, is known to decrease your blood pressure
- May help fight diabetes – whey protein is known to raise the natural insulin levels in your bloodstream, which is the main chemical in fighting diabetes.
- Promotes muscle growth – Not only does whey promote muscle growth, but it can also help with muscle repair and regeneration as well.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a chemical that our liver, pancreas, and kidneys naturally produce within our bodies. We can also receive creatine from certain foods, such as red meat, which is helpful to know if you are trying to increase your creatine intake.
However, the amount in red meats is such a small amount, so that’s why creatine supplementation is so popular. Arginine, ethionine, and glycine are the three things that this chemical is made from, and it is a derivative of an essential amino acid. It is stored largely in the skeletal muscle tissue and transformed into phosphocreatine which is saved for mainly muscular contractions.
Creatine supplements are made in a laboratory, and it does not come in large quantities from the food we eat so it must be made synthetically. Creatine monohydrates are considered the most popular form of supplement; however, others are available on the market.
How Does It Work?
Creatine works by ingesting it in a supplement form or a small amount in certain foods such as red meats. It breaks down in your body, turning into phosphocreatine which is saved for later and aid in small muscular contractions. People in the fitness community choose to take creatine supplements because it is known to help build lean muscle mass and muscle strength.
It can increase energy and improve high-intensity performance when training. Creatine also helps draw water molecules to your muscles which keeps them hydrated and can help with muscle protein synthesis.
When Should You Take Creatine?
You should consider adding a creatine supplement to your routine if you are looking to increase your strength and energy as someone into fitness. Your body does not naturally receive high amounts of this chemical, and studies have shown that creatine can help in these areas.
You should take your creatine supplement either shortly before or after you are done working out. This is the ideal time in order to promote maximum lean muscle growth, and it does not matter if you take half the recommended dose before and half after.
Benefits of Creatine
There are several benefits to adding a creatine supplement into your life other than increased energy and strength. Creatine is one of the most studied fitness supplements, let’s take a look at a few more extra benefits creatine has to offer:
- Speeds muscle growth – Common knowledge to athletes, studies have proven that creatine can actually speed up your muscle growth.
- Help improve brain function – Creatine provides the same boost to your brain as it does to your muscles, improving brain function and may help with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Lower blood sugar – When combined with high-intensity exercise, taking a creatine supplement is known to lower blood sugar levels which can help fight diabetes.
The main difference between creatine and whey is that whey is a protein, and creatine is a chemical that is naturally found in our bodies. Whey is a whole protein on its own and contains all nine essential amino acids humans need to survive. It is derived from dairy products, specifically cheese, whereas creatine is found in some red meats but only a very little amount.
This is why supplements are made; there are many different kinds of whey protein supplement and creatine supplements available. However, both are very popular and known to increase your energy for high-intensity workouts and help with muscle mass, growth, and regeneration.
As an Athlete, Which One Should I Take?
In conclusion, deciding whether to take creatine or whey protein is a personal decision that will differ for each person and their desired fitness goals and journey. They can help in similar areas but result differently for different bodies. It is not necessary to take both, as there are no proven added benefits in doing so. However, researching for yourself is always the best option.