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Explained: is creatine a protein supplement?

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Is creatine a protein supplement?

You may have heard creatine referred to as a protein supplement. But is this actually true? Is creatine a protein supplement, or something else entirely? There’s often confusion surrounding this question, because both creatine and protein supplements are used by athletes to boost performance and build muscle mass. Creatine and protein supplements are often used together, and some athletes take protein supplements containing creatine, adding to the confusion even further. To clear this up once and for all, in this article we’ll discuss creatine, protein supplements and the similarities and differences between the two.

Cregaatine pack with a shaker

What is creatine?

Creatine is a very popular supplement in the sporting world. It is mainly sold as creatine monohydrate, although there are other types as well. Research shows that compared to training alone, you can double your strength and lean muscle gains when you supplement with creatine. It can also boost exercise performance. That’s a benefit most athletes wouldn’t turn down, so there’s no wonder it’s so popular! Creatine is produced naturally in our body’s cells, and helps with energy production during high intensity exercise or when lifting heavy weights.

How does creatine work?

Here’s a short and sweet lowdown on the science behind creatine. Taking creatine as a supplement increases the amount of phosphocreatine available in your muscle tissue, which helps to provide energy needed for muscle contractions during intense exercise. During high-intensity exercise, ATP is broken down to release the energy needed for powerful muscle contractions. But supplies of ATP can run out quickly, leading to fatigue and reduced performance – this is where creatine comes in. Supplementing with creatine increases phosphocreatine levels in muscle tissue, which can be used to rapidly regenerate ATP and give you the energy you need. This leads to increased strength, power and endurance.

What are protein supplements?

Everyone in the weightlifting world has heard of protein shakes. Protein plays a key role in muscle growth and development. It is a macronutrient, and is found in many food sources such as:

  • Meat

  • Beans

  • Peas

  • Eggs

  • Lentils

  • Nuts

  • Soy products

  • Seeds

Protein supplements are a convenient way to ensure you’re getting high quality protein, although they’re never a replacement for a balanced diet containing natural sources of protein. Protein supplements usually come in powder form, and can be mixed with water or milk to make protein shakes or add to baked goods and cereal. Types of protein include whey, casein and egg. There are also plant-based types such as pea, hemp, soy and brown rice.

So what’s the difference between creatine and protein supplements?

While both creatine and protein supplements can lead to great results for athletes, they have completely different benefits and mechanisms of action in the body. Protein supplements provide the ‘building blocks’ for muscle growth and repair, while creatine increases the availability of energy for muscle contractions.

So is creatine a protein supplement? In short, no. Protein is an organic compound made of amino acids, whereas creatine is an amino acid – but it’s not one of the twenty amino acids used to build protein in our bodies. The main role of protein supplements is to boost muscle mass and help with muscle recovery, while creatine supplements work to boost athletic performance, increase muscle strength, and increase lean muscle mass. Creatine has been shown to speed up muscle recovery between sessions as well – it really is the supplement that does it all! You should take creatine before working out, and protein when your workout has ended.

Is one better than the other?

This really depends on your goals and your personal preference, as both creatine and protein supplements have unique health benefits.

Protein is full of the essential acids needed for muscle growth and recovery. If your main goal is increasing muscle mass and speeding up recovery, protein could be the supplement for you. On the other hand, creatine provides your muscles with the energy needed for longer and more intense workouts, as well as helping to boost muscle mass. If you’re focused on boosting energy levels and exercise performance alongside muscle mass, creatine may be the winner for you personally. Best results are often seen when taking the two together, so that’s always a great option if you just can’t choose.

As always, this information is not intended as medical advice and it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements.

Want to boost results even more?

There’s a way for athletes to boost their results even further. CreGAAtine is the new player in the sports supplement world and has been shown to have even greater effects than creatine alone.

CreGAAtine is made of both creatine and Guanidinoacetic Acid (GAA) – the direct precursor of creatine that our bodies produce naturally. It increases creatine muscle levels significantly more than just taking creatine alone. Meanwhile, it also targets less developed muscle groups, and has less non-responders than creatine.

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