What is the difference between whey protein and creatine?

Creatine and whey protein (well known as wheyfrom the English whey protein) are two supplements widely used by athletes in strength training as well as by bodybuilders looking for the Increased muscle mass. Both substances are very different in nature and have different functions and, in general, can be consumed together due to their synergistic effect.

Basically, whey protein provides high-quality protein that the body can use to build more muscle fibers. Creatine, for its part, favors the production of energy by the muscles, helping to develop more intense workouts. Let's see what each one is.

whey protein

Although whey "protein" is often spoken of in the singular, whey protein is actually made up of a set of globular proteins isolated from whey, generally used as a by-product in the production of dairy products, especially cheese.

The most widely used is whey from cow's milk, of which approximately 10% of the dry fraction is protein. Of this 10%, 65% is beta-lactoglobulin, 25% is alpha-lactalbumin, 8% is serum albumin, and the remaining 2% are immunoglobulins. The composition of these proteins makes whey protein a product of high biological value with a high percentage of use. This means that a high percentage of the protein consumed is incorporated into the body and promotes a metabolic stimulation of protein synthesis associated with muscle development, especially if combined with training.

Training stimulates muscle development and strengthening and for this it is necessary to synthesize new muscle fibers, composed mainly of proteins. But during training, muscle fibers are also broken that have to be repaired. Whey proteins allow a faster muscle recovery and development as the amino acids necessary for protein synthesis are available.

If you are a lacto-vegetarian and do not consume cheese made with animal enzymes (mainly obtained from animal stomachs and intestines), whey protein would not be suitable for you either because it is produced from the whey of these cheeses. There are more and more cheeses available made with vegetable enzymes suitable for lacto-vegetarians, although whey protein produced from these cheeses is still very hard to find. You can also use pure whey protein (native whey), obtained directly from milk and not as a by-product of cheese making.


Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid naturally present in many foods. It is not an amino acid as is often said (although the chemical structure is similar). The human body synthesizes its own creatine and needs very little external input. The effect of creatine on muscle growth is not as clear as the effect of protein supplements, and studies have given conflicting results.

In cells, energy is obtained from ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), whose breakdown to ADP (Adenosine diphosphate) releases the energy used in cellular functions. Creatine is naturally present in the muscles and has functions related to ATP resynthesis. Dietary supplementation with creatine would thus help a greater resynthesis of ATP and the muscle would have more energy available, both for exercise and for recovery. This would also help to longer and more intense workouts.

The studies available to date have shown that the creatine available in the muscles is consumed in a very short time under stress conditions anaerobic (5-10 seconds) and creatine supplements appear to have a positive effect in replenishing spent creatine. In aerobic exercise, creatine has not shown any or very little significant effect.

mixed use

Given the different chemical nature and synergistic effects of whey protein and creatine, it is very common for them to be used together. Protein provides the structural units (amino acids) necessary to build the proteins that make up muscles. Creatine, together with carbohydrates, increases energy availability in the muscle so that you can train longer and more intensely, which in turn stimulates muscle development.

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