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So, can you mix creatine with protein powder? Yes, creatine can be mixed with protein powder for a convenient way to give you both the benefits of creatine and the protein and calories of protein powder.
Combining creatine with protein powder can result in greater increases in lean muscle mass from resistance training than from protein powder alone.
Beyond safety, you might wonder whether it’s more effective to consume creatine and protein powder together or separately, and what the benefits and drawbacks are.
I’ll cover this below and discuss considerations for who should and shouldn’t mix creatine with protein powder.
Is It Safe To Mix Creatine With Protein Powder?
It is safe to mix creatine with protein powder.
Both creatine and protein powder have been studied extensively and evaluated for safety. Multiple reviews have reached the conclusion that:
As well, there are no studies showing adverse effects from the interaction of supplemental creatine and protein powder.
However, both creatine and protein powder are considered dietary supplements, meaning that they are not regulated to the same standards as food by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Dietary supplements do not need to be proven safe to FDA’s satisfaction before they are marketed, nor do marketing claims need to be proven as accurate or truthful.
As with any supplement, we encourage you to be a safe and informed consumer. Any and all dietary supplements should be discussed with and disclosed to your healthcare provider.
We also encourage you to seek out third-party certified supplements. Independent third-party organizations objectively certify supplements for purity, safety, and quality.
A third-party certification stamp can assure you that the product actually contains the ingredients stated, in the amounts stated, and that it’s safe for consumption.
Is It More Effective To Consume Creatine and Protein Powder Separately?
No, it is not more effective to consume creatine and protein powder separately. In fact, the protein from the protein powder can assist with faster uptake of the creatine into the body, and studies show that the body retains up to 25% more of the creatine when creatine supplements are taken at the same time as protein and/or carbohydrates.
So, while you certainly can consume creatine and protein powder separately if that is your preference, it is not more effective to do so.
Benefits of Mixing Creatine & Protein Powder
The benefits of mixing creatine and protein powder are:
- Improved performance
- Increased protein intake
- Increased calories
Both creatine and protein supplementation are linked to increases in strength and fat-free mass when combined with resistance training.
Studies show more improvement in lean body mass when participants take a protein blend containing creatine than a protein supplement alone, leading to the recommendation:
Creatine allows athletes to maintain higher training intensity and improve the quality of their workouts, meaning that they can perform more reps and/or sets and achieve higher 1RM (one rep max) results in strength tests.
Protein supplementation can increase muscle growth (hypertrophy), muscle strength, and gains in aerobic and anaerobic power (exercises that increase your heart rate for a prolonged period and exercises that require short bursts of intense activity, respectively) when coupled with an exercise program.
Key Takeaway: Combining these two supplements results in the highest increases in muscle mass, strength, and power compared to supplementation of creatine or protein alone during a resistance training program.
This is a great benefit for bodybuilders or anyone looking to add muscle mass for aesthetic or performance goals.
- Related Article: Mixing Protein Powders Together: Avoid These 3 Things
Since each scoop of protein powder provides 20-30g of protein, combining protein powder and creatine can help an individual to meet their protein targets for the day.
Getting enough protein intake is important to stop the body from breaking down its own muscle tissues (a process called catabolism). It also provides the body with the “raw materials” to build new muscle tissue (muscle protein synthesis).
This helps with maintenance/growth of muscle mass and also enhances recovery and reduces soreness after workouts.
Adding protein powder to creatine means adding approximately 110 calories per scoop of protein powder.
These added calories are a benefit for an individual looking to increase calorie intake to gain weight or for bulking goals, especially if they find that drinking calories is less filling than chewing solid food.
High protein intake is also related to higher satiety. Protein takes digestive effort to break down, which leads to feelings of fullness.
This is beneficial for an individual looking to decrease calorie intake for weight loss or for cutting goals.
Mixing creatine and protein powder is an easy way to ingest these products in a single shake.
It can be much easier and more convenient to add creatine to a protein shake than to consume it separately, especially if you are already in the habit of drinking a protein shake.
Adding one more ingredient can be easier to remember than preparing two separate shakes. You can even mix creatine into a ready-made protein drink or use a protein powder that has creatine already added to it.
- Related Article: Are Ready-Made Protein Shakes Good For You? (Ask A Dietician)
Drawbacks of Mixing Creatine & Protein Powder
Drawbacks of mixing creatine and protein powder are:
- Calorie content
- Water intake
- Digestive distress
Yes, increasing the calorie content by mixing creatine and protein powder is a benefit for people who are trying to increase their protein intake.
But while protein is beneficial for numerous reasons discussed above, the added calories can be a drawback, especially if you’re already having trouble not going over your macros when you’re in a deficit.
I mentioned earlier that satiety is beneficial for individuals on a fat loss diet. But feeling more full is a drawback for individuals looking to increase their calorie intake for weight gain or bulking goals.
On the other hand, combining creatine and protein powder in a single shake as opposed to having two separate shakes could decrease satiety if it means lower fluid intake for the day. I’ll discuss water intake in the next section.
As well, feeling less full could be a drawback for an individual looking to decrease calorie intake to lose weight or for cutting goals.
Combining creatine and protein powder in a single shake could mean less overall water intake than if creatine and protein powder were taken separately, each mixed with water.
This would be a drawback for someone looking to increase their water intake to improve hydration.
There are some anecdotal reports that creatine results in digestive distress such as stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps.
While there is currently no conclusive scientific evidence to support these claims overall, it is suggested that some discomfort can occur if creatine is incompletely dissolved before ingestion.
Mixing creatine in warm water is one way to assist with dissolving it, but it is unlikely that you would make a protein shake with warm water. Also, adding protein powder to warm water could also make it less likely for both powders to dissolve completely.
These factors mean that the risk of digestive distress from incompletely dissolved creatine is higher than if creatine was taken separately.
- Can You Mix Whey Protein With Hot Water? (Yes, Follow These Tips)
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How To Combine Creatine & Protein Powder For Maximum Effectiveness
Creatine supplementation often starts with an initial “loading” phase where 20g is taken daily (usually split into 4-5 doses of 4-5g each) for 5-7 days, and then 2-10g per day (usually 3-5g) thereafter. Protein powder provides 20-30g per scoop, on average.
The dose for protein powder depends on an individual’s total recommended grams of protein for the day and how much of that protein is already coming from other sources such as whole foods, protein bars, and other high-protein products.
A general guideline for athletes is to consume 1.2 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
This would mean that a 200lb male would consume 200g of protein per day. He might choose to get 50 of those grams from protein powder, meaning 2 scoops.
Related Article: What Can You Mix With Protein Powder (13 Examples)
Time of Day
Creatine is optimal to take pre-workout to increase the creatine levels in the body before exercise and to allow you to maintain higher training intensity and workout quality.
Consuming protein prior to a workout is important for maintaining muscle mass and stimulating new muscle growth, and it can also assist with muscle recovery.
A good way to combine creatine and protein powder before a workout is in a pre-workout protein shake. This shake should also have added carbohydrates or food on the side that is rich in fast-digesting carbs.
This is to provide the fuel needed for you to feel energized during your workout, allowing you to train at a higher intensity and get the best possible results.
Another great time to combine creatine with protein powder is immediately after a workout. Creatine helps your body with energy after intense exercise, and consuming protein after a workout is important for increasing muscle fiber size and strength.
This shake should also have added carbohydrates to assist with replenishing stored carbs in the body (glycogen).
Who Should Mix Creatine With Protein Powder?
I would recommend that just about anyone taking both creatine and protein powder consider mixing them together, especially if forgetting to take one supplement or the other is a common problem.
For people looking to lose weight and/or cut body fat, the protein powder will assist with feeling full to help manage appetite during a calorie deficit.
As well, the creatine and protein powder together will both help with maintaining lean muscle mass, which is very important for keeping your metabolism as high as possible since lean muscle mass burns more calories even at rest than fat mass.
For people looking to gain weight or bulk, the protein powder provides additional calories to assist with a calorie surplus, and the creatine and protein powder together will result in greater increases in muscle mass than either supplement alone.
- Related Article: Should Beginners Take Creatine? Who SHOULD & Should NOT Use
Who Should NOT Mix Creatine With Protein Powder?
In general, the only scenarios in which I would NOT recommend mixing creatine with protein powder would be if an individual experienced a negative reaction from doing so, or for a client struggling with appetite and hunger during weight loss.
Since studies show that chewing food can reduce energy intake and increase satiety, I would advise against any form of liquid calories such as protein shakes if you want to feel fuller.
Instead, I would suggest mixing creatine with water for a zero-calorie option or taking the supplement in capsule form.
Can You Buy Creatine & Protein Powder Together?
Yes, you can buy creatine and protein powder together. There are several protein powders on the market that contain creatine.
Here are just a few examples:
- Body Fortress Chocolate Whey Protein Powder – take any time of day, suitable for cutting or bulking
- Cellucor Whey Sport Post Workout Recovery Drink with Whey Protein Isolate, Creatine & Glutamine – take post-workout, suitable for cutting or bulking
- MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Whey Protein + Creatine for Muscle Gain – take any time of day, suitable for cutting or bulking
Check out our Muscletech Whey Protein Review
- Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer Protein Powder with Vitamins & Creatine (also high in carbohydrates) – take any time of day, for bulking/weight gain
Note that these products have additional ingredients beyond just protein powder and creatine. Read the labels carefully to determine if they are suitable for your purposes.
You can safely and effectively mix creatine with protein powder, and there are benefits to doing so, including higher muscle mass gains from training and the ease and convenience of taking your supplements together.
Learn More About Creatine
- Can You Mix Creatine With BCAAs?
- Can You Mix Creatine With Pre-Workout?
- Can You Mix Creatine With Milk?
Learn More About Protein Powder
- Can You Dry Scoop Protein? (A Registered Dietician Answers)
- Does Protein Powder Have Caffeine? (30+ Brands Inspected)
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About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.
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