Can I Take Only Creatine Without Protein? (Here’s What You Need to Know!)

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Yes, you can take only creatine without protein (and vice-versa). Creatine supplementation increases the stores of phosphocreatine in the muscles, which aids the formation of ATP (the body’s principal source of storing and transferring energy to the cells). Whereas whey protein contains branched-chain amino acids, which aids in muscle building. Neither supplement depends on the other, so you can take them together, independently, or not at all.

Creatine & Protein Don’t Depend On Each Other

Partha Banerjee, Personal Trainer, CSCS, Fitness Blogger: "While creatine can be a valuable tool for improving performance and growth, it's crucial to ensure you're consuming enough protein to build and repair muscle tissue. While whole foods should be your primary source, protein powder can be a convenient way to supplement your intake and reach your daily protein goals, especially if you struggle to do so through food alone."

I think it’s important to clarify a couple of points about creatine and protein.

Firstly, neither supplement is some kind of magical pixie dust that will magically transform your physique.

In fact, you could quite conceivably supplement with both and still have terrible workouts and a terrible looking body.

So, don’t expect miracles from creatine or protein.

Secondly, if you decide to take either or both supplements then know that they don’t depend on each other.

In other words, you can still produce fantastic results by taking just one, both, or neither at all.

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at what creatine and protein actually do for you.

What Does Creatine Do?

Creatine is naturally produced in the liver and kidneys, which means that all of us already have creatine in our body.

With that being said, the body can only store so much creatine at any one time.

Once the body feels it has enough creatine this is then converted to the waste product, creatinine.

Creatinine is then excreted from the body through urine.

Paul Carter, Sports Scientist: "Creatine is one of the most well-researched and safe supplements available. For individuals who tolerate it well, it can be a beneficial addition to their training routine."

Now, the reason to supplement creatine is to produce phosphocreatine.

Phosphocreatine aids the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

And it is ATP that both stores and transfers energy in the cells of the body.

In effect, supplementing with creatine helps to produce more ATP, which in turn provides you with additional energy for your workout.

However, as I’ve mentioned, this isn’t anything magical or groundbreaking.

In fact, regular creatine consumption may add an extra rep or two to your set.

It may help you workout for an extra 5 minutes, or take slightly less rest between sets.

But, this of course all adds up.

So, you could realistically get much bigger and stronger by supplementing with creatine.

However, this compounding effect of extra reps, sets, or additional time spent working out, will take a while to reap the benefits.

What Does Protein Do?

Lynda Gillespie, Registered Dietitian: "Protein powder can be a useful tool for athletes and individuals with high protein needs, but it's not a magic bullet and shouldn't replace whole foods in your diet."

I guess you could say that your muscles love protein.

Plus, whey protein supplements contain branched-chain amino acids, which is a specific amino acid most commonly associated with building muscle.

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking more protein is better.

Personally, I feel that many lifters become too obsessed with their protein intake.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re lifting weights and want to add muscle mass then you need to be consuming protein.

However, depending on your overall muscle-building goals, even 0.8g of protein per one pound of bodyweight may suffice.

So, in effect, you can still build muscle by consuming a lot less protein than you think.

With that being said, depending on your current physique, your workouts, and how much muscle you’re looking to add to your frame, you could potentially require 2g of protein per one pound of body weight.

As with most things in life, there is no “one-size-fits-all”.

But, the main reason that people take protein shakes and supplements is simply to hit their allocated protein consumption goals.

Creatine vs. Protein: Is One Better Than The Other?

Hopefully, you now recognise that both creatine and protein play unique roles in fitness and muscle development. 

Creatine is all about enhancing your performance during high-intensity workouts by increasing your muscles’ energy reserves. 

This can be especially beneficial for short, explosive activities like sprinting or lifting weights.

On the other hand, protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth. 

After you work out, your muscles are essentially in a state of repair, and that’s where protein steps in. 

It helps rebuild the muscle fibers you’ve stressed during your exercise, allowing them to grow back stronger.

However, let’s take a closer look at how creatine and protein compare with certain training protocols.

💡 Creatine vs. Protein: Fuel Your Fitness Journey 🏋️‍♂️
Aspect Creatine Protein
Muscle Building Boosts energy for peak performance, aiding in greater gains. Supports muscle repair and growth, essential for recovery.
Training Efficacy Enhances short, explosive training efforts. Universal benefit, crucial for post-workout recovery.
Fat Loss May enhance calorie burn through improved workout performance. Supports lean mass maintenance during calorie deficits.
Recovery Indirect support via enhanced workout capacity. Directly aids in muscle repair and rebuilding.
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Muscle Building

Creatine and protein serve different functions in muscle building. 

Creatine increases your energy during high-intensity workouts, allowing you to perform better and potentially leading to greater muscle gains over time. 

Protein, however, is essential for the repair and growth of muscle fibers post-exercise. 

It’s not about one being better than the other, they work together to support muscle development.

Training Efficacy

For certain types of training, creatine might be more beneficial. 

Specifically, for short, explosive activities like sprinting or heavy lifting, creatine provides the energy muscles need to perform at peak. 

Protein is universally beneficial, especially for recovery after any type of training, ensuring your muscles have the nutrients they need to repair and grow.

Fat Loss

Neither supplement is a direct tool for fat loss, but they can support your journey. 

Creatine can enhance workout performance, potentially leading to higher calorie burn. 

Protein is known for its role in muscle maintenance during calorie deficits, which can help preserve lean mass while losing fat.


Protein is key for recovery, as it helps repair muscle damage incurred during workouts. 

While creatine doesn’t directly contribute to muscle repair, by enhancing your ability to perform in subsequent workouts, it indirectly supports overall fitness and recovery by allowing for more intense and effective training sessions.

You Can Get Creatine & Protein Without Supplements

I’ve already alluded to the fact that neither creatine or protein is going to magically transform your body.

However, quite clearly they can make a big difference to your workouts, recovery, and physique.

But, this still doesn’t mean that you have to supplement with either or both.

Creatine and protein are both naturally found in various food sources, especially red meat and fish.

Okay, I’ll be honest and say that it will be difficult to get enough creatine from food when compared to what a scoop of the supplement provides.

Alan Aragon, Nutrition & Strength Coach: "For individuals engaged in resistance training, creatine supplementation can be a valuable tool for enhancing performance and physique goals."

The vast majority of lifters will typically supplement 3-5g of creatine on a daily basis.

However, even one pound of raw beef will contain approximately 1.4g of creatine.

So, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll consume around 3-4lbs of beef on a daily basis to fulfill your creatine requirements.

Therefore, this does raise a case for supplementing with creatine.

But, that doesn’t mean that good nutrition and adequate recovery won’t provide you with ample energy to train.

When it comes to protein that same one pound of raw beef will provide around 117g of protein.

So, for some of you that would be more than enough to satisfy your daily protein requirements, although I’m not sure whether you’d want to eat a pound of beef every day.

But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get your protein from a variety of sources, e.g. poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, etc.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of us could consume enough protein to build muscle just from the foods we eat.

And if you’re eating whole, unprocessed, proteins and other ingredients then you should have ample energy for your workouts, i.e. you probably won’t need creatine either.

The Most Important Factors to Build Muscle

I’m hoping by now it may be fairly obvious what I’m about to say, but I’ll say it anyway.

When it comes to building muscle the most important factors are your training, recovery, plus the proper amount of calories and protein.

And when I say protein, I mean by way of supplementing through something like whey or simply from the food that you consume.

Dr. Layne Norton: "If you're already hitting your protein goals through whole food sources, then protein powder probably won't offer any additional benefits. However, for individuals who struggle to reach their protein needs, it can be a helpful tool."

So, you could in effect take all the creatine you want and still never build muscle.

Conversely, you could also take all the protein you want, but without factoring the other things I’ve mentioned, once again you may never build muscle.

I will say that protein is more important for muscle growth than creatine.

However, I mean the macronutrient as a whole, and not just whey protein shakes.

Realistically, whey protein is nothing more than a processed food that you’re able to digest quickly.

So, you can take creatine without protein.

You can take protein without creatine.

Plus, you can even take both.

However, nothing will beat lifting weights, getting adequate rest between your workouts, 7-8 hours sleep a night, and eating a well-balanced, nutritious and protein-packed diet.

Final Thoughts

  • Creatine and protein serve different functions.
  • A very basic view is creatine for energy and can aid in recovery, whereas protein is specifically aimed at muscle building and muscle repair.
  • They can be taken independently based on your dietary needs and fitness goals, e.g many people are able to hit their protein requirements from whole foods alone.
  • It would extremely difficult to consume the equivalent of 5g of creatine through food alone.
  • For best results, and based on your overall training goals, combining creatine and protein is optimal for muscular development and recovery.

For all the fantastic benefits of creatine there are certain side-effects that some trainees suffer. Check out what I have to say about creatine making you fart.

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