Elite Athlete Alexa Watson Drinking a Shake

Can You Mix Creatine with Protein Powder?

If you're anything like me ... you probably take a range of different supplements. Personally, I take quite a few ... from protein powders & vitamins, to pre-workouts and everything in between.

Between all the powders and drinks I have to make every day ... it can be pretty inconvenient. I mean ... wouldn't it be nice if you could just take one big supplement cocktail every day?

Well, in a lot of cases, there is a good reason why these different supplements don't come mixed together. Take pre-workout and post-workout recovery drinks for example. Does it really make sense to take your pre-workout and post-workout in one drink?

Of course not! They are supposed to be taken at different times to accomplish different things. In some cases though, mixing supplements is okay, and sometimes even encouraged.

A great example of this would be mixing creatine with protein powder. So ... can you mix creatine with protein powder? You absolutely can, but there's something else you need to consider before doing so.

Keep reading, and I'll tell you everything you need to know about mixing creatine with protein powder, and important things to consider to get the best results.

What Is Creatine?

First, it will help if you understand how creatine works.

To put it simply, creatine helps to provide energy for high-intensity exercise. This aids in more strength and power production, but let me elaborate on that a little bit.

When to Use Amino Acids

Creatine is a molecule made primarily by the liver and kidneys. It comes from 3 amino acids: L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. While our bodies make creatine, we also get some from our food, such as red meat, milk, and some fish.

In the body, 95% of creatine is stored in muscle tissue where it is bound to another high energy molecule called phosphate. This makes phosphocreatine.

The simplest form of energy in every cell in the body is called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. I want you to imagine an apple (adenosine) with a toothpick stuck in it that has 3 grapes (phosphates) on it.

When the body needs energy, it pulls one of the phosphates off to release energy (take a grape off). This creates a molecule called ADP, or adenosine diphosphate (2 phosphates).

This is where creatine comes in.

Remember the phosphocreatine I talked about a minute ago? Picture a kiwi with a toothpick and one grape on it.

Creatine donates that phosphate to the ADP molecule to create more ATP very quickly. This allows you to recycle energy rapidly to produce more energy in a shorter amount of time.

So the kiwi kicks off the grape and adds it to the apple, giving it a third grape, like it had to begin with. This makes it possible to pull that third grape off again to release more energy.

This happens quite rapidly. For the first 8-10 seconds of exercise, circulating ATP and phosphocreatine provides maximal muscle power [1].

So, if you can produce a maximal amount of force in a shorter amount of time ... this can help you make significant gains in strength and muscle over time.

Creatine is the most researched supplement by a long shot ... and for good reason. Research has proven time and time again that creatine can increase strength and power.

Now, there are many forms of creatine out there. In my opinion, the most tried and true form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. Research agrees with this as well. In fact, creatine monohydrate is the safest, most effective, and most researched form as well.

It's also the cheapest ... so don't fall for the marketing behind other "better" forms of creatine!

Benefits Of Creatine

There’s a reason why creatine is so popular within the fitness community—its benefits can make a big difference in your physical health goals.

Improved exercise performance

First, creatine increases the availability of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy source for muscle contractions during high-intensity exercise. 

This leads to enhanced performance during short bursts of intense activities like sprinting, weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training.

Enhanced strength and power

Especially because creatine helps with ATP production,  it directly contributes to increased strength and power output during workouts. 

This leads to not only improved performance at the gym but any sport or activity that relies on explosive power. 

Faster muscle recovery

Adding creatine to your diet also has been shown to reduce muscle damage and inflammation after intense exercise. 

As a result, you can usually recover faster between workouts, allowing individuals to train more frequently and with higher intensity without experiencing excessive muscle soreness or fatigue.

Increased muscle mass

If your primary concern is about muscle gains, creatine is useful for your goals too. 

It leads to an increase in muscle mass by drawing water into muscle cells, a process known as cell volumization. 

This not only gives muscles a fuller and more volumized appearance but also promotes protein synthesis, which contributes to muscle growth over time.

What Is Protein Powder?

Protein powder is one of the most popular ways to supplement protein, especially to help fill the gaps that your diet isn’t quite hitting.

For a lot of people, getting enough protein is a challenge, especially if your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle.

Protein powder is a solution that provides a concentrated form of protein derived from various sources such as whey, casein, soy, pea, or rice. 

It is commonly used by individuals looking to increase their protein intake, particularly athletes, bodybuilders, and people engaged in intense physical activities.

It’s often used in shakes, smoothies, and other beverages; but it’s just as good in yogurt, oatmeal, and even baked goods.

This versatility makes it convenient for individuals to consume protein in different ways according to their preferences and dietary needs.

Protein is one of the three macronutrients essential for human nutrition, alongside carbohydrates and fats. 

It plays a crucial role in building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and maintaining overall health.

That’s why it’s so important for each and every one of us to get enough protein, preferably from whole foods like beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

With that said, most of us struggle to get enough protein with our food alone, especially if we’re trying to balance calories, too.

Protein supplements like protein powder can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have increased protein requirements due to factors such as intense physical activity, muscle-building goals, or dietary restrictions. 

They can help ensure that individuals meet their daily protein needs, especially when whole food sources may be insufficient or inconvenient.

Benefits of Protein Powder

As we stressed earlier, everyone needs protein in their life—especially athletes and those working on their fitness.

Here are some of the perks of using protein powder to meet your wellness goals.

Muscle growth and repair

Protein is essential for muscle synthesis, repair, and growth. 

Consuming protein powder after exercise provides the body with the necessary amino acids needed to rebuild and repair muscle tissues damaged during workouts.

 This leads to faster recovery and muscle growth, making protein powder an important component of post-workout nutrition.

Convenient source of protein

Protein powder offers a convenient and quick way to increase your protein intake, especially for individuals with busy lifestyles. It can be easily mixed with your drink, shake, or added to various recipes.

This way, you get a convenient and portable source of high-quality protein that can be consumed on the go.

Weight management

Protein is known for its satiating effect—it helps you feel full and satisfied, which can aid in appetite control and weight management. 

By including protein powder in your diet, you can increase your protein intake without significantly increasing your calorie intake.

Enhanced athletic performance

Adequate protein intake is crucial for athletes and active individuals to support energy levels, endurance, and performance during exercise. 

Protein powder can help ensure that athletes meet their increased protein requirements, especially during periods of intense training or competition.

Now that we understand what creatine is and its benefits ... let's answer our question: Can you mix creatine with protein powder?

Why Can You Mix Creatine With Protein Powder?

When we talk about mixing creatine with protein powder ... I always recommend using an isolate. I’ll get to this in a second.

You see, there are generally two different types of protein powders: isolate proteins and blended proteins.

Isolate proteins, like whey protein isolate, have fat and lactose removed from them, allowing them to digest quickly. They are designed to be taken after your workouts to jump-start the recovery process.

Blended proteins normally contain multiple protein sources with different digestion rates. There's also more fat and lactose in these blends to slow the digestion speed. That's because protein blends are designed to supplement meals and snacks throughout the day.

So ... why isolates instead of blends? Well, the answer comes from understanding proper post-workout nutrition. During high-intensity workouts, there are 2 main things that happen.

1. You deplete muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrates in the muscle).

2. You create micro-tears in your muscle fibers.

Post Workout Stack

For optimal recovery, you need to address both of these issues as quickly as possible. The faster you get the right nutrients into the muscle, the faster you start the recovery process.

That's why you don't only need a rapidly-digesting protein after your workout ... you also need a rapidly-digesting carbohydrate.

This ties back to the answer you're looking for. When you pair your protein isolate and creatine with a high glycemic carb ... the carbohydrate helps create an insulin spike.

Muscle creatine uptake is enhanced when insulin levels are high [2]. The most beneficial time to spike your insulin levels is after a workout [3]. So that would also make it a great time to take creatine.

So really, you can and should mix your creatine with your post-workout protein powder and carbohydrate. The insulin will help drive more of the creatine, protein, and other nutrients to the muscle to work their magic.

What Else Can You Mix Creatine With?

Not only can you mix creatine with protein powder, you can also mix your creatine with other liquids such as sport drinks, fruit juices, and more. The important point to remember here is that insulin can help improve the rate of transport and uptake of creatine [4].

I mentioned the liquids above because they typically contain carbohydrates which can help your body produce insulin.

So whether you opt for a traditional protein shake or a more creative approach, it’s important to find the right mixture that helps you get the most out of your supplement.

What Not To Mix Creatine With

Generally speaking, adding creatine to your diet is a pretty seamless process—it’s not incredibly high-risk.

So yes, you can put creatine in your protein shake or mix it with other types of protein.

But, it’s always advisable to check in with your medical professional to ensure that creatine will help your health efforts.

Also, be aware of these substances that creatine doesn’t mix well with so that you can still get the results you want.

  • Caffeine - While the overall evidence isn’t conclusive, some research suggests that caffeine may counteract creatine's effects due to its diuretic properties. Consider spacing out intake of caffeine and creatine to avoid potential interference with creatine absorption or utilization.

  • Alcohol - Although not directly harmful, alcohol consumption can hinder ATP production, which may affect creatine's efficacy. Excessive alcohol consumption may also strain the kidneys and lead to dehydration, potentially impacting creatine's benefits. As a rule of thumb, be moderate with your alcohol intake when using creatine.

  • High-sugar beverages - Mixing creatine with sugary drinks may not be ideal for individuals watching their sugar intake or managing their weight. High-sugar beverages can cause insulin spikes and may interfere with the absorption or utilization of creatine. Opting for lower-sugar options like water or coconut water is recommended when mixing with creatine.

  • Medications - Especially if you are on a medication, talk to your healthcare professional to make sure there aren’t any potentially dangerous interactions. Better safe than sorry! Your doctor can provide personalized advice and guidance for these situations.

  • Have Any Questions?

    Creatine may be the missing puzzle piece in your health and fitness regimen, so if you want more protein in your life, check out these 1st Phorm Creatine and Protein Powders options.

    You can also download the 1st Phorm app to get all kinds of other fitness resources, including food tracking, workout plans, and nutritional guidance from the pros.

    If you have any more questions about creatine, protein, or anything else ... reach out to us! Our team of Certified Personal Trainers (NASM-CPT) and Certified Nutrition Coaches (NASM-CNC) is always happy to help.

    After all, we want you to be fully confident and equipped to reach your health and fitness goals.


    [1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/phosphagen#:~:text=The%20combined%20amounts%20of%20cell,for%20the%20100%2Dmeter%20run.

    [2] https://www.creightonprep.creighton.edu/uploaded/Athletics_Page/Weight_Room/Supplement_Info/creatine.pdf

    [3] ​​https://www.iinh.net/the-basics-of-pre-post-workout-nutrition/#:~:text=Do%3A%20Time%20most%20of%20your,cells%20which%20promotes%20insulin%20synthesis.

    [4] Haugland RB, Chang DT. Insulin Effect on Creatine Transport in Skeletal Muscle. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. 1975;148(1):1-4. doi:10.3181/00379727-148-38464