We Know That Protein Feeds Muscle… But What REALLY Encourages Them To Grow!?


Take a car as a loose example… the metal, rubber and plastic that forms its structure is key to its form, without aluminium your cars structure would cease to exist, the same as the fibres that comprise your muscles. This is all very well and good, add an engine into this shell and a few other essentials such as wheels, pedals and a steering wheel and you’ve got a structure that could move quite nicely. Granted, you could quite easily add diesel to the engine and get yourself from A to B, but for those of you who strive for high performance, diesel just won’t do!

This analogy lends itself nicely to muscle growth, the all-important macronutrient protein will feed muscle to enable growth and development, but like diesel, protein has its limits too…

Enter Creatine…

Now creatine and protein are distinct from one another, one is primarily a building block (comprising the structure), whilst the other is a unique energy source/ metabolite. To use the car analogy once again, diesel (or petrol) is integral to the running of a car, there is no compromise, without it you aren’t getting to your destination…this is represented by protein in human nutrition. However, add some super unleaded petrol and a nice little turbo to your car’s engine and the performance potential is increased dramatically… this is where creatine really comes in! Creatine is your muscles own unique energy source, meaning with the exception of the brain, it cannot be stolen by other body parts for energy. This means that there is a consistent supply of highly efficient energy to your muscles.

The Protein : Creatine Relationship

So to use one final analogy, there is no argument that protein is the ‘bread’ of sports nutrition, but there is even lesser argument that creatine is the ‘butter’…you just wouldn’t have one without the other! You won’t get any gains from creatine on its own i.e. a diet high in creatine and yet low in protein will (apart from putting you at serious risk of malnutrition) not yield muscle gains, whereas a diet low in creatine and high in protein will have far less serious consequences. Fortunately from a general dietary perspective, creatine is found naturally in meat sources such as red meat, so if protein is high enough from these sources then creatine adequacy usually follows. The problem is when we pay hard earned money for supplements and get the execution wrong. Consuming a whey protein after exercise has been proven to maximise muscle recovery and development, the best source of protein in terms of availability to the body is whey protein, closely followed by egg protein. Creatine can then be added to the shake, or consumed separately in order to increase your capacity to train harder, for longer, and with more intensity. Some people consume creatine on its own without the support of protein, this means they have the capacity to train harder but fail to maintain any gains they have developed thereafter….it’s like filling your car with petrol and forgetting your damn keys (sorry, I couldn’t resist one more analogy).




About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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