Creatine is an amino acid that helps to supply energy to all cells in the body, primarily the muscles, and can be found in foods such as red meat and fish.
Creatine is also available in a supplement form, and can be taken by ingesting a powder or tablet. In some studies, when compared to other supplements which are not linked to cell repair (such as carbohydrates, creatine supplementation has been shown to improve recovery after strength training.
The aim of this study was to provide a better understanding of the role of creatine in recovery post-strength exercise. The hypothesis was that creatine consumption concurrent with a strength training program would result in greater training enhancement in muscle strength, lean muscle mass and muscle fiber cross-sectional area than carbohydrate ingestion.
A total of 20 healthy participants (age 55-70 years) were recruited and randomly divided into one of two groups; (1) creatine or (2) carbohydrate supplementation. Each group undertook a 12-week strength training program during which half were given creatine and half were given carbohydrate.
Muscle strength (45o leg press and bench press), body composition, and venous blood and skeletal muscle biopsy samples were assessed before and after the 12 week program This was a double-blinded study, so except for a study coordinator, the researchers and participants did not know whether they were given creatine or carbohydrates.
Not surprisingly, after 12-weeks of training each group improved significantly in a number of outcomes, such as; 1RM bench press, leg press, body mass, fat-free mass and total muscle protein.
However, there were no significant differences between the creatine or carbohydrate supplementation groups. This indicates that creatine supplementation did not enhance muscle-related outcomes post-strength training.
The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, which is constantly making big claims about the positive effects of their products.
Scientifically sound studies like this, adhering to the rules for high quality research, often fail to confirm these kinds of claims about the effects of supplements on various outcomes (increase muscle strength/size, accelerate recovery post-exercise).
It is always sensible to question the efficacy of any product and to expect scientific evidence of its effectiveness.
Title: Creatine supplementation post-exercise does not enhance training-induced adaptations in middle to older aged males
Authors : D.Cooke, M, Brabham, B, Buford, T, Shelmadine, B, McPheeters, M, Hudson, G, Stathis, C, Greenwood, M, Kreider, R & Willoughby
Web Link : https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-014-2866-1/fulltext