Article Review: Creatine Supplementation and its affect on maximal strength and body composition
Article: Becque, M., Lochmann, J. and Melrose, D. (2000). Effects of oral creatine supplementation on muscular strength and body composition. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 32(3), pp.654-658.
Design: A double blind study was performed with 23 male volunteers with 1 year minimum of continuous strength training. They all followed the same 6week training protocol, with the creatine group receiving 5g/day for the first 5days then 2g/day there after.
Maximal strength - Placebo group increased by 16.5% whereas Creatine group increased by 29.9%
Body Mass - Placebo group had no change in body mass, however Creatine group increased by 2.0kg
Fat-Free Mass - Placebo had no change in fat free mass, however Creatine group had a 1.6kg increase in fat-free mass
Fat mass and body fat percentage - No Change in either for both groups
Skinfolds - Only the Creatine groups tricep skinfold decreased significantly no other skinfold changed to a significant amount in either group
Arm Circumference - Placebo group saw an increase in arm circumference at the 1/3 mark of the bicep (3% increase). Creatine group saw an increase at all 3 points, 1/3 mark (3.9% increase), 1/2 mark (3.1% increase), 2/3 mark (5.1% increase).
Limitations: Diet was not tracked nor incorporated. This may have influenced all factors.
My Thoughts: Most creatine studies look at the effect on cardio or sprint work, whereas this study had a look at maximal strength. Evidently there was a large increase in both maximal strength and fat-free mass with ingesting creatine.
What I like about this piece compared to others is that it took already reasonably trained males rather than untrained (thus eliminating the motor learning effect).
Creatine shows a significant improvement in gaining of muscle size as well as strength, whilst not compensating with and increase of fat mass. Why this might be the case was hypothesised to be due to the increase in energy to lift more weight in a session, whilst the creatine group did lift a higher total number in kilograms across the study (as training included to failure sets), it was not statistically significant. This is an area which may want to be further studied.