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creatine: magnitude of effects in practical terms

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  • creatine: magnitude of effects in practical terms

    Hello, BBM. Discussions of creatine, including those of BBM and Stronger By Science, typically focus on mechanistic evidence in promotion of creatine supplementation with little attention given to magnitude of effects on strength performance and related parameters. A couple interesting remarks made recently on this forum have prompted me to wonder about this. Specifically, Dr. Feigenbaum wrote “I think if performance is very, very important to you, then regularly taking creatine is probably worthwhile.” And Dr. Baraki wrote “[T]o be clear, ALL of the benefits of creatine are relatively modest.” It sounds like BBM’s perspective on the so-called gold standard of supplementation has been refined over time.

    When evaluating supplementation of creatine for improvement in strength performance, which specific, scientifically measured parameters should be considered? For a “good responder”, what are the typical magnitudes of improvement seen in those parameters? Can this be put into practical terms? For instance, I have been using creatine since I began lifting years ago, thus I have no means of assessing benefit for myself. Assuming I am a good responder, what would be the expected results of supplementation cessation? Would this set me back a month in progress, after which lifts would proceed normally? Would progress come more slowly or with more troughs than peaks? Would the ceiling of maximum potential be lowered? Thanks for your help.

  • #2

    Things that have been evaluated include maximal strength performance, strength endurance (e.g. reps to failure at a given load), maximal power production, time to fatigue during endurance tests, and more.

    For a responder, we'd be expecting a modest improvement in the ~1-5% range compared to placebo. The problem here is that performance is dynamic and mutlifactorial, so it's hard to determine the effects of cessation or initiation without an adequate sample and duration of study. I wouldn't expect you to notice anything if you stopped taking creatine in the short or long-term, but you might make less progress over the years.
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