Creatine supplementation and VO2max: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Damien Gras, Charlotte Lanhers, Reza Bagheri, Ukadike Chris Ugbolue, Emmanuel Coudeyre, Bruno Pereira, Marek Zak, Jean-Baptiste Bouillon-Minois, Frédéric Dutheil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Although creatine supplementation is well-known to increase exercise performance in acute high-intensity exercises, its role in aerobic performance based on VO2max is more controversial. Thus, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of creatine supplementation on VO2max. PubMed, Cochrane, Embase, and ScienceDirect were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) reporting VO2max in creatine supplementation and placebo groups before and after supplementation. We computed a random-effects meta-analysis on VO2max at baseline, within groups following supplementation, on changes on VO2max between groups, and after supplementation between groups. Sensitivity analyses and meta-regression were conducted. We included 19 RCTs for a total of 424 individuals (mean age 30 years old, 82% men). VO2max did not differ at baseline between groups (creatine and placebo). Participants in both groups were engaged in exercise interventions in most studies (80%). Using changes in VO2max, VO2max increased in both groups but increased less after creatine supplementation than placebo (effect size [ES] = −0.32, 95%CI = −0.51 to −0.12, p = 0.002). Comparisons after creatine supplementation confirmed a lower VO2max in the creatine group compared to the placebo group (ES= −0.20, 95%CI = −0.39 to −0.001, p = 0.049). Meta-analysis after exclusion from meta-funnel resulted in similar outcomes in a subgroup of young and healthy participants. Meta-regressions on characteristics of supplementation, physical training, or sociodemographic were not statistically significant. Creatine supplementation has a negative effect on VO2max, regardless of the characteristics of training, supplementation, or population characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Early online date3 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • dietary supplement
  • endurance
  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • VO2peak
  • ventilatory threshold

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