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The use of creatine supplements in the military
  1. Konstantinos Havenetidis
  1. Correspondence to Professor Konstantinos Havenetidis, Human Performance-Rehabilitation Laboratory, Faculty of Physical & Cultural Education, Hellenic Army Academy, Vari-Koropiou Avenue, Vari, Attiki 16673, Greece; khavenetidis{at}sse.gr

Abstract

Introduction Creatine is considered an effective nutritional ergogenic aid to enhance exercise performance. In spite of the publication of several reviews in the last decade on the topic of exercise performance/sports and creatine there is a need for an update related to the military given the lack of information in this area. The aim of this study was to critically assess original research addressing the use of creatine supplements in the military.

Methods A search of the electronic databases PubMed and SPORTDiscus, for the following key words: military personnel, trainees, recruit, soldier, physical fitness, physical conditioning, creatine supplementation, creatine ingestion, nutritional supplements to identify surveys and randomised clinical trials from journal articles and technical reports investigating the effect of creatine supplementation on military populations.

Results Thirty-three out of 90 articles examined the use of creatine as a dietary supplement in military personnel. Twenty-one studies were finally selected on the basis of stated inclusion criteria for military surveys and randomised clinical trials. Most of the surveys (15/17) in the military indicate a high popularity of creatine (average 27%) among supplement users. In contrast, in most of the exercise protocols used (6/9) during randomised clinical trials creatine has produced a non-significant performance-enhancing effect.

Conclusions Creatine is one of the most widely used supplemental compounds in the military. It is not considered a doping infraction or related to any adverse health effects but its long-term usage needs further investigation. Experimental research suggests that creatine supplementation does not enhance physical performance in the military. However, limitations in creatine dosage, military fitness testing and sample group selection might have underestimated the ergogenic properties of creatine. Recent studies also indicate positive effects on various aspects of total force fitness such as cognitive-psychomotor performance, bone health, musculoskeletal damage and neuromuscular function.

  • Adverse Health Effects
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Administration and Dosage
  • Military personnel
  • Creatine
  • Performance-Enhancing Effect
  • Received December 22, 2014.
  • Revision received March 4, 2015.
  • Accepted March 8, 2015.

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