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D-Pinitol adds nothing to creatine

Manufacturers are fond of beefing up their designer creatines with the insulin enhancer D-pinitol, otherwise known as 3-O-methyl-chiro-inositol. [Structural formula shown below] The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has published a study done by American sports scientists, which raises doubts about whether designer creatines are more effective than ordinary creatine. In the study power athletes actually performed worse when they added D-pinitol to their creatine.

A large group of inositol analogues is found in beans, nuts and grains. The body also manufactures the substances itself. They play a role in the transfer of hormone and neurotransmitter signals to cells. D-Pinitol is one of these analogues. The sports supplements industry has been crazy about them since research in 2001 showed that muscle cells take up more creatine if creatine users also take one gram a day of D-pinitol. The same research also showed, by the way, that a double dose of D-pinitol is not effective. [Journal of Exercise Physiology Online Volume 4 Number 4 November 2001 41-47.]

The theory behind the enhancing effect of D-pinitol on creatine is that muscle cells take up creatine better if they also take up glucose under the influence of insulin. D-Pinitol helps the muscle cells to respond better to insulin, so the story goes. We, the critical compilers of the web-magazine that supplements manufacturers love to hate, already had our suspicions when we read the first studies which showed that D-pinitol only stimulates the signal effect of insulin in muscle cells under specific conditions. Under other conditions D-pinitol actually inhibits the signal effect, was our educated guess.

D-Pinitol adds nothing to creatine

D-Pinitol adds nothing to creatine
The double-edged effect of D-pinitol that the first studies noted did not stop the manufacturers from putting D-pinitol in products like Neovar. The idea was that they would work better than ordinary creatine. For the sake of honesty we should mention here that products like Neovar contain far more additional ingredients than just D-pinitol. The American researchers did not study the more complex cocktails. They confined themselves to creatine and D-pinitol.

The researchers gave 12 young recreational bodybuilders sachets containing 4.5 grams creatine and 0.5 grams D-pinitol. Another group of 12 bodybuilders was given sachets containing only creatine. For five days the bodybuilders took the contents of 4 sachets per day, and then continued on 1 sachet per day. After 4 weeks the researchers assessed how the test subjects had reacted to the supplements. The figure below shows the how much creatine the athletes retained during the first four days of the study.

D-Pinitol adds nothing to creatine

CR = creatine group; CRP = creatine + D-pinitol group.

D-pinitol hardly raised the creatine retention at all. Little wonder, if you consider that earlier studies showed that a dose of 2 grams didn't work either.

The fat free mass had increased in both groups after four weeks. The increase was greater however in the group that had only taken creatine than in the group that had taken the creatine/D-pinitol combination.

D-Pinitol adds nothing to creatine

Conclusion: a combination of D-pinitol and creatine doesn't work. Another creatine myth is laid to rest.

J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Dec;23(9):2673-82.

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