Also, to add to the anecdotal evidence in the rest of this thread, I find that I am a "non-responder" to creatine in any form. It could be that my dietary intake is already sufficiently covering my creatine requirements, so supplementation does little for me at all.
I do know a number of others that say it gets them an extra 1-2 reps in the gym for a given set though.
It is a well researched compound that is very cheap (you only need creatine monohydrate, not the overly priced various types of "new" creatine). So, I would suggest you give it a try and see how you respond.
Interesting study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11323554
All supplements require a bit of a leap of faith that they aren't adulterated, and that they will provide the response you're looking for. If you look at the data points in virtually every one of these studies if the control group is large enough you'll find outliers at either end of the bell curve.
I'm pretty much a non-responder to weight loss tactics. No matter how much I ride, diet, etc... I still carry a larger than expected mid-section.
Just to backup what Jaytron posted, I'm sure you all have seen the AIS supplementation fact sheets, but incase you haven't, if you ever have a question about whether a supplement actually is benefitial, they are great to check.
They divide supplements into recommended, neutral, bad for you, and banned. They provide research citations, and summaries, and usage recommendations. It's my one stop shop when considering supplementation.
Re Creatine, my anecdotal creatine story is I was accidentally taking it last summer.
My protein powder, bought at Vons, contained creatine 3g / serving. At the time, I was basically on a protein shake diet (Let's save arguing about the healthiness of that for another day), so I was drinking ~5 protein shakes per day. It was leading into nationals, and I was trying desperately to lose weight, but I started gaining weight instead! We couldn't figure out why. I gained ~ 7 lbs. I drink lots of water, and it was definitely not the beginning of my heavy lifting phase. In fact, I was tapering off going to the gym, and tapering off training, so I shouldn't have had extra exercise induced weight gain. I figured out the creatine a few weeks before nationals, and stopped taking it, but didn't lose the weight for ~2 weeks.
So I did gain weight on creatine beyond what you would expect from newbie lifting gains. However I was taking for more than the recommended dosage.
I can't say conclusively, of course, whether I noticed any performance gains. I certainly had huge gains during the time I was taking creatine (I hit a 200m PR of 6/10s of a second (13.4 to 12.8) one day after realizing the creatine), but it definitely was a time in the year when I should've been going faster anyway. I certainly felt invinsible in the gym, my leg press got a ton easier. (I was doing high rep)
It was a difficult diet to maintain simply because it severely limited my food options outside of the home. I made it through the initial induction phases, no problem. It was just frustrating to eat the same things over and over. And expensive.
It was weird. My GF (130lbs, fit) and I at the same food (we live together) and when I ate out for lunch, it was all protein with maybe some light veggies. She would hit ketosis and stay there for as long as she wanted and I would barely dip into ketosis.
Her pee strips would consistantly be purple whereas mine would barely register any trace ketones sometimes, and many times show nothing.
The only differences in our diet was probably coffee. I drank a lot regularly and she barely touched the stuff.
keto diet and getting in to ketosis is all about the fat. A calculator I did earlier based on a caloric ratio of 67%/28%/5% - fat/protein/carbs put me at 200g of Fat, 200g of protein and 25g of carbs a day...
Without the fat to burn as fuel a lot of people go into survival mode- where the body attempts to preserve.. Also- the carb content of "veggies" can add up.. I'd avoid them all together ! ;)
I guess the perplexing part was that we ate the same things and had vastly different results. I did have other signs of ketosis including the metallic taste in my mouth.
Coincidentally, we decided last week to do it again. We'll see how it goes.
This could easily be a central factor in your difficulty with weight loss :-/. Might also be a contra-indication with the keto diet, too;
"Dietary fat has long been implicated as a driver of insulin resistance. Studies on animals observed significant insulin resistance in rats after just 3 weeks on a high-fat diet (59% fat, 20% carb.) Large quantities of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated (omega-6) fats all appear to be harmful to rats to some degree, compared to large amounts of starch, but saturated fat appears to be the most effective at producing IR. This is partly caused by direct effects of a high-fat diet on blood markers, but, more significantly, ad libitum high-fat diet has the tendency to result in caloric intake that's far in excess of animals' energy needs, resulting in rapid weight gain. In humans, statistical evidence is more equivocal. Being insensitive to insulin is still positively correlated with fat intake, and negatively correlated with dietary fiber intake, but both these factors are also correlated with excess body weight."
(Extractfrom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_resistance )
I've been experimenting with my diet for a long time. I even logged every meal and every calorie for 9 months in one stretch, and it didn't work. I got lean-er, but not as lean as I could be.
I'm still trying to figure it all out. I wonder if it's Cortisol. I was an avid coffee drinker for over 15 years. There are direct relationships between Cortisol and Belly Fat as well as Coffee and Cortisol, so some see excess coffee being indirectly related to belly fat due to the fact that it raises Cortisol levels.
Hm, I think I need to do some googling there, that doesn't make sense at all at first glance. To the internets!
I don't have access to pub med, and a quick trip to google scholar didn't turn up anything that looks likely to be related to this (but I can only see the abstracts of a lot of it). Any idea where a study on the coffee/cortisol thing might be found?