Creatine monohydrate is one of the most popular and well-known supplements in sports nutrition, and for good reason—the stuff flat-out works. The body of research documenting the ergogenic properties of creatine is extensive, with multiple studies noting that supplementing with the so-called "king of bodybuilding" supplements can:
- Enhance ATP (muscular energy) production during intense exercise
- Support increases in muscular strength and size
- Improve muscular endurance and peak power
There's a good chance that you’ve used creatine in the past, and that the majority of you are even using it right now on its own or as part of a larger product blend.
In fact, if you roll over to the supplement facts panel on your tub of C4®, you’ll notice that it has creatine. But, it’s not the “standard” creatine monohydrate that you’re probably used to seeing in other pre-workouts. The form of creatine included in the different versions of C4® is one of the newer, “alternative” types of creatine you’ll encounter called "creatine nitrate."
In this article, we’ll discuss what creatine nitrate is, how it's different than creatine monohydrate, and explain how it enhances your performance.
What Is Creatine Nitrate?
There’s little dispute that creatine monohydrate is one of the most effective bodybuilding supplements of all time. Of course, it’s human nature to find ways to optimize and maximize everything—including creatine.
Over the years, myriad forms of creatine have hit the market, including creatine ethyl ester, magnesium creatine chelate (MCC), and creatine hydrochloride, or creatine HCl. Some of these have matched the effectiveness of creatine monohydrate, but others have turned out to be potentially less effective than monohydrate, such as creatine ethyl ester.
Creatine nitrate, however, brings increased both solubility and efficacy to the table, making it unique among creatines. With creatine nitrate, the creatine molecule is bound to a nitrate group, which gives it a number of interesting properties, including increased water solubility.
In fact, one study noted that creatine nitrate has about 10 times the water solubility as does either creatine monohydrate or buffered creatine. This means that it takes 10 times the amount of water to dissolve creatine monohydrate as it would creatine nitrate.
Creatine nitrate isn't just more soluble, however. It also has something to offer that creatine monohydrate doesn’t: namely, nitrates.
What Are Nitrates?
Nitrates (NO3−) are organic polyatomic ions found in a number of foods, including beets, spinach, kale, and collard greens. When ingested, either from food or through supplements, as in the case of creatine nitrate, nitrates are converted to nitric oxide via the nitrate → nitrite → nitric oxide pathway in the body.
Due to this increase in nitric oxide, nitrates may help support improved blood flow and oxygen delivery. Nitrates may also relax blood vessels, easing the workload on the heart when blood is returning to it from the arms and legs.
What does this mean in terms of improving athletic performance?
Various studies have noted that nitrate supplementation can decrease oxygen cost despite maintaining workload.[3,4] Reducing the oxygen “cost” of exercise can lead to improved energy efficiency during training, thereby increasing the amount of time you can train until reaching fatigue. As you would expect, this leads to improved performance as well as increased muscle contractile efficiency through a reduction of the ATP cost of muscle contraction.
Human studies conducted with subjects supplementing with 1 and 2 gram doses of creatine nitrate found that those who used the novel form of creatine improved:
- Peak power output
- Average power output
- Average velocity
- Lifting volume
In other words, supplementation with creatine nitrate helps athletes perform more work with greater power and velocity while simultaneously reducing the amount of effort expended. Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention one other major aesthetic benefit to supplementing with creatine nitrate: bigger muscle pumps!
Cellucor® C4® uses the only patented, legally-licensed form of creatine nitrate: NO3-T™. Using the trademarked NO3-T™ ensures quality and consistency with each dose, allowing you to experience the power and performance-boosting benefits of nitrates each and every time you use the product.
- Joy JM, Lowery RP, Falcone PH, et al. 28 days of creatine nitrate supplementation is apparently safe in healthy individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):60. Published 2014 Dec 20. doi:10.1186/s12970-014-0060-9
- Lundberg JO , et al. "The Nitrate-nitrite-nitric Oxide Pathway in Physiology and Therapeutics. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18167491.
- Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, Dimenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Tarr J, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009;107:1144–1155. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00722.2009
- Lansley KE , et al. "Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Reduces the O2 Cost of Walking and Running: a Placebo-controlled Study. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071588#.
- Fulford J, Winyard PG, Vanhatalo A, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Jones AM. Influence of dietary nitrate supplementation on human skeletal muscle metabolism and force production during maximum voluntary contractions. Pflugers Archiv. 2013;465:517–528. doi: 10.1007/s00424-013-1220-5.
- Galvan E, O'Connor A, Goodenough YC, et al. Effects of 28 days of two creatine nitrate based dietary supplements on bench press power in recreationally active males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(Suppl 1):P17. Published 2015 Sep 21. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P17
- "Acute and Chronic Safety and Efficacy of Dose Dependent Creatine Nitrate Supplementation and Exercise Performance." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-016-0124-0.