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Creatine Nitrate Benefits, Side Effects & Safety Information

Published: 13th May 2018. Last updated: 21th July 2019.

Shaun Ward MSc ANutr

Staff Writer


Introduction

Creatine nitrate is a standard creatine molecule attached to a nitrate group, for the purpose of helping increase the solubility of the compound.

The creatine molecule contains many high-energy phosphate groups and is stored in the form of phosphocreatine, usually within muscle cells.

The role of phosphocreatine is to help provide rapid energy for cells when they are under extreme stress such as in very high-intensity activity. For this reason, phosphocreatine is the main fuel source used during maximal intensity strength and power exercises.

This is a key reason why supplementing with creatine is linked to various athletic benefits.

Creatine Nitrate Health Benefits

Below we've listed every potential benefit we've found with credible scientific backing:

It May Help To Increase Strength and Power

Under normal circumstances, ATP stores become depleted after 8-10 seconds of maximal intensity exercise. As creatine is the main fuel source for this type of activity, the idea behind creatine supplementation is to increase muscular creatine stores to allow for more ATP to be produced. This may result in a further maintenance of maximal intensity activity by 1-2 seconds.

Research confirms that creatine supplementation effectively achieves this result, with just 6 days of creatine loading increasing muscle creatine concentrations by ~20% [1].

Further, meta-analysis’ conclude that creatine supplementation increases strength levels by ~7kg increase, compared to placebo, on compound exercises like the bench press and squat. The greatest benefits occurred after 2 months [2].

Based on effect sizes, other studies state this is a small, but meaningful difference when analyzing exercises that last less than 30 seconds – as these predominantly use the creatine-phosphate energy system. To be even more specific, creatine enhances performance in these types of exercises by around 4% compared to non-supplementers [3].

This minor effect should not be overlooked as such small differences in a competitive environment can lead to major athletic advantages.

In addition, despite its frequent association with only strength-based exercises, creatine supplementation appears to also be effective at increasing power output in anaerobic cardiovascular exercise. This is because it may increase the lactate threshold - the exercise intensity at which the blood concentration of lactic acid begins to increase - as well as time to volitional fatigue, within just 1 week of supplementation [4].

It May Increase Muscle Size

Creatine may increase muscle size by 1 of 3 main mechanisms:

  • First is the elevation in water content within muscle cells when creatine stores are increased, which has been measured to directly increase the musculae diameter. For example, loading up muscular creatine stores with 20 grams of creatine supplementation per day can increase muscle fiber diameters by 5-10% respectively [5].
  • Second is the indirect increase in muscle size that may come as an indirect result of the increased strength and training overload which creatine is well-known for.
  • Third is the idea that creatine may potentially increase protein synthesis rates and stimulate anabolic pathways which lead to muscle growth. So far creatine is linked to upregulating over 200 genes associated with protein metabolism [6].

Either way, scientific reviews report that creatine supplementation is able to increase lean body mass by ~2%, and decrease body fat by ~3%, when taken for extended periods [7].

It May Increase Testosterone Levels

Although the evidence is questionable, some recent studies have found that creatine supplementation can increase testosterone levels when taken alongside a 10-week resistance training program [8].

Similar data noted a ~15% increase compared to baseline levels when a creatine loading phase (20 grams a day for 6 days) was completed [9].

This effect may only be seen when very high dosages are ingested, considering low doses of creatine have not been shown to acutely increase androgen levels [10].

The mechanism by which creatine sometimes influences hormone levels has not been found and no theory has been mentioned in the scientific literature. A logical assumption would be that creatine's ability to improve training workloads can indirectly elevate hormone levels from a training-induced stress response.

Is Creatine Nitrate Better Than The Other Types Of Creatine?

By far the most popular and well-studied form of creatine is in the form of creatine monohydrate.

However, this traditional form of creatine, although very effective and safe for most people, has caused stomach issues in rare circumstances. This is speculated to be due to creatine monohydrate not being well-absorbed in water, and so a large amount is needed to ingest.

Based on this, creatine nitrate is an alternative and newer form of creatine (attached to a nitrate group) which has shown to have 10 times more water solubility compared to creatine monohydrate. In other words, theoretically, 10 times less creatine nitrate is needed in a certain volume of water for a precipitate (sediment) to form.

Based on this superior solubility in water, it is thought that creatine nitrate requires a reduced supplemental dosage compared to creatine monohydrate. In turn, this may avoid side effects such as stomach upsets because of the potentially greater water solubility, permeability in the gut, and lower rates of creatine excretion [11].

Currently, no studies on creatine nitrate have been conducted to directly analyze its performance and safety benefits, and comparative differences are only based on speculation. For this reason, claims that creatine nitrate is superior to creatine monohydrate are therefore unsupported and unsubstantiated by any real data.

This being said, there is no obvious reason why the performance benefits of creatine nitrate should not be at least comparable to the well-research creatine monohydrate.

Creatine Nitrate Safety And Side Effects

There are no clinically significant side effects associated with short or long-term creatine supplementation [12] [13].

Numerous trials have been conducted in humans with varying dosages, and the side effects have been limited to gastrointestinal distress (from too much creatine consumption at once) and cramping (from insufficient hydration) [14].

Theoretically, creatine nitrate should encounter even less side effects than creatine monohydrate supplementation, however this has not been directly studied.

The only real serious issue that may stem from creatine supplementation is kidney damage, although this is only seen to occur when there is a previous kidney condition prior to supplementation [15].

This being said, it is advised that adolescents avoid taking creatine due to the lack of studies within this population and the potential for different effects to occur in a rapidly developing body.

Conclusion

Creatine nitrate is a standard creatine molecule attached to a nitrate group, for the purpose of helping increase the solubility of the compound.

In general, creatine is a well-researched supplement, with good evidence that it can improve athletic performance and body composition.

However, most of the evidence for creatine supplementation uses creatine monohydrate as opposed to creatine nitrate, although there is no reason why there should be major differences between the two forms.

Limited evidence conveys that creatine nitrate is more soluble in water and a reduced dose is needed to produce the same effect, however this has not been confirmed by reliable evidence.

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