Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ask Dr. Andro: Is Creatine Nitrate Worth it? Is it Really That Superior to the Good Old Creatine Monohydrate?

Question from Brian Recker (via Facebook): Hey, what's your opinion of creatine nitrate? What would you say based on the science out there? Is it just more hype or is it really better than good old creapure?
Attention! I posted a follow up on the safety of nitrate and the risk of nitrite on August, 13th.
Image 1: Photoshop or creatine nitrate,
what works best for increased vascularity?
(Image from Vascular Bodybuilders Muscle)
Answer: The answer would be very short, if I solely based it "on the science out there", because there simply is no exercise- or supplement-related science behind C4H9N3O2.HNO3, or in plain English, the molecular combination of creatine (C4H9N3O2) and nitric acid (HNO3). The result is a bulky molecule weighing 194.5g/mol, i.e. 45.35g/mol more than regular creatine monohydrate (149.14844 g/mol) and 63.2 g/mol more than creatine anhydrous (131.3 g/mol). That being said, it probably won't surprise you that 63.2 g/mol is the exact molecular weight of nitric acid (HNO3, the popular oxidizer in liquid rocket fuel ;-).

So, basically, creatine nitrate (CN) is an ionic bond of creatine and nitrate, in other words, a salt. And what happens to a salt if it goes into solution? Correct: It disassociates, so that your stable creatine nitrate molecule breaks up into a creatine ion and a nitrate ion, which - at least to my knowledge - would not provide any advantage over taking nitrate and creatine at a ratio of 77:23 individually. In both cases you will get performance increases, intracellular water retention and all the other well-known benefits of creatine plus the vasolidating effects nitrates have to offer.

Did you know? Contrary to advertisement claims, a healthy gut absorbs almost 100% of the good old creatine monohydrate and the consequent creatine retention in muscle from creatine monohydrate easily outperforms that of purpotedly superior forms of creatine such as creatine-ethyl-esther (see blogpost Victorious Veteran for more information on that topic).

Creatine + Nitrate = Self-Made Creatine Nitrate ;-)

Now, that we  that 100mg of creatine nitrate disassociate in your stomach to 77 mg creatine anhydrous and 23 mg nitrate, one could come up with the outrageous idea of "tinkering" his/her own "creatine nitrate" - but how would one do that?

Image 2: Magic ingredient #1 -
organic beetroot juice (image
Assuming that few of you would get their creatine nitrate pound-wise from bulk-suppliers in China (check out, if you want to ;-) you would probably like to copy the effects of a product like APS' Creatine Nitrate. In most cases, thanks to proprietary blends, you would yet not even know how much of the actual ingredient you would need to get the desired effect: a 3g serving of the APS product, for example, contains, next to creatine nitrate (CN), undisclosed amounts of di-creatine-malate (dCM) and vitamin C (VitC). And the only clue we have with regard to the actual amount of CN in this product, comes from the fact that CM is listed as the first of the three ingredients in the APS product. Accordingly, one serving should contain at least 1 µg more than 1,000 mg of CN, because otherwise the nitric acid salt of creatine would not contribute the largest amount of weight to the 3g formula and would thus have to be listed at the second or third position, respectively.

If we assume that there are "only" 500mg of vitamin C (certainly the cheapest ingredient) and more creatine nitrate than di-creatine malate in the product, a possible ratio of the three ingredients would be 3:2:1 (CN:dCM:VitC), which would leave us with 1,500mg of CN per serving, this would reduce our glorious mission (the reproduction of the effects of creatine nitrate) to the quest for dietary sources of 1,155mg of creatine anhydrous and 345mg nitrate.

Image 3: Magic ingredient #2
plain creatine monohydrate;
cheap and effective!
According to Schuster and Lee 1987 fresh beets contain on average 2304µmol of NO 3 (organic beets contain more nitrate than conventionally grown beets) per 100g (Lee. 1987). With a molecular weight of 62g/mol, 100g of fresh beets would thus contain about 142mg of nitrate. On the other hand, data from a study on the blood pressure lowering effects of beet root juice by Webb et al. (Webb. 2008) references the nitrate content of Planet Organic beetroot juice with 45mmol/L (= 2,790mg/L or 279mg/100ml). This means that commercially available beetroot juice has roughly twice as much nitrate as whole beets (note: there were only trace amounts of nitrite in the juice). Both, in view of the faster absorption kinetics and from a practical point of view, it would thus be prudent to chose the juice over the whole beets as the preferred nitrate source for our "self-made creatine nitrate".

To know the true promise of "creatine nitrate", the one thing still left to do, is to put 1,312mg of creatine monohydrate (we have to compensate for the additional molecular weight that comes with the "monohydrate" vs. the creatine anhydrous) into 125ml of beetroot juice, down it and get ready for what APS describes as "full, swollen muscle bellies complimented by road map vascularity all wrapped in a tight, dry show quality package" and should look similar to what you see in image 1 ;-)
You want your question answered next week? Don't hesitate and leave me a comment, or, even better join the SuppVersity @ Facebook and post your question to the pin-wall.