A good pre workout makes all the difference.
You want your workouts to be explosive as possible. You want to crush you personal best and dominant the weights room. And who can blame you? You’re ready to take your training to the next level and that extra little kick is all you need.
In this article we pitch two common types of creatine against each other – nitrate and monohydrate. Which is best?
Read on to find out more…
- What is creatine?
- What does it do?
- Which is best in your pre workout: monohydrate or nitrate?
What is Creatine?
Creatine (Cr) is a peptide molecule made up from three different amino acids – arginine, glycine and methionine.
It is a nitrogen-containing compound meaning it is produced naturally in the body. The majority of it is stored in your skeletal muscle, with a small amount found in the heart.
You can also obtain it from foods such as beef, chicken and tuna too. However, it is digested much slower from food compared to when it’s obtained from a supplement .
Creatine, ATP and energy production?
The energy your body uses for everyday tasks comes from a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is used in every cell for every energy reaction. The problem is though that you don’t store a great deal of it in your body – the equivalent of around 3-4 seconds worth of high-intensity exercise.
And when you break down ATP to lift weights, push through a cycle session or go for an intense run, you are left with adenosine diphosphate (ADP) because you lose one of the phosphate bonds to create energy.
Creatine’s main role is to donate a phosphate to ADP so it can more ATP. The result is more energy.
More Creatine Means More Energy
If ADP can be converted into ATP faster then more energy would become available for intense exercise.
That means you can lift heavier, for longer, and with more intensity. Your workouts all-of-a-sudden become much more productive.
And if Cr digestion is slower for food than it is from a supplement then keeping your stores topped up with a good-quality pre workout will lead to more energy for intense exercise and high performance physical activity.
Creatine boosts exercise performance
There are a huge number of studies showing that supplementing Cr improves athleticism and exercise performance.
The most reliable of these is a position statement published by the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2007 .
And if you’re unsure what a position statement is, it’s an official statement released from an organisation regarding where they stand on key issues. In this case, it’s discussed and agreed by expert nutritionists and physiologists in order to consolidate all of the available research on Cr – it’s like a very reliable research summary.
So what does the statement say?
In a nutshell, here’s what the ISSN say about creatine supplementation:
- It is the most effective supplement available to increase high-intensity exercise capacity
- There are no long-term risks with long-term use.
- Cr monohydrate is the most extensively tested form of the compound
Different Types of Creatine
So far we’ve talked about Cr in generic terms – but there are actually different forms of the compound. And each has a different chemical composition, solubility and effectiveness.
The main two used in pre workouts are:
- Cr monohydrate
- Cr nitrate
Not only is it the most widely researched form of the compound, research suggests that monohydrate is the purest form of creatine. And because it’s so pure, it’s digestion and saturation is relatively quick; so the performance-enhancing benefits are excellent.
Additionally, it doesn’t need a ‘loading phase’ so you don’t have to take large doses for the first few days either. A small but steady flow works well.
Although it looks similar to monohydrate to the naked eye, this form of the organic compound has a nitrate compound added to it.
It is basically a creatine base, blended in with nitrate.
Creatine Monohydrate vs Creatine Nitrate
Are there any research studies comparing monohydrate and nitrate?
A study published in JISSN  examined the effects of different creatines on bench press strength.
They assigned 48 healthy and active participants to one of 4 groups over a 28-day period:
- Cr monohydrate
- Cr nitrate
- A blend of monohydrate and nitrate
Initially, the data analysis showed no difference between any of the supplement groups. But when a more precise analysis was conducted on the results, there was a significant difference in the scores for average bench press power between the nitrate group and the mixed supplement group.
Essentially, nitrate was only effective when mixed with monohydrate.
Solubility and absorption
Cr nitrate has been found to be more water soluble than monohydrate. This means that when it is added to your pre workout it may taste slightly better. And this is where manufacturers push the benefits of Cr nitrate.
Because of its solubility, nitrate absorption rates for creatine are 100% – none is lost during digestion.
In comparison, 2% of Cr monohydrate is lost during digestion and excreted as a waste product. But it’s only 2% loss for a compound that has much more scientific backing.
Isn’t creatine nitrate supposed to be a ‘superior’ supplement?
Whilst some pharmaceutical companies claim that Cr nitrate is more effective at boosting explosive strength and power, these claims are unsubstantiated.
There’s currently no research that backs this up. And with minimal evidence behind it, any claims made in favour of Cr nitrate will be based on opinion rather than fact – certainly until some clinical trial data is released anyway.
Summary – Which Creatine is Best for Your Pre Workout?
The sheer wealth of evidence suggests that creatine monohydrate is a superior supplement when it comes to a pre workout.
Although Cr nitrate may offer some benefits in terms of absorption, the most important thing is results. And if you’re after a boost in power, athleticism and strength then there’s only one choice.
4 Gauge is an extensively researched pre workout, guaranteed to help you blast through your gym sessions, no matter how intense they might be.
Containing top quality nutrients such as creatine, L-citrulline and smart caffeine, this all-natural supplement will let you blow the doors off your workouts.
Explosive power – work harder in the gym than ever before
Shirt-splitting muscle pumps – look bigger, feel better
Extended stamina – more focus, with no side effects
Intense focus – zone in on your workout, without jitters or energy crashes
And what’s more; there’s absolutely no artificial sweeteners.
- Deldicque, L et al. Kinetics of creatine ingested as a food ingredient. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008; 102(2): 133-43
- Buford, TW et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007; 4: 6
- Galvan, E et al. Effects of 28 days of two creatine nitrate based dietary supplements on bench press power in recreationally active males. JISSN. 2015; 12(Suppl 1): 17