With a whopping 30 grams of protein and 3 grams of creatine per serving, Nitro-Tech seems like the perfect muscle-building formula. Low in carbs and fats, it fits into most diets. However, it does contain certain ingredients that consumers should be aware of prior to consuming.
Nitro-Tech provides high doses of protein, creatine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which may help improve exercise performance and stimulate muscle growth. Some of its ingredients, though, may cause mild adverse effects, from nausea and bloating to water retention.
What Is Nitro-Tech?
MuscleTech has emerged as a leading manufacturer of sports supplements. From whey protein and pre-workout formulas to mass gainers, it offers a wide range of products for athletes and weekend warriors alike. Nitro-Tech, one of its top formulas, claims to build mass and strength, speed up post-workout recovery and boost exercise performance. The question is: does it live up to the claims?
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Nitro-Tech is a whey protein powder available in several flavors, such as vanilla, strawberries, milk chocolate and more. What makes it stand out is its high content of creatine, glutamine and BCAAs. Plus, it's higher in protein than other similar products. Each serving (one scoop) of chocolate Nitro-Tech provides approximately:
- 160 calories
- 30 grams of protein
- 4 grams of carbs, including 2 grams of sugar
- 2.5 grams of fat, including 1.5 grams of saturated fat
- 3 grams of creatine monohydrate
- 14 percent of the DV (daily value) of calcium
- 6 percent of the DV of iron
- 3.3 grams of leucine
- 1.8 grams of isoleucine
- 1.7 grams of valine
- 5.3 grams of glutamine
Each of these ingredients plays a role in muscle growth and physical performance. Protein, for example, supports hypertrophy (also known as muscle building), helps preserve lean mass and reduces muscle loss. Whey is particularly beneficial due to its high absorption rate and rapid digestibility.
In addition to the above nutrients, Nitro-Tech contains whey protein concentrate, natural and artificial flavors, acesulfame-potassium, sucralose and digestive enzymes. Many consumers, though, question the safety of artificial sweeteners.
Sucralose, for example, is regarded as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However a September 2013 review published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health warns that this sugar substitute may alter insulin and blood sugar levels as well as the gut composition, although more research is needed to confirm its side effects. Most studies cited in the review were conducted on animals, so it's hard to tell how these findings translate to humans, leaving many consumers concerned.
Does Nitro-Tech Build Muscle?
This sports supplement is formulated with whey protein isolate and whey concentrate. Both types of whey protein may help improve exercise performance. Creatine and BCAAs further amplify the effects of protein on muscle growth and repair.
A November 2015 review published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology states that whey protein is rich in peptides, amino acids, BCAAs and antioxidants. In clinical trials, it has been shown to improve body composition (muscle-to-fat ratio), reduce inflammation and speed up recovery from training. It may also boost immune function, balance the gut flora and protect against obesity and diabetes.
For example, a small study featured in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care in July 2017 suggests that whey protein may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Its hypoglycemic effects depend on several factors, including pre-existing body mass index and triglyceride levels. Furthermore, whey protein and dairy in general may suppress appetite, helping those who need assistance with portion control or weight management.
A meta-analysis of several clinical trials, which was featured in Frontiers in Pharmacology in April 2019, confirms the beneficial effects of whey protein on sports performance and recovery. As the researchers note, this supplement may improve energy metabolism, reduce fatigue and improve athletes' ability to cope with the demands of exercise. When used as part of an exercise training program, it may help reduce fat mass and increase lean body mass.
The Role of Creatine
The above findings indicate that Nitro-Tech may contribute to muscle growth due to its high protein content. This sports supplement also contains creatine, an amino acid that promotes mass and strength gains in combination with the appropriate strength training.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in a wide range of foods, notably animal products. About 95 percent of creatine is stored in the skeletal muscle, according to an October 2017 review in Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach. When combined with resistance training, this nutrient may help build muscle and strength. It appears to be particularly beneficial during short-duration, high-intensity activities, such as weight lifting.
Contrary to popular belief, creatine doesn't hurt the liver. However, it does increase intracellular water volume, which may cause fluid retention. Its effects on children and teenagers have not been studied.
Although this nutrient is generally safe for healthy adults, it may cause mild side effects, points out the Mayo Clinic. Stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and dizziness are common adverse reactions.
If you have diabetes, bipolar disorder or a history of kidney disease, consult your doctor before using creatine, as it may worsen your symptoms. Also, be aware that combining it with caffeine, ephedra or drugs that may cause kidney toxicity might increase the risk of side effects.
BCAAs for Faster Recovery
Leucine, valine and isoleucine — the three branched-chain amino acids — are best known for their role in post-workout recovery. Athletes and gym-goers take these supplements to preserve lean mass and reduce muscle loss during times of stress or strict dieting.
BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis and improve glucose metabolism, which in turn, may help accelerate muscle repair and boost physical performance, reports a January 2017 review published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology. These nutrients may also increase fat burning by activating several metabolic pathways. Both insufficient and excessive intakes of BCAAs have been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, impaired lipid metabolism and insulin resistance.
Read more: BCAA vs. Protein Powder
According to the above review, a diet rich in BCAAs may improve immune function, protect against infectious disease and balance the gut flora. The human body can use BCAAs for energy during times of illness, as reported in a May 2018 research paper in Nutrition & Metabolism. These amino acids aid in protein synthesis and perform several metabolic functions. They regulate appetite, modulate glucose metabolism and stimulate insulin secretion.
For example, if you're on a diet or working out harder than usual (such as before a fitness competition), you may take BCAAs to increase muscle protein synthesis and prevent catabolism, or muscle loss.
Is Nitro-Tech Safe?
Based on the above findings, it's fair to say that Nitro-Tech can be a good choice for gym-goers looking to build mass and recover faster from training. Professional or collegiate athletes, however, should follow their sport professional organization's policies regarding supplements. At this time, Nitro-Tech isn't third-party certified or tested for safety by independent laboratories.
Additionally, it contains synthetic flavors, artificial sweeteners and other fillers. Creatine, one of its key ingredients is generally safe, but you may want to get your doctor's approval first, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
Those with a dairy allergy should avoid this product as whey isolate and whey concentrate protein are derived from cow's milk. However there is little lactose in the product and should be suitable for those who have lactose intolerance. If you experience bloating, diarrhea and nausea then it may be due to trace amounts of lactose within the whey concentrate.
Creatine causes your muscles to retain water, making them appear fuller. On the flip side, it also contributes to bloating. Sucralose and acesulfame-potassium, two artificial sweeteners in Nitro-Tech, have their share of side effects. Artificial sweeteners are approved (up to certain amounts) by the FDA, but more research is needed to confirm their safety.
These additives may increase sugar cravings and contribute to weight gain, warn the experts at Harvard Medical School. Because of their sweet taste, they may overstimulate the sugar receptors in your brain. As a result, you may find fruits, vegetables and other less intensely sweet foods unappealing and reach for sugary treats instead.
All in all, Nitro-Tech is likely safe for who are not allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish (as it's manufactured in a facility that processes these common allergens). Just make sure you're aware of its potential side effects, like stomach pain and bloating.
Remember, sports supplements cannot compensate for poor nutrition. Unless you have a foundation of healthy eating and stick to a regular exercise program, you won't get the desired results. If you have diabetes, kidney problems or other health conditions, ask your doctor whether or not it's safe to take Nitro-Tech. Also, note that protein, creatine, BCAAs and other beneficial ingredients in this product are also found in real food. Beef, tuna, salmon and most types of meat, for instance, are rich in creatine.
- MuscleTech: "Nitro-Tech Whey Protein"
- Journal of Food Science: "Supplemental Protein in Support of Muscle Mass and Health: Advantage Whey"
- NCBI: "Sucralose, a Synthetic Organochlorine Sweetener: Overview of Biological Issues"
- Journal of Food Science and Technology: "Emerging Trends in Nutraceutical Applications of Whey Protein and Its Derivatives"
- BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care: "Glucose-Lowering Effect of Whey Protein Depends Upon Clinical Characteristics of Patients With Type 2 Diabetes"
- Clinical Nutrition Espen: "Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation on Long and Short Term Appetite: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials"
- Frontiers in Pharmacology: "Efficacy and Safety of Whey Protein Supplements on Vital Sign and Physical Performance Among Athletes: A Network Meta-Analysis"
- Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach: "Creatine Use in Sports"
- Mayo Clinic: "Creatine"
- Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology: "Novel Metabolic and Physiological Functions of Branched Chain Amino Acids: A Review"
- Nutrition & Metabolism: "Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Health and Disease: Metabolism, Alterations in Blood Plasma, and as Supplements"
- NIH: "Lactose Intolerance"
- NCBI: "Artificial Sweeteners as a Sugar Substitute: Are They Really Safe?"
- Harvard.edu: "Artificial Sweeteners: Sugar-Free, but at What Cost?"
- FDA: "Additional Information About High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for Use in Food in the United States"