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MusclePharm Creatine Black Review

Creatine Black is MusclePharm’s Black Series Creatine supplement which contains a mixture of Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine HCL, as well as some other non-creatine ingredients…

MusclePharm Creatine Black

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Creatine

Creatine is the most extensively studied ergogenic aid currently available, and by far one of the most effective at increasing both strength and muscle mass. Its primary mechanism of action is its ability to rapidly produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) to support cellular energy, thereby directly increasing strength and power output.

Additionally, during high intensity exercise, Creatine is used for energy which tends to spare the glycogen that would normally be used. Since lactic acid is a by-product created when glucose is burned for energy, Creatine may also indirectly reduce lactic acid build-up which poses a secondary mechanism by which Creatine can potentially enhance performance.

Creatine Monohydrate is the most commonly recommended form of Creatine because its cheap and works as well as any other form, but Creatine Black also contains Creatine HCl, an equally effective form.

With 5g of Creatine in total (3 Monohydrate, 2 HCL), Creatine Black may certainly enhance strength and muscle-size over several weeks of supplementation.

Arginine

Arginine is a non-essential amino acid that acts as a precursor to Nitric Oxide which generally enhances physical performance, specifically endurance.

Although high doses (6g at least) of Arginine have been shown to increase circulating Nitric Oxidelevels and muscle blood volume post-workout, it has failed to increase intra-workout strength in more than one study.

Unfortunately, even if Arginine has the potential to be effective as a performance enhancer, the dose present in Creatine Black is significantly less than what could truly be considered effective.

Glycine

Glycine is the simplest of all amino acids but, aside from contributing to the formation of proteins, it has no innate muscle-building properties.  It’s not clear why MusclePharm has elected to use Glycine in the Creatine Black formula.

Niagen

Niagen is a patented form of Nicotinamide Riboside, a distinct form of Niacin (Vitamin B3) which the manufacturer (Chromadex) claims is a powerful NAD+ booster.  NAD+ is crucial for mitochondrial function (energy production) and levels tend to decrease as organisms age.

Preliminary evidence suggests that Nicotinamide Riboside does in fact increase NAD+ levels which certainly has implications for performance, but more research is needed specifically with regards to performance enhancement in humans before we can draw definite conclusions.

For now, Niagen certainly helps to separate Creatine Black from the thousands of other Creatine supplements out there, though we’d still consider it speculative in terms of efficacy.

Bioperine

Piper nigrum, also known as Black Pepper, contains Piperine. Several studies have found that black pepper extract, when combined with other supplements, has increased the absorption of those supplements (as measured by plasma levels). Piperine’s ability to increase absorption of other compounds is due to the inhibition of certain enzymes which breakdown most compounds, as well as the slowing of intestinal transit (increasing the amount of time these compounds are exposed to the possibility of uptake).

In the context of Creatine Black, BioPerine simply serves as a bioavailability enhancer.  While it certainly can’t hurt, Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine HCL are already highly bioavailable so its not clear how much it really boosts the efficacy of the formula.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Creatine Black, if consumed on a consistent basis for several weeks (at least one serving daily) will increase strength and size, due to 5g of Creatine in total.  The inclusion of Niagen helps to make the formula a little more unique, compared to the average Creatine supplement, but doesn’t exactly make it worth the premium in our view.  Ultimately, similar effects could be achieved with a much less expensive Creatine supplement.

If you’re looking for something that will actually help you gain lean muscle, check out our Best Muscle Builders List!

REFERENCES
  1. Casey, Anna, and Paul L. Greenhaff. “Does dietary creatine supplementation play a role in skeletal muscle metabolism and performance?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 72.2 (2000).
  2. Kraemer, William J., and Jeff S. Volek. “Creatine supplementation: its role in human performance.” Clinics in sports medicine 18.3 (1999): 651-666.
    Thompson, C. H., et al. “Effect of creatine on aerobic and anaerobic metabolism in skeletal muscle in swimmers.” British journal of sports medicine 30.3 (1996): 222-225.
  3. Kraemer Zhang Wax, Benjamin, et al. “Acute L-arginine alpha ketoglutarate supplementation fails to improve muscular performance in resistance trained and untrained men.”Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9.1 (2012)
  4. Bailey, Stephen J., et al. “Acute L-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance.” Journal of Applied Physiology 109.5 (2010): 1394-1403
  5. Kraemer Zhang Alvares, Thiago S., et al. “L-Arginine as a Potential Ergogenic Aidin Healthy Subjects.” Sports Medicine 41.3 (2011): 233-248
    Bieganowski, Pawel, and Charles Brenner. “Discoveries of nicotinamide riboside as a nutrient and conserved NRK genes establish a Preiss-Handler independent route to NAD+ in fungi and humans.” Cell 117.4 (2004): 495-502.
  6. Belenky, Peter, et al. “Nicotinamide riboside promotes Sir2 silencing and extends lifespan via Nrk and Urh1/Pnp1/Meu1 pathways to NAD+.” Cell 129.3 (2007): 473-484.
  7. Cantó, Carles, et al. “The NAD+ precursor nicotinamide riboside enhances oxidative metabolism and protects against high-fat diet-induced obesity.” Cell metabolism 15.6 (2012): 838-847.

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