NO3 Chrome Review

NO3 Chrome

NO3 Chrome is a Nitric Oxide booster by Cellucor which contains several different ingredients all aimed at inducing intra-workout pumps…


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NO3 Chrome is a Nitric Oxide booster by Cellucor which contains several different ingredients all aimed at inducing intra-workout pumps…[Skip to the Bottom Line]


Arginine Nitrate is a combination of L-Arginine and Nitrate (Nitric Acid), with the attached claim generally being that it is better able to increase Nitric Oxide than standard Arginine. This may actually be true, but not because of enhanced absorption. Any Nitric Oxide related benefit experienced with Arginine Nitrate is likely due to the Nitrate portion, since Arginine by itself has produced lackluster results in multiple studies.

Arginine is a precursor to Nitric Oxide which was quite popular in the early days of bodybuilding as it was thought to directly increase blood flow and enhance performance. However, a 2012 study, published in “Nutrition and Metabolism”, found that acute (one-time) L-Arginine supplementation with 6 grams did not increase plasma (blood) levels of Nitric Oxide in normal, healthy people.

A 2011, placebo controlled study, found that subjects performed worse after receiving 3700mg of Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate prior to resistance training.

While most studies have failed to prove that L-Arginine supplementation increases strength, a 2012 double-blind placebo controlled study, found that supplementation with 6 grams of L-Arginine increased muscle blood volume post-workout (but did not strength).

Ultimately, users of Arginine Nitrate would probably be better off with just standard Nitrate, as Nitrate supplementation is a reliable way to increase Nitric Oxide and exercise performance, whereas Arginine is not. NO3 Chrome contains 1250mg of Arginine Nitrate, though it is unclear what the ratio of Arginine to Nitric Acid is.


Citrulline is a precursor to the amino acid Arginine, which is a precursor to Nitric Oxide (NO). As demonstrated in a 2007 study, supplemental Citrulline is significantly more effective at raising plasma Arginine than supplemental Arginine itself, and while results with Arginine are mixed, Citrulline has demonstrated clear efficacy as a performance enhancer.

The problem with supplemental Arginine is that it is metabolized in the intestines and liver into other substances such as Ornithine and Urea. The intestines and liver contain relatively high levels of Arginase, the enzyme that converts Arginine to Ornithine and Urea. As a result, very little goes on to be involved with the synthesis of NO because it is being diverted for other purposes. Citrulline, on the other hand, is able to bypass the liver and is metabolized into Arginine elsewhere, where not as much Arginase is present. Thus, more of the Arginine is able to go on to convert into Nitric Oxide.

A 2002 study, published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that Citrulline Malate supplementation (6g/day for 15 days) significantly increased ATP production during exercise in healthy adult males.

A 2008 study from “The Journal of Strength & Conditioning” found that 8g of Citrulline Malate was able to progressively increase the amount of reps performed later in the workout (by as much as 52%) and significantly reduced muscle soreness.

A 2009 study, published in the “Journal of Free Radical Research”, found that 6 grams of Citrulline Malate given to male cyclists before a race increased “plasma Arginine availability for NO synthesis and PMNs priming for oxidative burst without oxidative damage”.

A 2011 study, the subjects of which were rats, found that supplemental Citrulline increased muscular contraction efficiency (less ATP was required for the same amount of power), in-line with the findings of the above-mentioned human study.

While most studies that have shown Citrulline (usually as Citrulline Malate) to be an effective performance enhancer have used doses of 6-8g, NO3 Chrome contains significantly less. Cellucor does not disclose the exact dose, but given a 655mg blend shared with Grape Seed Extract and Pycnogenol, we estimate anywhere from 300-500mg, quite a marginal dose.


Grape Seed Extract contains various polyphenols (including Resveratrol) which give it a variety of potential health implications, mostly relating to cardiovascular health. A 2012 study, published in the “British Journal of Nutrition”, found that Grape Seed Extract was able to reduce exercise induced oxidative stress while simultaneously increasing Nitric Oxide levels in rats. These findings were replicated in a 2013 study from “Phytotherapy Research”, also using rats.

Unfortunately, no studies have been conducted at this time to determine whether Grape Seed Extract can raise Nitric Oxide levels to a meaningful degree in humans, or how this may relate to exercise performance. Cellucor does not disclose the dose of Grape Seed Extract in NO3 Chrome, but given the lack of human studies, an optimal dose has not been established anyway.


Pycnogenol is a patented form of Pink Bark Extract, with most of the research focusing on certain conditions such as hyper-tension and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). However, a 2007 study found that 180mg daily for 2 weeks effectively increased acetylcholine-induced vaso-relaxation in healthy men, indicating that Pine Bark (as Pycnogenol) can increase blood flow regardless of health state. This is good news for bodybuilders and athletes, and while the performance enhancement capabilities of Pine Bark remain under-researched, it may certainly be effective as a “pump” ingredient. Pine Bark can positively influence blood flow with relatively low doses, so it’s that NO3 Chrome contains an effective dose.


Norvaline is a close chemical relative of the popular amino acid Valine, though its effects are different. Norvaline has been shown to inhibit Arginase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of Arginine both in vitro and in vivo (rats). The result would theoretically be an increase in Arginine, which would result in more Nitric Oxide. However, Norvaline has never been studied in humans as it relates to performance enhancement, so for now we are left with only a theoretical mechanism of action. Given a lack of human studies, an optimal dose has not been established for Norvaline, but Cellucor has dosed NO3 Chrome with 100mg per serving which is more or less in-line with similar pump-based products.


NO3 Chrome contains several effective pump-based ingredients, though the doses of most of the ingredients are pretty questionable. At double the dose, NO3 Chrome is capable of inducing some decent pumps, but about $1.33 per serving its certainly one of the more expensive pump-based pre-workouts on the market. Given the low levels of most key ingredients, this price is not exactly justifiable and ultimately, there are better (both more effective and less expensive) options out there.

[expand title=”REFERENCES” tag=”h5″]

  1. Bendahan, D., et al. “Citrulline/malate promotes aerobic energy production in human exercising muscle.” British journal of sports medicine 36.4 (2002): 282-289.
  2. Sureda, Antoni, et al. “Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise.” Free radical research 43.9 (2009): 828-835.
  3. Giannesini, Benoît, et al. “Citrulline malate supplementation increases muscle efficiency in rat skeletal muscle.” European journal of pharmacology 667.1 (2011): 100-104.
  4. Sureda, Antoni, et al. “Effects of L-citrulline oral supplementation on polymorphonuclear neutrophils oxidative burst and nitric oxide production after exercise.” Free radical research 43.9 (2009): 828-835.
  5. Belviranlı, Muaz, et al. “Effects of grape seed polyphenols on oxidative damage in liver tissue of acutely and chronically exercised rats.” Phytotherapy Research27.5 (2013): 672-677.
  6. Belviranlı, Muaz, et al. “Effects of grape seed extract supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress in rats.” British Journal of Nutrition 108.02 (2012): 249-256.
  7. Enseleit, Frank, et al. “Effects of Pycnogenol on endothelial function in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study.” European heart journal 33.13 (2012): 1589-1597.
  8. Liu, Ximing, et al. “Pycnogenol®, French maritime pine bark extract, improves endothelial function of hypertensive patients.” Life sciences 74.7 (2004): 855-862.
  9. 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): 17.
  10. Zhang Alvares, Thiago S., et al. “L-Arginine as a Potential Ergogenic Aidin Healthy Subjects.” Sports Medicine 41.3 (2011): 233-248.
  11. Bailey, Stephen J., et al. “Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans.” Journal of Applied Physiology 107.4 (2009): 1144-1155.
  12. Lansley, Katherine E., et al. “Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance.” Med Sci Sports Exerc 43.6 (2011): 1125-1131.
  13. Vanhatalo, Anni, et al. “Acute and chronic effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure and the physiological responses to moderate-intensity and incremental exercise.” American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 299.4 (2010): R1121-R1131.
  14. Larsen, Filip J., et al. “Dietary nitrate reduces maximal oxygen consumption while maintaining work performance in maximal exercise.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 48.2 (2010): 342-347.
  15. Wallace, Julie MW, et al. “Choline supplementation and measures of choline and betaine status: a randomised, controlled trial in postmenopausal women.”British Journal of Nutrition 108.07 (2012): 1264-1271.
  16. Cohen, Bruce M., et al. “Decreased brain choline uptake in older adults: an in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study.” Jama 274.11 (1995): 902-907.
  17. Hoon, Matthew W., et al. “The effect of nitrate supplementation on exercise performance in healthy individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism 23.5 (2013).
  18. Saheki, Takeyori, Shigeo TAKADA, and Tsunehiko KATSUNUMA. “Regulation of Urea Synthesis in Rat Liver Inhibition of Urea Synthesis by L-Norvaline.”Journal of biochemistry 86.3 (1979): 745-750.

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