Review: MuscleTech’s Nitro-Tech Hardcore Protein Supplement

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Note: Nitro-Tech still exists as a “value-added” whey protein supplement, but this particular “Hardcore” version has been discontinued.

Muscletech insists that its Nitro-Tech Hardcore formula is…

…the only musclebuilding protein formula in the world clinically proven to help you add up to 8.4 pounds of muscle in as little as 14 days!

This is, needless to state, a pretty tall order for a whey protein supplement. But Nitro-Tech Hardcore isn’t just any old whey protein supplement!

“In fact, science proves that Nitro-Tech Hardcore builds more muscle and makes you stronger, faster, than regular whey protein.”

Just what does Nitro-Tech Hardcore have that other whey protein supplements don’t?

Well, besides whey protein, Nitro-Tech Hardcore is enriched with a “Nitrogen Delivery System™” comprised of “three anabolically infused blends.” The formula utilizes “Nanomolecular Hyperdispersion Technology,” which “is designed to hyperaccelerate muscle metabolism.”

Will Nitro-Tech Hardcore really “make your muscles explode with new size, starting with your very first dose”? Let’s take a closer look:

Calories 110
Calories From Fat 15
Total Fat 1.5g
Saturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 50mg
Total Carbohydrate 3g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein (Featuring Nano-Diffuse™ Technology) 20g
Vitamin A 25IU
Vitamin E (As Di-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate) 30IU
Vitamin B6 (As Pyridoxine Hydrochloride) 10mg
Folic Acid 400mcg
Calcium 130mg
Iron 0.2mg
Phosphorus 90mg
Magnesium 45mg
Magnesium 60mg
Potassium 200mg
SynthePro® (Ultra-Absorbing Amino Acid Matrix) 2020mg
Creatine Monohydrate
Calcium Alpha-Ketoglutarate
L-Methionine
L-Phenylalanine
Phenylalanine Ethyl Ester
Glutamine Alpha-Ketogutarate
Glutamine Ethyl Ester HCL
Glutamine Methyl Ester
L-Histidine
L-Threonine
L-Valine
Valine Ethyl Ester
L-Lysine Monohydrochloride
L-Leucine Alpha-Ketoglutarate
L-Leucine Pyroglutamate
L-Isoleucine Ethyl Ester
L-Isoleucine
Lactoferrin
Nitroxen™ (Amplified Nitric Oxide Accelerators) 712mg
Glutamine Peptides
L-Glutamine
American Ginseng Extract
N-Acetyl Cysteine
L-Citrulline
N-Acetyl TyrosineDirections:
Add 1 to 2 servings (1 to 2 scoops) of Nitro-Tech Hardcore to 4 to 8 oz. of cold water or skim milk and mix. For maximum results, consume 2 servings of Nitro-Tech Hardcore 3 times daily for a minimum of 6 weeks.
Insulogen® (Anabolic Insulin Drivers) 921mg
Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba (Guar Gum)
D-Myo-Inositol
Taurine
Glucomannan (As Amorphophallus Konjac)(Root)
Alpha-Lipoic Acid
D-Pinitol
L-Leucine
L-Leucine Ethyl Ester HCL
L-Leucine Methyl Ester HCL
C12 Peption (Casein Hydrolysate)(Supplying 6% C12 Peptide)
L-Taurine Ketoisocaproic Acid
L-Taurine Alpha-Ketoglutarate

Forget muscles…this looks like something designed to make heads explode! ;-)

This loooonnnng list of ingredients looks very impressive—the only problem is that most of them are contained in blends supplied in very small amounts, relative to the number of ingredients they contain. For example, the “Nitroxen” blend contains both L-glutamine and glutamine peptides—but as Paul notes in his review, glutamine needs to be taken in multi-gram quantities to be useful. Yet the entire blend of 6 ingredients is only 712 milligrams. Even if you followed label directions and consumed 6 servings a day, you’d barely scratch the surface of a usable dose—and that’s without considering the other ingredients (tyrosine and citrulline need to be taken in multi-gram amounts too).

Nitro-Tech Hardcore is supposed to be an updated and improved version of Muscletech’s original Nitro-Tech formula. Yet the two formulas aren’t really very different. The only major change is that “Hardcore” has redundant ingredients. For example, the original Nitro-Tech contained L-leucine. In contrast, “Hardcore” contains five different forms of this amino acid. In addition to L-leucine, there’s also L-leucine ethyl ester, L-leucine methyl ester, L-leucine alpha-ketoglutarate, and L-leucine pyroglutamate. A similar approach is also taken with several other ingredients.

As I noted in my Cell-Tech Hardcore review, using multiple forms of a compound certainly adds complexity, but no obvious value, to the formula. How are multiple forms of leucine better than one? Is “Hardcore” really superior to the original Nitro-Tech? If not, then why make these additions? If so, then where’s the science to prove it?

This is an important point, because Muscletech is very fond of citing results from scientific studies to support their products. Unfortunately, it’s very selective science. Furthermore, they don’t seem to publish any of it—just sound bites useful for advertising purposes. Thus, it’s difficult to take their claims of scientific certitude seriously.

Nitro-Tech Hardcore is no exception.

“In a clinical study at an American research institute, Nitro-Tech Hardcore built 24 times more muscle in just 28 days (2.75 vs 0.11 pounds).”

The mind reels with questions. Here are just a few off the top of my head:

  • Which “American research institute”? Who were the authors?
  • Were the controls matched with the Nitro-Tech Hardcore group for total calories and protein?
  • How was the “muscle” gain measured? Was it based on simple (caliper or BIA) measurements of lean body mass, or were more sophisticated analyses done (DEXA, muscle biopsies)?

Did this study simply divide a group of lifters into two matched groups, then just give Nitro-Tech Hardcore to one of them? Taken as directed (6 scoops/day), this would provide the test group with an additional 660 calories and 120 g protein per day, not to mention some supplemental creatine. Any experienced bodybuilder knows how valuable added calories, protein, and creatine are, when it comes to adding lean body mass. So are these results unique to “Hardcore,” or would any decent whey protein supplement + creatine have worked?

Similarly…

“In a six-week study at a prestigious university, Nitro-Tech Hardcore outperformed regular whey protein yet again by forcing 143 percent greater strength gains in the max bench press than the regular whey protein group (34 vs. 14 pounds). One Nitro-Tech Hardcore subject even added 45 earth-shattering pounds to his max bench!”

  • Which “prestigious university”? Who were the authors?
  • Were other exercises performed?
  • Nitro-Tech Hardcore contains creatine: how much of this ingredient were the test subjects consuming?

Ok, here we have a clear “Hardcore” vs. whey protein comparison. Oddly enough, however, there is only a single result reported: bench press. Was the performance improvement simply due to the added creatine? Was this the only measurement—or just the one that was most favorable to the product?

I have no answers to any of these questions. I tried to find out more about the studies but could not find any details on their web site. I even called the company to ask—but was told that “any information that isn’t on the web site is proprietary information.”

Checkmate.

So, does all this mean Nitro-Tech Hardcore is worthless?

My answer may surprise you: no. Overall, I think it’s a fairly decent product.

After all the Muscletech bashing I’ve just done, you’d think I’d be ready to pound the final nail into the coffin. That, however, is not the purpose of this review. I try to do two things in each review: analyze the product—AND the claims made for the product. Most of the people I know want to get the best value for their supplement dollars, so it’s important to evaluate ingredients and claims carefully, and not spend money in the mistaken belief that a particular supplement is capable of working miracles.

At its core, Nitro-Tech Hardcore is a whey protein supplement, and whey protein is a bodybuilding staple. Despite the questionable advertising, there’s no reason to think that “Hardcore” is any worse than competing products…and perhaps better than some.

Nitro-Tech and Nitro-Tech Hardcore have been used by thousands of people—many of whom like the product, and feel it worked well for them. Thus, it’s a viable choice…just one that should be made with eyes wide open.

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