It was around 30 years ago when scientists discovered a natural gas the body produced that relaxed the muscles of the blood vessels, opening them up and increasing the flow of blood and oxygen.
Over 30,000 scientific papers have been researched and published since this initial discovery, acknowledging the role that nitric oxide plays when it comes to cell communication and vasodilation.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide (NO) is a kind of gas naturally produced by the body with the help of enzymes known as nitric oxide synthases. These enzymes break the amino acid arginine down into its base elements; one of which is NO.
NO is one of the most important signaling molecules in the vascular system. This dilates blood vessel, increasing the flow of blood to muscles. The more blood you have flowing to your muscles, the more oxygen and vital nutrients they have; allowing you to go longer and harder in the gym.
Nitric Oxide Supplements
The two main ingredients found in nitric oxide supplements are citrulline and arginine. These are two amino acids that are known as precursors to nitric oxide. Supplementing citrulline and arginine can, therefore, boost levels of nitric oxide serum.
Research has highlighted the role that arginine plays in reducing the amount of plasma lactate and ammonia created during exercise. These are what cause muscles to tire and fail during a workout. Impeding their development keeps muscles going for longer, letting you get go further and harder in the gym.
When combined with glutamine and BCAAs, arginine is able to significantly boost the efficiency of training by increasing the amount of oxygen your blood carries around the body.
The greatest benefit of supplementing arginine for bodybuilding could be the ability it possesses to stimulate the production of hormones. There has been scientific research that shows combining L-arginine with exercise boosts resting growth hormone levels. If you don’t know what human growth hormone is; it’s basically the second most powerful and popular steroid following testosterone.
The main reason that arginine is able to boost hormone production is because it suppresses the secretion of somatostatin. Somatostatin is another hormone. This one inhibits the production of growth hormone. Growth hormone is needed to grow cells and tissues, making it an important part of the muscle creation process. This is why it is so popular as a steroid.
As you can no doubt tell by now, arginine goes much further than just boosting the synthesis of nitric oxide. Scientific studies have shown the direct effect that arginine has on muscle growth.
Citrulline – the other active ingredient in NO supplements – is another amino acid that stimulates the production of nitric oxide. The reason for this is because it has a better absorption rate than arginine. Citrulline is particularly interesting if the body doesn’t have enough access to arginine.
Nitric Oxide Supplement Benefits
The vasodilation effect of nitric oxide is going to be the biggest benefit for athletes – in particular, bodybuilders – because improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles means you can exercise longer and harder – no matter the sport you play.
1. Increased Recovery Rates
Are you someone that puts in a whole lot of hard work at the gym, but still take a few days to recover because of how fatigued you are? If that sounds like you, then one potential solution to your problem is nitric oxide.
The supplement helps keep the amount of blood flowing to your tissues high by encouraging smooth muscles to relax. The result of this is that the blood vessels dilate and more oxygen is able to reach the muscles working hard.
Something that can really make or break your recovery time is ensuring that the muscles have all the nutrients they need to recover. Improving blood flow can really make a difference in this regard. The more red blood cells you have, the more nutrients are reaching the muscles and speeding up their recovery.
It’s important to note that your results could be hampered if you don’t take the supplement properly. It should be used as a proper post-workout supplement by being mixed into shakes and taken with meals. After you solve the problem of taking the supplement properly though, you’ll find that you get noticeable results in a hurry. It shouldn’t take you too long to see and feel the results of the extra nitric oxide for yourself.
As your recovery speed between sessions improves, it allows you to go to the gym more often and lift weights with a greater frequency. This typically offers better results. Just bear in mind that increasing the frequency of your workouts without recovering properly between workouts causes overtraining and decreases the effectiveness of your workout.
Don’t doubt how important the process of resting is. If you plan to work out regularly and heavily, you must also plan to rest frequently and allow your body to recover.
2. Reduced Fatigue Levels When Doing More Reps
Another important benefit of nitric oxide is that it helps you to overcome fatigue. If you feel that fatigue is holding you back in your workouts, then this supplement can go a long way towards helping solve the problem.
Your body quickly burns through oxygen when you lift weights. This is why the process is a lot more tiring than it looks. Burning through oxygen causes the secretion of lactic acid into muscle tissue, which creates fatigue and wears muscles down and out.
The fatigue caused by lactic acid often feels like a burning sensation that causes you to stop exercising. If you’re looking to do more reps per set – such as doing between 8 and 12 reps – then this build-up of fatigue and lactic acid could limit your progress dramatically. The more oxygen you can get to reach your tissues, the less lactic acid they secrete. The result is that you can keep fatigue at bay for a little longer, solving the problem.
3. Enhanced Endurance Performance
As an endurance athlete, you will need to train for long distance events such as marathons. Nitric oxide is a great benefit for anyone undergoing this endurance training. People believe that nitric oxide only boosts strength, but this is a major misconception.
The truth is that endurance performance is also reliant on how much oxygen reaches the muscle tissues. This means that improving blood flow and oxygen levels allows you to work harder without getting exhausted; whether you’re in the gym or on the field.
Nitric oxide is also a great help for those training endurance events taking place at a higher altitude. The higher you are, the less oxygen you can take in. The effect is noticeable and is something you will definitely have to deal with.
Taking nitric oxide supplements enables you to offset the feeling of not having enough oxygen, making it feel no different than a usual training session.
4. Increased Energy Levels
Another great indirect benefit of taking nitric oxide is that the increased blood flow allows you to keep your core temperature balanced.
As the temperature of your body goes up during training and working out, the body tries to compensate by keeping tissue cool and preventing overheating. It’s much easier for the body to keep tissue cool by increasing blood flow. It takes less energy to keep yourself cool, ultimately leaving you with more to spend on your workouts.
5. Increased Glucose Use
If you want to burn through body fat then you should think about taking nitric oxide and enjoying the benefits for yourself. A study performed by the American Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism studied the effects that L-arginine had on glucose metabolism during exercise.
The researchers got nine men to cycle for a total of 120 minutes, followed by cycling at their very best for 15 minutes.
Body glucose levels were monitored as the exercises were carried out. It was shown that the men taking L-arginine had higher rates of glucose appearance, disappearance, and clearance. This shows that the athletes taking the supplement were better able to provide their muscles with glucose while undergoing exercise.
On top of this, supplementing with nitric oxide also increased the concentration of nonesterified fatty acids and glycerol, suggesting that fat was being burned as fuel.
So, if you want to burn through body fat the answer could be to use this supplement, which encourages the body to use up the glucose available in the body already and burn through fat tissue.
6. Increased Muscle Pump
The final benefit that comes with using nitric oxide is improving muscle pump following a workout. Everyone loves that feeling of tight and full muscles after going hard in a triceps and biceps workout. Nitric oxide makes this jump more pronounced and ensures it will stay around for the long term.
Given that muscle, pumps are primarily caused by increasing blood flow to muscle tissue, which is slightly natural when performing exercises, using nitric acid to increase blood flow to the muscles makes the effect more pronounced.
Seeing and feeling these muscle pumps for yourself could give you the motivation you need to keep trying hard during a workout, pushing you to bigger and better results in the long term.
What are the Side Effects?
As is the case with any product that contains amino acids, it’s entirely possible to overdose on nitric oxide supplements. Taking too much arginine can cause weakness, diarrhea, and nausea. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about ideal dosages and how to avoid side effects. That’s why you will have to rely on the technique called “tolerance mapping”.
Tolerance mapping simply involves taking small doses one week and keeping track of the benefits and side-effects. Increase the dosage slowly until you have the most benefit with a minimum amount of side effects. Take the time to work out the right dose for you.
It’s now entirely understandable why nitric oxide supplements have become as popular as they are with bodybuilders and athletes. These supplements stimulate vasodilation, helping the body get all the nutrients it needs to achieve peak performance levels. Gym rats are in love with the pumping effect of NO supplements.
Citrulline and arginine are incredibly effective ingredients for boosting the production of nitric oxide. They are also able to offer other benefits that have a direct impact on muscle growth, making them even more beneficial.