We’ve all heard the terms Nitric Oxide, NO Explode or NO2, either from a friend at the gym, or from the nubile 18 year-old know-it-all boy at the counter of your local GNC. But most of us don’t really know what nitric oxide does, or how nitric oxide works. Let’s begin with what Nitric Oxide Supplements are!
What Is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring gas, found and produced within the body. Nitric oxide is formed and/or synthesized from the amino acid Arginine under the enzymatic control of nitric oxide. Therefore, any Nitric Oxide supplement is composed of L-Arginine, not Nitric Oxide or NO2.
What Are Nitric Oxide Supplements?
Nitric oxide supplements are composed with L-Arginine, a semi-essential amino acid utilized from foods such as red meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. While being a “semi” essential Amino Acid, meaning one that our own bodies cannot produce, L-Arginine is however found in small trace amounts, while non-essential amino acids are synthesized within our own biological system. Hence, non-essential since our body can produce them on it’s own.
What Does Nitric Oxide Do And How Does It Work?
Increased Blood Flow And Circulation
L-Arginine is a precursor to the cell-signaling molecule Nitric Oxide (a gaseous by product). Nitric Oxide acts as a signaling molecule to facilitate the dilation of blood vessels and decrease vascular resistance. IN simpler terms, Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator that widens the blood vessels to improve blood flow and circulation to the muscle tissues. L-Arginine is a much needed Amino Acid by the Endothelial Cells of the body, (cells lining the inside of blood vessels) in order to form enough nitric oxide, to keep steady blood flow and circulation.
L-Arginine also helps the body facilitate the process of making proteins, or what is called Protein Synthesis. Protein synthesis, is an extremely important and crucial process within our own biological system, to maintain and increase muscle mass and strength. Resistance training causes muscle anabolism and catabolism, (buildup and breakdown) of muscle tissue. Therefore, facilitating the process of protein synthesis will help produce and maintain muscle mass and strength.
Increased Nutrient Uptake
Since L-Arginine is a precursor for Nitric Oxide, and since Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator, blood vessels are widened, by relaxing muscle walls. In turn, this lowers blood pressure, and increases blood flow, thus more macronutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are delivered to the muscle tissue, subsequently helping with faster recovery, increased strength and enhanced endurance.
What Are The Benefits Of Nitric Oxide
Better and Faster Recovery
One of the main effects of Nitric Oxide on skeletal muscle metabolism is to increase the delivery and uptake of fuel substrates via its vasodilating effects. Therefore, improved blood flow, translates into faster transport and absorption of crucial vitamins, minerals and macronutrients into the muscle tissue. Thus, faster and better muscle recovery.
Reduced Fatigue/Increased Endurance
Stamina, and endurance are extremely important when trying to overcome fatigue, and compete at an elite level. Resistance training, and high intensity training, results in a rapid loss of oxygen supplied to the body. When oxygen is depleted, lactic acid starts to form in muscle tissues, creating fatigue. Therefore, by supplying your body with more oxygen transport, you can reduce lactic acid build up, and bypass excess amounts of muscle fatigue.
In a research study conducted by The University of California Los Angeles, and the Journal Of The International Society of Sports Nutrition, a randomized controlled trial of elderly male cyclists revealed a 16.7% increase in anaerobic threshold after supplementing Arginine for three weeks.
Chen, S., & Woosong, K. (2010, March). Arginine and antioxidant supplement on performance in elderly male cyclists: A randomized controlled trial. Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition.
Table 2: Anaerobic Threshold and VO2max
Increased Muscle Mass And Strength
Like we mentioned above, Nitric Oxide helps facilitate the process of protein synthesis, therefore resulting in a positive muscle metabolism increasing vital nutrient uptake for positive gains in muscle mass and strength.
Better Heart Health
Endothelial function is enhanced with the supplementation of Arginine, due to its dilation effects, thus transporting more oxygen and providing better blood flow to the arteries of the heart. L-arginine influences a number of atherosclerosis risk factors such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and smoking, improving endothelial function and restores endothelial function in the brachial artery and improves coronary microcirculation.
There are many benefits that come along with Nitric Oxide supplementation. Whether you’re a competitive CrossFit athlete that competes at an elite level, a normal guy at the gym trying to increase strength and enhance recovery, or if you’re taking preventive measures to obtain better heart health. Whatever your goals may be, Nitric Oxide can provide a substantial benefit to your athletic performance and results.