Nitric Oxide And Muscle Growth

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What is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a compound naturally made within the body. This gas is produced when cells break down the amino acid arginine. Because of this process, many nitric oxide supplements have a main ingredient of arginine instead of nitric oxide. Once the supplements enter your body’s system, the cells will break down the arginine naturally to change it into the nitric oxide your body needs.

Within your body, nitric oxide plays a major role in the communication between cells. This helps blood circulation as well as the regulation of many of your organs, like the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys. Nitric oxide also helps release hormones and adrenaline which can help support muscle growth (1).

Take Home Note:
Nitric oxide is a gas naturally found within the human body.  Without it, communication between cells and blood circulation would be severely disrupted.

How Does Nitric Oxide Help Build Muscles?

Bodybuilder with Bottle of SupplementsMany powerlifters boast about the power of nitric oxide supplements and their wonders on muscle growth. A study done in 2006 showed that men who trained regularly at the gym and took a supplement containing 12 grams of l-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, the typical ingredient in NO2 supplements, every day for two months, were able to increase their maximum bench press weights.  Nitric oxide works both during and after a workout to help build muscles (2).

Active Workout

When your blood flows easier throughout your body, it is better able to deliver the oxygen and nutrients muscles crave during workouts. Nitric oxide not only increases this blood circulation, it also increases the amount of hormones in the blood. These additional hormones also increase the ability for lactic acid to form and for muscles to continue their growth. In theory, this efficiency of blood circulation and hormone delivery will allow people to perform longer, more intense workouts.

Post Workout

When combined with the proper amount of protein and carbohydrates, nitric oxide helps your body recover from workouts faster. The better blood circulation allows the nutrients from your post workout meal to reach your cells faster, making it easier for them to get you on the path of post-workout recovery.

Take Home Note:
Nitric oxide works both during and after a workout to help strengthen and build muscles.  By increasing blood flow, more hormones are sent to the muscles to increase length and intensity of workouts, while afterwards, nutrients are sent to help with a speedy recovery.

Can Women Use Nitric Oxide?

Photo of Sweet CoupleNitric oxide is found naturally in our bodies and supplements have been found to be mostly safe for both men and women. In addition to the benefits of muscle growth, women have also seen better cardiovascular health and improvement in their sexual desires when taking nitric oxide supplements.  Many post-menopausal women will take NO2 supplements to increase their libido after it has dropped due to hormone changes in the body.

One major benefit of nitric oxide supplements has been shown for pregnant women and their babies who have been diagnosed with Eisenmenger syndrome. Eisenmenger syndrome occurs when the blood in the left-to-right shunt in the heart reverses, interrupting the natural blood circulation in the body. While there has only been one study done, the 27 year old with Eisenmenger syndrome was given nitric oxide supplements for 2 days before labor and delivery.  While she still passed away, the supplement was shown to have a positive effect on the hypoxia the woman experienced (3).

Take Home Note:
Nitric oxide is safe for men and women. In addition to the muscle growth, women see additional benefits from nitric oxide supplements, like increased libido post-menopause, and treatment for Eisenmenger syndrome.

What Benefits Come From Nitric Oxide Supplements?

Many athletes swear by their NO2 supplements. They have reported numerous benefits noticed pre, post, and during their workouts.

Some of these benefits include (4):

  • Photo of Man BodybuildingFast Recovery Times – By increasing blood flow to muscles, nitric oxide helps your muscles heal faster.
  • More Endurance – Higher oxygen levels in your muscles during workouts, they don’t tire out as easily.
  • More Energy – Nitric oxide helps balance your body temperature, making your body expend less energy to do it naturally.
  • Muscle Growth – The increased blood flow carries more nutrients to the muscles, allowing them to grow faster.
Take Home Note:
Supplements with L-arginine have many benefits for athletes and weight trainers. The increased blood flow transports many things, including hormones, oxygen, and nutrients to give you the best workout and recovery possible.

Does Nitric Oxide Have Known Side Effects?

L-arginine, the main ingredient in nitric oxide supplements, has been labeled as only possibly safe. The supplements can be taken by mouth, through injections, or in creams applied topically.  Many side effects have been reported when using nitric oxide supplements, so you should take them with caution.

Some of the side effects include (5):

  • Stomach discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gout
  • Blood problems
  • Worsening of allergies
  • Airway inflammation
  • Worsening of asthma
  • Low blood pressure
  • Kidney Disease
  • Higher rate of death after heart attack
Take Home Note:
Like with many supplements, L-arginine does have side effects. With all dietary supplements, you should consult with a doctor to determine if the supplement is right for you. Doctors can also help you determine the proper dosage to limit the chances of side-effects.

Where Can I Find Nitric Acid Naturally?

If you don’t want to take supplements, but still want to increase your nitric oxide levels in the body, L-arginine is found naturally in many foods, and also in sunshine! The top ten most common known foods containing L-arginine are (6):

  1. Dark Chocolate/Raw CacaoPomegranate Juice and Fruit
  2. Citrus
  3. Pomegranate
  4. Walnuts
  5. Arugula
  6. Spinach
  7. Watermelon
  8. Beets
  9. Meats and Seafood
  10. Garlic
Take Home Note:
To increase your nitric oxide levels without the use of supplements that may have side effects, you can change your diet. There are many foods that help boost the production of nitric oxide in the body, providing you with many health benefits.

Conclusion – Will Nitric Oxide Supplements Help You?

If you are looking for better workouts, shorter recovery times, and increased muscle growth, nitric oxide supplements may be right for you. It is safe for both men and women to take and has many benefits surrounding muscle growth. While supplements do have some side effects, there are also many foods that you can eat to boost your nitric oxide levels in the body naturally.

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