In this article we will try to tease out the facts about if nitric oxide is beneficial to those trying to build muscle or improve their workouts. Some claim that nitric oxide is a potent anabolic supplement that can help you gain muscle mass. While others think it is useless and does not help at all in gaining muscle or improving workouts.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is a gas produced by the body, and it contributes to blood flow. An amino acid called Arginine, which is found in our diets, is broken down by the body by a process of conversion. This process then converts dietary nitrates into nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is a gas that is quickly depleted and cannot be stored for use in the future. Typically, nitric oxide supplements contain arginine as a catalyst, which is then converted by your body into nitric oxide.
It is believed that nitric oxide supplements increase your blood levels of nitric oxide. This might help increase blood flow to the working muscles during a workout and increase the time that it takes to fatigue you.
Is Nitric Oxide Good For Bodybuilding?
Nitric oxide is a staple of bodybuilding supplements. Nitric oxide boosters or NO boosters can make a big difference in helping us achieve our fitness goals when it comes to gaining lean muscle mass and increasing our endurance.
It is common for bodybuilders to use these products without even realizing it. Some of the compounds used in the bodybuilding world include L-Arginine based compounds such as the Arginine ethyl ester, AAKG, and Citrulline Malate.
In the bodybuilding industry, you will find a number of nitric oxide supplements available for purchase. In order to promote muscle growth, bodybuilders most often combine whey protein, creatine, and nitric oxide supplements together.
The supplements listed above complement each other and can be taken in conjunction with each other. This is known as stacking when you are taking more than one supplement at a time.
Nitric Oxide Muscle Pump
One reason many bodybuilders use nitric oxide is for enhancing the muscle pump. What is referred to as the “Pump” in the bodybuilding community is an increase of blood and other fluids in the muscles making them appear much larger and more defined. The pump not only affects the way a bodybuilder looks, but it also produces a psychological benefit that helps with bodybuilding as well. Because your muscles are “pumped” full of blood, they appear larger in the mirror at the gym. This will give you a psychological boost. The increase of fluids in the muscle tissues helps to feed the muscles while you workout.
Nitric oxide is a useful tool when it comes to bodybuilding. Nitric oxide enhances blood flow while lowering your blood pressure. Increased blood flow means your muscles are being fed an increased amount of oxygen and other needed nutrients. The increased blood flow to the muscles helps to maximize workouts.
The effects of nitric oxide, including enhanced pump and vasodilatation, aren’t sustained for long periods of time and depend on a steady supply of nitric oxide to continue. Nitric oxide cannot be stored in your body. The body makes and uses what it needs as it goes.
Increased pump is one reason many bodybuilders like nitric oxide. Bodybuilders who think that taking nitric oxide will result in them growing bulging muscles without exercise or any training whatsoever aren’t being realistic. While you will have an increase in that pumped feeling with nitric oxide it isn’t a miracle in pill form. The effects of nitric oxide are used in the popular erectile dysfunction medication Viagra. Much like the effects of this med aren’t permanent the pump you experience from nitric oxide isn’t permanent either.
The increase of blood flow during a workout assists with building muscle that is permanent though. Nitric oxide should be used as part of an overall bodybuilding plan. Proper diet, exercise, and plenty of fluids should also be part of that plan. When used as part of a balanced plan the end result is stronger muscles and a healthier body.
Nitric Oxide Supplements
The two most common or popular nitric oxide boosting supplements on the market are Citrulline malate and L-Arginine and is related compounds. These supplements are rarely used on their own they are often found in combination or “stacked” with other supplements to have maximum benefit.
It is believed that citrulline malate is an supplement that can increase the production of nitric oxide, which in turn increases blood flow to active muscles. It is therefore thought that citrulline malate may somehow boost the delivery of nutrients and assist in removing waste products associated with fatigue, such as lactate and ammonia. Citrulline malate is a combination of citrulline and malate in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio.
L-arginine like citrulline malate is used by the body to make nitric oxide. When you supplement with it it allows the body to increase production of nitric oxide and thus dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow. For a more detailed description of what L-arginine is and how it works check out the article about L-arginine.
Nitric Oxide Deficiency
The human body requires nitric oxide in order to function properly. Nitric oxide is responsible for many basic functions of our body such as blood vessel dilation, penile erections, reducing blood pressure, and neurotransmission or communication between cells. Nitric oxide also leads to an increase in stamina. In addition to fighting pathogens, nitric oxide contributes to supporting the endocrine system.
Because nitric oxide is essential to so many functions within the body, if the body is deficient in nitric oxide, certain bodily functions that rely on nitric oxide will not function properly. An individual with nitric oxide deficiency develops this condition as their body’s capacity for producing nitric oxide declines naturally due to age, stress, or other factors. As we age, our body’s ability to produce nitric oxide naturally declines.
Symptoms of nitric oxide deficiency are very common and easy to overlook if you do not know what nitric oxide is and what to look for. The following are some of the most common signs of nitric oxide deficiency:
If you have poor or declining vision, this might be a sign that you are deficient. Aqueous humor, also called vitreous humor, or the fluid that fills our eyes, is responsible for regulating whether intraocular pressure increases or decreases. There are several factors which determine the proper flow of this fluid, including nitric oxide which carries the fluid to the right places.
The fluids in the eyes, which are used for a variety of functions, must drain from the eyes to prevent pressure from building up inside. This can lead to vision loss. Too much or too little intraocular pressure can lead to problems over time. Therefore, it is critical that the pressure in the eye is tightly controlled by the body to prevent damage to the eye and vision.
If your nitric oxide levels are low, this can impact your body temperature. Nitric oxide is required in the central nervous system for your body to properly control its temperature. When the levels of NO in your blood are high and when they are low, you can feel a slight difference in body temperature. Even if you don’t feel like you have a full-blown fever, you may still feel the discomfort that comes along with the beginning of one.
If you have been noticing a little bit more muscle soreness or achiness, it could be a sign of low nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide levels can have an impact on how sore you feel after working out if they are low. Therefore, if you are feeling more sore post workout compared to normal, it might be caused by inadequate nitric oxide levels in the body.
A low nitric oxide level can impact the vasodilation of the blood vessels and ultimately affect the rate at which blood flows and circulates around the muscles. During times when blood flow is hindered or not optimal, this will lead to a depletion of oxygen rich blood in your cells. The result of this can be a build-up of pro-inflammatory molecules, which subsequently causes muscle aches and fatigue because they cannot be flushed out.
Elevated Blood Pressure
Since nitric oxide has a direct impact on the vasodilation of the blood vessels, it also has a direct impact on blood pressure. If your body is low in nitric oxide this could result in the blood vessels not dilating and remaining stiff, rigid and narrow. All this could lead to higher blood pressure. Keep in mind that blood pressure is complicated and there is not one factor that determines if it is high or low. If your blood pressure is not optimal it is crucial that you talk to your doctor.
Summary Nitric Oxide For Bodybuilding
To summarize everything nitric oxide is a worthwhile supplement for bodybuilders in the sense that it does work to increase blood flow. This can help to prevent fatigue and allow you to workout harder and longer. Both of which can in the long run lead to substantial gains in strength and muscle mass.
But it is also necessary to keep in mind that it does not stimulate muscle growth on its own. Rather, it allows you to do more intense and heavier training in the gym. It is this increased work capacity which in the long term will lead to increased gains, and not the nitric oxide itself directly.
While having a good balance of nitric oxide in your body helps with overall health, having too much isn’t a good thing. Nitric oxide catalysts are available in pill form as well as being an ingredient in many protein powders. It is important to know which supplements you are taking have amino acids that will assist your body in making nitric oxide. If you take too many you run the risk of having toxic levels of nitric oxide in the body.