Nitric oxide is a natural gas in the human body that increases the blood circulation to the skeletal muscle.
This blood flow increase improves the muscle growth processes. Several experts emphasize the importance of nitric oxide supplementation in bodybuilding since 1996.
- 1. Composition
- 2. Effects
- 3. Benefits
- 4. Other properties of nitric oxide
- 5. Supplementation
- 6. Nitric Oxide Precursor Supplements
- 7. How do Nitric Oxide Supplements affect the Performance during Weightlifting?
- 8. Other Healthy Effects of Nitric Oxide Supplements
- 9. Side effects of stimulators
- 10. Sources
- 11. Related Entries
Nitric oxide is a compound that consists of a nitrogen atom and an oxygen atom. One of the precursors of nitric oxide is l-arginine, an amino acid obtained from two enzymes, arginase and synthase, the last one is directly connected to nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator. The vasodilation is when the blood vessels widen because the smooth muscle tissues are relaxed. Consequently, there is more blood circulation.
More blood means more oxygen and nutrients for the muscles
This effect increases the transport of essential nutrients to the stimulated area. Moreover, it improves the release of metabolic byproducts. All of this enhances the muscle growth processes.
In fact, nitric oxide does not increase the muscle directly, rather, it helps to feed the muscles more properly.
Other properties of nitric oxide
Increasing the NO levels in our body has other beneficial properties:
- Helping to fight against infections, specially bacteria.
- Anti-inflammatory effects.
- Improving the vasodilation of the circulatory system. This is specially interesting for those who suffer hypertension and/or heart problems.
- Avoiding the formation of thrombi that trigger heart attacks due to its anti-coagulant effects.
- Increasing the blood flow to the brain and working as a neurotransmitter in the brain. That is why this substance can improve the memory and cognitive functions in the long term.
- Supporting the angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels that will provide more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. This will improve the elimination of lactate, enhancing the performance.
- Stimulating the use of fatty acids by the skeletal muscle by increasing the amount of mitochondria (mitochondrial biogenesis). This increase also forms more mitochondrial enzymes, which are vital to produce ATP.
- Shortening the post-workout recovery thanks to its ability to stimulate the cell division process.
- Enhancing the muscle hypertrophy.
- Protecting the muscle fibers during the workout.
- Let’s not forget about its benefits to improve sexual relations. This is due to the fact that it works on the same metabolic route as viagra, producing a less powerful but similar effect. It is a great product for those who suffer erectile dysfunction.
The nitric oxide release keeps the area pumped around 40 minutes after training. Its production is limited by the availability of amino acids and enzymes.
Nitric oxide supplements are combined with amino acids and enzymes which help to produce and release nitric oxide throughout the day.
The most common way of taking this supplement consists of taking 5 grams before training and another 5 when we wake up or before going to sleep. Taking nitric oxide before and after training can significantly increase the vasodilation.
Nitric Oxide Precursor Supplements
Some nitric oxide supplements include an ingredient called “beet extract”, usually Beta vulgaris. The reason why this plant is used is because beet juice improves the O2 transport. This mainly happens during the contraction of skeletal muscles made up by fast twitch fibers.
This happens due to the ion nitrate (NO3-) content in beet. Once it reaches the organism, it becomes nitrite (NO2-) and nitric oxide (NO)
How do Nitric Oxide Supplements affect the Performance during Weightlifting?
- The fast twitch muscle fibers have a lower oxidative capacity than slow twitch fibers (type I). That is why the PpO2 is lower in them during physical exercise.
- A lower PpO2 creates a physical-chemical environment that improves the peripheral hypoxia (lower pH, higher lactate). Moreover, said drop in the PpO2 suppresses the endogenous NO production from neuronal enzymes (nNOS, present in type II fibers) and endothelial enzymes (eNOS).
- NO3- supplementation increases and improves said PpO2 by enhancing the O2 transport. Moreover, it reduces the cost of O2 in this type of exercise.
- Higher PpO2 = ↑ pH = ↓ lactate = ↓ peripheral fatigue = improving the performance during high intensity exercise, specially helping to keep the pace (see image below).
Other Healthy Effects of Nitric Oxide Supplements
It also improves the reproductive system. It preserves the sexual function in men as they grow old; that is, the quality nor the quantity of erections gets worse.
Side effects of stimulators
We suggest combining these products with antioxidants in order to reduce the effects of the free radicals.
Using these supplements can also cause digestive problems. When we eat, most of the blood goes straight to the stomach in order to improve the nutrient absorption.
- Cormio, L., De Siati, M., Lorusso, F., Selvaggio, O., Mirabella, L., Sanguedolce, F., & Carrieri, G. (2011). Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology,77(1), 119-122.
- Ferguson, S. K., Holdsworth, C. T., Wright, J. L., Fees, A. J., Allen, J. D., Jones, A. M., … & Poole, D. C. (2014). Microvascular oxygen pressures in muscles comprised of different fiber types: Impact of dietary nitrate supplementation. Nitric Oxide.
- Lansley, K. E., Winyard, P. G., Fulford, J., Vanhatalo, A., Bailey, S. J., Blackwell, J. R., … & Jones, A. M. (2011). Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study.Journal of Applied Physiology, 110(3), 591-600.
- Schantz, P., Randall-Fox, E., Hutchison, W., Tydén, A., & Åstrand, P. O. (1983). Muscle fibre type distribution, muscle cross-sectional area and maximal voluntary strength in humans. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 117(2), 219-226.
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