VIEW PART ONE - HERE Nitric Oxide (NO) is produced in skeletal muscle and is an important signalling molecule within the muscle cell that is involved in many complex biological reactions that influence muscle contraction, metabolism, gene expression and the most important factor as to why it is commonly included in pre-workout supplementation, increased blood flow. This increase in blood flow helps gives us the ‘pump’ we so often desire, increasing blood flow into the muscle is important for the delivery of nutrients and hormones that are essential for muscle growth. [Tweet ""increasing blood flow into the muscle is important for the delivery of nutrients and hormones that are essential for muscle growth.""]
What about research?
NO boosters are relatively new to the supplement world, and therefore limited research into sports performance is available; however research in the use of supplementation of NO boosters in medical conditions has shown positive effects, including increased blood flow and healing rates. I can also tell you, from personal experience (if that counts for anything!), that a majority of these products have had the desired effect, particularly when dieting when getting a pump can be difficult. In endurance type exercise NO boosters have also shown to improve performance, this is proposed to occur by freeing up inactive stores of nitrate into its active form allowing more NO to be released into muscle improving muscle cell function. This has been demonstrated to enable athletes to maintain the same relative power output as without supplementation but with a decrease in oxygen demand thus increasing time to fatigue, this would also allow power output to be increased but keeping oxygen demand within maintainable levels.
What forms are available?
Enhancing NO production through supplementation is available in many forms; writing about each compound that may improve NO production would be a very difficult and time consuming task. So I will endeavour to stick to the most common ones used, in the most popular products. Fundamentally, NO production is linked to increased levels of L-Arginine (an amino acid) and its precursors (foods/compounds that are broken down to produce Arginine). L-Arginine appears to be the main protagonist with which NO production can be increased, as well as an added benefit as it is also essential for the synthesis of creatine. L-Arginine can be synthesised in the body from a wide number of different food sources. L-arginine is commonly found in pre-workout formulations in its raw form; however derivatives of L-Arginine such as Citrulline are also capable of increasing NO production, for this reason Citrulline is another ingredient commonly found in pre-workout formulas.
What about other NO products?
Other NO products work not by directly increasing NO production but by inhibiting enzymes that reduce levels of NO. One that is most commonly found in pre-workout products is Agmatine Sulphate, this can be found as a stand-alone product or part of a formulation. Agmatine sulphate may also play a role in insulin response improving uptake of carbohydrates into the muscle and has the proposed added benefits of influencing the release of hormones essential for muscle growth. Direct consumption of foods high in nitrates, such as drinking concentrated beetroot juice, have also shown to increase NO levels, so for those who do not get on well with pre-workouts or are cycling off them (as is recommended!) there are still ways of chasing that elusive pump! Our favourite NO product at CSN is I-Force Hemavol, this contains both citrulline and agmatine sulphate, giving both a direct NO boost as well as inhibiting enzymes that decrease NO production. This product also contains Vitamin C and other compounds that are important for the support and protection of the enzymes that produce NO. So give it a go because without it you’ll never kNOw (sorry couldn’t help it!) the consistent muscle splitting pumps that are possible when using these products. Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc). [wpsr_socialbts]