A nitric oxide booster is relatively new to the bodybuilding scene. Unlike regular supplements like creatine they haven’t been available as long to buy off the shelf. The purpose of them is to drive more blood around the body and to increase circulation. This effect causes us to feel like we have more energy, hence the term “booster”.
They are not to be confused with steroids of course, as nitric oxide is naturally produced by the body anyway. By taking these extra supplements it just gives us something more of what we are already producing.
Most of these boosters contain amino acids that get straight to work and increase our blood flow. But some of them are stronger than others so always read the labels.
The main component of the supplements is one or more forms of arginine (the most popular being alpha-ketoglutarate).
A major fraction of nitric oxide supplements are initially commercialized as effective muscle building concoctions.
The marketers of the supplement cite scientific research that proves that the nutrient increases the blood levels of nitric oxide, which causes vasodilation that amplifies muscular growth, stamina and output.
This mechanism of blood flow significantly improves exercise performance in heart patients and endothelial health (the endothelium is tissue that lines blood vessels).
Increasing the flow of blood to the muscles in turn increases the delivery of nutrients, which increases the speed of protein synthesis. Hence arginine and nitric oxide supplements are commercialized like natural steroids.
Arginine also raises the production of the growth hormone as a response to exercise. This is welcome news to the average consumer, who is unlikely to buy into the fact that more quantities of a growth hormone of any kind and quantity is a muscle builder.
This all might sound very exciting, but a closer look might reveal some flaws in the whole theory.
The claims of the growth hormone should be taken into consideration first since almost all of the time it is not true.
Supplements that increase nitric oxide levels such as arginine and citrulline can increase the levels of the growth hormone during physical exercise, but this does not assist in building more muscle.
This loosely translates into the fact that growth hormone has potential anabolic effects but that doesn’t cause skeletal muscle growth or increase of strength. And this is in actual reference to escalating the levels of hormone by a direct injection of GH, and not by a supplement that increases the natural production of GH very weakly for an hour or even less than that.
And to further prove it, a very interesting research carried out by scientists carried out by scientists with young, men undergoing strength resistance.
The research subjects lifted 5 times each week for about 12 weeks and had a regular diet (high-protein, post-workout food, etc.).
The main finding of the research study was that the exercise-induced spikes in anti-catabolic hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1, which were all constrained within a normal range, had no significant effect on muscle growth as a whole and a gain in muscular strength.
Most research subjects gained muscle, but the variations in the size of hormone spikes did not affect their results.
Arginine as a nitric oxide enhancer is highly subjective as far as producing any positive effect on people. This might be a possible explanation why nitric oxide boosters are unreliable and some people achieve the desired results while others do not.
The best thing that can be safely stated about arginine is that even if the required dosage of 6-10 grams is ingested daily it may or may not help achieve the desired results along with regular physical exercise.