You most likely know that protein powder is a simple way to reach your calorie and macronutrient targets and that creatine is a safe and effective means to increase strength and anaerobic capacity. That’s about where the consensus ends in regards to fitness nutritional supplements, and also for those people looking to improve exercise performance, it can be hard to know what else fulfills the approval of the scientific community at large. Can it improve your PRs, or is it just another well-packaged bottle of powdered snake oil? The Claims As a conditionally essential amino acid, the body does a good job of fabricating arginine by itself, but there could be a few situations where it’s useful to supplement it. The most frequent claim encompassing arginine is its purported abilities of validation, meaning it “opens up” veins and arteries and makes it much easier for blood to flow freely through your entire body. This would be because it is a precursor to nitric oxide, a known vasodilator.
That is if it is true. The Evidence “L-arginine tends to be promoted towards any physical activity since the theoretical increase in nitric oxide should gain anything linked to blood circulation,” says Kurtis Frank, the research director of the individual nutrition research organization, Examine.com. “For the most part, it appears to favor CrossFit®-style activities; items which involve muscular contraction in a reasonable rep range. It does not appear to provide any major advantage to long distance stuff nor maximum power activities like sprinting and heavy lifting.” When it comes to nitric oxide supplements, there is something of a “Big Four”: L-arginine, L-citrulline, agmatine, and nitrates. Antioxidants also indirectly aid nitric oxide and are frequently used together with the Big Four. It isn’t even worth taking it with another NO supplements since they’d be competing for exactly the exact same mechanism. If taken side by side, he explains, it’d wind up being a one-plus-one-plus-one equal one type scenario. The question, then, is what’s the smartest way to boost nitric oxide? “I’d recommend L-citrulline or agmatine over L-arginine daily, for workouts and for the overall health benefits,” says Frank. “Agmatine could be regarded as the healthiest, as it’s other mechanisms along with the NO production, for example endothelial health” Sticking to L-citrulline or agmatine can also be likely to benefit your wallet because dedicated nitric oxide supplements are notorious for trying to increase profits by adding twenty somewhat relevant ingredients, while they usually only have a few ingredients which are truly effective. (Frank likens NO supplements to “fat burners” in that respect .) Arginine, it turns out, is a weak choice for the benefits a buyer is probably after. The link it has to actually boost nitric oxide is weak, and the initial belief that it’s a good NO supplement can be called “The Arginine Paradox.” “L-arginine was originally considered to increase NO because it is a precursor – you need some arginine for those enzymes which make NO,” says Frank. “But when you place more arginine to your system, NO does not always increase. It turned out that’s because it is not just a substrate, it works mostly throughout the A2-andrenergic tract. Agmatine is a lot more powerful in the way it acts with this receptor, and L-citrulline, while it functions in a more comparable way to L-arginine, does a much better job of absorbing through the bowels. Incidentally, that is why a lot of individuals get ‘pre-workout’ tops; they mix caffeine using L-arginine, both of which can go right through you .” But Doesn’t L-Arginine Boost My Muscle Size? Eventually, L-arginine can also be thought by many to boost the body’s production of the anabolic human growth hormone (HGH) and dilate. But arginine does not do anything to the creatine production unless you are already deficient in arginine, and it is extremely unlikely that you are. (Recall that the body can make its own arginine, and it’s present in most sources of protein .) And so much as growth hormone goes, arginine and creatine do theoretically raise its creation after a workout, but for such a small time frame that it is doubtful, it will have some practical effect on your own physique. Therefore don’t turn to L-arginine to provide you with Stallone-like HGH levels. The Takeaway This science is a little dense, but here is the take-home lesson. First, in case lowering your risk of hypertension by improving your blood circulation, you are better off talking to a doctor and considering pharmaceuticals and ACE inhibitors. Nutritional supplements, after all, aren’t medications.