Nitric Oxide has been a big buzzword in the supplement industry for the last ten years or so. For those who do not know what it is, yes I am spelling it correctly.
Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas, is the stuff your dentist gives you to get you to drift off into la la land so he can drill until his hearts desire. That obviously would not be a good supplement to take before a workout.
Nitric oxide on the other hand, is a powerful molecule produced within your body. Supplements to increase Nitric Oxide levels (pre-workouts) have become popular due to Nitric Oxide’s ability to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles.
Since Nitric Oxide boosting products line the shelves of supplement stores and the bags of gym rats far and wide, one who has not tried it would naturally wonder, does Nitric Oxide work?
The Big Misconception
Before I go any further, I want to clear up one major misconception. Many people, myself included in the past, believe that Nitric Oxide is actually present within the pre-workout supplements they are taking.
I blame part of that that on confusing and deceptive marketing by supplement companies. Many supplements created to boost Nitric Oxide levels typically have the Nitric Oxide chemical formula (NO) somewhere in their name.
This leads many into believing that Nitric Oxide is actually present in the formula. The truth is that Nitric Oxide is not actually present in these supplements. All of these supplements contain ingredients believed and/or proven to increase your bodies natural nitric oxide levels.
I blame the other part on us, the consumer, who are too lazy to actually read the labels on many of these supplements to see what they contain. Let us rejoice in the fact that we are now all (or hopefully will be soon) label readers that understand what we are taking!
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, we can move on to the super fun scientific breakdown of Nitric Oxide. I promise it will be painless.
What is Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide is a gas produced by the body that assists with blood flow. It is the main molecule made by the cells that line the blood vessels. It is believed to be one of the most important molecules made by your body.
Scientifically speaking, nitric oxide is a very recently discovered molecule. It was first discovered in the early 1980s. Nitric oxide was actually declared the molecule of the year in 1992.
Research into Nitric Oxide even led to a Nobel prize in 1998. That was something I was surprised to learn while researching this incredible molecule.
Nitric oxide has been found to have some amazing benefits for your body and your health.
Benefits of Nitric Oxide
I realize that most of you reading this article are doing so because you are wondering if and how Nitric Oxide can help you gain muscle while helping you to get better workouts. I promise I will get to that.
It’s important to understand the supplements you are taking. Part of that understanding is learning how the supplements affect your entire body and not just your muscles.
Nitric Oxide has been found to have some truly impressive benefits. It is a natural vasodilator, meaning that it widens the blood vessels and increases blood flow. It has been found to prevent the accumulation of plague in the arteries and protect against heart disease.
Due to its ability to increase blood flow, Nitric Oxide has also been found to assist with erectile dysfunction in men. In fact, Viagra works through it’s action in the Nitric Oxide pathway.
Nitric Oxide has also been found to lower blood pressure, boost brain power, improve sex drive and kill Bacteria.
Nitric Oxide For Bodybuilding
Now to the important part that you’ve been eagerly anticipating. The reason that Nitric Oxide boosting supplements are popular for bodybuilders is due to their ability to increase blood flow to the muscle and provide a much more intense pump.
Aside from the obvious claim of boosting your bodies Nitric Oxide levels, most Nitric Oxide boosters claim that they will improve muscular endurance and recovery while reducing soreness.
The primary reason that Nitric Oxide boosters are taken by bodybuilders and those who lift weights however, is to achieve a stronger pump in the muscles. Particularly valuable for bodybuilding, the pump is the main goal for many looking to increase muscle size.
There is some debate about whether achieving a strong pump is important for muscle growth. While I would not say that it is everything, it’s definitely an important factor. Just ask Arnold.
Muscle growth aside, getting a pump is just an amazing feeling. I’m sure this will sound strange to those who haven’t experienced it but it truly is a transcendental experience.
Why take Nitric Oxide boosters
If you have not lifted weights before, I strongly urge you to try this. Go into a gym or find some type of weight that you can do bicep curls with. I don’t care if its two jugs of laundry detergent; however, a barbell is preferred. Here’s another video of Ronnie Coleman doing curls if you truly do not know what they are. Yes I love Ronnie Coleman, don’t judge me.
Anyways, take that weight and curl it as many times as possible and then some. Then rest a few seconds and do it again. Keep doing this until you cannot bend you arms anymore and they feel like they are going to explode. That’s a pump. Now tell me it doesn’t feel incredible. Ok, maybe you didn’t reach enlightenment by doing it but you won’t forget the feeling.
The thing is that as you continue to lift weights for months and years on end, your muscles eventually become used to it. All those reps and sets have conditioned your muscle to be able to take a beating in the gym.
As your muscles become conditioned, it becomes harder and harder to achieve a strong pump in them without adjusting your training. This often means that you will have to do rep after rep to achieve anything near a pump without taking a supplement that will give you a hand.
That’s where Nitric Oxide boosting supplements come in. They allow your muscles to achieve a much quicker (and stronger) pump early on into your workout without nearly as much work as you would’ve had to do otherwise.
This allows you to maintain a pump for the vast majority of your workout.
Aside from providing a stronger pump, most pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, which will obviously energize you and help you push through your workouts.
Do Nitric Oxide supplements work?
This is a bit of a loaded question and really contains two separate questions. The first question is, do Nitric Oxide supplements work to increase Nitric Oxide levels in the body? As we now know, the supplements are created hoping to boost the bodies natural levels of Nitric Oxide, which will then give us all the great benefits of it.
According to current research, there is not enough evidence to suggest that they actually increase the bodies Nitric Oxide levels although, many of the ingredients typically added to them have been proven to be effective in the Nitric Oxide synthesis process.
The short answer is that nobody knows; however, with the right ingredients, the supplements should work to increase the levels in our body. Hopefully science will find a definitive answer to that question soon.
The second question to answer is whether Nitric Oxide supplements live up to their claims of providing a better pump and pushing you to have a better workout.
My personal experience with Nitric Oxide boosting supplements is that they absolutely help to give you mind blowing pumps and train with insane intensity. When I have taken them, I felt like I was able to workout all day and bang out set after set. No doubt that they work.
They would not be so popular if they didn’t live up to at least some of their claims. Pre-workout supplements aiming to boost Nitric Oxide are probably the most commonly taken legal supplements by gym goers after whey protein. I would venture to guess that they are now as popular, if not more popular, than whey.
Almost everyone I know that lifts weights takes some kind of pre-workout. It can certainly become mentally addicting and I know that many who try to stop taking them go through a period of less than optimal workouts afterwards.
Of all the supplements currently being produced, this one is the most concerning for me. Unfortunately, many low quality companies (and people) produce pre-workout supplements.
These pre-workout supplements are typically LOADED with caffeine, sucralose and artificial colorings. They are so loaded with caffeine that people feel a huge surge of energy and think that they are working, but at what cost. I can put 400 milligrams of caffeine into a bottle of horse urine and you will swear that it’s a great pre-workout. You might complain about the taste though.
There’s actually one currently on the market called Meth Lab. I wish I was joking. I cringe when I see teenagers pounding this stuff down because I did it myself and suffered the consequences. You heart will be jumping out of your chest and you will literally feel like you are on meth.
If you are reading this and are currently taking one of these supplements produced by a mainstream supplement company, I beg you to examine the ingredients and reconsider taking them if they contain the ingredients I just discussed above. I promise you can get the same results with natural supplements.
Luckily, there are a lot of natural and quality nitric oxide boosting pre-workouts appearing in the market which I am very excited about and will be reviewing in the near future, such as this and this.
Hopefully this has helped to clear up some confusion. Nitric Oxide is undoubtedly an important molecule within our body that has some amazing benefits and does work.
The concern is how to boost those levels naturally through supplements we can trust. There are many supplements available aiming to increase our bodies levels however, the jury is still out on whether they actually work.
Like all supplements, I urge you to experiment to find out what will work with you. In the past, supplements designed to increase Nitric Oxide have worked very well for me and gave me tremendous workouts.
Overall, I think that there is a lot of promise for these supplements as long as they contain quality ingredients that do not harm our health.
Have you every tried a Nitric Oxide boosting Supplement? I would love to hear your experience, both good and bad, as well as answer any questions you have.