I'm sure you've heard all the news about Nitric Oxide in the supplement industry lately. Let's take a close look and see what everyone is talking about.
What Is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric Oxide is a naturally occuring gas found in your body and is composed of one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom. Nitric Oxide is produced, along with the amino acid citrulline, when L-Arginine and a group on enzymes called Nitric Oxide Synthase or NOS make contact with each other.
Most Nitric Oxide supplements contain large amounts of L-Arginine and synthetic NOS substances.
So how and where does it occur in the body naturally?
Nitric Oxide is produced within the flat endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. When the endothelial cell is stimulated, which happens when muscles contract, the above mentioned substances combine and release Nitric Oxide. Once released, Nitric Oxide goes across the endothelial cell membrane into the adjacent smooth muscle tissue of the blood vessels, causing them to relax and widen. This process is called vasodilatation. This results in an increase in blood flow to the stimulated area, which ultimately causes your muscles to get pumped.
Muscle Pump, Should I Care?
Yes and no. Getting a pump is not really necessary for gaining muscle, which is really the only reason you are working out and concerned with supplements. Basically what happens is when the body is being stressed by exercise, it realizes that it needs more nutrients, water, and oxygen than is currently available. These nutrients get delivered in the blood stream which is the body's primary nutrient transport mechanism. It carries everything from amino acids, creatine, water, and oxygen to the working muscles. The bloodstream is also charged with removing metabolic waste from the working muscles. So, the muscle is being worked and needs more nutrients and produces more waste. It is a good thing that the vessels expand to allow more of the good stuff in, and carry the bad stuff out.
What's the downside?
It is presumed that NO expands your veins and arteries to move more blood and oxygen into your muscles. This is good since your muscles are getting more blood, and in turn, more needed nutrients. Of course that is a good thing, your muscles need blood, oxygen, water and amino acids.
But here is a question for you. Doesn't your body do this already? Doesn't your body already pump blood containing all of these nutrients to your working muscles? It does. If NO actually does what it is supposed to, it widens and relaxes your blood vessels, allowing more blood than normal to be forced through the vessels.
Does that seem like a good idea? Is it?
I'm not an MD, but lets put this in simple terms. Your blood vessels have smooth muscles lining their walls called visceral muscle. This keeps the size and structure of the vessels intact and functioning. NO is supposed to widen these vessels and relax them.
Picture this: You have a water hose that water pumps through. This would be like your vessels having blood pumped through them. The heart is the pump. Now, if the hose rounded and solid, as it should be, water will flow through much easier. Now if the hose was expanded and relaxed, it would flatten out. That would create a huge amount of backup on the pump, the heart. It just doesn't seem like a good idea.
As you can imagine, there are side effects such as diarrhea, weakness, vomiting and low blood pressure.
Here is a quote I found on a bodybuilding forum:
"It does work and will produce some results provided you have a well laid down eating plan and steady lifting habits. Just remember, you have to be on it for at least 8 weeks to see any sort of results."
Does that seem reliable to you? You know that by training over eight weeks you will see results from using no supplements by just training naturally.
Any success story you see for a supplement is usually accompanied by a solid training and eating program. The credit should only be given to the individual, not the supplement they were taking.
At the end of the day, we don't actually know, for a fact, if Nitric Oxide supplements can help you gain muscle. Your body already produces what it needs and the timing has to be just perfect to create NO. Will the supplement combine in the right sequence in the right place in your body to form NO? Maybe, they might even work as they say and deliver more blood to your muscles. What if it doesn't, or what if it delivers an unnatural, unhealthy amount of blood to other parts of your body, such as your brain?
My recommendation is to just go natural. If you want to use supplements, try a protein shake and creatine, but only when you know how, when, and why to take them.
Like I said before, a solid routine and eating plan will deliver great results without any supplements. Save your time, money, and possibly your health, and see how well you do naturally. With hard work and dedication, you may be suprised.