Nitric oxide boosters support muscle pumps and exercise capacity

L-Arginine provides time-honored nitric oxide support

L-arginine is well known in the sports nutrition world for its “pump” effect. This is due to its key role in the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO). In the body, L-arginine is transformed by enzymes called nitric oxide synthases to generate NO plus L-citrulline. When the body produces NO, the diameter of blood vessels increases, which improves circulation and the flow of oxygen and nutrients to muscles, including the heart. This may result in an enhanced muscle pump, plus the potential for increased exercise capacity, endurance and recovery.

Timing and Ideal Use: Take about 3-6g of L-arginine 30-60 minutes before workouts.



L-Citrulline is fueling the next generation of muscle pumps

L-citrulline is newer to the muscle pump scene than L-arginine even though they are closely related in structure. When ingested, L-citrulline is not broken down by the liver before entering the bloodstream like L-arginine is, so more is available for the body to use. Instead, it’s metabolized by the kidneys into L-arginine. It has been shown to increase blood plasma levels of L-arginine better than taking L-arginine itself.

According to some researchers, using a combination of L-arginine and L-citrulline is even more effective. L-citrulline is able to inhibit arginase, the enzyme that breaks down L-arginine. As a result, taking L-citrulline with L-arginine may help more of the ingested L-arginine pass through the liver intact to the bloodstream.

Timing and Ideal Use: Take about 3g of L-citrulline 30-60 minutes before workouts, or consider taking a 3g mix of L-citrulline and L-arginine.



Citrulline Malate adds energy to your pump

Some people prefer to take citrulline malate instead of pure L-citrulline. The addition of
malate makes it better for high-intensity anaerobic exercise. It’s one of the substrates in the Krebs cycle (or Citric Acid cycle), which is a series of reactions that our bodies perform to generate energy. Thus, citrulline malate may boost your energy production more than L-citrulline alone.

Timing and Ideal Use: Take 3-8g of citrulline malate 30-60 minutes before workouts. Consider stacking citrulline malate with L-arginine.



Did someone say beets?

Recently, beets have become popular as an alternative way to boost NO. Beets, spinach and arugula are a source of nitrates (NO3).

After digestion, they are secreted into your mouth where bacteria convert them into nitrites (NO2), which then increases blood NO2, allowing the body to potentially make more NO. This nitric oxide pathway is different and independent from the L-arginine and L-citrulline pathway.

Timing and Ideal Use: The nitrate content of beet products varies greatly. Many people aim to get around 450 mg of nitrates a day. Take a beet formula 1-2 hours before exercise.



Antioxidants supercharge your results

Antioxidants are a great way to protect the body’s NO pathways. They can be used by themselves for everyday support or they can be stacked with L-arginine and L-citrulline for supercharged results. The most studied antioxidants for NO production are vitamins C and E, pycnogenol, grape seed extract and L-glutathione. 


Previous Next Back to Top
More Related Articles