If you follow the world of sports supplements, then chances are you’ve heard someone mention the rising popularity of Nitric Oxide (NO) boosters. Whether they’re being delivered as whole foods or in supplement form it seems that NO boosters have caught the attention of the bodybuilding community and the sports supplement community. But for many, the science of how they may help athletic performance can be less than clear.
Nitric Oxide Boosters: What’s in a name?
Though the name might suggest the presence of gas, this family of boosters earned their namesake not because they contain nitric oxide gas, but because of how their primary ingredients (which usually includes the amino acid arginine) may influence the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide.
Among marketers and sports enthusiasts alike, nitric oxide has been recognized as a vasodilator (i.e. capable of causing the blood vessels to dilate). Why is this significant? Well, the line of thinking goes something like this: Dilated blood vessels means greater blood flow, greater blood flow means greater nutrient and oxygen delivery, and greater nutrient and oxygen delivery should – theoretically – lead to improved muscle growth and stamina.
Anecdotal Claims v. Scientific Evidence
Along with these primary principles, two of the more popular claims about NO boosters include their ability to increase levels of growth hormone in the body (which would then increase muscle growth) and that they’re an option worth considering for anyone who’s looking to build muscle.
So far as the first claim is concerned, while there may be anecdotal evidence supporting it, some of the scientific research available is less than convincing. While there is evidence supporting the link between NO boosters and the release of growth hormone, ancillary research has shown that skeletal muscle isn’t stimulated during these situations, nor does strength increase. Given both of these factors, it seems unlikely that NO-induced growth hormone would lead to any additional muscle gain.
When it comes to NO boosters being a worthwhile choice for any athlete looking to improve their performance and increase muscle gain, there’s also some debate. For arginine-based NO boosters in particular, research has been published indicating that while it may work for some athletes, it may not work for others. That being acknowledged, there are a number of amino acid-based NO boosters on the market. Finding one that does produce results may be a simple as a bit of trial and error.
NO boosters are an exciting branch of the sports supplement and pre-work out family that continues to make headlines. As their popularity continues to rise and more studies are done illuminating the ways that these boosters can influence athletic performance they’re certainly a supplement category worth watching.
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