Nitric oxide is a big deal and we love it, but it’s not the ‘God Particle’ like so many people make it out to be. In fact, nitric oxide is incredibly abundant in the body naturally and partakes in an array of different reactions simultaneously; including immunity, ammonia removal, and what you are particularly interested in: vasodilation.
This vasodilation coincides with skin-tearing pumps, incredible nutrient delivery, reduced pressure and stress on your heart, and even plays a positive role in growth hormone production. All thanks to a little oxygen atom double bonded to a nitrogen atom forming a molecule short of one election.
Athletes and Bodybuilders benefit from Boosted Nitric Oxide Levels
For the average person who does not workout, basal nitric oxide levels are fine. However, as an athlete if your nitric oxide levels are low then your workout experience, results, and recovery is lagging. This does not mean that by default that you need to take a nitric oxide booster. There are many ways to influence nitric oxide production in the body, especially for bodybuilders and athletes. Let’s take a look at how that works.
What Nitric Oxide Does for Bodybuilders and Athletes
Nitric oxide and likewise Nitric Oxide Supplements increase vasodilation during exercise by relaxing the tissues that compose your veins. This increases the total output of nutritious oxygen rich blood flowing through your veins as well as reduces pressure on your heart.
Long term nitric oxide production stimulated by exercise contributes to the remodeling of your veins. This results in larger veins for an increased blood flow effect; hence why you see such large veins on professional bodybuilders. Its not a case of them having absolutely insane nitric oxide pump at that moment, but rather long term vein expansion.
Nitric Oxide Boosting Habits
Just like how the way you live influences testosterone production and metabolism, the way you live also influences your basal nitric oxide production. Aside from what you eat, there are activities that promote nitric oxide production (nitric oxide synthase activity).
1.] Did you know that sunlight can increase the amount of nitric oxide your body produces? Originally, scientists thought that the vitamin D produced by sun exposure lead to nitric oxide production. However through experimentation with vitamin D supplements, researchers found that it’s in fact the sunlight exposure that directly stimulates nitric oxide production (Weller et al, 2010).
2.] Exercise leads to increased nitric oxide production in athletes and bodybuilders. The exact mechanism behind this is too complicated to explain, but physical activity effectively increases both nitric oxide synthase expression as well as nitric oxide synthase activation (Green et al, 2004). This is a two-fold increase or cascade effect increase in nitric oxide.
3.] Diets high in the amino acids L-Arginine and L-Citrulline naturally increase overall nitric oxide output. This up regulation is strictly a concentration dependent increase in enzyme activity. Meaning, more Arginine is available to be used in the production of nitric oxide.
Nitric Oxide Supplements for Bodybuilding
Beyond the methods listed above which you can use to raise your nitric oxide production, there are also countless nitric oxide supplements on the market. Of those supplements, we recommend only a fraction of them for reliably boosting nitric oxide levels in athletes and bodybuilders.
Below we will review our top nitric oxide picks for 2014. From this list you can better refine your supplement options as well as get a feeling for what you should be looking for in a nitric oxide booster.
Our Best Nitric Oxide Supplements
Cellucor NO3 Chrome
NO3 Chrome by Cellucor has been on the market for a few years, but still remains one of the top picks for nitric oxide supplements. What really makes NO3 Chrome special is the utilization of Nitrate bonded arginine. This has a twofold significance for nitric oxide production, let us explain.
First, if you have taken any chemistry class, then you will know that nitrates are soluble 99% of the time unlike many other molecules. This benefits you directly by significantly increasing the solubility of the arginine nitrate complex which means a much better absorption rate (faster and greater efficiency)!
Note- this rule of thumb can be applied to other supplements as well. If an ingredient is [ingredient] nitrate then you can assume that the absorption will be greater than [Ingredient] offered alone.
Second, and specific to nitric oxide – for the arginine to become bioavailable to produce nitric oxide, the nitrate group must first be removed. This process, which the body performs well results in an additional nitric oxide molecule being produced. Therefore, per each arginine nitrate you are netting two nitric oxide molecules; from two separate pathways respectively!
Alongside the arginine nitrate molecule, you will find L-Norvaline, Pycnogenol, L-Citrulline Malate, Calcium Ascorbate, and Grape seed extract. All of these ingredients promote muscle pump in one way or another.
Specifically, L-Norvaline is worth mentioning. L-Norvaline is what is known as an Arginase inhibitor. Arginases are enzymes in the body that specifically degrade arginine into products other than nitric oxide. This process occurs naturally, and can seriously limit the amount of time that free nitric oxide promoting levels of arginine are available in your body. Therefore, by taking an arginase inhibitor like L-Norvaline, you can stop this form of arginine degradation thus reserving these molecules for the nitric oxide production pathway!
All in all, that is why we really like Cellucor NO3 Chrome. Note – did not anticipate that breakdown being so long. Hope you enjoyed it and it wasn’t more than necessary (Thumbs up on Facebook at the top of the post or leave a comment below).
Remember all the ways NO3 Chrome functions? Well, NO3 Drive works entirely different. In fact, NO3 drive doesn’t even contain Arginine or L-Norvaline in its formula! But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an effective nitric oxide pump product.
It’s actually quite frustrating. The fact that NO3 Drive produces great muscle pumps yet we cannot definitively analyze the specifics on where it’s actually coming from. This Nitric Oxide booster is primarily an herbal cocktail containing ingredients we may not completely understand for another few years. Two ingredients that we can tie down in NO3 Drive are L-Citrulline and Agmatine Sulfate. Both of these are proven pump promoters that we would expect in a nitric oxide bodybuilding supplement.
Nitric Oxide for Bodybuilding
If you decide to take a nitric oxide booster, whether or not it’s one of our choices; we highly recommend that you consider the natural methods as well. Supplementation alongside healthy lifestyle habits can make a much more noticeable impact than supplementation alone. This is true in nearly every aspect of bodybuilding and weight training. Now, go get that pump.