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September 9, 2009
Nitric Oxide Supplement-Just Say NO
Not a week goes by at Sparta without hearing about some new supplement that promises dramatic changes in your physique and workouts. These discussions are especially prevalent amongst our baseball players, as our high school and college athletes are set to begin their off-season and professionals are starting to contemplate their training strategy. Perhaps the most frequent supplement I hear about is “NO-Xplode”. If the name isn’t enough to lure young athletes to this magical tonic, the company encourages further by stating, “once you train with it, you will never evolve without it.” One of the foundations of NO-Xplode is the promise that this supplement will increase Nitric Oxide levels, a gas naturally found in the body that works mainly to increase blood flow and subsequently enhance nutrient delivery to muscles, resulting in increased size and strength.However, Nitric Oxide isn’t taken directly; rather NO-Xplode uses arginine as a building block for the production of this gas. Arginine can also be found in foods such as spinach, sesame seeds, crab, shrimp, and white meat turkey. Several studies have made it clear that simply providing arginine to athletes does not result in improvements. These observations can be explained by 2 major reasons. The first explanation was summarized in a review done at the Emory University School of Medicine. The authors concluded that the natural arginine levels are far in excess of what should activate the enzyme responsible for Nitric Oxide production, therefore there is no added benefit to increasing arginine levels in the body. The second rationale behind arginine’s failure as a supplement is the poor ability to be absorbed when taken by mouth. In order for arginine to be effective orally, extremely high doses must be taken, almost certainly leading to a very upset stomach and other unappealing consequences. Therefore, arginine is usually provided through an IV for research studies, a very impractical method for those not lying in a hospital bed. So how do athletes achieve the much needed blood flow increases to refuel their bodies and achieve more gains from their workout? A post workout supplement of simple carbohydrates and protein in a 2:1 ratio can do everything NO-Xplode cannot, and more. Perhaps the quickest and cheapest solution is chocolate milk (see Sparta Point 2/4/09). In addition to the above refueling and strength claims, NO-Xplode promises increased training energy, motivation and mental alertness. Such subjective reports are most likely a result of the 100mg of caffeine per serving, about equal to a cup of coffee. The label recommends starting with 1 serving and progressing as toleration increases (i.e. as your caffeine addiction increases). The same, if not better, effects on workout intensity could be attained by drinking coffee and its other associated health benefit through an array of natural antioxidants. So rather than looking for the next new supplement to energize your workout and supercharge your muscles, keep it simple and more effective by combining a high intensity workout that challenges your mind and body…with a glass of chocolate milk of course.
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September 9, 2009
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