If you are familiar with the various bodybuilding supplements on the market, you have probably heard of L-Arginine (sometimes just called Arginine). It is a common pre-workout supplement, and its effects are well-known. However, there are a few things you should know before you choose to use this particular supplement.
What is L-Arginine And Why Is It Used?
L-Arginine is an amino acid, meaning that it is a special protein that the body can use as a building block. Amino acids are very important for muscle growth, as your body must have the raw materials to manufacture new muscle tissue.
There are some amino acids that cannot be synthesized within the human body, and these must be acquired from food. Thankfully, L-Arginine is not one of them. The body can synthesize this compound from other materials, so most people don’t need to worry about taking L-Arginine for dietary reasons.
L-Arginine is used to treat a wide variety of health problems, although the evidence behind some of these uses is a little shaky. Still, it has proven to be an effective medicine for the treatment of:
- High blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Chest pain
- Certain digestive issues
- Blood circulation problems
From a fitness standpoint, L-Arginine is used to increase the blood flow for a limited amount of time, delivering more oxygenated blood to the muscles for better gains.
Does L-Arginine Increase Blood Flow?
Upon close inspection, it seems that there is a large body of evidence to show that L-Arginine does increase blood flow. This study found that Arginine levels resulted in a major increase in blood flow, especially in the area of the eyes. Another study showed that Arginine could be used to increase blood flow to the brain. There are many studies like this, but you can probably see the trend.
That being said, L-Arginine may not be the best choice if you are only seeking to increase blood flow prior to a workout. You see, L-Arginine isn’t really the thing that opens up the blood vessels. That task is carried out by its partner, Nitric Oxide.
Just as NOS can supercharge the performance of a vehicle, it can also give your body a quick boost by opening up those blood vessels and allowing you to get a lot more oxygen than you normally would. Yes, it’s the same substance, though far less purified.
So, why don’t we just supplement with Nitric Oxide? Because this substance is not able to remain for long in the bloodstream. It is broken down so quickly that supplementing would be pointless. To increase your NOS levels, you have to stimulate the body to increase its production. L-Arginine has proven to be one of the substances that will trigger the body to produce more NOS, but it is not the only option.
Apart from this triggering effect, your body uses L-Arginine as a building block with which to make more Nitric Oxide. However, the body can produce Arginine if you give it the right ingredients. It is better to let your body synthesize its Arginine because you will avoid the side effects, which will be discussed later.
The body produces Arginine by using Glutamate as raw material and synthesizing it with the help of a substance called L-Citrulline. Glutamate is one of the most common amino acids in the human body, so there is no need to supplement. L-Citrulline is used by the body to make more Arginine, and this is a long-established fact. By taking a roundabout route, all side effects can be avoided.
Dosage And Potential Side Effects:
When it comes to the medical use of L-Arginine, dosage recommendations are all over the place. Basically, different dosages are recommended for different purposes. However, we can look at the average and see that 5-6 grams a day would be the preferred dosage. This allows you to get the positive effects without going too far.
For a pre-workout supplement, you might take as little as 3 grams and see results, particularly if you haven’t used this supplement before. 6 grams is a little better if you want to be sure. It is also considered safe to dose yourself up to three times a day. Total daily dosage should not exceed 18 grams.
As for side effects, the most commonly reported is diarrhea. For those who are only using this substance in small amounts, diarrhea is the only side effect that you are likely to see. However, frequent and heavy use of L-Arginine can also cause:
- Abdominal pain
- Allergic response
- Worsening of Asthma
- Worsening of Herpes
There are a lot of good supplements out there, but one of our favorites is Superpump Max. This is a general pre-workout supplement that gives you a moderately high dose of Citrulline. Thus, you get the blood flow enhancement combined with a rush of Creatine and Carnitine. This product also contains just a little bit of Caffeine and Taurine to give you an extra kick of energy in the morning.
Another good one is called HyperAmino. This supplement is an advanced blend of various amino acids, and these include both L-Arginine and L-Citrulline. Thus, you can use this one to provide a double-dose of Nitric Oxide for those who truly want to maximize this particular benefit.
There is a lot of complex chemistry that goes into the making of an effective workout supplement, but we have tried to give you, the reader, an overview of the basics. All you really need to know is that Arginine is effective for the purpose of increasing circulation. However, you can take a shortcut and give your body a dose of Citrulline with which to make all the Arginine you need.
Think of it this way: supplementing with Arginine is like buying vegetables from the store while supplementing with Citrulline is like planting a garden. It’s all about cutting out the middle step and achieving a more direct benefit. We hope that this article has been helpful and that you will follow us on facebook so that we can bring you more important health information.