WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SUPPLEMENTING WITH L-ARGININE?
So, you want to make gains? The whole point of strolling the aisles of a supplement shop is to find a magic powder or pill that will boost our performance. The wonderful world of L-arginine awaits you!
L-arginine: what is it? L-arginine is a conditionally non-essential amino acid, which means it can be produced endogenously by the body. In some circumstances, such as sickness, pregnancy, or severe trauma, this amino acid becomes essential. Diet or supplements are the only way to get an essential amino acid because the body cannot produce it.
L-ARGININE: WHAT DOES IT DO?
Nitric oxide (NO), a potent vasodilator, is synthesized and bioavailable by L-arginine. A vasodilator increases blood flow by widening blood vessels. L-citruline, which can be found in some pre-workout mixes, is a precursor for l-arginine.
How does L-ARGININE work?
L-arginine has been studied specifically for its ability to treat cardiovascular complications in clinical studies. The administration of L-arginine to individuals with hypertension and type 2 diabetics lowered blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
In a healthy, active population, what might L-arginine supplementation produce if it produced promising results in clinical settings?
The ability of vasodilators to increase blood flow, gas exchange, oxygen kinetics, and muscle contractions makes them particularly useful in sports. According to certain studies, arginine enhances resting growth hormone levels, which promotes muscle growth; reduces lactate and ammonia levels after exercise, resulting in faster recovery; and improves strength and anaerobic performance since arginine is an amino acid involved in creatine synthesis.
EXCELLENCE IN ENDURANCE SPORTS WITH L-ARGINE
In endurance, high-intensity/anaerobic, and strength events, how did L-arginine perform?
Acute supplementation of 6-10g/day for 7 days or less improved time to exhaustion and exercise capacity in aerobic events. A reduction in time to exhaustion was observed in male wrestlers, but no difference was observed in mean lactate levels.
For strength gains, take L-arginine
L-arginine chronic ingestion of 2g/day or upwards of 12g/day for 45-56 days seemed to improve 1-RM and Vo2max intensity tests in more anaerobic and strength-based events, but no improvement was observed in sprint power or the maximum number of repetitions.
What does this tell us about the situation? It appears that many factors influence someone’s ability to reap benefits from this supplement. To fully understand the effects and benefits of L-arginine dosing, much more research is needed.
Based on the studies that have been conducted thus far, here’s what we can safely conclude. Chronic ingestion of lower doses (~1.5-3g/day) leads to greater adaptation and benefits than acute intake. It appears that extremely high doses of 10-12g can enhance performance when consumed acutely. However, the effects seem to greatly vary based on how “trained” an individual is. In several studies, acute ingestion of 6g/day for 2 weeks or less did not show any significant improvement in sprint capacity or strength tests. Additionally, while nutrient timing studies are limited for L-arginine, it has been suggested that ingestion 30-90 minutes before exercise will be the most beneficial in improving exercise performance.
THE BENEFITS OF L-ARGININE SUPPLEMENTS
What are the additional benefits of L-arginine? Are amino acids important for muscle growth if they are amino acids?
To maintain lean body mass in traumatic situations such as severe burns, higher levels of arginine are supplemented. L-arginine, however, does not increase muscle mass in healthy individuals according to research. Muscle growth is supported by arginine produced by the body under normal circumstances.
A study that compared muscle protein synthesis using a mixture of essential and non-essential amino acids, and only essential amino acids (excluding arginine), found no differences. We can conclude that arginine alone isn’t sufficient to stimulate anabolism. The ability of L-arginine to increase performance capacity is due to its role in nitric oxide and creatine synthesis.
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS TO TAKING L-ARGININE?
Again, the results seem to vary greatly depending on the individual. In a study, healthy, active individuals tolerated larger doses (spread over the day and/or consumed in a single bolus) better than those with metabolic diseases. L-arginine has been reported to cause gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe bloating when consumed in large quantities. A dose of 3-6g/day has been reported to have no adverse effects in most studies.
When ingestion exceeded 9g/day in a single bolus, more adverse side effects were reported. When the dosage was decreased and spread over the day, these effects seemed to be mitigated.
As of now, L-arginine administration at 20g/day appears to be safe, but higher levels have also been tested without serious adverse effects. Additionally, L-arginine has been studied in a variety of populations, ranging from athletes to infants, and has been found to be safe and well-tolerated.
CAN YOU GET L-ARGININE NATURALLY, OR SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT IT?
If you want to experiment with L-arginine, can you get it naturally from foods or does it need to be taken as a supplement?
As we discussed previously, L-arginine is an amino acid! What are the natural sources of amino acids? You guessed it… Protein! You can get plenty of L-arginine in your diet by consuming dairy products, fish, poultry, and eggs. and other meats. Vegetarian and vegan friends have no fear. L-arginine exists in many seeds, nuts, and soybeans as well!
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