Nitric oxide, also known as nitrogen oxide or nitrogen monoxide, is a molecule produced by our body naturally and when it is needed to act as a cell protector. It is therefore a free radical that is not stored in the body. It is therefore a compound that is very present in our body and which has vasodilator and neurotransmitter functions.
Nitric oxide has become very popular as a dietary supplement in the last 10 years. However, its usefulness has been known for more than a hundred years. Its first uses were related to its vasodilatory effect, and it was therefore used in classical medicine to cure various ailments and to alleviate certain cardiovascular diseases.
It is actually a compound consisting of a nitrogen molecule and an oxygen molecule. Its main purpose today is to improve physical and athletic performance, making it one of the most widely used supplements for optimal muscle development.
Properties and benefits of nitric oxide
In sports, nitric oxide is one of those responsible for helping to maximise performance in intense workouts. This is mainly due to the presence in nitric oxide of L-arginine, which serves to improve muscle recovery, endurance, body fat burning, increase blood flow to the muscles and improve muscle engorgement.
The increased blood flow to the muscles will allow more oxygen to reach the muscles and ammonia to be eliminated from the tissues. A process which, in combination, will enable the athlete to recover from the wear and tear of exercise much more quickly and effectively.
Nitric oxide, on the other hand, is ideal for endurance trainers and athletes who want to maintain a bulky muscle mass after exercise. It helps to intensify the muscular congestion that keeps muscles swollen after a workout.
Other parallel benefits of nitric oxide could be the following:
- It regulates blood pressure and strengthens the immune system.
- It has a neurotransmitter and antioxidant effect.
- Lowers cholesterol levels and prevents cardiovascular disease
- improves the distribution of nutrients and vitamins in the body
- Improves sleep quality
- helps to expand muscle fibre and increase cardiovascular endurance
- Possesses anti-inflammatory properties
Foods rich in nitric oxide
Nitric oxide is a compound that is not explicitly found in food. However, its levels can be increased by consuming foods rich in L-arginine, L-citrulline, coenzyme Q10 or other compounds that trigger its production.
These include beetroot, dark chocolate, salmon, watermelon, shrimp, nuts and dried fruit in general, spinach, beetroot, oranges, garlic, brown rice, pomegranate, blueberries, black tea, cayenne pepper, kale and onions.
Nitric oxide supplements
Athletes and bodybuilders who need an extra supply of nitric oxide turn to supplements available in tablet form. These supplements stimulate the formation of nitric oxide, which leads to dilated blood vessels, more nourished muscles and improved performance.
Performance athletes use these supplements for four key reasons:
- Muscle recovery
- Increased endurance capacity
- Burning body fat
- Muscle engorgement
Nitric oxide supplements often include L-arginine (found in many sports supplements), creatine, beta-alanine, taurine and caffeine. All these substances in combination aim to achieve a mental state of maximum concentration, delay muscle fatigue and provide quality muscle gains.
In short, it can be said that nitric oxide will help us to increase blood flow and thus achieve rapid muscle recovery. It is therefore a magnificent ally for muscular endurance by increasing oxygen levels in the body. But for nitric oxide to be fully effective, we must accompany it with an appropriate diet according to our training plan.