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Arginine power!

22 October 2009 No Comment


This amino acid helps build strength and muscle while burning fat

arginineBy Jim Stoppani, PhD | Senior Science Editor

October 15, 2009

One bodybuilding supplement MVP is undoubtedly arginine, an amino acid which can benefit the hard-training athlete in two distinct ways.

For a while, we’ve known that arginine appears to bump up GH by cutting down the release of growth hormone inhibiting hormone, which curtails the release of GH. By decreasing GHIH release, arginine
boosts GH output. Then in the late ’90s, nitric oxide was found to play a critical role in numerous physical processes. It was also discovered that the body produces NO from arginine.

That finding initiated a wave of NO supplements containing arginine as the main ingredient. Nowadays, NO’s ability to dilate blood vessels is the main reason bodybuilders take arginine. Dilated blood vessels are open wider, allowing more blood flow through to the muscles, along with greater amounts of oxygen, nutrients, anabolic hormones and water. This results in a bigger muscle pump, greater strength (as discovered in a 2006 study), increased muscle growth and even fat loss (as was shown in a 2007 study).

Taking arginine seriously to enjoy all the benefits this alpha amino offers, you need to be concerned with several factors: timing; the form of arginine you take; proper dosing; and, to boost its effects, stacking arginine with other supplements.

* Timing As research is now showing to be true for numerous supplements, timing is one of the most critical aspects of taking arginine. When it comes to higher NO levels, no time of day is more important than 30-60 minutes before workouts. Boosting NO levels preworkout will dilate your blood vessels to provide your muscles more blood flow, oxygen, nutrients and anabolic hormones. This will create a greater pump during the workout, as well as increase your energy levels and allow you to train harder and longer. It will also benefit muscle recovery and growth afterward. In fact, you should consider having a second dose of arginine at the end of your workouts, further boosting blood flow to your muscles for even greater muscle recovery and growth.

* Stacking If you read the ingredients list on most NO boosters, you will likely notice that in addition to arginine, the products include multiple other supplements. These are added to enhance the effects of arginine. One common addition is citrulline. This amino acid not only promotes energy, but also increases blood levels of arginine, which can then be converted to NO and GH. Look for supplements that provide 1-3 g of citrulline per dose.

The body requires an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase to convert arginine to NO. To maximize the amount of arginine that is converted to NO, you need to take a supplement that increases the activity of NOS, such as 50-100 milligrams of Pycnogenol (a trademarked extract of the French maritime pine tree), or 100-200 mg of standardized American ginseng. You should also consider using supplements that decrease the breakdown of NO to enhance its benefits in the body for even longer. An easy way to do this is to take 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C, as research shows this vitamin protects NO by preventing its degradation by free radicals.

In addition to supplements that boost NO production and decrease its breakdown, you should also consider taking supplements that increase blood flow through a mechanism that doesn’t rely on NO. Rutaecarpine is an extract of Evodia rutaecarpa, an herb that promotes blood vessel dilation by altering calcium levels in the cells that form blood vessels. Take 10-100 mg of rutaecarpine with each arginine dose to maximize blood flow.

Use the following guidelines to get maximal benefits from arginine. You can buy each supplement separately and take them together or look for products that include them all.

Arginine 2-9 g
Citrulline 1-3 g
Pycnogenol 50-100 mg
American ginseng 100-200 mg
Rutaecarpine 10-100 mg
Vitamin C 500-1,000 mg

NOTE: Supplement with arginine immediately after waking up in the morning, 30-60 minutes before workouts, immediately after workouts and 30-60 minutes before going to sleep at night.

* g = grams, mg = milligrams

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