Body builders love nitrate supplementation. Billed under the moniker of nitric oxide, strolling the isles of any modern health food store will reveal tubs of the stuff with catchy names evoking scenes from a Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. Now a new study suggests that if you’re more fit you need more nitrates to “pump you up”.
Nitric oxide supplements are sold under many brand names with catchy phrases like: X-Plode, Bodyoctane, Diesel Nutrition, Cold Fusion, and Universal Animal! Nitrate supplementation has been shown to reduce the oxygen cost of aerobic exercise, improve exercise tolerance and enhance performance in moderately trained individuals. What does that mean? Body builders claim it speeds their muscle recovery, helps them get more repetitions done, and provides more work out endurance. However, some data shows that elite athletes do not benefit from the same type of nitrate supplementation. The new research was designed to see if this was a dose effect, i.e. do elite athletes just need more to see an effect or does the supplement not work at all once you’re more fit?
The new study looked at men who were provided nitrate supplementation through a double blind cross over study design. The 21 subjects were of varying fitness levels and exercised sub-maximally with either nitrate or a placebo. Interestingly, the men at a higher fitness levels had lower blood levels of nitric oxide and thus less improvement from better oxygen metabolism. Men at a lower fitness levels achieved higher levels in their blood and thus noticed better results. Hence the authors concluded that prior studies that didn’t show an effect in Elite athletes were likely just under dosing those participants.
The upshot? If you’re in great shape, its likely that the nitric oxide boost needed to get you to exercise more efficiently and achieve extra endurance will be much higher. So stock up on those extra big tubs of X-Plode and Universal Animal! If you’re an average Joe, stick with the starter pack!