Nitrate supplements may increase muscle growth, but more research is needed. The standard dosage of 400-800 mg of nitrates is needed for performance enhancement. Nitrate-rich foods include arugula, beets, celery, spinach, etc. Both Citrulline and Nitrates have been found to be effective in increasing nitric oxide production.
SUMMARY OF NITRIC OXIDE SUPPLEMENTS FOR MUSCLE GROWTH
Nitric oxide supplement/Nitrate supplements may increase muscle growth, but more research is needed.
The standard dosage of 400-800 mg of nitrates is needed for performance enhancement. Nitrate-rich foods include arugula, beets, celery, spinach, etc.
Both Citrulline and Nitrates have been found to be effective for increasing nitric oxide production.
Muscle hypertrophy or muscle growth is the goal of bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Several factors, such as resistance training and adequate caloric and protein intake, contribute to muscle hypertrophy. Recently, dietary nitrates and nitric oxide supplements (NO) have gained attention for their role in improving athletic performance and muscle hypertrophy.
Traditionally, supplements to lower blood pressure include magnesium supplements. The benefits of NO supplements include improved blood vessel flow, heart health, and reduced high blood pressure levels.
WHAT ARE DIETARY NITRATES, AND HOW DO THEY BOOST NITRIC OXIDE PRODUCTION?
Dietary nitrates are inorganic compounds in vegetables, fruits, and drinking water. (Bondonno et al., 2015) Boosting nitric oxide levels first starts in the mouth and stomach. Dietary nitrate is converted to nitrite in the mouth, and the stomach, and then nitrite is converted to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide benefits include improved oxygen and nutrients in the muscle.
Nitric oxide supplements, often marketed as nitric oxide boosters, are designed to increase nitric oxide levels. Many of the best nitric oxide supplements are stimulants free, as high-dose stimulants such as caffeine can reduce blood flow. (Gallardo & Coggan, 2019) Other things that may reduce nitric oxide production are processed meats.
There is no clear evidence that processed meats reduce nitric oxide. Nitrite and nitrate salts are widely used as curing agents for meat and meat products. However, they can have negative health effects. One of these is the production of carcinogenic nitrosamines. (Mirvish et al., 1972)
Typically, NO dietary supplements contain amino acids L-arginine, L-citrulline, or dietary nitrates derived from beetroot or other vegetables. However, the efficacy of nitric oxide supplements as a performance booster has not been substantiated in the medical literature. It is important to note that the effects of nitric oxide supplements on exercise performance may depend on the individual’s training status.(Hlinský et al., 2020)
Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule. It plays a vital role in many bodily processes. Examples include increasing blood flow, activating satellite cells, and promoting protein synthesis. (Anderson, 2000; Kobayashi et al., 2019)
SOURCES OF DIETARY NITRATES TO INCREASE NITRIC OXIDE PRODUCTION
The main sources of dietary nitrates are green leafy vegetables. Nitrate-rich foods include celery, spinach, lettuce, beetroot, and arugula. However, the nitrate levels in vegetables and vegetable-based foods vary widely depending on the soil content.(Alzahrani et al., 2020)
NITRATES AND WEIGHTLIFTING PERFORMANCE
Some benefits of NO supplements include increased blood flow, improved exercise performance, and potential enhancements in muscle hypertrophy. (Jones, 2014; Pawlak-Chaouch et al., 2016) Dietary nitrate supplementation can enhance performance by increasing muscle contractile function, reducing fatigue, and increasing muscle power. (Fulford et al., 2013; Jones, 2014; Porcelli et al., 2016)
A 2021 review of the literature revealed that acute nitrate supplementation increased maximal power production. (Pawlak-Chaouch et al., 2016) A 2020 study found that men taking a beetroot juice supplement (400 mg) improved bench press performance compared to a placebo. (Williams et al., 2020)
If nitrates increase power production, it can lead to long-term increases in muscle growth. According to a new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the answer is maybe!
NITRATES MAY BE BENEFICIAL FOR MUSCLE GROWTH
A literature review was collected on studies involving beetroot supplementation and nitrate-enriched diets. The dosages ranged from 64-1200 mg daily, but the reference range for performance enhancement was 400-800 mg daily.
The author stated that no concrete evidence shows that nitrates can increase muscle growth because more research is needed. Of the 12 studies, six observed an ergogenic effect of nitrate supplementation compared to placebo.
These researchers said, “Muscle strength gains are possible with nitrate supplements provided that the dose, format, frequency, period, and exercise test are appropriate. Best results were observed with a minimum acute dose of 400 mg of nitrate provided as beetroot juice/shot taken 2-2.5 hours before exercise involving low- and high-intensity muscle contractions.”
Dietary nitrates have the potential to enhance muscle hypertrophy by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles, as well as promoting muscle protein synthesis. The best nitric oxide booster is dietary nitrates in various foods, including leafy greens, beets, and other vegetables.
If you feel you are not eating enough leafy greens, try a beetroot supplement or citrulline supplement (6-8 grams). If someone was to ask which is better would be challenging. Comparing the effectiveness of nitrates and citrulline for increasing nitric oxide production is challenging due to differences in study designs and populations.
However, both nitrates and citrulline are effective at increasing nitric oxide production and can improve exercise performance in various studies. (Alsop & Hauton, 2016)However, studies have shown that many beetroot products do not meet these label claims. (Gallardo & Coggan, 2019)
The ideal amount of dietary nitrate to boost muscle growth remains undetermined. Research has indicated that a minimum of 400 mg of nitrate might be necessary to improve athletic performance across different groups of athletes. Although dietary nitrates are typically deemed safe, it’s advisable not to consume them in extremely high doses due to potential risks and adverse effects.
Beetroot can cause stool and urine to develop a bright red color, which is harmless; however, many people think the red coloration resembles blood. This can cause panic. Additionally, beets are high in oxalate, increasing the risk of oxalate-based kidney stones in susceptible individuals.
Alsop, P., & Hauton, D. (2016). Oral nitrate and citrulline decrease blood pressure and increase vascular conductance in young adults: a potential therapy for heart failure. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(9), 1651-1661. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-016-3418-7
Alzahrani, H., McKenna, H., Jackson, K., Hobbes, D., Walton, G., & Lovegrove, J. (2020). Association of daily nitrate consumption with blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in a representative UK population. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 79(OCE2), E184, Article E184. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665120001329
Anderson, J. E. (2000). A role for nitric oxide in muscle repair: nitric oxide-mediated activation of muscle satellite cells. Mol Biol Cell, 11(5), 1859-1874. https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.11.5.1859
Bondonno, C. P., Liu, A. H., Croft, K. D., Ward, N. C., Puddey, I. B., Woodman, R. J., & Hodgson, J. M. (2015). Short-Term Effects of a High Nitrate Diet on Nitrate Metabolism in Healthy Individuals. Nutrients, 7(3), 1906-1915. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/3/1906
Fulford, J., Winyard, P. G., Vanhatalo, A., Bailey, S. J., Blackwell, J. R., & Jones, A. M. (2013). Influence of dietary nitrate supplementation on human skeletal muscle metabolism and force production during maximum voluntary contractions. Pflügers Archiv – European Journal of Physiology, 465(4), 517-528. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00424-013-1220-5
Gallardo, E. J., & Coggan, A. R. (2019). What’s in Your Beet Juice? Nitrate and Nitrite Content of Beet Juice Products Marketed to Athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 29(4), 345–349. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0223
Hlinský, T., Kumstát, M., & Vajda, P. (2020). Effects of Dietary Nitrates on Time Trial Performance in Athletes with Different Training Status: Systematic Review. Nutrients, 12(9), 2734. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/9/2734
Jones, A. M. (2014). Dietary nitrate supplementation and exercise performance. Sports Med, 44 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S35-45. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0149-y
Kobayashi, J., Uchida, H., Kofuji, A., Ito, J., Shimizu, M., Kim, H., Sekiguchi, Y., & Kushibe, S. (2019). Molecular regulation of skeletal muscle mass and the contribution of nitric oxide: A review. FASEB Bioadv, 1(6), 364-374. https://doi.org/10.1096/fba.2018-00080
Mirvish, S. S., Wallcave, L., Eagen, M., & Shubik, P. (1972). Ascorbate-Nitrite Reaction: Possible Means of Blocking the Formation of Carcinogenic <i>N</i>-Nitroso Compounds. Science, 177(4043), 65-68. https://doi.org/doi:10.1126/science.177.4043.65
Pawlak-Chaouch, M., Boissière, J., Gamelin, F. X., Cuvelier, G., Berthoin, S., & Aucouturier, J. (2016). Effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on metabolic rate during rest and exercise in human: A systematic review and a meta-analysis. Nitric Oxide, 53, 65-76. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.niox.2016.01.001
Porcelli, S., Pugliese, L., Rejc, E., Pavei, G., Bonato, M., Montorsi, M., La Torre, A., Rasica, L., & Marzorati, M. (2016). Effects of a Short-Term High-Nitrate Diet on Exercise Performance. Nutrients, 8(9), 534. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/9/534
Williams, T. D., Martin, M. P., Mintz, J. A., Rogers, R. R., & Ballmann, C. G. (2020). Effect of Acute Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Bench Press Power, Velocity, and Repetition Volume. J Strength Cond Res, 34(4), 924-928. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000003509