Athletes are always looking for “natural” ways to increase endurance and improve performance. A new study found that supplementing with L-Arginine before initiating exercise significantly improved exercise tolerance. Those who took the supplement also had lower blood pressure during exercise, which may have to do with the improved utilization of oxygen by the muscles.
Once ingested, L-Arginine gives way to nitric oxide, which is a molecule that helps convert oxygen into a form that is more easily utilized by the muscles. In theory, efficient use of oxygen by the muscles would result in improved performance.
This study was very small, (only nine subjects participated,) and the findings differed from previous investigations of L-Arginine. So the bottom line is this: there are contradictory results from epidemiological studies on this supplement, thus more research is needed before we can formulate a solid conclusion about the efficacy of L-Arginine.
But unless you’re training for the Olympics, why would you need to boost your performance? It’s important to exercise, yes, but you don’t need to be clocking in five-minute miles to reap the health benefits of exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily – aim for a pace at which you feel you are raising your heart rate and breaking a sweat – and incorporate some resistance training on alternating days. You will naturally start utilizing oxygen more efficiently and your blood pressure will improve as you build endurance.
Taking an L-Arginine is kind of like an unnecessary and expensive short cut. And because it’s an amino acid, you get it naturally in protein-rich foods, especially peanuts, walnuts, and Brazil nuts. Most importantly, it is a non-essential amino acid – meaning, most of the time it can be manufactured by the body. So before you go out and spend a bunch of money unnecessarily on an L-Arginine supplement, be sure to take that into consideration.