Arginine shows up on a lot of supplement ingredient lists, as well as in a stand alone supplement, but it’s more than just another amino acid, it can really get your health goals moving! Let us show you how:
What is it?
Arginine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that your body can make some of it on it’s own. It’s very useful though, so giving your body a little bit more of it can really push your fitness goals along nicely. It can come in several different forms, and it's used in quite a few supplements.
What does it do?
Arginine is so popular because it helps your body process nitrogen. This helps you in lots of ways, mainly because Nitric Oxide
helps the muscles around your veins relax, which improves blood flow. It's like your blood has a police escort around your body, running red lights and avoiding traffic all the way!
Improved blood flow has loads of benefits, it means that more nutrients to where they need to go, and the waste products are taken away. This means it can improve the health of most of your organs and keep your body’s systems running smoothly.
The increased blood flow also means that more energy and oxygen are getting to your muscles, which may help improve athletic performance.
Why do I need it?
Arginine can give you that extra little push to work a bit harder and recover from exercise sooner, so you can see how it would be pretty handy to include in your supplement stack.
It won’t do the work for you or anything, but the improved blood flow affects practically every system in your body. With more nutrients getting around your body, you’ll think, move and feel at your best.
Which supplements have it?
You can get arginine in three forms of supplement:
This is a dedicated Arginine supplement. The most basic type is usually called L-Arginine, it's also available in the form of Arginine Ethyl Ester for quicker absorption, or as a substance called AAKG, which combines Arginine and Glutamine. This is supposed to make it a bit more stable, so it will last longer in your system.
Arginine is a very common ingredient for pre-workout supplements
. The extra blood flow can boost “the pump” that happens when your muscles fill with blood and oxygen. The extra flow to your brain can also increase mental alertness and really have you feeling great while you’re sweating like a pig. Well, one that sweats a lot anyway.
Protein supplements (Mass gainers, post workouts, shredding proteins, recovery supplements, Amino Acids)
Arginine helps deliver amino acids to the muscle tissue where it can be used, so they can really improve the effectiveness of most amino acid and protein supplements
. This can have you repairing and recovering just that little bit quicker.
Can I get it from food?
Arginine is in foods like Whole-wheat, nuts, rice, soy, seeds and some dried fruits. Having it in a meal is great for your general levels of amino acids, but you'll absorb is slower this way, as so many other amino acids are queued up to be processed too.
Are there any side effects?
If you have any health issues, always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement, but especially if you have any problems with your blood pressure, heart, kidneys, liver or stomach.
If you’re healthy and stick to the dosage recommended on the bottle, you shouldn’t have any side effects, but if you go crazy with the dosage you might find some bad things happen. Skin thickening, digestive issues and a weaker immune system are all symptoms that you’re getting too much of a good thing, but that isn't too likely unless you're really overdosing on the stuff. Stick to the directions and you should be fine, but, as always, listen to your body. If it's telling you something is wrong, see a doctor.
What can I stack it with?
Arginine shouldn’t be stacked with Lysine where possible, as they both get absorbed by the same process, and they get in each other’s way. It's like they'r both trying to fit through the same doorway, they end up squeezing and pushing each other, and just generally holding things up.
It does stack well with most other substances though. As part of a pre-workout supplement, it can really get your body primed for exercise and increase the effects of other ingredients. It also goes great with Carbs, Citrulline, Creatine and other amino acids, increasing their effectiveness.
Is it safe for women too?
Arginine is just as safe for women as it is for men, except if you’re pregnant or nursing. It’s best to check with your doctor before taking any supplement, but especially stuff like Arginine, because it has such a big effect on your body.
Like all amino acids, Arginine is something that you should make sure you have in your diet. Arginine is in a lot of supplements because it can help you in a lot of ways, so keep an eye out for it and feel free to add it to your stack!