Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jun 10, Can I Take Nitric Oxide Supplements with Caffeine? | Supplements Q&A

Question: Does coffee affect the benefits of taking nitric oxide?

– Al (McAllen, Texas, USA)

Answer: Hey Al, thanks for the question. First, let's look at the main purported benefit of nitric oxide supplements. These products are marketed as being able to increase your blood's nitric oxide level through synthesis from arginine (arginine, being the alleged active ingredient in nitric oxide supplements). Assuming these supplements would actually cause your nitric oxide level to go up, this would lead to an increased flow of blood and nutrients to your muscles (i.e. vasodilation). Thus, in theory, you'd have "m4ss1v3 pump$" during your workout, which would subsequently lead to better recovery and faster muscle gains...

...Unfortunately though, this is more than likely another classic case of the supplement industry's pseudo-science. Studies, such as this one, have provided evidence that nitric oxide in the blood does not increase and vasodilation does not occur when arginine is taken orally; even when taken in high doses. But even if it did, other studies have also shown that there is no end-benefit of increased muscle mass.

However, it's important to note that most nitric oxide supplements don't include just arginine. They have other goodies; most notably, ingredients like creatine and caffeine. These two classic supps are known to have noticeable positive effects on your immediate performance, and at least indirectly, your longer-term growth. Basically, caffeine and creatine have a real (non-placebo) ability to give you more energy, endurance and strength. It is therefore easy to see why folks could falsely attribute the positive effects of muscle/strength gains and more intense workouts/pumps caused by creatine and caffeine, to the arginine.

So back to your question on coffee. Does it affect the benefits of nitric oxide products?

Well, no and maybe. No, because it doesn't affect the "benefit" of nitric oxide synthesis and vasodilation; simply because that so-called benefit doesn't actually exist (according to the evidence I discussed earlier).Maybe, because as I mentioned, many nitric oxide products have caffeine; and since coffee of course also contains caffeine, you might get overloaded on caffeine by drinking too much coffee around the time you take the supplement. So instead of a strong rush of energy, you could become jittery, lose focus, become nauseous, get a headache, etc?...But that really just depends on your caffeine tolerance/sensitivity. You can probably drink a cup of coffee and take the product, and be perfectly fine. So other than remembering not to chug down excessive amounts of coffee pre-workout, you don't have to worry about coffee interfering with the supplement.

Happy lifting,

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