ask our dietitian your question todaynitric oxide supplements and work out tips

question-answer-color-v-2What do you think of eating a small chicken breast, drinking a sports drink and taking nitric acid for a pre-workout meal/drink. Then after the workout a protein shake and banana? – Shawn



Well, first a little clarification: I hope you aren’t taking nitric ACID, which is a caustic substance that’s not for ingestion. Nitric OXIDE supplements actually contain precursors, like L-arginine, that your body then converts to nitric oxide (NO) which has a very short activation period in the blood.

Now onto the food; a few ounces of poultry with a sports drink seems reasonable for a pre-workout meal. You’ll get your amino acids, glucose, electrolytes and fluid.

My question to you is “Why the nitric oxide booster?”

I’ll assume you’re going for a vasodilation effect from the pro-NO supplement — that “pumped” feeling. Users hope it means oxygen from the blood is being delivered to working muscles more efficiently. If you’re physically untrained and the supplement is of quality at an effective dose, then perhaps it will work. For highly trained men, supplementation is of no benefit. Side effects are rare but do involve heart rate and blood pressure issues. So my professional opinion, after reviewing “Nitric Oxide supplements” research, is to skip it and put your money into an ergogenic aid like creatine, which is proven safe and effective.

For your recovery snack a protein shake and banana are a great combination! More amino acids that can be more rapidly absorbed and carbohydrates to replenish. Together these make a great recipe for muscle recovery and repair. Keep protein intake around 30 grams, as more than this amount will just be used as calories. Follow up all of this with your normal meal within a couple of hours for the best results. – Debbie J., MS, RD


Acute l-arginine supplementation increases muscle blood volume but not strength performance. Alvares TS, Conte CA, Paschoalin VM, Silva JT, Meirelles CM, Bhambhani YN, Gomes PS. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2012 Feb; 37(1): 115-126.

Arginine and citrulline supplementation in sports and exercise: ergogenic nutrients? Sureda A, Pons A. Med Sport Sci. 2012; 59:18-28.

Creatine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, amino acids, and medium-chain triglycerides and endurance and performance. Little JP, Forbes SC, Candow DG, Cornish SM, Chilibeck PD. Int. J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Oct; 18(5): 492-508.

Influence of dietary nitrate supplementation on human skeletal muscle metabolism and force production during maximum voluntary contractions. Fulford J, Winyard PG, Vanhatalo A, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Jones AM. European Journal of Physiology 2013 Apr; 465 (4): 517-528.

The effect of nitric oxide-related supplements on human performance. Bescos R, Sureda A, Tur JA, Pons A. Sports Med. 2012 Feb; 42 (2): 99-117.


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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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