Do Nitric Oxide (No2) Supplements work?

April 24th, 2008 by Paul Johnson

The last 5 years there has been an absolute craze in the bodybuilding supplement industry over Nitric Oxide (NO2) supplements. Many bodybuilders have not looked at the research and just listened to what other bodybuilders or supplement companies have said. The supplement companies promise increased muscle growth, pumps, vascularity, and even sexual benefits. However, NO supplements may really be the biggest supplement scam to ever hit the bodybuilding industry.

What are NO (Nitric Oxide) supplements?

NO supplements contain some form of arginine, an amino acid. There are many different forms of arginine compounds in the NO supplements today, promising to be better than the other. The goal of NO supplements are to have the arginine break down into NO (Nitric Oxide) into the blood. Arginine can break down into the bloodstream by enzymatic action, into citruline and Nitric Oxide. NO is a vasodilator and is thought to play a role in muscle building. There is some research showing NO levels increase post workout, leading some bodybuilders to believe it is crucial to protein synthesis. Many have theorized that because NO supplements increase blood flow due to NO in the blood, that increased blood flow from NO leads to better muscle growth. NO in the blood is also the same mechanism by which viagra works too.

NO (Nitric Oxide) studies

There is not one single legitimate scientific study showing NO2 supplements taken orally directly increase NO levels in the blood by a significant level. Yes, that is right you have all have been duped by the supplement companies and bodybuilding "gurus" for years now!

Now I did mention earlier, arginine does convert to NO so, why doesn't arginine supplements increase NO in the blood? Arginine indeed does increase NO levels in the blood, but only when taken intravaneously. Why? Because if you took the doses orally that required a big increase in NO, you would be a vomiting mess. Arginine causes extreme nausea at high doses, that is why all the studies at high doses were done intravaneously. Unfortunately, the upper limit for oral doses, doesn't seem to increase NO levels much.

  1. Rob on November 22nd, 2008

    See this artcle from Mayo clinig on Arginine. It disagrees with the above article and has been peer reviewed.

  2. admin on November 26th, 2008

    Rob thanks for your comment. However, I don’t see how that article proves anything against what I specifically said in this article. Many of the studies on arginine are done on injection instead of orally, which is the point of my post.

  3. Michael on September 14th, 2009

    I’m starting week 2 with NO suppliments. We’ll see. Been going for 6 weeks without suppliments and am quite pleased so far. All this protien, creatine, NO suppliments, and vitamins better do something pretty impressive cuz the stuff costs a lot

  4. dmitrimko on September 25th, 2009

    Greetings to all. Who knows where quickly and not expensively to buy tablets without leaving the house?
    Has bothered to walk on drugstores :-((((((

  5. Michael on November 15th, 2009

    Hey, me again. I swear by NO suppliments, There is a perpetual pump. I dunno if it’s the NO or just being healthier but, better sex, better boner…yes, i just said boner

  6. Michael Malczewski on November 20th, 2009

    I am a certified personal trainer, I work at a medical based health & fitness center, and I am a natural body-builder. Folks, please listen…NO is a BIG SCAM…like the author said, there is no scientific data to support the outrageous claims, and I know a lot of people who tried it (all different brands) and they were all dissappointed because it did nothing and cost a lot of money.

  7. Will on January 20th, 2010

    Thanks for this article. We use NO in gaseous form through a ventilator in the hospital setting so I had to wonder if it was effective in oral form and if it even survives, intact, after passing through the highly acidic stomach.

  8. 12evanrey12|NOXedge on May 30th, 2010

    Greetings to everyone…it is better to increase your body in a natural way and not by way of a any supplements and I’m not against NO. people have choices in body building…may they choice what they want..thanks…

  9. Arlene on June 15th, 2010

    Not a bodybuilder, just a biologist who was trying to confirm whether or not someone was full of it. If anyone’s interested, this makes zero sense from a scientific standpoint. First of all, if they worked the way they claim to (increasing NO in the bloostream), you would have a boner the entirety of your workout. You might also feel light-headed and dizzy from a sudden drop in blood pressure, and lose control of your anus because your smooth muscle is no longer contracting.
    Of course, that would only happen if it actually did what it claims to do. I hope for the sake of people buying into this that it doesn’t.

  10. Jim on July 8th, 2010

    It turns out only nitrate increases nitrite oxide in the blood and is scientifically proven to do so. Nitrate does genuinely covert to NO once taken orally.

    Nitrate is high in beetroot juice. How long before companies dump all this arginine crap and start putting nitrate in there instead?

  11. Marcos on September 6th, 2010

    And where’s your credibility? I swear scientists grow on trees these days.

  12. jason on January 13th, 2011

    I spent 65$ on a bottle of Muscletech NO2 whatever it was 3yrs ago.

    When i took it I got a rush, got jittery and my skin flushed, I out benched my previous months max by almost 30lbs…. I don’t know if the supplement had anything to do with it but i kept taking it, never got ripped ‘I eat way to much’ but I did gain a 30lb increase in my bench over the course of 27 days of regular lifting. I didn’t do anything out of the norm, just pushed myself as always. Previous gains were from 13lbs a week…. Not saying this article is unfounded just that whatever was in there did something for me, or it was just a placebo effect.

  13. jeff on February 24th, 2011

    Most of this stuff I believe is snake oil. Maybe it works for young people. When I was 20 I could eat a twinkie and beer diet and be fit. I am 48 now and noticed little effect taking NO with Reversitrol and some kind of vitamin that GNC talked me into. I seem to get stronger if I play a sport of some kind or have a strenuous week of surfing than hours faithfully lifting at he gym using these supplements. I attribute this to the high effort/low effort cycles inherent to these types of activities whereas to do that at the gym requires high discipline. I am sticking to the basics now and just trying to exercise correctly with proper nutrition.

  14. Kevin on March 10th, 2011

    After reading an AD for NO and how it “worked”, I thought, “Doesn’t ginkgo biloba do the same thing?” It is supposed to benefit brain function by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow. If it does, would one not get the same benefit for a small fraction of the cost?

  15. Kevin on March 10th, 2011

    Also, you say it absolutely does not work, but there are several sites on this very page where it can be ordered. I’m confused.