If you’re in the gym working hard, chances are you’ve heard of nitric oxide before. It’s a gaseous molecule in the body that causes the blood vessels to dilate. As you might imagine, for the budding bodybuilder, this comes with a number of key benefits.
When you experience higher nitric oxide levels in your body, this is going to mean increased blood and nutrient flow to the muscle tissues.
This in turn gives you:
- A superior muscle pump
- Enhanced ability to resist fatigue (due to less lactic acid build-up thanks to greater oxygen levels)
- Improved recovery thanks to improved nutrients at the tissue level
- Increased mental focus (as you’ll also experience greater blood flow to the brain)
All in all, it’s pretty powerful stuff. While supplements are one way of boosting nitric oxide levels in the body, there are certain foods that do the same.
Include any one of the following in your diet plan and you might just find you hit that PR next workout.
A delicious low calorie fruit, watermelon may boost your next workout. This sweet fruit contains the amino acid L-Citrulline, which boosts nitric oxide and enhances natural energy levels.
Try cutting some up and placing it in the freezer for an hour for a cool treat on a hot summer’s day.
Another good fruit to help boost your natural nitric oxide production is pomegranate. Studies suggest that it will help to protect nitric oxide against oxidative destruction therefore increasing levels in the body while also helping to enhance the biological actions of nitric oxide as well.
Additionally, regular consumption of pomegranate may also help assist those who are looking to reduce their risk of coronary heart disease.
A terrific nut choice, walnuts may also help give you a boost in nitric oxide production. This nut provides a great dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical to proper support of the heart, brain, and nervous system. They’re also a good source of L-Arginine, which can help raise the level of nitric oxide production taking place in the body. This gives you powerful vasodilation effects.
Try sprinkling walnuts into a bowl of oatmeal in the morning or adding them to your favorite salad.
While you may not have to feast strictly on spinach like Popeye did, it’s definitely a leafy green to include in your diet plan.
Many bodybuilders overlook greens due to their lack of calories, but one must not forget about the nutrient density these vegetables provide. Spinach in particular is an excellent source of nitrates, which is converted into nitric oxide by the healthy bacteria living inside your gut. From there, it can cause the vasodilation effect you’re looking for.
While not a food per say, adding garlic to the foods you do eat could help give you the jump-start you’re looking for. Studies suggest that garlic can help lower high blood pressure and increase the level of nitric oxide production in the body, especially when combined with antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and E.
The moral of the story? Sauté your red peppers or kale with a little olive oil and garlic to reap maximum benefits.
So there you have some of the most powerful methods to boost your nitric oxide production while also enhancing your health at the same time. It cannot be said enough, if you want to excel with your workouts, proper nutrition must be there.
Ignarro, Louis J., et al. “Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances the biological actions of nitric oxide.”Nitric oxide 15.2 (2006): 93-102.
Sumner, Michael D., et al. “Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease.” The American journal of cardiology 96.6 (2005): 810-814.
Archer, Douglas L. “Evidence that ingested nitrate and nitrite are beneficial to health.” Journal of Food Protection® 65.5 (2002): 872-875.
Mousa, Adam S., and Shaker A. Mousa. “Cellular effects of garlic supplements and antioxidant vitamins in lowering marginally high blood pressure in humans: pilot study.” Nutrition research 27.2 (2007): 119-123.