Anyone who’s followed me on this blog or through my Facebook page knows that I use supplements and often suggest them to clients and followers. Today the internet and fitness community specifically is filled with those preaching for and against supplements. Some say they’re the secret to success and others a dangerous road to injury. Compounding this problem further is the fact that there just aren’t many unbiased scientific studies examining most popular supplements. Outside of Caffeine, Creatine, and Glutamine there just isn’t a lot of hard data about the effects of products like Nitric Oxide supplements or their effect on the body. Most N.O. pre-workout mixes actually combine caffeine, creatine, some glutamine and amino acids in proprietary blends. Many also include mega-doses of B-vitamins to initiate that “rush” of energy and focus advertised on the back of the container.
The short question then is are these supplements dangerous, and do they work? Unfortunately there is no short answer to that question. As with anything results may vary and what is good for one person may not have any effect on another. I think it should be noted that like any drug and make no mistake by definition supplements, protein powder included; are in fact drugs, can be dangerous if taken improperly. I have been taking the Nitric Oxide supplement “NO-Xplode” manufactured by BSN for nearly 8 years now off and on. Since this product is the only one I have personal experience with I will be talking about it for the remainder of this article. I should also make clear that while I am a certified personal trainer, I am not a doctor, or specifically your doctor. While I feel that any healthy person will have no issues with a supplement like NO-Xplode I do advise that you consult a doctor before beginning if there are any questions about its effects or allergenic properties.
First things first, BSN includes a guideline on all their products that include a dosage and assessment protocol. If you’re trying this product or one like it for the first time; follow the instructions on the package to determine the proper dose for you. Everyone’s body and metabolism is different and you need to assess how the mixture will react to yours. For instance the label says that most people take 30-45 minutes to feel the effects of the blend, yet I begin feeling them in as little as 4-5 minutes after ingesting.
Second drink plenty of water. If you are using a supplement such as NO-Xplode in your training you must hydrate, and I’m not talking about the old 8 glasses of water rule. BSN suggests at least 120 ounces of water a day. It seems like a lot but remember these supplements contain about two cups of coffee worth of caffeine. As we all should know Caffeine is a natural diuretic, it will make you pee and frequently. Also there are popular rumors going around the net about caffeine and leaching calcium out of the body. While this is true to a point understand the amount of caffeine you would have to ingest to see this effect is astronomical. If you’re concerned about losing minerals, be sure to take a quality one a day vitamin and eat a healthy diet high in green leafy vegetables and you should be fine.
Also caffeine is a stimulant and you will build a tolerance to it after awhile. That is why it is suggested that after every fourth week of use you take a week off of supplementing to give your Adrenal system time to recalibrate, reset, and rest. This will also give your body time to use up the creatine stores you have been building too. Creatine is a natural substance found and stored in your muscles that is used to synthesize ATP for energy. The more you have on hand the more energy you can quickly produce when exerting yourself. Before you go out and start drowning yourself in creatine though, be aware that fully half of all people who supplement with creatine see no outward signs of muscle size increase. There’s also no real need to add any more than is already included in your NO-Xplode mixture either. Creatine taken in amounts over 1-4 grams a day has been reported to cause indigestion and upset stomach in many people.
So now that I’ve gotten all the warnings out of the way, what is it like to take NO-Xplode, what is the effect? To be blunt it’s awesome. It’s a feeling of being awake, and energized that is hard to describe in words and truly has to be experienced to be appreciated. How it works principally is that it dilates your blood vessels and arteries to increase the amount of blood going to the muscles and waste out of the muscles. It also floods the bloodstream with high energy particles like Creatine to enable optimal energy and ATP production. The main ingredients in this blend actually owe their existence to Viagra and the research that discovered its active ingredients. While NO-Xplode includes a mega-dose of B-Vitamins that deliver a “niacin rush”. These are water soluble and will not pose any threat of overdose. Many Americans are in truth chronically deficient when it comes to vitamin B-12 so the extra amount is actually good for you.
The visual effect of NO-Xplode is that it literally pumps your muscles and vasculature up and the difference is notable. Unfortunately it fades in about two hours so if you want to impress someone with how jacked you look I’d time my doses wisely or just get in shape permanently. I can’t say for certain if that physical pump comes with an increase in physical strength. In my own experience it seems like I can lift more while on NO-Xplode then without but this could easily be attributed to the caffeine which has been proven many times in studies to increase strength and muscular endurance. To those whose bodies have shown to be susceptible to Creatine dosing; it is known that Creatine also increases physical strength and stamina. So it’s hard to say exactly what it is in NO-Xplode that is doing the magic so to speak. Taken as a whole the mixture is a good blend of stimulants, amino acids, and beneficial supplements, which I feel would be a good investment to serious weightlifters or athletes.
That brings us to the next question is NO-Xplode or similar supplements right for you? Honestly if you were my client that would depend first on your overall state of health. I don’t believe that anyone with less than good if not excellent cardiovascular health should take these supplements. Second unless you’re a serious exerciser also engaged in a healthy and robust eating plan, high in natural vitamins, mineral, and protein I think you’re wasting your time and money. Without a great eating plan to back up your fitness routine the results that are possible with these supplements just will not materialize. For the casual athlete or moderate exerciser I think a cup of coffee or 5 hour energy shot would be just as effective if not more cost friendly.
If however you’re contemplating using a supplement like this and are serious about making a change in your workout program give it a try. Smaller 10 dose sample packs are available online for far less than the cost of a whole tub. Also Wal-Mart sells and markets the Six-Star and Body Fortress brands both of which have similar products with the same ingredients for up to half of what you would pay for the name brand. Again be sure to follow the manufacturer’s assessment protocol on the label and use wisely. If you feel queasy, strange, or uncomfortable stop using immediately drink plenty of water and sit down until the effects pass. Nitric Oxide supplements are not for everyone and if it doesn’t agree with you don’t worry. You can still accomplish your fitness goals.