L-Arginine is an amino acid. Our bodies require 20 different amino acids in order to complete all of the processes and functions we require to survive at optimum health. Of these 20 amino acids, there is a breakdown between those referred to Essential and Non-Essential. The difference between the two is that our bodies have the ability so self-manufacture the 11 non-essential amino acids for itself. Provided our diet and general health is in a good place. The remaining nine essential amino acids we must consume and as such we get directly from our diet and the foods we eat.
L-Arginine is often referred to as a semi-essential amino acid. Technically it is non-essential, and our bodies can produce it, but it is very common for the average person and certainly the average intensely training athlete to be slightly deficient in this particular amino acid, which can also be affected by illness. As such, for athletes it is often recommended to supplement L-Arginine to ensure optimum levels are maintained.
While L-Arginine like many amino acids, serves multiple purposes in the body, the most immediately beneficial for athletes looking to improve their performance is it’s act as a precursor to converting into NO (Nitric Oxide). Nitric oxide functions as a vasodilator. Meaning that it aids in the dilation of arteries and other blood vessels. This has huge potential benefits for athletes as it essentially means your ability to deliver larger quantities of blood to the muscles in your body is increased.
With increased blood flow comes the ability to transport more oxygen and nutrients to working muscles both during intense exercise and racing but also following these activities during the recovery phase. This potentially means more efficient oxygen transportation for endurance activities which could lead to increased performance. Not only is the delivery of oxygen and nutrients a huge positive, but this blood vessel dilation also means more effective removal of toxins like lactic acid build up which in turn can cause cramp and muscle pain.
While research on high tier athletes using L-Arginine for performance gains is underway from a clinical perspective. The amino acid has already been clinically proven for various treatments and is used mainly in the US as part of a course treatment for illnesses and issues including angina, DVP (deep vein thrombosis) and even erectile dysfunction.
You can boost your daily L-Arginine intake from increased protein consumption via grass fed red meats, diary and eggs. Though if you’re looking for a more effective delivery method that works in tandem with your training and workouts for a direct impact on your performance, look out for a hefty serving of L-Arginine in your pre-workout or as an addition to your intra training drink or EAA powder.