Scam Alert – Nitric Oxide Supplements

Nitric oxide supplements hit the marketing scene with a bang, just like every other “new” thing.  Just like lots of other “new” things, nitric oxide supplements don’t work.  Save your money.

The whole marketing hype comes from research about open heart surgery patients.  Nitric oxide is considered to be an anti-anginal drug and during surgery, nitric oxide was used because it causes vasodilation, which means that it opens up the coronary arteries and improves blood flow to the heart.

The key point here is that it improves blood flow to the heart….. not muscles in the body.  The heart has coronary arteries that feeds blood to itself.  There arteries are different to the arteries in the rest of the body.  Nitric oxide does not affect these arteries.  I’m not medically trained so I can’t explain properly how the body’s arteries are different to the coronary arteries, but trust me, they are and nitric oxide does not affect blood flow to the body’s muscles.

The other thing about nitric oxide is that it is highly reactive, having a lifetime of a few seconds.  That means that it works for a couple of seconds and then its gone.  Nitric oxide supplements will not have any affect on your body and won’t make any difference to your training.

So, why do some people protest that they get results from these supplements?


Most of the nitric oxide supplements on the market contain caffeine.  Caffeine is a wonder drug when it comes to performance enhancement.  In the first 20 minutes of taking it caffeine hits your brain and improves mental alertness and provides instant energy.  After 1 hour of taking caffeine it gets right into the muscle cells and improves the contractile power of the muscle.  That’s when you get the real performance enhancement of the drug.

Supplement companies hide caffeine in their products by using chemical names like methylxanthine (a form of caffeine) or creating a proprietary blend of ingredients and patenting the blend.  Under the patent law they don’t have to reveal the specifics of the blend or the levels of the ingredients.

Most people don’t read the ingredients label and virtually no one is familiar with chemical terminology, so they don’t realise that the nitric oxide product actually contains caffeine.  When they take it they get a rush and think they have discovered something new.

So Now You Know

Don’t be fooled by the slick marketing of nitric oxide supplements and save your money.  If you really want a pre-workout boost you should be able to source caffeine pills from somewhere or even just take an energy drink.  It will give you the same result, but it’s best to take the caffeine 1 hour before training for optimal results.

Caffeine By Other Names:

  • methylxanthine
  • 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine
  • trimethylxanthine
  • theine
  • methyltheobromine

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Leave A Reply (17 comments so far)

  1. Bob
    1102 days ago

    Would it be safe to say that a nitric oxide supplement ( some combination of arginne and citrulline) would be of benefit to someone looking for an aid to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes?

  2. Ty
    1102 days ago

    Hey Bob, basically no. I’m no doctor but I believe that they way they use it in open heart surgery is completely different to the commercial products that we buy. Plus we have to take it orally, so it has to pass through the stomach and bloodstream before it gets anywhere near the heart arteries.

    Apparently the effect is very short lived as well, just a few minutes which is required in specific surgical procedures only.

    I would not rely on Nitric Oxide supplements for any type of medical condition, they just don’t do anything. See a doctor instead. :)

  3. Gerry
    1033 days ago

    Your post is really incomplete and perhaps misleading.

    Please read the following data from wikipedia (not infallible, but certainly better information that what you posted above).

    Arginine and alpha-ketoglutarate are precursors of nitric oxide and polyamines, respectively -metabolites which participate in a number of metabolic functions. AKG supplements have been shown to promote growth hormone and insulin secretion with anabolic effects in postoperative patients. Their intermediary metabolites (glutamine & proline) may also have beneficial effects in promoting recovery from trauma.

    In animal studies, AKG supplementation increases levels of arginine and glutamine in skeletal muscles and stimulates immune system function compared to animals not receiving AKG. The immunomodulatory properties found with AKG suggest that it may enhance host-defense mechanisms, particularly during injury and acute stress.

    AAKG supplements (15 grams per day for 5 months) have been shown to improve growth rates in small children. The AAKG supplements resulted in elevated concentrations of anabolic (growth) hormones and amino acid metabolites, including insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), glutamine and glutamate. In another study of healthy men, AAKG given at 10 grams per day resulted in a 20-30% elevation in insulin (another anabolic hormone), which were not observed with supplementation of either Arginine or alpha-ketoglutarate alone.

    A test tube study found that AAKG induces a significant increase in growth of human fibroblasts–cells with similarities to muscle fiber cells. This effect was dose-dependent, meaning that a more pronounced growth effect was noted with increasing levels of AAKG (but not with increasing levels of Arginine or alpha-ketoglutarate alone).

    In one study, the anti-catabolic effects of AAKG were investigated in 14 multiple trauma patients who were highly catabolic and hyper-metabolic. One group of subjects received 20 grams of AAKG per day and showed a significant increase in protein turnover as well as an increase in blood levels of insulin, growth hormone, and free amino acids (glutamine, proline and Arginine) compared to subjects not receiving AAKG supplements.

  4. Ty
    1032 days ago

    Thanks for the comments Gerry,

    Nothing in my post is misleading. It’s just that people misinterpret information in studies and think that it transfers over to normal healthy people. These supplements just don’t work on healthy people and there is no evidence to suggest this. All the examples you provide are studies on unhealthy people or children.

    The anabolic effects in postoperative patients is not surprising. These people are experiencing sub-normal health and any supplementation of just about anything will show positive effects. You can’t translate those results over to normal, healthy people. It just doesn’t work that way.
    Animal studies are interesting but don’t relate to humans. Animal physiology is different to human.
    Studies on children again, don’t correlate over to adults. Children are growing and their bodies behave differently to that of a full grown human. You can’t translate child studies over to adults and get the same results.
    Test tube studies… again, interesting but don’t relate to the real world and human bodies.
    Finally, multiple trauma patients… again people with sub-normal health will respond well to supplementation because they are not healthy. The supplements are restoring them to normal health but not taking them above normal.

    There are no studies on healthy people that show that their performance or health goes way above normal levels.

  5. Jesse
    981 days ago


    There is a plethora of information available regarding the legitimacy of Nitric Oxide products. It’s all but common knowledge that NO supplements are a SCAM. Unfortunately, convincing those who spend $50-100/month on NO is nearly impossible, as they’re almost dogmatic in their support of it.

  6. Ray
    782 days ago

    Yes Gerry, just because you write it in a blog, then it must be a scam. Clearly, wikipedia is on crack, and since there is no studies on healthy human beings, it then must not work. Your lack of credentials and basic logic are sort of weak. You should stick with stuff you know, and if it is writing unsubstantiated crap, then god help us!

  7. MikeK
    739 days ago

    L-Arginine is a precursor to NO. But, it can break down into Arginase, which is found to be a precurser to excess urea (used by the body to break down amonia), and Arginase tends to be in excess in the colon… leading researchers to lean toward Arginase as a possible precursor to Colon Cancer. Caffeine BLOCKS L-arginine from being converted to arginase, making more of the supplimented Arginine avaiable for conversion to NO. As such NO suppliments tend to also contain caffeine.

  8. David
    716 days ago

    Research aside, I’ve been taking NO sup. and I feel a difference in my workout. I mean, when Creatine supplement came out, there were a lot of research article that said that it has absolutely no impact on your workout; a few years later, you started to see all kinds of research showing how effective it is. Bottom line, as long as there is no “adverse effects”, you try it and see if it works for you. And if it’s “psycological boost”, then that’s a boost that I didn’t have before I was taking the supplement (and I’ll take any natural boost I can get).

  9. cwill
    622 days ago

    Oh brother. Then why not just go ahead and use any illicit drug, since it’s reported by street people that many, if not all, street drugs give you a “psychological boost.” Hence, overdosing, addiction, illegal use, trafficking, pushing, etc, are problems.

    Let me just ask you one question: If you need to “boost” yourself to do a workout or get some great abs/whatever, then what does that say for you as a serious athlete/professional? Not much except fake, fake, fake…and WEAK. Just do the work, and you won’t need bizarre supplements. Hello?

  10. John
    507 days ago

    fake, fake, fake, WEAK. Really? I take supplements, and work out 5 days a week, am I fake and weak? 1 1/2 hours a day isn’t not doing work. Trying to relate bodybuilding supplements to illicit drugs is just pathetic. Bodybuilders, even those who use steroids, work harder than everybody at my gym.
    +the psychological boost he was referring to would be the placebo effect, which does not cause overdosing, addiction, illegal use, trafficking, etc…

  11. ERNIE
    474 days ago

    You’re going to perform the same with or without any of this garbage. The instructions always say exercise and diet regularly. Well, no kidding you’re going to get some kind of results if you didn’t excersize and diet before starting the supplement. These supplements do only one thing. They make the inventor and the manufacturing company loads of money. If these actually make you healthier why aren’t insurance companies offering discounts for people regularly taking these types of supplements?

  12. Bill
    433 days ago


  13. mark
    394 days ago

    how are you published on a site without knowing anything about what you’re talking about? I have a kinesiology degree from the top kinesiology department in the country (ASU). The arteries of the heart are a little different than the arteries of the body but they are ALL affected by NO. For instance, the only reason we get an erection is a giant surge in NO in the chambers of the penis. Also, when running, cyclying, or doing something predominantly with the legs, up to 60% of the body’s blood flow can be directed to the legs via vasodilation of the femoral and lower leg arteries. This might not seem substantial but the legs are 1/3 of the body’s mass (60% blood vs. 33% mass) and a great deal of blood has to always be directed to the brain.

    Also, to answer someone’s question whether NO supplements can help reduce the risk of stroke and hypertension the answer is yes. All NO supplements will lower your blood pressure substantially. The ones that are over the top with caffeine and stimulants are garbage really and might cancel out the benefit of NO increases due to vasoconstriction and too high a heart rate from the overload of stimulants.

  14. mark
    394 days ago

    Also, I’m completely unbiased, but the stuff works. The difference of working out with it and without it is like night and day now. take it with beta allanine (blood oxigenator) and your reps and rate of recovery skyrocket. Also, the stuff does support mean boners too… see above reference to erections

  15. Ty
    393 days ago

    Oh Please!!!! No one is fooled by the hype anymore. NO supplements are garbage. End of Discussion.

  16. Ty
    393 days ago

    … and a very poor reference too

  17. poriland4
    330 days ago

    Lets keep preparing food with garlic, should work.



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