Nitric Oxide Supplement Side Effects – Is Nitric Oxide Safe?
Nitric oxide supplements (also known as pre-workout supplements) have recently become popular and are now a craze among weightlifters in the gym and athletes on the field. Nitric Oxide Supplements are used to initiate an increase in blood flow through the veins, delivering nutrients to the muscle as well as giving its users incredible pumps and strength in the gym.
Properly using nitric oxide supplements as pre-workout supplements does indeed bring the benefits listed above, along with others not mentioned here. But Is nitric oxide safe? Are there any nitric oxide dangers to be concerned about?
The answer is that it really depends on what products you are considering taking. Each pre-workout supplement contains different ingredients, and it’s important to look at the entire profile to see what may cause problems.
Nitric Oxide Side Effects: L-Arginine and AAKG
The first, and most important ingredient, is arginine. It’s often packaged as L-Arginine or AAKG (Arginine Alpha Ketogluterate) in nitric oxide supplements. This is the amino acid that initiates the the NO gas drive into your muscles, giving you the full-looking, pumped feeling thanks to its ability to open up your veins and increase blood flow to the muscles.
Nitric Oxide Side Effects: Creatine
Most pre-workout supplements contain some form of creatine. Despite what some people may think, creatine has been proven to be extremely safe and effective, even over long-term usage (Creatine Side Effects). We always recommend going with standard creatine monohydrate, as it’s the most common form of creatine, is inexpensive, and has had the most safety research done upon it.
However, taking too much creatine may cause side effects of diarrhea or cramping, but that often only comes when taking very large loads of the substance – far more than is typically put in nitric oxide supplements. The days of “creatine loading”, where companies would tell you to take over 20g of creatine each day for a week (in order to sell more creatine!) are over – it’s not necessary and may lead to diarrhea. But it’s still important to drink plenty of water when using creatine, and be careful if you’re adding more creatine to your post-workout drink. If you are adding more, start light, perhaps by adding another 3g of creatine monohydrate powder post-workout, and assess from there.
Nitric Oxide Side Effects: Caffeine
Caffeine and other stimulants are often found in nitric oxide supplements. And yes, these stimulants can and do have some side effects when not used properly. They include irritability, loss of sleep, fatigue (from the caffeine crash), headache, skin irritation, higher blood pressure, dry mouth and water retention. If you are very caffeine sensitive, don’t start with a full dosage of your nitric oxide supplement. Also, don’t take it too close to bed if you’re planning on getting any sleep – we make sure not to take these products after 6PM or so, but it varies by person.
Caffeine is safe in small doses, but overdosing can occur if mixing pre-workout supplements with other stimulants, such as coffee. Additionally, caffeine is addictive, and you may get withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it for a few days. Such symptoms include fatigue and headaches – but they will pass.
The stimulants are the main reason why you should cycle pre-workout supplements. You need time for your adrenals to reset. A recommended dosage pattern is 12 weeks on, 4 weeks off. It typically takes me 2 weeks to completely flush caffeine from my system.
Nitric Oxide Side Effects: BCAAs and EAAs
The other amino acids often found in nitric oxide supplements, such as Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) do not have any side effects. The one exception is with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) patients.
It’s also important to note that L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, and if your pre-workout product has too much of it, it may make you tired.
Nitric Oxide Side Effects: Beta Alanine
Beta Alanine, which is in several pre-workout supplements because of its ability to increase endurance and reduce fatigue, is shown to be safe. However, it does have the side effect of its user getting flushed, tingling skin. These “beta alanine tingles” are not completely understood, but blood toxicity studies have shown that it is still safe. Some people like the tingles, but some do not and don’t like taking products containing beta alanine. Not everyone gets the tingles. Either way, it is a kind of side effect that you should be aware of when thinking about nitric oxide side effects.
Nitric Oxide Side Effects: Fillers – Processed Carbohydrates and MagnesiumIf your pre-workout supplement contains maltodextrin or sugar, it’s important to note that you may be getting an undesired side effect from these substances – body fat! Carbohydrates, especially these high-glycemic carbs, lead to an insulin spike, which then leads to fat storage. This is a counterproductive side effect for anyone who is working out, and that is why 4 of the 5 recommended products on this site are zero carb products.
Many nitric oxide supplements also contain minerals such as magnesium, which may yield a few problems that you would call “nitric oxide side effects”, although those sides would be blamed on the magnesium itself (and the company who put so much magnesium in it!) – not the arginine and pump supplements. A common side effect of magnesium is that it loosens stools and can cause diarrhea. If you are sensitive to magnesium, you will want to opt for a pre-workout supplement such as Jack3d that does not contain any.
Nitric Oxide Side Effects: Too Many Nitrates is Not a Good Thing
Some of the products here, such as Cellucor NO3 Chrome and C4 Extreme contain nitrates. These products are great alone, but if you’re going to STACK them, you need to follow the directions extremely closely. You should not ingest more than 5g of total nitrates. Otherwise, your blood pressure can drop too far, opening up to a host of other things.
The NO3 Chrome / C4 Extreme Stack, for instance, would be a max of 3 capsules of NO3 with 1 scoop of C4 Extreme.
AAKG research studies have shown that arginine and its variations are extremely safe, even after doses that far exceed what is typically found in your average pre-workout supplement. Nitric Oxide is a naturally occurring molecule in your system, and getting your body to produce more of it has not shown any highly negative side effects. Go too far above and beyond the recommended doses, though, and you might get gastrointestinal distress. The main purpose of these supplements is truly safe and there are no nitric oxide side effects from AAKG unless you’re taking half a bottle of the stuff. However, there are still some other typical ingredients to think about.
Consuming more than the recommended dosages of these supplements will increase the severity and likelihood of these side effects. Most of the reported cases of side effects of using nitric oxide supplements are due to the intake of these supplements for extended periods. However, the nitric oxide supplement side effects either disappeared or became manageable after stopping the intake.
One last thing to consider is that when you cycle off of your pre-workout supplement, you should not take ANY other stimulants. Give your body time to reset! Unfortunately, you must deal with a few days of withdrawal when you cycle off, and that means a bit of headaches and lethargy, so grab some ibuprofen and hang in there. Not everyone gets the “caffeine hangover” though.
Sleeping issues are also common. The only way to solve this issue is to adjust the supplementation to a minimum of six hours before the bed time.
Most of the people feel that the benefits of nitric oxide outweigh the nitric oxide side effects. In short, use our recommended products wisely and you should have good success.