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Nitric Oxide Athletic Performance

Nitric oxide is a molecule naturally produced in the body and is essential for a healthy brain, nervous system, immune system function and plays a major role in maintaining a healthy, efficient circulatory system; something we coslete warriros require to perform at our best. If you're looking to give your performance a boost, keep on reading because this teeny-tiny molecule could be key to unlocking new levels of fitness.


  • Benefits of Nitric Oxide

  • Nitric Oxide Role

  • Nitric Oxide Production

  • Increasing Nitric Oxide Food Consumption

  • Nitric Oxide Supplementation

  • Final Thoughts

Benefits of Nitric Oxide

  • Increased blood and oxygen flow to working muscles thus more energy

  • Improved nutrient delivery to muscle tissue due to better blood flow

  • Accelerated muscle repair via increased oxygen availability

  • Maintenance of healthy blood pressure

  • Relaxes and opens airways allowing improved oxygen flow

Nitric Oxide Role

Nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter that detects pressure in the blood vessels and signals vessels to dilate as needed to deliver and re-direct blood through the body to the tissues that require it most; Think of nitric oxide (NO) as a natural opener (NO).

Nitric Oxide Production

Nitric Oxide: Production in Endothelium

Although, nitric oxide is naturally produced by other cells in the body, the main site of the molecules synthesis comes from the flat endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels (endothelium).

Nitric Oxide: Production in Nasal Cavity

Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth has been a practice that many individuals such as yoga and meditation practitioners have practiced for decades as part of their approach to managing stress and calming their spirit. Recent studies provide more reasoning to why we should readjust our typical nose and mouth breathing techniques to nasal breathing. These studies discovered that the nasal cavity is another region of the body where enzymes are released to produce nitric oxide.

As nitric oxide is continuously produced by our paranasal sinuses and released into the nasal airways, the nitric oxide will follow the stream of inhaled oxygen to the lower airways and lungs. Due to the higher concentration of nitric oxide flow from the nasal cavity, the nitric oxide will travel to the lungs alveoli and will cause further vasodilation of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels that connect the alveoli to larger blood vessels). This dilation can then increase the amount of oxygen uptake in the blood by 10-20 percent, meaning more available energy for the working muscles.

Increasing Nitric Oxide Via Food Consumption

Because nitric oxide is an unstable molecule, it quickly degrades into the bloodstream within 1-5 seconds based on studies. However, to extend the life of this messenger molecule in the body, individuals can consume foods that are high in anti-oxidants which can limit its breakdown allowing the body to reap its benefits. Numerous research has shown that the following foods showed an increase in nitric oxide levels in the blood:

  • Beets

  • Garlic

  • Leafy Greens

  • Dark Chocolates

  • Red Wine (Increase in nitric oxide synthase the enzyme that produces nitric oxide)

Nitric Oxide Supplementation

In addition to natural foods, it's common to see nitric oxide supplements on the shelves of your local supplement store. Unfortunately, there is not enough research to confidently state that nitric oxide supplements will boost your endurance. Some studies have found that nitric oxide supplements can boost endurance performance in recreational runners (non-speed demons) but at a very minimal level. Additionally, these minimal positive results could be a result from natural nitric oxide sources like the list of foods listed above: beets, garlic, leafy greens etc.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, as we age the production of nitric oxide decreases. If you're planning on maintaining that high level of fitness, remember that nitric oxide is an element that keeps your vessels flexible and maintains efficient blood flow, so it may be beneficial to consume foods that are high in anti-oxidants and start to practice nasal breathing to a point where it becomes natural to you.

Disclaimer: All information presented and written within this article are intended for informational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you should choose to follow or participate in any workout, program or practice, you do so voluntarily and do not hold Initial Mile and it's founder responsible for any cause of injury or death. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.


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