Nitric oxide levels are a key determining factor for health. It’s a neuro transmitting gas that is constantly produced in many different ways in the body, and as quickly as it is produced, it’s expended. The half-life of a nitric oxide gaseous molecule is incredibly short, seconds. So the question really isn’t when to take nitric oxide but when is the best time to boost nitric oxide. That answer depends on the purpose for boosting nitric oxide levels. There are different reasons that would determine the best time to leverage nitric oxide boosting activities.
Determining when to take nitric oxide boosting measures
There are many ways to increase nitric oxide levels through nitrate, L-arginine, and L-citrulline-rich foods. Nitric oxide levels can also be boosted by exercise, exposure to sunlight on the skin, and breathing in through the nose. While taking nitric oxide boosting measures is a good idea all of the time, some instances that call for a pronounced, dedicated boost, including but not limited to:
- Before exercising
- When inflammation is triggered from exercise
- To increase energy
- To balance circadian patterns
- To relieve stress
- To inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system
- To improve overall health
When to take nitric oxide for athletes and improved performance
Increasing nitric oxide levels with beetroot juice for athletic performance or an intense workout helps to increase cardiorespiratory endurance. Drinking beet juice before a workout has also increased time to exhaustion, improved strength-building efforts, and aids in muscle recovery post-workout.
To leverage a nitric oxide boost before workouts taking in nitrate-rich foods or juice powders is recommended. For athletes who use beetroot juice for nitric oxide boosting, the peak value of nitric oxide occurs about 2-3 hours after ingestion. When boosting nitric oxide naturally with plant-based supplements, it’s recommended to take them about 90 minutes before exercise or a performance event.
In addition to boosting nitric oxide the same day as a specific event, researchers from the University of Exeter found that supplementing with 500 ml of beet juice every day for a week helped runners go 15% longer before experiencing fatigue. Here are some more of the evidence for supplements to boost nitric oxide before athletic performances and intense workouts:
- Cyclists who drank 500 ml beetroot juice 2.5 hours before a trial improved their performance by 2.8% in a 4km race, according to research from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.
- Participants of another study at Edge Hill University who consumed 70 ml of beet juice containing 400 mg completed more reps compared to a placebo group.
When to take nitric oxide for workout-related inflammation
After a strenuous workout, the body’s inflammatory response can leave muscles sore. As the body works to repair itself from the intense training, more blood flow will be sent to the sore areas, and oxygen will be replenished to repair and recover. The best time to increase nitric oxide and reduce the painful effects of an intense workout is beforehand with the best nitric oxide pre-workout drink.
In particular, one of those drinks is beet juice. Beet juice contains nitrate, a powerful anti-inflammatory for post-workout recovery, especially when combined with tart cherry extract.
When to take nitric oxide to boost energy and improve circadian rhythms
Research is now uncovering the link between energy, sleep, memory, and circadian rhythms. Energy boosts are best achieved with a well-rounded sleep schedule. Normal energy metabolism is controlled by the circadian clock, the 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. Animals adapt to variations in the environment with signals from the nervous system called neuromodulators. Nitric oxide is a neuromodulator that helps optimize energy usage for the body to find resources.
Nitric oxide levels cycle with natural light, becoming lowest in the morning, making the morning-time ideal for boosting levels with beet juice and exercise. Researchers suspect that low morning nitric oxide may contribute to the high rate of morning-time vascular complications. Boosting energy in the morning with a burst of nitric oxide is ideal and can help improve the circadian clock. This is especially true as age brings on a declination of nitric oxide production.
When to take nitric oxide to relieve stress
Nitric oxide boosting activities go hand and hand with stress-relieving actions. For example, breathing deep in through the nose in what’s called box breathing helps stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest in the body and connects to the gut, intestines, heart, and lungs.
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There are two approaches for the timing of increasing nitric oxide to relieve stress:
- Daily - As an ongoing mental health and stress management tool, taking 1-15 minutes in the morning to practice deep breathing will help increase nitric oxide levels and engage the parasympathetic nervous system. You can use visualizations like the tool above or practice SKY meditation for deep breathing.
- As needed - in a moment of stress or before a knowingly stressful event, taking a few moments to practice deep breathing will increase nitric oxide levels and stimulate the vagus nerve.
It’s not just breathing that can increase nitric oxide for a calming effect; getting a good working out, eating a healthy plant-based meal, and getting some sunlight can all help alleviate stress in a moment and as ongoing stress management.
When to take nitric oxide to improve overall health
It’s always a good time to increase nitric oxide as it’s something that needs constant attention. The best way to improve overall health is by living a nitric oxide lifestyle, being mindful, and taking small and large actions throughout the day. Here are some nitric oxide boosting activities and the best times to do them.
Morning nitric oxide boost:
- Deep breathing practice
- Beet or spinach juice
- Exercise or nitric oxide dump
- Skip the fluoride toothpaste and antibacterial mouthwash
Midday nitric oxide boost:
- Get some sunlight on the skin
- Eat a leafy-green, nitrate-rich lunch
- Exercise or nitric oxide dump
Evening nitric oxide boost:
- Nitrate-rich, plant-based dinner
- High-antioxidant, plant-based dessert
- Deep breathing practice
- A good hearty laugh (yes, laughter increases nitric oxide)
It’s empowering to leverage the many tools for boosting nitric oxide, and knowing the best times to do so can help improve outcomes. For optimal health, daily boosting throughout the day is ideal. For a punctuated athletic effect, nitric oxide boosting can be leveraged on the same day. Check out our family of products to support your nitric oxide lifestyle.