Supplement manufacturers are always on the lookout for ingredients to call “the next big thing” in the hope it can make their new formula a top seller.
So say hello to agmatine sulfate.
In recent years, this nitric oxide booster has transformed from relative unknown to pre workout superstar, storming its way into many popular products for its supposed training benefits.
However, I don’t want you to believe the hype.
In this article I’ll be breaking down all of the latest science on agmatine sulfate. I’ll show you exactly what it can (and can’t) do for your training, and clear away some of the most popular myths surrounding it.
What Is Agmatine Sulfate?
It’s no surprise that agmatine sulfate is labelled a nitric oxide booster, because it is derived from l-arginine, which is well-documented for its nitric oxide boosting capabilities.
Most of you reading this will already be using a pre workout which contains either l-arginine or perhaps citrulline malate (which becomes arginine upon entering the body), and you’re likely already aware of its ability to enhance strength output, recovery speed, and muscular endurance.
So how does agmatine sulfate add to that?
Well, agmatine sulfate inhibits the enzyme arginase, which is the enzyme which breaks down arginine. It also stimulates the enzyme eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase), which is the enzyme that begins nitric oxide production in the body. The theory is that by inhibiting the enzyme which breaks down arginine, and stimulating the enzyme that creates more nitric oxide, we should have a bigger, longer-lasting supply of arginine available during training to unlock even better results! (1, 2)
That’s why it’s always included alongside arginine or CitMal, because we believe it might help you get more from those ingredients.
Agmatine also offers some handy benefits for temporarily blunting pain, which in theory could enable you to push harder in the gym (although no studies have tested this in the gym). (3)
The Science On Agmatine Sulfate
I’m sure you’ll agree it sounds amazing.
Heck, imagine having something which could reduce your monthly bills and increase your wages at the same time. That’s essentially what this ingredient claims to be able to do for your muscles!
Unfortunately, science doesn’t agree.
Not only is there ZERO research to prove agmatine’s ability to boost performance (seriously, there is none at all!), but there is actually some data which shows it to be somewhat counter-productive.
The first trial to throw shade at agmatine came from German researchers at the Universityof Bonn way back in 2000.
They discovered that agmatine agonizes the alpha-2-adrenergic receptor, which is the same receptor which is inhibited by yohimbine. In the last couple of decades yohimbine has seen a sharp rise in popularity because of its reputation as a fat burner, and it’s often included in pre workout formulas. It doesn’t make sense to include both of these ingredients, because they cancel out eachothers effects. (4)
Of course, if you’re not using yohimbine then those findings won’t bother you in the slightest.
But this will…
Remember our great theory that agmatine sulfate will enhance performance by helping us produce more nitric oxide?
Turns out it’s DEAD WRONG.
A 2007 study published in Brain Research found that combining agmatine and citrulline actually resulted in lower citrulline production via nitric oxide synthase, suggesting that rather than working together for improved performance, the two ingredients instead competed against each other, hindering total nitric oxide production.
We definitely don’t want that.
What this means is we shouldn’t take a pre workout which uses a combination of agmatine and yohimbine, nor should we use one which combines agmatine and citrulline. (5)
Which begs the question; why use agmatine sulfate AT ALL?!
The simple answer is you don’t need to!
And then there’s Dr. Gad Gillad, who conducted a 5 year study on the long-term effects of agmatine supplementation (still to this day the longest, most in-depth trial available on the topic). He had this to say:
“The fact that agmatine is touted for bodybuilding purposes is completely unsubstantiated and is backed by outright false claims.”
No supplement is 100% useless, of course, so it’s worth mentioning that agmatine offers a few non-training related benefits for mental focus and stress reduction, but that’s not why most people want to use it. (6, 7, 8)
Until more research (or at least some! any! please!) is published showing that agmatine sulfate makes a difference to training performance, there is absolutely no reason for it to be included in your pre workout and they’re just f**king lying to you on the tub.
- Legaz M. E., et al. Endogenous Inactivators of Arginase, l-Arginine Decarboxylase, and Agmatine Amidinohydrolase in Evernia prunastri Thallus. Plant Physiol (1983).
- Mun C. H., et al. Regulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase by agmatine after transient global cerebral ischemia in rat brain. Anat Cell Biol (2010).
- Hwang S. L., et al. Activation of imidazoline receptors in adrenal gland to lower plasma glucose in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Diabetologia (2005).
- Molderings G. J., et al. Dual interaction of agmatine with the rat α2D-adrenoceptor: competitive antagonism and allosteric activation. Br J Pharmacol (2000).
- Yananlı H., et al. Effect of agmatine on brain l-citrulline production during morphine withdrawal in rats: A microdialysis study in nucleus accumbens. Brain Res (2007).
- Gilad G. M., et al. Long-term (5 years), high daily dosage of dietary agmatine – evidence of safety: a case report. J Med Food (2014).
- Taksande B. G., et al. Agmatine, an endogenous imidazoline receptor ligand modulates ethanol anxiolysis and withdrawal anxiety in rats. Eur J Pharmacol (2010).
- Chang C. H., et al. Increase of beta-endorphin secretion by agmatine is induced by activation of imidazoline I(2A) receptors in adrenal gland of rats. Neurosci Lett (2010).
Who Is Russ Howe PTI?
Featured in Men’s Fitness magazine and voted in the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost, Russ is the author of ‘The Rip Down’ and is among the UK’s most subscribed personal trainers with 104,357 people getting his free weekly fitness tips e-mail.
In the gym Russ’ clients range from busy parents, to models, to athletes and actresses. Russ also worked alongside the UK government for 8 years in a venture combating childhood obesity in England.
Outside of the gym, he’s a proud Dad to three young boys.
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