Supplement manufacturers are always on the lookout for ingredients to call “the next big thing”, and agmatine sulfate is the latest one.
This nitric oxide booster has seen a steady rise in popularity in recent years, and is now included in a lot of popular pre-workout supplements for it’s supposed performance-enhancing benefits when taken immediately before exercise.
So is it the real deal?
Or it it just the next hyped up ingredient to miss the mark?
Let’s find out! I’ll be breaking down all of the latest sports research on agmatine sulfate in this article, plus clearing up some of the myths surrounding it, and I’ll show you exactly what you can expect from using it as part of your pre-workout.
Table of Contents
Flip The Switch
Agmatine sulfate is billed as a nitric oxide booster.
Anyone who used a pre-workout during the 2000s will be familiar with these, as they were all the rage back then.
Channelling the body’s nitric oxide pathway causes a temporary widening of your blood vessels, which subsequently improves the delivery of key nutrients to your muscles. This will result in more reps being performed to failure, and higher training intensity being maintained for a longer time. (1)
To put it into context; if you’ve ever watched a Fast & Furious movie, Vin Diesel flipping the turbo switch in his car, triggering a release of the similar-sounding nitrous oxide, temporarily allows him to travel as fast as The Rock, whereas tapping into your body’s nitric oxide pathways temporarily allows you to train as hard as The Rock.
What Is Agmatine Sulfate?
Agmatine comes from the amino acid l-arginine.
Most of you reading this will already be using a pre-workout supplement which contains l-arginine (or citrulline malate, which becomes l-arginine upon entering the body), and are probably aware of its ability to boost muscular endurance, recovery speed, and strength.
So what does agmatine sulfate bring to the table?
Well, this ingredient is said to inhibit the enzyme arginase (which breaks down arginine) and stimulate the enzyme eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase), which produces nitric oxide. Therefore, the theory behind using agmatine sulfate is that by inhibiting the enzyme which breaks down arginine, and stimulating the enzyme that creates more nitric oxide, you will have a much bigger supply of arginine readily available during training. (2)
Agmatine Sulfate: Russ’ Rating
The potential benefits of agmatine sulfate are amazing, but it just doesn’t work.
Despite the theory that using agmatine sulfate alongside other key nitric oxide boosters like l-arginine and CitMal would lead to greater performance, a 2007 study published in Brain Research discovered that the opposite is true! It turns out that combining agmatine and citrulline actually resulted in lower citrulline production via nitric oxide synthase; so rather than working together, the two ingredients clashed and actually hindered nitric oxide production. (5)
We definitely don’t want that.
It’s also been shown to cancel out the effects of yohimbine (another popular ingredient in pre-workouts and fat burner supplements). (4)
The final nail was driven into the coffin of agmatine sulfate (at least as far as bodybuilding goes) by Dr. Gad Gillad, who conducted a 5 year study on the long-term effects of agmatine supplementation (the most in-depth trial available on agmatine to this day).
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 has some benefits as far as mental focus, pain blunting, and stress reduction go – but that’s not why it’s included in bodybuilding supplements. (3, 6, 7, 8)
Until more research (or at least some… any… please!) shows that agmatine sulfate can improve performance, this is one ingredient which you simply do not need.
- 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?
Russ has been a personal trainer in the UK since 2002, and provided both training advice and full programs on this website since 2011.
His work has been featured in Men’s Fitness magazine, and the content on this website led to him being voted one of the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost.
Russ’ days are spent coaching men and women in the legendary Powerhouse Gym, and creating new content for the 109,246 followers of his popular free weekly e-mail, which you can join below!