I do some of my workouts at the Jewish Community Center in Scottsdale. They have a great gym, basketball and volleyball courts, and an incredible swimming pool. A few weeks ago, a fellow gym member was talking about a pre-exercise drink he used and said it really galvanized his workouts- he performed better and enjoyed them more. The supplement was called ‘Black Powder’, with a long list of ingredients like amino acids, creatine, green tea, caffeine, and so on. What really got me interested, however, was that this supplement contained a good amount of nitric oxide, or NO3. I’ve written before about the benefits of NO3; it’s the most important vasodilator  in the human body, relaxes arteries and lowers blood pressure. In other words, it’s very good for you. My interest piqued, he brought me six servings of it and I gave it a try.  I drank it 15 minutes before my workout, and WOW! I had one of the most satisfying workouts ever. I felt stronger, had greater endurance, and, since I workout at 6:00 am, was more wide-awake and felt like I put more work into my workout. I normally have a cup of coffee before my workouts. Caffeine has long been known to   enable a person to invest more effort into a workout, and has been known to free up stored fats to use as an energy source, something most people want to do; burn fat. In addition to increasing alertness and fat-burning recent research reveals another caffeine benefit; an adenosine antigonizer. Adenosine is a substance that builds up in the muscle during exercise and blunts the force of contraction. The more adenosine in the muscle, the less force it generates. Caffeine reduces adenosine levels, thus enabling more forceful contractions and delays fatigue. There is also evidence that caffeine reduces potassium buildup in the muscles, which happens during anaerobic activities, which is what I do during workouts. Caffeine also affects the central nervous system, affecting mood, alertness, and fine motor coordination during exercise. With this particular supplement also supplying NO3 in good quantities, the increased circulation means that I felt energized from the top of my head to my toenails. There are a couple of caveats with this supplement; I only took it six times and don’t know if there would be a muted effect when I habituate to it. Also, the ‘Black Powder’ contains a couple of food colorings, of which I’m not in favor of. I’m sure there are other products like ‘Black Powder’. Give it/them a try if you’d like an exercise boost.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.