Defining Agmatine: Arginine vs. Agmatine
Agmatine (4-aminobutyl) guanidine, NH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-NH-C(-NH2)(=NH)), is a byproduct of the amino acid Arginine and acts as an intermediate in polyamine biosynthesis. It is generated through a process referred to as decarboxylation which is a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide (CO2); it is essentially Arginine with the carboxylic acid end eliminated. Agmatine is synthesized in the brain, stored in synaptic vesicles, collected by uptake, discharged by membrane depolarization, and inactivated by agmatinase.
Playing a large role in the production of Nitric Oxide (NO), Arginine has been labeled as a big Growth Hormone (GH) releaser and utilized by athletes and bodybuilders around the world. Along with GH production, Arginine is well renowned for its capacity to stimulate protein synthesis, sustain the endogenous production of creatine, support insulin sensitivity via attenuation of blood glucose, as well as its assistance during the removal of nitrogenous waste in the urea cycle.*
Until recently, Arginine has been labeled as a "go to" supplement in many athletic and bodybuilding regimens. However, with the growing literature and knowledge on the potential ergogenic value of Agmatine, athletes are beginning to gear their supplementation needs in a new direction. Agmatine is likely the one molecule to take part in more metabolic processes than Arginine. There exists nineteen well-documented mechanisms of action suggested in the research and a minimum of thirteen elicit direct benefits to the athlete or bodybuilder with even more effects emerging as the research continues.*
The benefits of Agmatine include enhanced muscle pumps, more effective nutrient transport, improved nutrient partitioning (greater number of calories shunted towards muscle tissue and less stored in fat cells), increased blood flow, and greater production of luteinizing hormone and growth hormone.* Agmatine appears to boost muscle pumps in various ways:
Agmatine may enhance nutrient partitioning, which leads to more muscle glycogen (carbohydrates stored in muscle tissues) stored, thus more water retained in the muscle. This can lead to a "fuller" look to the muscle and enhanced muscle pumps.*
Agmatine appears to increase NO production by playing a competitive inhibitor role of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase. The nutrient partitioning effects of Agmatine may be due to its potential ability to increase the insulin response to carbohydrates, as well as the increased blood flow to the muscle seen with increased nitric oxide production. Agmatine may play a potential role in the hypothalamic control of luteinizing hormone (LH) and GH release, thusly leading to increased levels of both hormones.*
Agmatine as an Ergogenic Aid
- Agmatine enhances insulin production which elicits better insulin responses.* Increased insulin response has been shown to have positive effects on body composition and musculature.
- Agmatine supports a healthy stress response, which can be beneficial in the heavy loading and high-stress life of a bodybuilder.*
- Agmatine acts on catecholamine release (Epinephrine > Norepinephrine > Dopamine). These endogenous compounds are utilized in almost every action throughout the human body. Specific to the athlete is the role in energy production and support in stress relief.*
- Agmatine offers potential assistance in kidney function via stimulation of the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). This can prep the bodybuilder as various nitrogenous waste products are eliminated through this system.*
- Agmatine serves as a potential aid in the recovery process of the athlete. It can also enhance the effects of analgesics required during recuperation from injury.*
- Agmatine stimulates GH and LH. In addition to the obvious effects on overall body composition, the stimulation of GH and LH levels can also be helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle as age sets in. The stimulation of pituitary hormones may also lead to stimulation of other various hormones such as IGF-1.
- Agmatine modulates NO through a variety of mechanisms. It stimulates some types of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) while restraining others. This is crucial to the proper functioning of the polyamine biosynthetic pathways.
- Specific to body composition, Agmatine has an independent role of testosterone and insulin management on lipid (fat) metabolism.
- Agmatine offers antioxidant properties. This is of particular interest to the committed athlete. The load an athlete endures throughout a strict training regimen directly affects the free-radical buildup in the human body and can have damaging effects if the buildup continues. Agmatine can serve as a protection from these unwanted effects that free radicals propose to the body.*
- Agmatine acts as a "novel" neurotransmitter and can support a healthy mood. It can be beneficial to those looking to achieve a mental edge, whether it be in the gym or in everyday life.*
- Agmatine holds a hypotensive role which could assist the exogenously-enhanced athlete in regulating blood pressure, already in healthy range.*
As a result of these effects, supplementing any athletic and/or bodybuilding regimen with Agmatine may improve athletic performance, increase fat loss, and increase muscle size, vascularity, and fullness.* Additional benefits including reducing free radicals, supporting healthy mood, and enhanced recovery mechanisms also add to the quality of everyday life.* Arginine was the "miracle worker" of its time, but Agmatine appears to be an even better supplemental option in regards to body physique advancements and performance.*
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