ARG Exercise and Performance

ARG is also an important constituent of the urea cycle, which converts ammonia to urea, a harmless waste product. In early studies, ARG infusions were found to reduce ammonia levels in animals and humans. Intravenous doses of ARG at 1 to 4 g lowered induced high-ammonia levels.22,23 In theory, ARG may be able to lower elevated ammonia levels as a result of high-intensity exercise, delaying fatigue. This condition has been investigated:

  • Stevens et al. using ARG combined with glycine (glycine, ARG, a-ketoisocaproic acid (GAKIC)) significantly improved performance during anaerobic isokinetic exercise in 13 male subjects (average age, 21 years) (see Section 15.6.5).24 Additionally, Buford and Koch found that the same formula improved performance of repeated cycling sprints (see Section 15.6.5 for additional details on both studies).25
  • Colombani et al. incorporated a double-blind crossover design to study the general metabolic impact of ARG aspartate supplementation in 14 endurance-trained athletes, using 15 g of ARG aspartate or placebo for 14 days before a marathon run. The authors found no obvious metabolic benefit, including no differences in the respiratory exchange ratio, cortisol, insulin, ammonia, or lactate levels related to the supplementation of ARG aspartate.26
  • Abel et al., using 5.7 g of ARG and 8.7 g of aspartate, investigated the effects of supplementation on selected performance, metabolic, and endocrine parameters in 30 male endurance-trained athletes during a 4-week trial. They found no differences in endurance performance (VO2 peak, time to exhaustion), endocrine (concentrations of hGH, glucagon, cortisol, testosterone), and metabolic (lactate levels, ferritin, urea) parameters after ARG aspartate supplementation, compared to the placebo group.27 At this dose, ARG aspartate appears to be ineffective as an ergogenic aid. (For more information on aspartates, see Section 15.6.4).
  • A 1988 study examined the effects of ARG and ornithine (ORN) supplementation on the body composition of 18 untrained males in a resistance training program. After 5 weeks, the 10 supplemented subjects lost a significantly greater amount of fat (-0.85% vs. -0.20%) and body mass (-1.3 kg vs. -0.81 kg) than the placebo group.28 This outcome has never been reproduced in a more comprehensive trial.
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