L-ornithine is a non-essential amino acid that is synthesized by the body. L-ornithine can be taken in supplement form and is said to help athletes increase their energy levels and reduce fatigue.
L-ornithine plays a central role in the urea cycle, which allows for the disposal of excess nitrogen from the body, which might indirectly improve athletic performance.
7 Potential Benefits of L-Ornithine
- Decreases Fatigue
- Boosts Energy Levels
- Increases Muscle Mass
- Increases Strength
- Removes Excess Waste
- Decreases Blood Pressure
- Boosts Growth Hormone Release
Because ornithine is a free amino acid and is not abundant in meat or fish, it can be challenging to obtain adequate amounts of ornithine. However, you can find ornithine in foods such as fish, clams, eggs, dairy products, grain proteins, and watermelons.
L-Ornithine for Muscle Growth and Strength
One study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that administering specific amino acids, such as lysine, arginine, and ornithine, helped stimulate the release of growth hormone via the pituitary gland.
Research suggests that the consumption of these amino acids before strength training helps to accelerate growth hormone release, promoting greater muscle mass and strength gains.
While this may seem practical in theory, a study published in the journal Nutrition Research shows that high doses of ornithine can elicit an increase in growth hormone levels for bodybuilders.
However, it’s important to note that the growth hormone response to amino acids has a high degree of variability among individuals and is affected by factors such as training status, gender, age, and diet.
Based on current research, there appears to be little benefit to taking specific amino acids (such as ornithine) before exercise instead of consuming protein-rich foods with a complete amino acid profile.
Safety and Side Effects
L-ornithine is safe in moderate doses; however, L-ornithine doses over 10-20 grams per day may induce stomach discomfort or diarrhea. As with other supplements, excess L-ornithine can cause side effects such as structural issues with blood vessels, neuron toxicity, and abnormal growth of tumor cells.
Most studies recommend 2–6 grams of L-ornithine per day.
L-ornithine hydrochloride (the salt form of L-ornithine) appears to be the most beneficial form of ornithine for reducing physical fatigue and improving exercise recovery.
For doses of L-ornithine hydrochloride, 1.5 grams per serving taken 1–3 times per day is recommended.
Effectiveness of L-Ornithine
At present, there’s not enough research to support the idea that L-ornithine improves athletic performance, muscle growth, time to exhaustion, and muscle recovery. However, research does support the fact that ornithine expels 80% of all nitrogen from the body, which may indirectly improve athletic performance.
If you’re going to supplement with L-ornithine, it’s best to take the right dose to avoid any unpleasant side effects like stomach discomfort or diarrhea that can occur at higher doses.