Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Handful of ornithine caps before strength training boosts growth hormone level
Give a guy who weighs 80 kg a dose of 8 g L-ornithine HCl before a weight training session, and his growth hormone level will increase by a factor of three. Japanese researchers working for ornithine manufacturer Kyowa Hakko Bio have studied the effects of this amino acid on athletes.
The idea that ornithine supplements can boost the production of growth hormone after heavy training is not new, but it is controversial.
Finnish researchers who gave weight lifters 2 g L-ornithine and 2 g L-arginine each day for a couple of days recorded no effect whatsoever on growth hormone levels. [Int J Sport Nutr. 1993 Sep; 3(3): 290-7.] Researchers from Syracuse University gave bodybuilders 7 g L-arginine and observed that the post-training growth hormone production actually declined slightly. Polish researchers gave power lifters 10 g of an L-arginine and L-ornithine mixture daily and recorded a rise in growth hormone production.
We call this conflicting evidence.
On another occasion the men trained after being given a placebo.
A workout without ornithine led to a growth hormone level rise of factor 2 half an hour after the training session ended while a workout with ornithine led to a growth hormone level rise of factor 6.
The men were not used to strength training. The researchers suspect that experienced strength athletes would react less well to the supplementation. They base this on a study done by American researchers in 1990 [Int J Sport Nutr. 1992 Sep;2(3):287-91.] in which bodybuilders were given 40, 100 or 170 mg L-ornithine per kg bodyweight.
Only the highest dose led to a rise in the growth hormone level.
If this reasoning holds, a bodybuilder weighing 80 kg would therefore need not 8 g ornithine but almost 14 grams.
Strength sports experts are skeptical of the supplement industry's GH boosters. They do not deny that supplements can increase growth hormone levels, but do not believe that this increase has any effect. They point to the effect on growth hormone levels of pharmacological growth hormone preparations used in doping. These are of a different order than the little extra growth hormone in the body of supplement users.