8 Reasons Why You Need Pycnogenol

8 Reasons Why You Need Pycnogenol


This extract from pine bark is one of the most potent supplements you can take for better results from your workouts.

You may not know a lot about Pycnogenol, a potent extract that comes from French maritime pine bark. Formulated from proanthocyanidins, Pycnogenol is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. You can find it as a stand-alone or in multiple-ingredient formulations, including in many preworkout products. Typically, Pycnogenol has been marketed more as a supplement to support health or beauty, but it has important applications for weight trainers and athletes.
Among its benefits, Pycnogenol provides antioxidant protection. It also binds to collagen and elastin, making it a popular supplement for skin care, fighting the visible signs of aging. Finally, Pycnogenol is a potent vasodilator, helping to deliver blood and oxygen to key body parts. This means it not only supports better workouts and athletic performance, but it also supports sexual health and combats erectile dysfunction.
Here are some of the more specific benefits Pycnogenol provides.

Take Pycnogenol For Better Workout Results

Pycnogenol supplementation is under-appreciated by most weight trainers and athletes. A study in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness in January showed that daily Pycnogenol supplementation was associated with faster running times and increases in push-up and sit-up endurance, by 25% and 15%, respectively. That’s huge. Also, triathletes taking Pycnogenol (150 mg daily) increased their speed and strength after only 30 days. These athletes also had reduced muscle cramping.
Check out your preworkout product to see if you’re already getting Pycnogenol, and if not, then consider adding it as a stand-alone. Here are more reasons why.
1. Pycnogenol boosts nitric-oxide production for better workouts.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a very small molecule that plays a large role in supporting better workouts and better results from those workouts. NO allows your blood vessels to relax, causing them to expand more easily to allow greater blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the muscles you’re training. When you’re training, this means you’ll be able to lift more weight and/or perform more reps. A recent study showed that Pycnogenol increases blood flow to muscles by 41%. Other research shows that a related benefit is Pycnogenol’s ability to reduce muscle pain and cramping.
2. Pycnogenol supports better recovery from training. 
Postworkout, NO helps bring in additional nutrients to help muscles recover more quickly. While many NO products tout their arginine and citrulline content, Pycnogenol is often a silent partner in this process, helping these other supps work better because it helps activate and stabilize the nitric-oxide-synthase enzyme that makes NO from arginine.
Because Pycnogenol boosts NO production, it’s usually found in preworkout formulas. However, few companies tout NO’s important role after training. Consider adding it to your postworkout regimen to support better recovery.
3. Pycnogenol supplementation reduces soreness after exercise. 
One of the limiting factors for hard-training athletes is the soreness they feel the day after an intense workout. And sometimes, depending on the intensity of that workout, soreness may last two or three days, or longer. Pycnogenol may help reduce soreness because it continues to deliver oxygen to muscle tissue and reduce carbon dioxide. Enhanced blood microcirculation has the ultimate effect of reduced muscle soreness as well as faster recovery. In other words, the more dynamic flow of blood into and out of your muscle tissue helps to repair it more quickly.
4. Pycnogenol helps regulate insulin function for better muscle growth and body-fat management. 
Pycnogenol has been shown to have beneficial effects on how cells handle insulin, a topic of great concern for anyone training hard. In a recent study, Pycnogenol prevented fat cells from accumulating more fat, stimulated lipolysis (fat breakdown) and increased GLUT4 glucose transporters. With other research showing Pycnogenol’s ability to reduce blood glucose, it suggests Pycnogenol helps insulin work better.
For exercising individuals, this could mean better results from workouts, such as more muscle building and less fat accumulation. Other exercise benefits with Pycnogenol supplementation, such as reduced muscle soreness, also indicate the possible positive effects of this insulin mechanism.

Take Pycnogenol For Health

While we all want to be healthy, many people are more focused on increasing their athletic performance than their general health markers. Fortunately, many sports-nutrition products serve both ends, and Pycnogenol is one of the top “best of both worlds” supplements. While it’s awesome for supporting your workouts, its greatest benefits may be those it delivers for long-term health. Here are a few of them.
5. Pycnogenol destroys harmful free radicals.
Pycnogenol helps reduce cellular damage by neutralizing free radicals. These highly reactive chemicals are created by stressors, including strenuous or prolonged exercise, and they wreak havoc on your cells. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene (converted to vitamin A in the body, also available as a supplement) help neutralize free radicals, effectively putting an end to the damage they cause. Pycnogenol may not be as well-known as these other common antioxidants, but it’s been found to be more potent molecule-for-molecule. Taking Pycnogenol regularly and at times of day when your body is under stress will help reduce the negative effects of free radicals.
6. Pycnogenol fights excess inflammation and disease.
When you work out, the mechanical stress on muscles and joints activates acute inflammation. This is good because it also starts the repair (building) process. Wiping out the inflammatory response is bad news for getting bigger and stronger. Just look at what high-dose corticosteroids do to muscles: They cause wasting, fatigue and weakness. Corticosteroids wipe out inflammation at high doses.
While Pycnogenol tones down inflammation, it doesn’t wipe out acute inflammation, so it won’t inhibit muscle repair and building. But Pycnogenol does tamp down chronic inflammation, which has different triggers and signals than acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation weakens tendons and ligaments, which can lead to injuries. And a bonus of reducing chronic inflammation is that it helps maintain cardiovascular health, keeps insulin under control, protects bones and joints, and even prevents more fat cells from forming. These effects are good for both exercise results and long-term health.
7. Pycnogenol supports male sexual health.
Another benefit of increased NO production is enhanced sexual potency for men. In other words, taking Pycnogenol helps men combat erectile dysfunction, and NO is known as “nature’s Viagra.” Pycnogenol stimulates the production of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), an enzyme that helps convert arginine into NO throughout the body, including sexual organs. Taking Pycnogenol regularly, and about 30–60 minutes before sexual activity, may boost blood flow and sexual performance. For best results, supplement 3–5 g of arginine and 100 mg of Pycnogenol at these times.
8. Pycnogenol reduces the harms of insulin.
This is crucial for those who suffer from prediabetes or type 2 diabetes—and that includes nearly 100 million Americans (and growing). Studies performed in test tubes and in humans show that Pycnogenol supplementation helps regulate blood-sugar levels. In one study, 50–200 mg of Pycnogenol decreased blood sugar in type 2 diabetics. Since the test-tube (in-vitro) data was supported by real-life effects in diabetics, normal intakes of Pycnogenol are able to help keep insulin action optimal. This is certainly good news for diabetics, but it’s also important for those who are prediabetic or have a family history of diabetes.

What You Should Do

Many of the more immediate benefits that come with supplementing Pycnogenol seem to be particularly noticed after 30 days of supplementation. While you may want to time your supplementation to achieve specific benefits, one of the best ways to get long-term benefits is to take 50–100 mg of Pycnogenol every day.


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