AAKG, or arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, is an amino acid that is not essential, meaning that the body can make its own. However, there is evidence that obtaining higher than normal levels from outside sources may enhance nitric oxide production, and therefore weightlifting performance. Due to the large quantities necessary to be effective, this amino acid is used as a supplement in a powder or capsule form.
AAKG is used in the treatment of cataracts, liver disorders, digestive problems and kidney disease. Other uses in treatment include enhancing sexual performance and potency. Because of its effects, people also use AAKG to boost their performance as athletes. With physical exertion, the muscles produce metabolic byproducts that the liver must break down. One of these is ammonia, which can cause stiffness and joint pain. AAKG reportedly makes it easier for the liver to break down the toxic byproducts of exercise.
Further research has suggested that the amino acid could promote protein synthesis. This effect may be useful for gaining more lean mass while improving endurance and strength. This is believed to primarily be from increases in nitric oxide levels that arginine causes. Nitric oxide allows blood vessels to dilate, enhancing blood circulation to the muscles and bringing important nutrients, oxygen and energy with it.