Nitrates improve 10km time trial performance in trained cyclists

We have previously written on the Predator Nutrition blog about the beneficial effects of nitrate supplementation on athletic performance as well as its ability to increase plasma levels (ergo, better pumps) and also boost power output.
A new study from the Netherlands examined the effect of nitrate consumption on time trial performance in 12 trained, male cyclists. This study tested the hypothesis that 6 days of nitrate ingestion would improve performance for these cyclists. In comparison to the single dose in the Exeter study, this study looked at the effects of ongoing, daily ingestion of nitrates. The study also investigated the effects on VO2 during sub-maximal exercise.

10km Cyclist Time Trial - Nitrate Supplementation

The study was double-blind and used a repeated measure, crossover design meaning all participants tried both the nitrates and the placebo.

The cyclists ingested 140 ml/day of concentrated beetroot or a placebo for 6 days, separated by a 14 day washout. Despite the lower intake compared to the 500ml in the Exeter study, the concentration of nitrates was higher in this study given the concentrated nature of the beetroot (8mmol versus 6 in the Exeter study).

After six days, the subjects performed 60 mins of cycling at a sub-maximal intensity followed up by a 10km time trial.

Results: Time-trial performance (953 ± 18 vs. 965 ± 18 s, p < .005) and power output (294 ± 12 vs. 288 ± 12 W, p < .05) improved after ingestion of the nitrate-rich beetroot juice solution compared with placebo supplementation. Sub-maximal VO2 was lower after nitrate consumption (45% Wmax = 1.92 ± 0.06 vs. 2.02 ± 0.09 L/min, 65% Wmax 2.94 ± 0.12 vs. 3.11 ± 0.12 L/min) than with placebo (main effect, p < .05).

Conclusion: It is good to see that nitrates are not just a flash in the pan and we see a body of research which increasingly supports their use for athletes looking to improve performance. The authors of this study likewise concluded that nitrate supplementation can reduce VO2 max during sub-maximal exercise and also improve performance in trained cyclists. Given the relative paucity of research conducted on trained athletes, this study underscores the potential value of nitrate supplements to athletes. Hopefully, we will see a study conducted on resistance training populations next.


Author: Reggie Johal

© 2012, Reggie Johal. All rights reserved.

About Reggie Johal

Reggie Johal is a former Great Britain American Football player and the founder of Predator Nutrition. He has a strong background in strength and fitness coaching with articles published in Flex and other leading online and print magazines.

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