Dietary Nitrate Fails to Improve 1 and 4 km Cycling Performance in Highly Trained Cyclists

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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We aimed to compare the effects of two different dosing durations of dietary nitrate (NO3-) supplementation on 1 and 4 km cycling time-trial performance in highly trained cyclists. In a double-blind crossover-design, nine highly trained cyclists ingested 140ml of NO3--rich beetroot juice containing ~8.0mmol [NO3-], or placebo, for seven days. Participants completed a range of laboratory-based trials to quantify physiological and perceptual responses and cycling performance: time-trials on day 3 and 6 (4km) and on day 4 and 7 (1km) of the supplementation period. Relative to placebo, effects following 3- and 4-days of NO3- supplementation were unclear for 4 (-0.8; 95% CL, ± 2.8%, p = .54) and likely harmful for 1km (-1.9; ± 2.5% CL, p = .17) time-trial mean power. Effects following 6- and 7-days of NO3- supplementation resulted in unclear effects for 4 (0.1; ± 2.2% CL, p = .93) and 1km (-0.9; ± 2.6%CL, p = .51) time-trial mean power. Relative to placebo, effects for 40, 50, and 60% peak power output were unclear for economy at days 3 and 6 of NO3- supplementation (p > .05). Dietary NO3- supplementation appears to be detrimental to 1km time-trial performance in highly trained cyclists after 4-days. While, extending NO3- dosing to ≥ 6-days reduced the magnitude of harm in both distances, overall performance in short duration cycling time-trials did not improve relative to placebo.

McQuillan is with the Health, Sport and Human Performance, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Dulson, Laursen, and Kilding are with the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland, AUT University, New Zealand.

Address author correspondence to Joe McQuillan at