The Effect of Dietary Nitrate Supplementation on Physiology and Performance in Trained Cyclists

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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To determine the effect of dietary nitrate (NO3 ) supplementation on physiology and performance in well-trained cyclists after 6–8 d of NO3 supplementation.


Eight competitive male cyclists (mean ± SD age 26 ± 8 y, body mass 76.7 ± 6.9 kg, VO2peak 63 ± 4 mL · kg–1 · min–1) participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover-design study in which participants ingested 70 mL of beetroot juice containing ~4 mmol NO3 (NIT) or a NO3 -depleted placebo (PLA), each for 8 d. Replicating pretreatment measures, participants undertook an incremental ramp assessment to determine VO2peak and first (VT1) and second (VT2) ventilatory thresholds on d 6 (NIT6 and PLA6), moderate-intensity cycling economy on d 7 (NIT7 and PLA7), and a 4-km time trial (TT) on d 8 (NIT8 and PLA8).


Relative to PLA, 6 d of NIT supplementation produced unclear effects for VO2peak (mean ± 95% confidence limit: 1.8% ± 5.5%) and VT1 (3.7% ± 12.3%) and trivial effects for both VT2 (–1.0% ± 3.0%) and exercise economy on d 7 (–1.0% ± 1.6%). However, effects for TT performance time (–0.7% ± 0.9%) and power (2.4% ± 2.5%) on d 8 were likely beneficial.


Despite mostly unclear outcomes for standard physiological determinants of performance, 8 d of NO3 supplementation resulted in likely beneficial improvements to 4-km TT performance in well-trained male endurance cyclists.

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

Address author correspondence to Joe McQuillan at