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Kristin L. Jonvik, Jean Nyakayiru, Jan-Willem van Dijk, Floris C. Wardenaar, Luc J.C. van Loon and Lex B. Verdijk

Although beetroot juice, as a nitrate carrier, is a popular ergogenic supplement among athletes, nitrate is consumed through the regular diet as well. We aimed to assess the habitual dietary nitrate intake and identify the main contributing food sources in a large group of highly trained athletes. Dutch highly trained athletes (226 women and 327 men) completed 2–4 web-based 24-hr dietary recalls and questionnaires within a 2- to 4-week period. The nitrate content of food products and food groups was determined systematically based on values found in regulatory reports and scientific literature. These were then used to calculate each athlete’s dietary nitrate intake from the web-based recalls. The median[IQR] habitual nitrate intake was 106[75–170] mg/d (range 19–525 mg/d). Nitrate intake correlated with energy intake (ρ = 0.28, p < .001), and strongly correlated with vegetable intake (ρ = 0.78, p < .001). In accordance, most of the dietary nitrate was consumed through vegetables, potatoes and fruit, accounting for 74% of total nitrate intake, with lettuce and spinach contributing most. When corrected for energy intake, nitrate intake was substantially higher in female vs male athletes (12.8[9.2–20.0] vs 9.4[6.2–13.8] mg/MJ; p < .001). This difference was attributed to the higher vegetable intake in female vs male athletes (150[88–236] vs 114[61–183] g/d; p < .001). In conclusion, median daily intake of dietary nitrate in highly trained athletes was 106 mg, with large interindividual variation. Dietary nitrate intake was strongly associated with the intake of vegetables. Increasing the intake of nitrate-rich vegetables in the diet might serve as an alternative strategy for nitrate supplementation.

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Kristin L. Jonvik, Jan-Willem van Dijk, Joan M.G. Senden, Luc J.C. van Loon and Lex B. Verdijk

Nitrate-rich beetroot juice is thought to have ergogenic effects, particularly in conditions where oxygen availability is limited. Whether these effects also apply to elite athletes is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of beetroot juice supplementation on dynamic apnea and intermittent sprint performance in elite female water polo players. In a double-blinded, randomized, crossover manner, the Dutch National female water polo team (N = 14) was subjected to two 6-day supplementation periods (1 and 2), with either 140 ml/day of nitrate-rich (BR; ∼800 mg/day nitrate) or nitrate-depleted (PLA) beetroot juice. Following blood sampling on Day 6, the athletes performed a maximal-distance front crawl swimming test without breathing (dynamic apnea test). In addition, intermittent sprint performance was assessed by performing 16 swim sprints of 15 m, in a 4 × 4 block with 30-s recovery between blocks (intermittent test). Distance covered during the dynamic apnea test did not differ between BR (49.5 ± 7.8 m) and PLA (46.9 ± 9.1 m, p = .178). However, when correcting for test order, the distance covered was significantly larger in BR versus PLA when BR was ingested in Period 2 (50.1 ± 8.5 vs. 42.8 ± 5.7 m, p = .002), whereas no difference was observed when BR was ingested in Period 1 (48.8 ± 7.4 vs. 52.3 ± 10.4 m, p = .10). The time to complete the intermittent test was not different between BR and PLA (316.0 ± 7.9 vs. 316.3 ± 6.9 s, p = .73). In conclusion, beetroot juice supplementation does not improve intermittent performance in elite female water polo players, but there may be a potential for ergogenic effects during dynamic apnea.

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Floris C. Wardenaar, Ingrid J.M. Ceelen, Jan-Willem Van Dijk, Roland W.J. Hangelbroek, Lore Van Roy, Britte Van der Pouw, Jeanne H.M. De Vries, Marco Mensink and Renger F. Witkamp

The use of nutritional supplements is highly prevalent among athletes. In this cross-sectional study, we assessed the prevalence of nutritional supplement use by a large group of Dutch competitive athletes in relation to dietary counseling. A total of 778 athletes (407 males and 371 females) completed a web-based questionnaire about the use of nutritional supplements. Log-binomial regression models were applied to estimate crude and adjusted prevalence ratios (PR) for the use of individual nutritional supplements in athletes receiving dietary counseling as compared with athletes not receiving dietary counseling. Of the athletes, 97.2% had used nutritional supplements at some time during their sports career, whereas 84.7% indicated having used supplements during the last 4 weeks. The top ranked supplements used over the last 4 weeks from dietary supplements, sport nutrition products and ergogenic supplements were multivitamin and mineral preparations (42.9%), isotonic sports drinks (44.1%) and caffeine (13.0%). After adjustment for elite status, age, and weekly exercise duration, dietary counseling was associated with a higher prevalence of the use of vitamin D, recovery drinks, energy bars, isotonic drinks with protein, dextrose, beta-alanine, and sodium bicarbonate. In contrast, dietary counseling was inversely associated with the use of combivitamins, calcium, vitamin E, vitamin B2, retinol, energy drinks and BCAA and other amino acids. In conclusion, almost all athletes had used nutritional supplements at some time during their athletic career. Receiving dietary counseling seemed to result in better-informed choices with respect to the use of nutritional supplements related to performance, recovery, and health.