Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances high-intensity running performance in moderate normobaric hypoxia, independent of aerobic fitness

Oliver Shannon, Lauren Duckworth, Matthew Barlow, David Woods, Jose Lara, Mario Siervo, John O'Hara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
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Nitrate-rich beetroot juice (BRJ) increases plasma nitrite concentrations, lowers the oxygen cost (V̇O2) of steady-state exercise and improves exercise performance in sedentary and moderately-trained, but rarely in well-trained individuals exercising at sea-level. BRJ supplementation may be more effective in a hypoxic environment, where the reduction of nitrite into nitric oxide (NO) is potentiated, such that well-trained and less well-trained individuals may derive a similar ergogenic effect. We conducted a randomised, counterbalanced, double-blind placebo controlled trial to determine the effects of BRJ on treadmill running performance in moderate normobaric hypoxia (equivalent to 2500 m altitude) in participants with a range of aerobic fitness levels. Twelve healthy males (V̇O2max ranging from 47.1 to 76.8 ml kg−1·min−1) ingested 138 ml concentrated BRJ (∼15.2 mmol nitrate) or a nitrate-deplete placebo (PLA) (∼0.2 mmol nitrate). Three hours later, participants completed steady-state moderate intensity running, and a 1500 m time-trial (TT) in a normobaric hypoxic chamber (FIO2 ∼15%). Plasma nitrite concentrations were significantly greater following BRJ versus PLA 1 h post supplementation, and remained higher in BRJ throughout the testing session (p <0.01). Average V̇O2 was significantly lower (BRJ: 18.4 ± 2.0, PLA: 20.4 ± 12.6 ml kg−1·min−1; p = 0.002), whilst arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2) was significantly greater (BRJ: 88.4 ± 2.7, PLA: 86.5 ± 3.3%; p <0.001) following BRJ. BRJ improved TT performance in all 12 participants by an average of 3.2% (BRJ: 331.1 ± 45.3 vs. PL: 341.9 ± 46.1 s; p <0.001). There was no apparent relationship between aerobic fitness and the improvement in performance following BRJ (r2 = 0.05, p > 0.05). These findings suggests that a high nitrate dose in the form of a BRJ supplement may improve running performance in individuals with a range of aerobic fitness levels conducting moderate and high-intensity exercise in a normobaric hypoxic environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
JournalNitric Oxide
Early online date20 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2016


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