Influence of nitrate supplementation on motor unit activity during recovery following a sustained ischemic contraction in recreationally active young males

Ozcan Esen*, Stephen J. Bailey, Daniel W. Stashuk, Glyn Howatson, Stuart Goodall

*Corresponding author for this work

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Dietary nitrate (NO3−) supplementation enhances muscle blood flow and metabolic efficiency in hypoxia, however, its efficacy on neuromuscular function and specifically, the effect on motor unit (MU) activity is less clear. We investigated whether NO3− supplementation affected MU activity following a 3 min sustained ischemic contraction and whether this is influenced by blood flow restriction (BFR) during the recovery period.

In a randomized, double-blinded, cross-over design, 14 males (mean ± SD, 25 ± 6 years) completed two trials following 5 days of supplementation with NO3−-rich (NIT) or NO3−-depleted (PLA) beetroot juice to modify plasma nitrite (NO2−) concentration (482 ± 92 vs. 198 ± 48 nmol·L−1, p < 0.001). Intramuscular electromyography was used to assess MU potential (MUP) size (duration and area) and mean firing rates (MUFR) during a 3 min submaximal (25% MVC) isometric contraction with BFR. These variables were also assessed during a 90 s recovery period with the first half completed with, and the second half completed without, BFR.

The change in MUP area and MUFR, did not differ between conditions (all p > 0.05), but NIT elicited a reduction in MUP recovery time during brief isometric contractions (p < 0.001), and during recoveries with (p = 0.002) and without (p = 0.012) BFR.

These novel observations improve understanding of the effects of NO3− on the recovery of neuromuscular function post-exercise and might have implications for recovery of muscle contractile function.

Trial registration
The study was registered on with ID of NCT05993715 on August 08, 2023.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Early online date29 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2024

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