Braakhuis, A. J., Bond, J., & Morton, L. (2012). Dietary nitrate supplementation improves rowing performance in highly trained rowers. Presentation 1829 at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, California; May 29-June 2, 2012.

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"Increased plasma nitrate concentrations from dietary sources of nitrate have proven to benefit exercise performance. Beetroot contains relatively high levels of sodium nitrate which increases nitric oxide production."

This study investigated whether dietary nitrate supplementation, in the form of a beetroot beverage, improved rowing performance during ergometer repetitions in elite male rowers (N = 14). Ss consumed either beetroot containing ~5.5 mmol/day NO3 or a placebo isocaloric drinks daily, for six days. Following supplementation, rowers completed six maximal 500 m ergometer repetitions and times were recorded. A seven day washout period separated the two trials. Blood pressure, oxygen saturation, maximum heart rate, urine (specific gravity, pH, and nitrites), and lactates were collected for analysis at baseline (one-month testing prior to experiment), once, 30-min pre- and then immediately, 1-, and 2-minutes post-performance.

There was a likely benefit (~0.4%) to the average repetition time in the beetroot condition, compared to placebo. In particular, repetitions 4, 5, and 6 showed an almost certain benefit in rowing time on in the supplement condition (~1.7%). The underlying mechanisms for the observed results remain unknown as differences observed in rowers’ physiological measures between the two conditions were generally unclear.

Implication. Nitrate supplementation in the form of beetroot juice resulted in improved maximal rowing ergometer repetitions, particularly in the later stages of the exercise.

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