Study under review: Effects of a Short-Term High-Nitrate Diet on Exercise Performance
Numerous studies have indicated that high intake of nitrates, typically in the form of beetroot juice or sodium nitrate, can help improve exercise performance in moderately-trained individuals.
Nitrate converts to nitric oxide (NO), which is a signaling molecule and metabolite associated with several physiological functions involving blood pressure regulation and cardiovascular health, mitochondria production, calcium transport, oxidative stress, and skeletal muscle repair. Evidence suggests that acute nitrate supplementation, whether pharmacological (e.g. sodium/potassium nitrate), or dietary (e.g. beetroot juice/powder) may reduce the body’s oxygen demand during exercise, which, in this instance, is a primary mechanism for improvements in exercise performance.
Reducing the cost of oxygen is a significant benefit in exercise performance because it can prolong the time it takes to reach muscular exhaustion and fatigue (a benefit largely attributed to increased mitochondrial efficiency). This allows for more efficient energy production without an accompanying increase in lactic acid concentrations.
Studies yielding positive results have so far been limited to sedentary individuals, novice trainees, or moderately-trained participants. On the other hand, nitrate supplementation in maximal effort exercise scenarios (measuring contraction, force-frequency, and fatigability of the quadriceps) has failed to show much benefit in participants following four, seven, or 15 days of nitrate supplementation. Results from at least one study investigating nitrate and its effect on high intensity exercise performance have also failed to produce a significant positive effect.
Nitrate supplementation most commonly involves beetroot juices, concentrates, powders, or sodium nitrate. For instance, one study used 200 grams of whole, baked beetroot. There are few studies investigating the effects of a high-nitrate intake based solely on a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of this form of nitrate intervention on exercise performance in a sample of healthy males.
The aim of this study was to assess whether a diet rich in fruits and vegetables — thus, rich in nitrates — could increase plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations and improve exercise performance in healthy, moderately-trained participants.
Other Articles in Issue #24 (October 2016)
Can vitamin D-crease pain?
Pain involves the nervous and immune systems, among others, so it can be tough to address through supplementation. Vitamin D's multitude of roles hint at its possible use as a pain treatment.
Interview: Josh Mitteldorf, PhD
Josh is well-known in the life-extension community, for looking deep into the literature and connecting the dots. We'll get his take on some interesting longevity-related topics. After 30 years wandering in the plasma physics of extragalactic radio sources, Mitteldorf came to the study of aging in 1996 to correct a fundamental error in the foundations of evolutionary theory. After 20 years, the revolution in biological concept of aging that he initiated is only now coming to fruition
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Typical dieting can be a chore. An alternative is to eat less (or not at all) during certain time periods, otherwise known as fasting. This is the first trial to compare regular calorie restriction to alternate-day fasting.
The high cost of high heat cooking
The delicious browning and crusting of steak or chicken could also be harmful. This one-year long randomized trial looked at high-heat cooking versus gentler cooking, and its impact on insulin resistance.
Interview: Courtney Silverthorn, PhD
Are you in the life sciences, but not sure if you want to work in a lab? Courtney is uniquely qualified to give advice about this.
Does being insulin resistant affect weight loss on a low-fat or low-carb diet?
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Examining the potential for edible sunscreen
Phytochemicals in plants are well known to have positive effects on chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. But certain ones could also help you avoid ... sunburn.