Dietary nitrate supplementation improves rowing performance in well-trained rowers

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Aug;22(4):251-6. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.22.4.251. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Increased plasma nitrate concentrations from dietary sources of nitrate have proven to benefit exercise performance. Beetroot (BR) contains relatively high levels of nitrate (NO₃⁻), which increases nitric oxide stores. This study investigated whether dietary nitrate supplementation, in the form of a BR beverage, would improve rowing performance during ergometer repetitions. In a randomized crossover design, 14 well-trained junior male rowers consumed 500 ml of either BR or placebo (PL) daily for 6 d. After supplementation, rowers completed 6 maximal 500-m ergometer repetitions and times were recorded. A 7-d washout period separated the 2 trials. Blood pressure, oxygen saturation, maximum heart rate, urine (specific gravity, pH, and nitrites), and lactates were collected for analysis at baseline and pre- and postperformance. Changes in the mean with 95% confidence limits were calculated. There was a likely benefit to average repetition time in the BR condition, compared with PL (0.4%, 95% confidence limits, ± 1.0%). In particular, Repetitions 4-6 showed an almost certain benefit in rowing time on BR (1.7%, 95% CL, ± 1.0%). The underlying mechanism for the observed results remains unknown, as differences observed in rowers' physiological measures between the 2 conditions were unclear. Conclusively, nitrate supplementation in the form of BR juice resulted in improved maximal rowing-ergometer repetitions, particularly in the later stages of exercise.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes*
  • Beta vulgaris / chemistry
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet Records
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ergometry
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Exercise*
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lactates / urine
  • Male
  • Nitrates / administration & dosage*
  • Nitrites / urine
  • Sports Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Lactates
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites