The effect of variable doses of inorganic nitrate-rich beetroot juice on simulated 2,000-m rowing performance in trained athletes

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014 Jul;9(4):615-20. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2013-0207. Epub 2013 Sep 30.


Context: Beetroot juice is a naturally rich source of inorganic nitrate (NO(3-)), a compound hypothesized to enhance endurance performance by improving exercise efficiency.

Purpose: To investigate the effect of different doses of beetroot juice on 2000-m ergometer-rowing performance in highly trained athletes.

Methods: Ten highly trained male rowers volunteered to participate in a placebo-controlled, double-blinded crossover study. Two hours before undertaking a 2000-m rowing-ergometer test, subjects consumed beetroot juice containing 0 mmol (placebo), 4.2 mmol (SINGLE), or 8.4 mmol (DOUBLE) NO(3-). Blood samples were taken before supplement ingestion and immediately before the rowing test for analysis of plasma [NO(3-)] and [nitrite (NO(2-))].

Results: The SINGLE dose demonstrated a trivial effect on time to complete 2000 m compared with placebo (mean difference: 0.2 ± 2.5 s). A possibly beneficial effect was found with DOUBLE compared with SINGLE (mean difference -1.8 ± 2.1 s) and with placebo (-1.6 ± 1.6 s). Plasma [NO(2-)] and [NO(3-)] demonstrated a dose-response effect, with greater amounts of ingested nitrate leading to substantially higher concentrations (DOUBLE > SINGLE > placebo). There was a moderate but insignificant correlation (r = -.593, P = .055) between change in plasma [NO(2-)] and performance time.

Conclusion: Compared with nitratedepleted beetroot juice, a high (8.4 mmol NO(3-)) but not moderate (4.2 mmol NO(3-)) dose of NO(3-) in beetroot juice, consumed 2 h before exercise, may improve 2000-m rowing performance in highly trained athletes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Beta vulgaris*
  • Beverages*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrates / administration & dosage*
  • Nitrates / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / administration & dosage*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / blood
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / blood
  • Plant Roots
  • Sports*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Nitrates
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Plant Extracts