This study tested the hypothesis that watermelon juice supplementation would improve nitric oxide bioavailability and exercise performance. Eight healthy recreationally-active adult males reported to the laboratory on two occasions for initial testing without dietary supplementation (control condition). Thereafter, participants were randomly assigned, in a cross-over experimental design, to receive 16 days of supplementation with 300 mL·day(-1) of a watermelon juice concentrate, which provided ∼3.4 g l-citrulline·day(-1) and an apple juice concentrate as a placebo. Participants reported to the laboratory on days 14 and 16 of supplementation to assess the effects of the interventions on blood pressure, plasma [l-citrulline], plasma [l-arginine], plasma [nitrite], muscle oxygenation and time-to-exhaustion during severe-intensity exercise. Compared to control and placebo, plasma [l-citrulline] (29 ± 4, 22 ± 6 and 101 ± 23 μM), [l-arginine] (74 ± 9, 67 ± 13 and 116 ± 9 μM) and [nitrite] (102 ± 29, 106 ± 21 and 201 ± 106 nM) were higher after watermelon juice supplementation (P < 0.01). However, systolic blood pressure was higher in the watermelon juice (130 ± 11) and placebo (131 ± 9) conditions compared to the control condition (124 ± 8 mmHg; P < 0.05). The skeletal muscle oxygenation index during moderate-intensity exercise was greater in the watermelon juice condition than the placebo and control conditions (P < 0.05), but time-to-exhaustion during the severe-intensity exercise test (control: 478 ± 80, placebo: 539 ± 108, watermelon juice: 550 ± 143 s) was not significantly different between conditions (P < 0.05). In conclusion, while watermelon juice supplementation increased baseline plasma [nitrite] and improved muscle oxygenation during moderate-intensity exercise, it increased resting blood pressure and did not improve time-to-exhaustion during severe-intensity exercise. These findings do not support the use of watermelon juice supplementation as a nutritional intervention to lower blood pressure or improve endurance exercise performance in healthy adults.
Keywords: Blood pressure; Fatigue; Metabolism; Muscle oxygenation; Nitric oxide; l-arginine.
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