The effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on the spatial heterogeneity of quadriceps deoxygenation during heavy-intensity cycling

Physiol Rep. 2017 Jul;5(14):e13340. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13340.


This study investigated the influence of dietary inorganic nitrate (NO3-) supplementation on pulmonary O2 uptake (V˙O2) and muscle deoxyhemoglobin/myoglobin (i.e. deoxy [Hb + Mb]) kinetics during submaximal cycling exercise. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study, eight healthy and physically active male subjects completed two step cycle tests at a work rate equivalent to 50% of the difference between the gas exchange threshold and peak V˙O2 over separate 4-day supplementation periods with NO3--rich (BR; providing 8.4 mmol NO3-∙day-1) and NO3--depleted (placebo; PLA) beetroot juice. Pulmonary V˙O2 was measured breath-by-breath and time-resolved near-infrared spectroscopy was utilized to quantify absolute deoxy [Hb + Mb] and total [Hb + Mb] within the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis There were no significant differences (P > 0.05) in the primary deoxy [Hb + Mb] mean response time or amplitude between the PLA and BR trials at each muscle site. BR significantly increased the mean (three-site) end-exercise deoxy [Hb + Mb] (PLA: 91 ± 9 vs. BR: 95 ± 12 μmol/L, P < 0.05), with a tendency to increase the mean (three-site) area under the curve for total [Hb + Mb] responses (PLA: 3650 ± 1188 vs. BR: 4467 ± 1315 μmol/L sec-1, P = 0.08). The V˙O2 slow component reduction after BR supplementation (PLA: 0.27 ± 0.07 vs. BR: 0.23 ± 0.08 L min-1, P = 0.07) correlated inversely with the mean increases in deoxy [Hb + Mb] and total [Hb + Mb] across the three muscle regions (r2 = 0.62 and 0.66, P < 0.05). Dietary NO3- supplementation increased O2 diffusive conductance across locomotor muscles in association with improved V˙O2 dynamics during heavy-intensity cycling transitions.

Keywords: Heterogeneity; nitrate supplementation; oxygen delivery; oxygen utilization; time resolved near‐infrared spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Myoglobin / metabolism
  • Nitrates / administration & dosage
  • Nitrates / pharmacology*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Myoglobin
  • Nitrates
  • deoxyhemoglobin
  • Oxygen