Effects of Dietary Nitrates on Time Trial Performance in Athletes with Different Training Status: Systematic Review

Nutrients. 2020 Sep 8;12(9):2734. doi: 10.3390/nu12092734.


Much research has been done in sports nutrition in recent years as the demand for performance-enhancing substances increases. Higher intake of nitrates from the diet can increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO) via the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway. Nevertheless, the increased availability of NO does not always lead to improved performance in some individuals. This review aims to evaluate the relationship between the athlete's training status and the change in time trial performance after increased dietary nitrate intake. Articles indexed by Scopus and PubMed published from 2015 to 2019 were reviewed. Thirteen articles met the eligibility criteria: clinical trial studies on healthy participants with different training status (according to VO2max), conducting time trial tests after dietary nitrate supplementation. The PRISMA guidelines were followed to process the review. We found a statistically significant relationship between VO2max and ergogenicity in time trial performance using one-way ANOVA (p = 0.001) in less-trained athletes (VO2 < 55 mL/kg/min). A strong positive correlation was observed in experimental situations using a chronic supplementation protocol but not in acute protocol situations. In the context of our results and recent histological observations of muscle fibres, there might be a fibre-type specific role in nitric oxide production and, therefore, supplement of ergogenicity.

Keywords: dietary supplements; muscle fibres; nitric oxide; oxygen consumption; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Performance
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Nitrates / pharmacology*
  • Nitric Oxide / pharmacology
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology*
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Nitrates
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Nitric Oxide