Dietary Nitrates and Athletic Performance

Hey there party people!

Today is Wednesday, Day 3: Week 2 of The Last Quarter of Undergrad.

What uppp!

So I have an interesting nutritional factoid I’d like to share with you all.

Perhaps because it’s spring and people are out moving more, I seem to be getting more and more questions about “Power Foods” for athletes.

Let’s start with the base.

Due to constant wear and tear, it has been suggested that athlete’s follow a low-inflammation diet that’s rich in omega-3s, such as the Mediterranean Diet, which I am a big fan of!

Good daily diet :: Better overall training :: Stronger performance during competition.

Makes sense, right?

So what about when you need that little somethin’ somethin’ when you can hear the competition coming up behind you?

Recent studies suggest that natural plant nitrates (which is found in all vegetables) may help enhance athletic performance without increasing oxygen consumption needs.

In the Journal of the ACSM, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, a performance evaluation of the effect of plant nitrates (specifically beetroot juice) was published.  Participants who consumed 300-500 mg of dietary nitrates two hours before cycling time trials of 4K and 16K distances improved power output by 11 seconds (4K) and 45 seconds (16K).  Therefore, it is suggested that consuming dietary nitrates has the potential to improve performance in events lasting five to 30 minutes.

Now, hold up.  Do not go out and start buying up lunch meats packed with nitrates.  When you mix protein and nitrates, a carcinogenic effect occurs.  Lunch meats = BAD!  We are talking plants only.

Let’s talk about some sources of dietary nitrates!

Very High Levels of Dietary Nitrates (more than 250 mg/100g):

  • Celery
  • Cress
  • Chervil
  • Lettuce
  • Beetroot
  • Spinach
  • Arugla

High Levels of Dietary Nitrates (100-250 mg/100g):

  • Celeriac
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Parsley

Normal People Serving Sizes:

  • 1 C Raw Spinach = 900 mg of nitrate
  • 1/2 C Cooked Collard Greens = 200 mg of nitrate
  • 1 C Raw Leaf Lettuce = 100 mg of nitrate
  • 1/2 C Vegetable Juice = 40 mg of nitrate

Pretty freakin’ cool, huh?

Give it a try!  I am all in for performance enhancing natural foods!  {Food being the key word there.}

Let me know if you try it and feel.the.power!

Have an awesome Wednesday!

Today’s Dietitian
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise


3 thoughts on “Dietary Nitrates and Athletic Performance

  1. Pingback: My Last Day | On the Road to RD

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