Byte-Sized summary: A nitrate-rich diet with spinach, collard greens, banana and pomegranate juice improved athletic performance compared to a control diet of salad, broccoli, orange and cranberry.
Researchers in Italy investigated the effects of eating more nitrates from fruit and vegetables on athletic performance. This is a small crossover study, which means that participants eat one diet, wait for a period (20 days here), and then eat a different diet while keeping activity levels and calories constant.
Here are the results:
[Athletes] were tested before and after 6 days of a high (HND) or control (CD) nitrate diet (~8.2 mmol∙day−1 or ~2.9 mmol∙day−1, respectively). Plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations were significantly higher in HND (127 ± 64 µM and 350 ± 120 nM, respectively) compared to CD (23 ± 10 µM and 240 ± 100 nM, respectively). In HND (vs. CD) were observed: (a) a significant reduction of oxygen consumption during moderate-intensity constant work-rate cycling exercise (1.178 ± 0.141 vs. 1.269 ± 0.136 L·min−1); (b) a significantly higher total muscle work during fatiguing, intermittent sub-maximal isometric knee extension (357.3 ± 176.1 vs. 253.6 ± 149.0 Nm·s·kg−1); (c) an improved performance in Repeated Sprint Ability test. These findings suggest that a high-nitrate diet could be a feasible and effective strategy to improve exercise performance.
Translation: the diet that had raw spinach, cooked collards, banana and pomegranate did the following:
- increased blood nitrates
- reduced oxygen consumption
- improved muscle performance during fatigue
- improved sprint times
Here is the link to the full study.
And, here is the link to a table summary of the diets and nitrates.
One of our favorite ways to get nitrates is in dry vegetable powders that you add to water, juice or a smoothie.
Here is one product, Helivin Greens, that has many high nitrate foods, including beets and spinach. What’s different about this product is that it has pre-biotics and enzymes, for extra digestive health.
More on digestive health soon. Thanks for reading.