Nitrate Supplements and Endurance Sports Performance

Nitrate Supplements and Endurance Sports Performance

Nitrate Supplements are a type of performance-improving product with a growing body of scientific evidence backing their effectiveness.

Nitrate Supplementation to Improve Performance Levels

Nitrate can be reduced to nitrite and nitric oxide, and the latter has several vital functions:

  • neurotransmission,
  • vascular control or blood flow regulation, such as vasodilation and vasoconstriction,
  • mitochondrial respiration,
  • skeletal muscle contraction, and
  • glucose and calcium homeostasis.

In one study, they found that sodium nitrate intake was associated with a reduction in the oxygen consumption in cyclists, meaning more efficiency.


Therefore, since efficiency and economy are considered key aspects of endurance exercise performance, nitrate supplements can be used as ergogenic aids in endurance-based activities.

Nitrates also fulfil other functions such as lowering pressure and attenuating oxidative stress. Given these properties, nitrate is commonly used as a pharmacological aid to treat cardiovascular pathologies.

In addition to its therapeutic use, nitrate supplementation has recently been studied for its potential to improve physical performance.

Benefits of Nitrate Supplements

Improved efficacy has been observed with nitrate supplementation because of a decrease in pulmonary oxygen consumption, as well as a decrease in steady-state oxygen consumption after 2 hours of nitrate ingestion, which can be maintained for 15 days.


Nitrate is converted to nitrite and nitrite is converted to nitric oxide, which provides a second pathway, especially when oxygen levels aren’t very high, because this pathway is less dependent on oxygen.

It improves the effectiveness of muscle contraction, which is very important in aerobic endurance sports. There’s a lower ATP cost of muscle contraction for the same strength production (i.e., an improvement in the efficiency of muscle contraction).

This is hugely important, because if less ATP is used, less phosphate accumulates, which is harmful to muscle contraction, and we better preserve the decrease in phosphocreatine, which reduces muscle fatigue.

There is also lower oxygen consumption for the same rate of oxidative ATP resynthesis.

Football player

That’s to say, an improvement in mitochondrial efficiency, which causes a greater ATP produced by oxygen used.

Exercise efficiency is one of the key physiological components that predict endurance exercise performance, as it directly determines the speed or power that can be maintained at a particular rate of oxygen consumption.

How do you take Nitrates?

In addition, it has been shown in several studies to provide greater improvements in performance if ingested chronically (about 15 days prior to competition) compared to acutely (about 2.5 hours prior to competition).


Tips on how to finish an Ironman.

The Best Ergogenic Aids for Runners.

Nitric Oxide in the Absence of Oxygen

The reduction of nitrate to nitric oxide serves to improve the transport and use of oxygen, a key limiting factor of endurance in hypoxic conditions (oxygen-deprived).

Nitric oxide causes a delay in the onset of fatigue.

Track and Field 5000-metres run.

Track and Field 5000-metres run.

Studies have shown an increase in arterial and muscle oxygenation after nitrate supplementation during exercise simulating a 5000m run after nitrate supplementation.

The latest on Nitrates

At present, research into nitrates as an ergogenic aid to exercise performance is in its infancy but is progressing, and before long it promises to be scientifically proven to help improve sports performance.

This is being demonstrated by the many studies that are coming out every week.


Most studies report a favourable outcome for nitrate supplementation.

However, as is usually the case with nutritional supplements, it’s necessary to develop protocols for optimal use:
  • Knowing in which sports and environments nitrate supplements may be most useful, and
  • Refining the procedure on how they are used, with a particular focus on the amount, time and quality (i.e. source of nitrates) of supplementation.


Current studies suggest that a small performance boost can be obtained by taking nitrate-based supplements.

Despite the small size of the effect, these gains can be considered extremely significant in the context of sports performance.

Endurance II

All studies that measured performance in a time trial noted an improvement after nitrate supplementation.

As with all sports supplements, the risk-reward ratio must be considered. Nitrate supplements are presented as a low-risk intervention that can help endurance exercise performance in addition to health.


  1. Webinar José López Chicharro: Ayudas ergogénicas en resistencia aeróbica, un enfoque práctico.
  2. Bailey, S. J., Fulford, J., Vanhatalo, A., Winyard, P. G., Blackwell, J. R., DiMenna, F. J., Jones, A. M. (2010). Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances muscle contractile efficiency during knee-extensor exercise in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology.
  3. Bailey, S. J., Winyard, P., Vanhatalo, A., Blackwell, J. R., DiMenna, F. J., Wilkerson, D. P., Jones, A. M. (2009). Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O-2 cost of low- intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology.
  4. Bescos, R., Sureda, A., Tur, J. A., & Pons, A. (2012). The effect of nitric-oxide-related supplements on human performance. Sports Med.
  5. Carlström, M., Persson, A. E. G., Larsson, E., Hezel, M., Scheffer, P. G., Teerlink, T., Lundberg, J. O. (2011). Dietary nitrate attenuates oxidative stress, prevents cardiac and renal injuries, and reduces blood pressure in salt-induced hypertension. Cardiovascular Research.
  6. Cermak, N. M., Gibala, M. J., & van Loon, L. J. (2012). Nitrate supplementation’s improvement of 10-km time-trial performance in trained cyclists. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism.

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Review of Nitrate Supplements

Athletic Performance Enhancement - 100%

Perfect for Endurance Sports - 100%

Improved Recovery After Exercise - 100%

Reduced Physical Fatigue - 100%


HSN Evaluation: 5 /5
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About Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala
Paloma Sala is an athlete in continuous training to give the best of herself, who has been practising and competing in athletics for more than 20 years.
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