Updated: Jan 17
Dietary nitrate is becoming widespread in supplements and more of us are getting switched on to the importance of blood flow.
Nitrates pre-curse nitric oxide, which increases vasodilation. This means it improves blood flow and oxygen uptake.
For most athlete's they may see an improvement in digestion enhancing nutrient uptake but also allowing increasing digestive capacity.
Nitrates are important for athletes because they can help improve physical performance and reduce fatigue. Nitrates can help increase blood flow, which can provide more oxygen and nutrients to muscles and help athletes to perform better. Nitrates can also provide muscle cells with the energy they need to contract and relax, allowing athletes to perform at higher levels.
It all starts... with beetroot
Nitrates come from many foods, including leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens, as well as root vegetables like celery and carrots. Nitrates can also be found in some beverages like beetroot juice.
Beetroot contains a high concentration of nitrates and beetroot juice has been found to improve endurance, reduce fatigue, and improve blood flow.
How much do we need?
The amount of nitrate an athlete needs depends on the sport and the intensity of activity. Generally, athletes should aim to get between 2 and 6 milligrams of nitrate per kilogram of body weight per day.
For a 75kg athlete that's between 150mg and 450mg per day.
Approximately one cup (250ml) of beetroot juice contains about 450mg of nitrate, and one medium-sized beetroot contains about 250mg of nitrate.
Most people may therefore get enough nitrates by including just one beetroot per day.
The effects on the brain and liver
Nitrates can help improve liver function by increasing the production of nitric oxide, which can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow in the liver. Nitrates can also help reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which can help reduce the risk of liver damage.
Nitrates can help protect against any negative side effects of a high protein diet by improving the body's ability to break down and use protein. Nitrates can also help reduce the levels of urea in the bloodstream, which can reduce the risk of kidney damage.
Nitrates can improve cognitive function, including memory and focus.
Furthermore, nitrates can help reduce inflammation, which can help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Just one beet
It is very simple to add beetroot to your day, by including it in shakes, smoothies, leafy salads, grain salads or even roasted with other root vegetables for sides to meats or as vegan mains.
For any athletic performer, improving physical performance and reducing fatigue is vital for creating results. Nitrates can help increase blood flow, provide more oxygen and nutrients to muscles, and provide muscle cells with the energy they need to contract and relax.