Consuming nitrate supplementation in combination with Sprint Interval Training in low oxygen conditions could enhance sports performance of an individual, revealed a recent study.
Researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium carried out a study with 27 moderately trained participants, who were given nitrate supplements ahead of Sprint Interval Training (SIT) which took the form of short but intense cycling sessions three times a week.
‘Consuming nitrate supplementation in combination with Sprint Interval Training in low oxygen conditions could enhance sports performance of an individual.’
Nitrate is commonly found in diets rich in leafy green foods like spinach and is important for the functioning of the human body, especially during exercise. To assess differences in performance in different conditions, the study included workouts in normal oxygen conditions and in hypoxia conditions, which are low oxygen levels such as those found in high altitudes.
The observations were unexpected: after only five weeks, the muscle fiber composition changed with the enhanced nitrate intake when training in low oxygen conditions. Expert in the felid Peter Hespel said, "This is probably the first study to demonstrate that a simple nutritional supplementation strategy, i.e. oral nitrate intake, can impact on training-induced changes in muscle fiber composition."
In fact, exercising at high altitudes has become a training strategy for many athletes albeit the uncertainties about such methods. In these conditions, performing intense workouts requires high input of fast-oxidative muscle fibers to sustain power. Enhancing these muscle fiber types through nutritional intake could very well boost the performance in these types of events. However, this remains a question mark for the time being.
"Whether this increase in fast-oxidative muscle fibers eventually can also enhance exercise performance remains to be established," said Hespel. However, he cautioned that consistent nitrate intake in conjunction with training must not be recommended until the safety of chronic high-dose nitrate intake in humans has been clearly demonstrated.
The observations were published in Frontiers in Physiology