Introduction: Increasing nitric oxide bioavailability via supplementation with nitrate-rich beetroot juice (BR) has been shown to attenuate the negative effect of hypoxia on peripheral oxygen saturation and exercise tolerance.
Purpose: We investigated the effects of a single dose of concentrated BR on the physiological responses to submaximal exercise and time trial (TT) performance in trained cyclists exposed to moderate simulated altitude (approximately 2500 m).
Methods: Nine competitive amateur male cyclists (age, 28 ± 8 yr; V˙O2peak at altitude, 51.9 ± 5.8 mL·kg−1·min−1) completed four exercise trials consisting of an initial graded test to exhaustion and three performance trials on a cycle ergometer. The performance trials comprised 15 min of submaximal steady-state exercise at 60% maximum work rate and a 16.1-km TT. The second and third trials were preceded by ingestion of either 70 mL of BR or nitrate-depleted BR (PLA) 3 h before exercise.
Results: Plasma nitrate (PLA, 39.1 ± 3.5 µM; BR, 150.5 ± 9.3 µM) and nitrite (PLA, 289.8 ± 27.9 nM; BR, 678.1 ± 103.5 nM) measured immediately before exercise were higher after ingestion of BR compared with that after PLA (P < 0.001, P = 0.004). V˙O2 during steady-state exercise was lower in the BR trial (2542 ± 114 mL·min−1) than that in the PLA trial (2727 ± 85 mL·min−1, P = 0.049). TT performance was significantly faster after BR (1664 ± 14 s) than that after PLA (1702 ± 15 s, P = 0.021).
Conclusion: A single dose of BR lowered V˙O2 during submaximal exercise and enhanced TT performance of trained cyclists in normobaric hypoxia. Consequently, ingestion of BR may be a practical and effective ergogenic aid for endurance exercise at altitude.