Supplementation with nitrate—commonly found in diets rich in leafy green vegetables—along with Sprint Interval Training in low oxygen conditions may help enhance an athlete’s sports performance, according to a recent study.

The study included 27 moderately trained participants, each of whom were given nitrate supplements ahead of Sprint Interval Training consisting of short but intense cycling sessions three times per week.

To assess the participants’ performance in different conditions, the researchers—from the University of Leuven in Belgium—had the participants work out in normal oxygen conditions as well as in low oxygen conditions such are found in high altitudes.

According to the study, published in Frontiers in Physiology, after 5 weeks of training, the muscle fiber composition changed with the enhanced nitrate intake when training in low oxygen conditions, according to a media release from Frontiers.

Professor Peter Hespel from the Athletic Performance Center at the University of Leuven, one of the study’s authors, cautions, however, 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.”

But looking to the future, Haspell adds that, “It would now be interesting to investigate whether addition of nitrate-rich vegetables to the normal daily sports diet of athletes could facilitate training-induced muscle fiber type transitions and maybe in the long term also exercise performance.”

[Source(s): Frontiers, Science Daily]