Cycling pushes endurance to the brink and our muscles to the max. The reward is at the finish line when you count the miles and look back on the ride. Whether it be indoor training at home, in a spin class, or on the road, cycling success shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s training and supplementation.
Dietary nitrate boosts nitric oxide and enhances cycling endurance at a tested amount of 400 mg of nitrate. Even a well-trained cyclist can harness the energy cycling power of nitrate to increase endurance.
The following guide highlights athletic endurance and strength studies for optimal energy cycling to fuel your rides.
Nitrate delivers sports endurance for cyclists
According to research from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, it was determined that an increase in nitrate-rich plant-based diets are recommended for the following outcomes:
- cardiovascular health
- improved performance
- accelerated recovery
- blood flow
- body composition
- antioxidant capacity
- systemic inflammation
- glycogen storage
- blood pressure
- improve plasma lipid concentrations
- body weight
- blood glucose control
Single-dose nitrate for cycling in high altitude
A study published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that a single dose of beet juice in low oxygen altitudes helped trained cyclists maintain endurance and athletic performance. The study showed that any sport could be enhanced by nitrate when athletes face environmental settings with low oxygen levels. Nitrate helps the body produce more nitric oxide, which reduces the necessary oxygen for performance. Our bodies naturally use this mechanism called vasodilation for survival in low oxygen settings. However, added nitrate from beets and red spinach can push this human ability further for sports.
Nitrate reduces time-to-task cycling failure
Performance fades, and endurance runs dry. But studies, particularly one from the American Physiological Society, showed that supplementation with beet juice significantly improved time-to-task failure during a severe-intensity exercise. The study examined 10 men with varying inorganic nitrate levels and found that benefits maxed out at 140ml of nitrate before an intense workout.
Energy cycling with nitrate to increase prolonged sprints
Prolonged sprints produce cognitive function declines as repetition creates exhaustion and error. However, studies show that powering up with dietary nitrate 2-3 hours before sprinting events improves performance and reduces cognitive function decline.
Increase ride time to exhaustion
Studies on nitrate impact on athletes published in the journal Nutrients demonstrated how beet juice supplementation:
- Increases time-to-exhaustion rates
- Improves efficiency and cycling performance
- Improves cardiorespiratory performance
- Should be taken within 90 min before a ride
- Peak value of nitrate occurs within 2–3 hours after ingestion
- 400 mg of nitrate is required for athletic cycling performance
Go 16% Longer with Nitrate
Key findings from the University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences show that nitrate boosts stamina so much that it can push cyclists to go 16% longer. The impact of nitrate-rich food on reducing the body’s need for oxygen cannot be found in any other supplement or training alone.
What’s the top-rated nitrate source for cyclists? Red spinach
There is a new king of high nitrate plants, and it’s not beets. It’s red spinach, more accurately called amaranth, and contains nearly five times the naturally occurring nitrate of beets. Though an amazing discovery for sports nutrition, amaranth has long been revered by ancient cultures as the ultimate endurance food.
Cyclists are beginning to use “red spinach” as a nitrate upgrade from beets to increase athletic performance and endurance. For the last 6,000 years or more, red spinach has been cultivated in Central America. Ancient cultures revered red spinach for its ability to provide high levels of energy. Today red spinach is still cultivated in the Americas, and science shows its improvements to sports endurance for cyclists.
The nitrate levels in red spinach are off the charts when compared to all other plants we know of. This means enhanced muscle efficiency, reduced fatigue, and increased energy levels for longer, harder rides without added perceived effort. The amount to look for is 400 mg dietary nitrate from food sources..
Like a well-trained cyclist, red spinach can withstand extreme conditions. In particular, the amaranth plant is known to survive high winds, bending like bamboo long before breaking. It thrives in high altitudes, requires less oxygen to thrive, and grows to impressive heights of greater than 6-feet. It’s also drought-tolerant. We tested the red spinach plant by depriving it of sufficient water during a long hot summer, and it was literally the last plant standing.
Energy cycling for muscle recovery
Post-ride recovery is critical to long-term success for cyclists. Sprains, tight muscles, muscle damage, oxidative stress, inflammation, and injury are common but experienced riders know that a pre-workout drink containing anti-inflammatory compounds speeds up healing and recovery. Without the aid of anti-inflammatory additions, cyclists who complete an intense ride or weight training session can experience weakness and soreness for days and even weeks, making it challenging to stick to a regimen.
To maintain a training program, professional cyclists leverage pomegranate juice as a polyphenol powerhouse. Researchers are still trying to understand why pomegranate polyphenols are even more powerful than polyphenols in other fruits. Benefits of pomegranate juice include:
- Decrease oxidative stress
- Reduce inflammatory response
- Reduce free radicals
- Reduce lipid peroxidation and cell damage
- Lowers LDL cholesterol
- Improves vasodilation and circulation
Energy cycling for your next ride
By combining the knowledge from top studies on nitrate, anyone at any level of training can improve their distance, endurance, muscle, and recovery time by increasing nitric oxide production. Here’s the takeaway for cyclists:
- Consume red spinach as it’s currently the top nitrate source
- Be sure to measure 400 mg nitrate per serving
- Take your nitrate 90 minutes before your next ride
- Boost daily to keep nitric oxide levels high
- Combine pomegranate juice for speedy muscle recovery
- Make sure your performance products are clean, plant-based, and measured for nitrate
- Avoid GMOs, added sugar, natural flavors, or unrecognizable ingredients
Enjoy energy cycling with nitrate to fuel your next ride!
Hoon, M. W., Johnson, N. A., Chapman, P. G., & Burke, L. M. (2013). The effect of nitrate supplementation on exercise performance in healthy individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 23(5), 522–532. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.23.5.522
Muggeridge, D. J., Howe, C. C., Spendiff, O., Pedlar, C., James, P. E., & Easton, C. (2014). A single dose of beetroot juice enhances cycling performance in simulated altitude. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 46(1), 143–150. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a1dc51
Barnard, N.D.; Goldman, D.M.; Loomis, J.F.; Kahleova, H.; Levin, S.M.; Neabore, S.; Batts, T.C. Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports. Nutrients 2019, 11, 130. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010130
Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships. Lee J. Wylie, James Kelly, Stephen J. Bailey, Jamie R. Blackwell, Philip F. Skiba, Paul G. Winyard, Asker E. Jeukendrup, Anni Vanhatalo, and Andrew M. Jones. Journal of Applied Physiology 2013115:3, 325-336
Thompson C, Wylie LJ, Fulford J, Kelly J, Black MI, McDonagh ST, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate improves sprint performance and cognitive function during prolonged intermittent exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Sep;115(9):1825-34. doi: 10.1007/s00421-015-3166-0. Epub 2015 Apr 7. PMID: 25846114.
Domínguez R, Cuenca E, Maté-Muñoz JL, et al. Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(1):43. Published 2017 Jan 6. doi:10.3390/nu9010043
University of Exeter. (2009, August 7). Beetroot Juice Boosts Stamina, New Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806141520.htm
Ammar, A., Turki, M., Chtourou, H., Hammouda, O., Trabelsi, K., Kallel, C., Abdelkarim, O., Hoekelmann, A., Bouaziz, M., Ayadi, F., Driss, T., & Souissi, N. (2016). Pomegranate Supplementation Accelerates Recovery of Muscle Damage and Soreness and Inflammatory Markers after a Weightlifting Training Session. PloS one, 11(10), e0160305. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0160305