Experts in Sport: How can dietary nitrates improve elite level athlete performance?

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This week’s ‘Experts in Sport’ podcast focuses on how dietary nitrates – found mainly in vegetables, such as beetroot, lettuce, spinach, and radishes – can maximise performance in elite-level athletes.

Guest host Dr Martin Lindley, Senior Lecturer and Director of Biosciences, is joined by Dr Stephen Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition and Martin Foster (Applied Sport Management Lead), as a number of topics, including the potential benefits of supplementation, are discussed.

“The most recognised health benefit of nitrates seemed to be linked to improvements in vascular health…it has been appreciated that nitrate can be converted into nitrite then into nitric oxide which can have a positive influence on a wide array of biological processes,” Dr Bailey explained.

“This includes opening up blood vessels to allow more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles during exercise. The main dietary source of nitrate, around 60—80%, comes in the form of vegetables but they are not all equal in their nitrate content.”

“Beetroot is probably the most recognised nitrate rich food, but nitrate is also quite abundant in rocket, spinach, lettuce. If athletes are interested in increasing their intake the best way is to create a large salad.”


During the podcast, the panel also discuss which athlete disciplines could benefit most from an increased nitrate intake and how vegan athletes - with their heavy plant-based diets - fair in these circumstances.

Alongside mental well-being, Dr Bailey also cites some of the latest research to explain how nitric oxide impacts physiology and aids muscle performance.

The full episode of this podcast can be found above and listeners can subscribe to the series by visiting Buzzsprout.  

The 'Experts in Sport' podcast is a regular series that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia.