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Physiol Rep. 2018 Jan;6(2). doi: 10.14814/phy2.13575.

Dietary nitrate-induced increases in human muscle power: high versus low responders.

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Departments of Kinesiology, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Cellular and Integrative Physiology, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Departments of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.
Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.


Maximal neuromuscular power is an important determinant of athletic performance and also quality of life, independence, and perhaps even mortality in patient populations. We have shown that dietary nitrate (NO3- ), a source of nitric oxide (NO), improves muscle power in some, but not all, subjects. The present investigation was designed to identify factors contributing to this interindividual variability. Healthy men (n = 13) and women (n = 7) 22-79 year of age and weighing 52.1-114.9 kg were studied using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. Subjects were tested 2 h after ingesting beetroot juice (BRJ) either containing or devoid of 12.3 ± 0.8 mmol of NO3- . Plasma NO3- and nitrite (NO2- ) were measured as indicators of NO bioavailability and maximal knee extensor speed (Vmax ), power (Pmax ), and fatigability were determined via isokinetic dynamometry. On average, dietary NO3- increased (P < 0.05) Pmax by 4.4 ± 8.1%. Individual changes, however, ranged from -9.6 to +26.8%. This interindividual variability was not significantly correlated with age, body mass (inverse of NO3- dose per kg), body mass index (surrogate for body composition) or placebo trial Vmax or fatigue index (in vivo indicators of muscle fiber type distribution). In contrast, the relative increase in Pmax was significantly correlated (r = 0.60; P < 0.01) with the relative increase in plasma NO2- concentration. In multivariable analysis female sex also tended (P = 0.08) to be associated with a greater increase in Pmax. We conclude that the magnitude of the dietary NO3- -induced increase in muscle power is dependent upon the magnitude of the resulting increase in plasma NO2- and possibly female sex.


Fiber type; isokinetic dynamometry; nitric oxide; sex differences

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