rider taking hydration gel

Image credit: Chris Sansom

Endurance sports require the right nutrition to keep you going for longer. Dr James Morton from SiS gives us an overview of how nitrates can help to improve your performance during endurance races and training workouts.

Background on endurance sports performance

The determinants of performance in endurance sports can be categorised as:

  • Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max)
  • Lactate threshold (the point at which blood lactate increases above baseline levels)
  • Efficiency or economy (the oxygen required to produce a given running speed or cycling power output)

In populations with similar performance characteristics (VO2 max¬ and lactate threshold), efficiency is a better predictor of performance. Essentially, those who can expend less energy and use less oxygen at higher workloads are likely to perform better.

Supplementing with sport nutrition products rich in nitrates can have a direct impact on efficiency and as a result, improve your performance during your rides.

What does the research say?

Research has suggested that ingested nitrates are reduced to nitrite and nitric oxide on the tongue, in the stomach, within our circulatory system and in the muscle. As nitric oxide is important in several processes that may support or enhance exercise performance, it's perhaps this nitrate-to-nitrite-to-nitric oxide journey that is crucial when considering the performance-enhancing capacity of nitrate supplementation. Following intake, blood nitrate concentration peaks after 1-2 hours and blood nitrite peaks after 2-3 hours. The body stores of nitrate and nitrite may also be increased through dietary intake.

Short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) nitrate supplementation strategies may enhance performance, with chronic strategies perhaps providing greater benefit. In addition, emerging evidence may provide rationale for nitrate ingestion during exercise.

Using a combination of chronic loading, an acute dose and intra-session intake, plasma nitrate was significantly elevated after 90 minutes of riding. Plasma nitrite was significantly elevated after 120 minutes of riding when compared to chronic and acute dosing only. This elevated plasma nitrate and nitrite attenuated the rise in oxygen uptake from 30-120 minutes compared to placebo, resulting in a reduced oxygen cost of exercise for those using nitrates during exercise.

cyclist taking nutrition out of pocket whilst cycling

Image credit: Chris Sansom

Brand New Range from Science in Sport

The Performance Nitrates range from Science in Sport has been formulated to deliver effective doses of dietary nitrates to support loading, pre-exercise and intra-exercise usage occasions. The range of gels, bars, powders and shots use Rhubarb Juice Concentrate and Amaranthus Leaf Extract as unique sources of nitrates, providing a superior taste profile and delivering a higher nitrate dose compared to anything else on the market.

Performance Nitrate Loading Shot

  • 500mg nitrate per 60ml shot

Performance Nitrate Intra Bar

  • 30g carbohydrate and 250mg nitrate per 50g bar.

Performance Nitrate In Session Gel

  • 20g carbohydrate and 250mg nitrate per 60ml gel


Shop Science in Sport Performance Nitrates


Take Home Messages

  1. Supplementing with nitrates can improve running economy or cycling efficiency, by reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.
  2. Chronic loading can further enhance performance compared to just pre-race strategies, taking upwards of 1000mg nitrate per day for 3-7 days prior to a competition.
  3. The Performance Nitrate powder, shot and bar can be used as loading products.
  4. The Performance Nitrate Intra Bar and In Session Gel can be used during exercise, delivering both carbohydrate and nitrate at this time.

How to use Performance Nitrate


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