Spinach Linked With Enhancing Muscle Performance

While it turns out that Gaston (from Beauty and The Beast) and his five dozen eggs for breakfast are not the best recommendation in the world, it seems we can put our faith in Popeye and his spinach consumption! It was previously thought that the iron content was the secret but it turns out that it is the nitrate in spinach which may be the secret to improving muscle performance. Dietary nitrate is a possible source for systemic generation of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is known to be a powerful vasodilator which helps to lower blood pressure and improve circulation. A serving of 300g of spinach per day can increase muscle efficiency and oxygen delivery during bouts of exercise. It has also been linked with preventing energy wastage from the mitochondria (power house of the cell) through heat loss and with having a profound effect on intracellular calcium which increases contractile force in fast-twitch muscles fibres.

The potential benefits of consuming spinach span from sub-maximal exercise to high-intensity work rates.


Furber JD, Nutrition, Diet and Supplementation for Peak Physical and Mental Performance, 2011.

Cermak NM, Gibala MJ, van Loon LJC, Nitrate Supplementation’s Improvement of 10km Time-Trial Performance in Trained Cyclists, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2012, 22, 64-71.

About the Author

Job Role Sports Nutritionist and Social Media Coordinator Qualifications Bsc Sport and Exercise Science Steph has a competitive athletic background which spans 19 years. As a child she performed with the English Youth Ballet and had performed on the West End stage by the age of 10. Her enthusiasm for sport and fitness continued to grow as she did, encouraging her to learn more about nutrition and training. She began using her knowledge and personal experience to help others when she began coaching at the age of 16. From here, she went on to study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Essex during which time she also received the Most Promising Newcomer Award from her University to mark her outstanding contribution to sport. During her first year of study she was introduced to partner stunt acrobatics and artistic gymnastics. After one year of dedicating herself to a lifestyle revolving around her sport, she was training with the best team in the UK who are currently ranked fifth in the world. Steph has worked in both the private and public sector coaching children and adults from grassroot to elite level as well as providing them with cutting edge advice on how to reach their goals. Steph has received awards for her choreography and has competed nationally and internationally meaning that she can back up her scientific knowledge with a wealth of experience. As our resident Sports Nutritionist, Steph is here to provide the most current and evidence based fitness, health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
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