Take a Page From Popeye
The key to more efficient muscles may be in your spinach salad, according to a new study in Cell Metabolism. Researchers found that adults who took a small dose of inorganic nitrate for three days—an amount easily achieved through a diet rich in vegetables—experienced a 19 percent increase in their P/O ratio, a measure of how much adenosine triphosphate (ATP) your body produces from the oxygen it consumes. During exercise ATP is broken down and used as fuel by your muscles. The healthy participants in this study were able to produce more ATP using less oxygen while cycling. For runners this type of increased efficiency may help make longer, harder workouts feel easier. Researchers believe dietary nitrates produce more nitric oxide, which help reduce the levels of proteins that make mitochondria (the powerhouses of cells) leak energy. For a simple boost, add more lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, turnips and radishes to your diet.
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