Several studies have suggested the positive influence of beetroot juice on the physiological response to exercise. We briefly take a look at whether or not beets are all they are cracked up to be(et).
Why beetroot juice?
Beets have an extremely high relative nitrate concentration (typically >250mg/100g fresh weight). Once in the body, nitrate converts to nitric oxide using the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide physiological pathway. This means beets provides vascular-based benefits.
And those benefits are…?
There is an ever-growing wealth of research being collected in this area. Some of it suggests that beetroot supplementation aids in acute reductions in O2 cost at the submaximal intensity (increased mitochondrial efficiency), as well as improved blood flow through the conversion of nitric oxide. However, there is also evidence to suggest that benefits may differ depending on your physiological training status. Some research concludes that there are no benefits at all, suggesting that any performance benefit may only be derived from the sugar content of the juice, not the nitrate value itself. In other words: there are potential benefits, but nothing concrete just yet.
How much beetroot juice should I have?
Typically 4-6 days (or 300-500 ml) of regular beetroot juice consumption. Research shows it takes about this amount to reduce the ‘steady state’ O2 cost of submaximal cycle exercise by 5% and time to exhaustion during high-intensity cycling by 16%.
Realistically, one-off hits of nitrate supplementation via beetroot juice is unlikely to increase performance unless you are fairly untrained. Longer dosing periods, however, may well improve some more ‘top-end’ athlete performance who require marginal gains. Regardless of whether you see the results described above, beets still provide other health benefits in general — so it’s worth a shot! Have you ever tried ‘the Purple Warrior’ or other types of fruit/vegetable juices? We’d love to hear what works for you!
This article was originally written by Lee Bell the Muscle Mechanic. He is part of the SportsArts Partner Envisage.