Beetroot Juice For Performance Enhancement
So why beet juice? (Or beetroot juice, as it’s sometimes known, they’re the same thing.)
The key is the very high level of nitrate found in the juice. The body transforms nitrate into nitrite, and then into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has two major effects on an athlete. The first is that it causes blood vessels to dilate, so you can provide more blood through them, and simultaneously, it seems to make the mitochondria more efficient, so they are able to create the same energy while consuming less oxygen. So you really have two things happening. Lower oxygen cost because the mitochondria are more efficient, and then you have a higher oxygen supply—in terms of performance, that’s a pretty good combination.
However we’re commonly told that nitrates and nitrites are potentially dangerous, and that we should limit our consumption of them. The fear is that inside the body, nitrates and nitrites can combine with meat proteins to form compounds known as nitrosamines. There is some evidence that these compounds are carcinogenic, which is the reason that most health organizations advise that we limit our intake of cured meats like bacon and hot dogs, which use sodium nitrite in the curing process.
But when it came to beetroots, especially when it comes to athletic performance. As opposed to cured meat, beet juice contains nitrate, not nitrite, and there’s no protein that could lead to the formation of nitrosamines. Other vegetables also have high levels of nitrate, including spinach, celery, and chard. They presumably could have similar effects, but such studies haven’t been conducted yet.
The latest scientific research has shown that beetroot and certain other vegetables can help to boost stamina and physical performance. A recent study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that drinking beetroot juice enabled competitive-level cyclists to win more races.
The results of the study demonstrated that the juice made the cyclists’ muscles and cardio-vascular system run more efficiently since they had a higher power output for the same level of effort. The research builds on a previous study which showed that drinking beetroot juice can boost stamina, allowing an individual to exercise for up to 16% longer.
A drink of 250ml of beetroot juice or two beetroots have been found beneficial. Recent studies have demonstrated that both single doses of beetroot juice prior to exercise( 2 hours) and protocols of daily juicing for 3-14 days are associated with a consistent enhancement of exercise economy (reduced oxygen cost of exercise).
• Choose beetroot which are firm and free from holes, cracks or other blemishes that go deep into the beet. Use the leaves also.
• Wash the beetroot under running water to remove any possible traces of patricides.
• If you purchase beet juice, avoid products that contain added sugars or preservatives, but juicing your own is much better.
• Store my beets in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Recipe – Beetroot & Berry Smoothie
• 2 Beetroot, chopped (or 250ml beetroot juice)
• 25g / ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
• 100g / 2/3 cup strawberries
• 1 mandarin orange peeled
• 100ml rice milk or coconut milk
• 100ml water
Place in a blender or smoothie maker for 1 minute.
Makes approx. 500mls.