What’s up with Beet Juice?
Red Beet Root Juice is a natural beverage that contains a high amount of Nitrates (NO3). It is because of these beautiful nitrates that the juice is now in high demand among endurance athletes. The nitrates provide two physiological effects. The first being that they widen the blood vessels, and therefore reduces blood pressure, thus protecting the heart and subsequently allowing more blood to flow through. The second is that they improve exercise economy by reducing the amount of oxygen that is actually needed by the muscles for a given work rate during activity. (ScienceDaily; July 1, 2011) This means that the oxygen cost of exercise has decreased, which improves exercise economy. Difficult efforts become easier based on the fact that more oxygen is getting to the muscles, and the muscles now require less oxygen to perform their task. Thus, a certain work rate for the muscles can be maintained for a longer duration due to a slower rate of fatigue.
Beet Root Juice’s Place in Athletics
Now that a basic understanding of the physiological benefits has been established, here is a look at the scientific research actually done with beet juice. In my opinion, the fact that research at universities is even being done with beet juice is a very good thing as it lends credibility to the notion that Red Beet Juice can enhance performance of athletes at a noticeable level.
Here are the cold hard facts that were published by the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise online site in April of 2011. (The study took place at the Universi ty of Exeter.)
• Drinking 500 mL of beet juice 2.5 hours before a cycling TT improved:
• 4 km TT time by 2.8% (6.26 minutes vs. 6.45 minutes)
• 10 mile TT by 2.7% (26.9 minutes vs. 27.7 minutes)
• The study utilized a placebo that was beet juice with the nitrates taken out, making it possible for the subjects to drink the beet juice without knowing which one contained the active ingredient.
• Bottom Line: The cycling improvement shown by the testing came from only one dose of 500 mL of beet juice, consumed 2.5 hours before the event – which is just about the time you would be eating your pre-race breakfast for a half or full ironman. It is also worth noting that in order to achieve the dose of nitrates from beet juice you would have to eat almost 7 pounds of lettuce!
Sources of Dietary Nitrate
Dietary nitrate is different from pharmaceutical sodium nitrate in that it is naturally occurring. It is also perfectly legal for all athletes to use. Dietary nitrate can be found in many vegetables; so for those who find the taste of beet root juice to be unpleasant, there is no need to worry! The doses of nitrate that were used in the research done at the University of Exeter were between 300 to 500mg.
Here is a list of vegetables that are rich in dietary nitrate:
-Arugula -Red Beetroot
-Lettuce (1 cup raw leaf lettuce = 100mg)
-Spinach (1 cup cooked = 900mg of nitrate)
What this means is that adding these foods to your diet really can’t be a bad thing. Although they might not sound as enticing as potato chips and popcorn they could be bolstering your athletic performance, and that’s worth it, right? As I mentioned before, these vegetables are high in nitrate content but still the most effective way to enhance athletic performance using nitrates seems to be by drinking Beet Root Juice, which can be purchased online at www.biottajuices.com and at most local health or whole food stores. (ie: Lorie’s Natural Food Store in Rochester, NY)
I personally recommend the Beet Root Juice made by Biotta Naturals, as it contains one of the highest nitrate doses available. The Biotta Beet Root Juice is presented in a very classy bottle as shown above and is easily storable in the fridge or wine cellar if you are looking to make it blend in . . . your friends will never know the difference! Heck, you could even start to substitute Red Beet Juice for your evening glass of Cabernet during ladies night and no one would be wise to it.
WARNING: Your urine may turn to a pinkish (red) hue, rest assure that this is due to the dark nature of the juice.
Matt Curbeau found the sport of triathlon in the summer of 2009 and has been full steam ahead ever since. He was a former football, basketball and baseball player in high school and played college baseball at St. John Fisher College, where he graduated with a degree in Accounting. After spending three years in Public Accounting, Matt left the corporate world to pursue his passion within the sport of triathlon. This passion has taken Matt to many amazing places and most recently, has brought him back to his hometown of Penn Yan, NY, where he continues to search for a balanced life.
Matt is an NWT Coach and Columnist and is currently training for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas in September, as well as the Ironman World Championship in Kona in October. Matt brings his in-depth knowledge and tremendous enthusiasm for the sport to everyone around him. We are thrilled to have him contribute to the website with his reviews of gear, products, and all things triathlon.