Do I have you inticed? Do you want to be stronger, faster, better? Of course you do!
A simple, safe, inexpensive way of improving your endurance performance and your health at the same time. A win win.
Beetroot or beetroot juice has been shown to increase athletic performance especially when it comes to endurance type of activities. I don’t advocate supplementation (I only recommend Vitamin D and B12) as I believe you should follow a whole foods plant based diet to fulfill your nutrition needs. There are many benefits to eating healthy foods instead of supplementing. As an example, while training for my plant based nutition certificate one study I read concluded that the vitamin C level of participants on the study increased higher than the source of Vitamin C. The study had participants consume an orange and although the oranges had an average of 70mg of Vitamin C their blood measured much higher than the 70mg increase that should have been seen. It was determined that the process of saliva and enzymes excreted during eating actually caused an increase of Vitamin C. Also there are other benefits such as the fiber you get by eating an orange instead of drinking it. Also, the main compound in beets that provide the benefits can have adverse side effects when taken as a supplement but not when consumed in the form of vegetables.
Nitric oxide. Beetroot juice increases levels of nitric oxide (NO), which serves multiple functions related to increased blood flow, blood vessels to widen, stimulates the release of certain hormones, such as insulin and human growth hormone (professional athletes illegally dope with this stuff), mitochondrial biogenesis and efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction. Wow. All this from beets. Why haven’t we heard about this? In my opinion, there’s more money in selling supplements than there is in people eating whole foods. I think too it has to do with how our brain works.
I’ll make a bet with you. I bet more people will pay $20 a month for a pill that would do the above than eat beets. It’s kind of like how placebos work, you are taking a pill believing it’s the pill that will cure what ills you. Opening the bottle that’s labeled with big words we don’t understand, cautioning language that taking too much might be bad. It’s psychology. But put some beetroot on a salad and tell someone that if they eat this it will improve performance they will reach for the bottle instead.
But I digress. Why does beetroot help us perform? Basically it reduces the amount of oxygen needed to do the same work. Our heart rate increases when exercising to provide oxygen to our cells and it does this by increasing the blood flow in our body. If you are very healthy and fit you will have a large stroke volume, the volume of blood pumped with one beat, and you will have a better VO2Max, the efficiency of how your body uses oxygen. A lot of oxygen is needed when running, or performing high cardio output exercising and it can be hard to get. So where you are now with respect to these things is where you are. Think then of consuming beetroot juice or beetroots before an event and then having your oxygen needs reduced. Kind of like training to with 400lb squats to then having to squat 350lbs in an event. You’ll find it easier. Many athletes have found they achieve, no, more than achieve their personal best when competing and taking beetroot juice beforehand.
Interested? Maybe? Even if you aren’t here are other benefits of eating beetroot: a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure and of course, athletic performance.
But if you are interested, incorporate beetroot into your daily diet a few weeks before an event and then the day of the event consume beetroot juice about 90 minutes before the start of the event. Studies show that the peak value of the compound that provides the benefit happens about 2-3 hours after consumption.
Caution: Always try anything new in training first, not the day of the event to avoid gastric issues. NEVER try something new just before an event.
Oh, another reason why I prefer eating the things that make us better instead of supplementing? Price. You can get a 2lb bag of beetroot for under $2.
Try it out. Why not? Makes for great salads, burgers and there are so many health benefits. And your next work out might be that workout where you walked away feeling like a million bucks.
Now go get yourself some beets.
Yours in health,
Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance