I have witnessed beetroot juice become more and more popular of the past couple of reasons and it is not just the latest health kick craze. There are actually quite a few studies behind its use for an increase in exercise performance, as well as general health.
Beetroot is a deep purple coloured vegetable most popularly bought pickled and sliced into a jar, although it can be cooked and eaten in a number of different ways.
The NHS have produced a good article on some current evidence about this little purple vegetable.
This 2013 study found that regular beetroot juice consumption can help to reduce blood pressure, which will make sense a little bit later.
In 2010, this study concluded that consuming beetroot juice would improve blood flow to the brain (again this make sense soon).
There are numerous studies claiming the benefit of consuming beetroot juice to enhance exercise performance.
How does beetroot juice make the body perform better?
It all comes down something called “nitrates”, of which beetroot contains a high amount of.
What do nitrates do?
Nitrates produce a response in the body that helps to open the blood vessels in the body, therefore allowing more blood and oxygen to flow through. Make a small circle with your thumb and forefinger, now slowly make that circle a little bigger. That is a simple way of understanding what the blood vessels are doing.
So how does it help?
Well, more oxygen allows the muscles to work for a longer time before they become tired. So you won’t notice the benefits in your mental energy levels, but your muscles will take longer before they start to fatigue.
That’s so cool, so where else can we find these “nitrates”?
Nitrates occur naturally in the body anyway, but we can increase the abundance of them through our diet e.g. beetroot.
Celery, lettuce, radishes, rocket and spinach all have an abundance of nitrates and are the main source for the body.
So how much beetroot juice do we need to consume to see these benefits?
Usually more doesn’t always mean better in our diets. In the case of beetroot juice, it is a little different. 300ml is enough to see a difference in performance, but doubling this to 600ml can see an even bigger increase in performance. Although there is little suggest, much more than this will provide a bigger benefit.
I would suggest, start small and work your way up to larger does if you wish. Your digestive system won’t thank you if you start downing half a litre of beetroot juice straight off.
Oh, and it takes time to work into the body, consume it at least an hour before exercise.