Beet Juice: Nature’s Performance Enhancer
Hi guys, Performance Coach Sean Maguire here to talk to you today about Beet Juice, and how it can possibly help you perform at a higher level on your future endurance based workouts. Most all of us are looking for a way to boost our energy and performance output when we participate in a sport with an endurance component such as cycling, rugby, running, or soccer. For this, we tend to grab something like an energy drink or coffee. These substances can give us a spike of energy (mainly through the caffeine and sugar in these products) but they do not offer a lot in the way of benefiting health or enhancing performance. Once the caffeine and sugar leaves your system after a short period of time, it can lead to a “crashing” effect where your insulin level plummets, rendering one to feel fatigue.
I have another option for you, and one that is 100% natural, Beet Juice. There are a lot of emerging studies suggesting that beet juice contains some of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and nitrates (which energy drinks and coffee lack) that help improve blood flow and blood pressure throughout the entire body (1). When digested, the body converts the nitrates in beet root juice into nitric oxide (a gas that causes blood vessels to relax and widen). This reaction allows more oxygen-rich blood to flow throughout the body. This results in more oxygen to reach the muscles, resulting in the muscles to be able to perform at a much higher intensity than they normally would (2).
I am not trying to confuse you with all this technical jargon, but put simply, a 2009 study done at England’s Exeter University discovered that competitive cyclists who consumed about 16 ounces of beet root juice before they got on their bikes were able to ride 16 % longer because of the nitrates’ in the beet juice ability to reduce oxygen uptake, making exercise less tiring (3).
On a personal note, I have recently begun consuming beet root juice prior to my endurance based workouts. Just last week I lowered my personal record on a 5 mile run by a staggering fifty seven seconds (I understand this could be a placebo effect, or that I was just having a great day), but I felt much more energized throughout the run and I will take that saved time any day, as I am sure you will too if you are just a recreational or more professional athlete.
If you are interested in giving beet root juice a try, you can find it at most health food stores. I purchase my Biotta Beet Juice at our local Jimbo’s, but have also bought it at vitacost.com which has great prices, and delivery was quick and cheap. Be warned, beet root juice has a distinctive earthy flavor, and the powerful red dye from the beet root juice can give your excreted urine and stools a reddish appearance.
I found a recipe by Olympic Training Center senior executive chef Jacque Hamilton who gave this to the United States Olympic athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. Pour four ounces of beet root juice, four ounces of fresh-squeezed orange juice, six ounces of fresh cubed pineapple (the orange juice and pineapple add sweetness to the drink to take away the bitter taste of the beet root juice), and two cups of crushed ice into a blender and mix (4). Consume this cocktail at least one hour before exercise as to let the beet root juice too thoroughly enter the blood stream.
Good luck and I look forward to speaking with you all to see if you have had similar beneficial results with the beet juice.
All the best,
Ready to take your health & fitness to the next level with Coach Sean?
1. Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD. The Truth About Beetroot Juice, WebMD Expert Column, 2011.
2. Gordy Megroz, Never Miss A Beet, Outside Magazine, June 2012.
3. Bailey, S. Journal of Applied Physiology; October 2009; vol 107: pp. 1144-1155
4. Nick Heil, Pro Secrets: The Magic Drink. Outside Magazine, March 2013.