As athletes, we are always trying to do something to get stronger, faster, eat cleaner, get leaner, etc. We try new diets, new workout regimens, and new products we see on social media that are supposed to be the “next big thing”. Sometimes, buying up all the supplements on the market isn’t necessary. In fact, many athletes are trying more nutrient-dense foods to improve their athletic performance. One of these food items is beetroot juice and it has become one of the most popular ergogenic supplements for athletes.
So, why beetroot juice? Beetroot is used as a food source and it can also be used medicinally. Beets are a rich source of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, carotenoids, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and nitrate (which is a chemical that occurs naturally in certain foods and is converted to nitric acid when consumed). In short, drinking beet juice raises nitric oxide levels in your body.
This is important because research shows that nitric oxide can increase blood flow, improve lung function, increase muscle contraction, and feed more oxygen to working muscles. This combination of factors has encouraged athletes to take beet juice because of its ability to improve cardiorespiratory endurance and athletic performance.
Several studies have been conducted to examine the benefits of beetroot juice on athletes and their performance. Here are some summaries of what these studies found:
- Beetroot supplementation appears to enhance aerobic performance in male and female athletes.
- Swimmers demonstrated a greater exercise capacity, improved performance, and a decrease in energy expenditure after drinking beet juice.
- Athletes were able to maintain exercise intensities 60-80% longer after drinking beet juice.
- Active healthy adults supplementing with beet juice for 15 days showed an increase in power and oxygen during sustained exercise.
After many different experiments and studies were conducted, researchers concluded that nitrate supplementation (found in beetroot juice) lowers the oxygen demand of exercise and improves performance in endurance sports. Researchers have also found that beet juice is most effective when taken 2 to 3 hours before exercise.
The research shows that there are positive effects to performance for athletes who drink beet juice. One of the easiest ways to get beet juice into your system is to take beetroot powder and mix it with water or in a smoothie. Keep in mind, different athletes may respond to beet juice in different ways and it is not guaranteed to improve your athletic performance.