Boost your fitness and bounce back stronger with beetroot, writes nutritionist TJ Waterfall.
Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation, lower blood pressure, and lower risk of type-2 diabetes and dementia are just some of the health benefits attributed to beetroot – and specifically, the betanin pigment responsible for its bright purple colouring.
But beetroot also boasts significant performance-enhancing properties, too. A review of 23 individual studies, published in the journal Nutrients, showed that supplementing with beetroot juice can significantly enhance cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes by increasing exercise efficiency, which improves performance at various distances and increases time to exhaustion.
Another review, published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, showed that beetroot juice can also improve performance during high-intensity interval training.
Hard to Beet
It’s all because of the high nitrate content of beets. Once consumed, they’re converted to nitrous oxide, an important signalling molecule that can help improve blood flow to the muscles during exercise, and lower the oxygen cost of exercise through several mechanisms.
The evidence behind the performance-enhancing effects of beetroot juice is so compelling that institutions like the American College of Sports Medicine and the Australian Institute for Sport have documented beetroot juice in systems they use to classify supplements according to the level of scientific evidence backing up their effects on performance.
To reap these benefits yourself, try adding raw beetroot to smoothies or have some roasted beetroot with a pre-training meal. Alternatively, try a cup or two of beetroot juice two to three hours before exercise, or find concentrated beetroot juice ‘shots’, which may be more convenient.
And don’t be alarmed if it causes your urine to turn red or pink – it’s a condition known as beeturia that effects 10-14 per cent of us.
Worth a Shot
Research conducted by Samford University in Alabama indicates that a high nitrate, concentrated beetroot juice shot could help with strength and resistance training. Focusing on bench press, the research showed that beetroot juice isn’t just beneficial for endurance exercise, but also strength and power.
Beet It Nitrate 400 Concentrated Beetroot Shot
£26.25 (for 15), wiggle.co.uk