We know you are wild about Beet Root Juice, so we figured we would give you some more information about it. This post was borrowed from a recent New York Times article called “Looking for Fitness in a Glass of Juice.”
Beetroot juice, as the name implies, is created from the knotty parts of a beet. Who first imagined that liquefying beetroots might improve physical performance is unknown. But he or she appears to have been on to something. In a series of studies in the past two years, beetroot juice has been found to enhance certain types of athletic performance. In a representative study published last year, for instance, cyclists who ingested half a liter of beetroot juice before a 2.5-mile or a 10-mile time trial were almost 3 percent faster than when they rode unjuiced. They also produced more power with each pedal stroke.
Since in the world of elite sports a 3 percent improvement in performance is enormous, athletes quickly embraced the juice as news of the studies spread. Today, beetroot juice is reportedly a staple among British track and field athletes at the Olympics, including Mo Farah, who won the gold medal this week in the men’s 10-kilometer race, and among several of the United States Olympic marathon runners, many other nations’ runners, swimmers, rowers and cyclists, and quite a few Olympic soccer players.
Although it isn’t clear just how beetroot juice improves performance, it seems to improve blood and oxygen flow to muscles, says Andrew Jones, a professor of applied physiology at the University of Exeter in England, who’s led many of the studies of beetroot juice and athletic performance. It also prompts muscles to use that augmented oxygen more efficiently. “There is a lower oxygen cost” to exercise when someone is drinking beetroot juice, he says. That may be one reason it allowed volunteers who drank it for a week beforehand to walk or run for significantly longer on a treadmill than those who had drunk a placebo juice.
But that advantage may not exist in all types of exercise, other new research suggests. A cautionary study published last month found that a single dose of beetroot juice ingested several hours before a one-hour cycling time trial did not noticeably improve the riders’ performance.
What that finding suggests, says Naomi Cermak, a researcher at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands who led the study, is that beetroot juice, while effective at improving performance in short, extremely strenuous bouts of exercise, may have less effect during longer, relatively less intense types of exertion. In other words, the juice might help an 800-meter runner but perhaps not a marathoner.
Based on the currently available science, Dr. Cermak adds, it’s also likely that benefits will be most evident in someone who drinks the juice regularly, not someone who tries it for the first time on the day of a race.
So if you wish to experiment with beetroot as a performance booster, begin at least a week before a race or strenuous event. In many experiments, volunteers drank a half-liter of the juice per day. (Some studies have used smaller, concentrated beetroot “shots.”) And be prepared for a period of acclimation. Beetroot juice is “an acquired taste,” says Dr. Jones.
Have you tried it? What did you think?