Athletes may look for nutritional supplements to enhance the effects of training and improve their performance. Beetroot juice has shown many benefits that can help improve athletic performance. This article outlines what nutritional and health benefits beetroot juice provides and how this impacts athletic performance.
Beetroot juice provides health benefits.
Supplementation with beetroot juice can reduce the maximum rate of oxygen your body can use during exercise (VO2 max), which enables athletes to fatigue slower and increases their endurance.
Consumption of beetroot juice should occur 90 minutes before athletic activity.
Beetroot juice nutrition
Beets are nutrition-rich Swiss chard and other root vegetables. They taste sweet and earthy and are tender to eat. Beetroot juice provides many nutritional benefits to those that consume it. Providing a boost of ascorbic acid, vitamin E, carotenes, phenolic acids, and phytoestrogens, beetroot juice helps improve cardiac and immunity function.
Beetroot juice has a higher potassium concentration than the vegetable itself. It also provides more nutritional value than eating cooked beets because some nutrition is lost from the heat used to cook them. Drinking beetroot juice can also help detoxify the body, which helps improve the function of all bodily systems.
Benefits of beetroot juice
Beetroot juice provides many health benefits, which lead to improved athletic performance. Below is a list of health benefits beetroot juice can provide:
Reduces hypertension, hyperglycemia, and blood lipids
Beets are rich in a natural chemical known as nitrates. Your body changes nitrates to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps improve blood flow and can improve blood pressure. Research has shown that raw beetroot juice has stronger antihypertensive effects than cooked beets.
Studies have also shown that betalains, polyphenols, and dietary nitrate ingredients in beetroot can help reduce blood sugar. Studies have shown that blood sugar was significantly decreased in healthy volunteers within 60 minutes after intake. Studies on diabetic rats have also shown that beetroot provides maintenance of glucose homeostasis. Additional research is needed in this area as the study on glucose homeostasis needs to be expanded.
The betalains in beetroot have also been shown to benefit high cholesterol. Studies in mice treated with beetroot juice or beetroot slices showed inhibition of short-chain fatty acids, subsequently improving cholesterol levels. An additional study on obese individuals yielded similar results, indicating that beetroot has the potential to reduce cholesterol.
Improves cognitive function
Deficiencies in nitric oxide are associated with cognitive impairment. Beetroot is high in nitrates, which get converted to nitric oxide when consumed. A study on healthy adults found that the prefrontal cortex cerebral blood flow was altered by nitrate-containing beetroot and improved cognitive function. Similar results were seen when beetroot supplementation was given to elderly subjects, with enhanced reaction time noted.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world, and research continues to be done to determine how to prevent cancer from forming. Research has shown that beetroot could act as a chemo-preventative medicine that can reduce the formation of multi-organ tumors. Studies have found that the antitumor response in antitumor drugs, like doxorubicin, was improved when combined with beetroot.
Beetroot used alone has also been studied in animal lung tumor models. The research showed the tumor multiplicity and load deceased when given vinyl carbamate/benzo(a)pyrene and beetroot.
High-antioxidant foods can help treat various clinical diseases associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, such as heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Beetroot juice is a potent antioxidant due to it containing betalains. Studies have shown that betalains in beetroot are an effective oxidative stress inhibitor.
How beetroot juice impacts athletic performance
Athletes may use beetroot juice as a supplement due to its high inorganic nitrate content. Once consumed, our bodies convert nitrate into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps reduce hypoxic conditions, or conditions where your body lacks oxygen and is produced in muscle parts needing more oxygen.
When you consume beetroot juice, it increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. In addition, it has been found to reduce the amount of oxygen the muscles require to function at an optimal level. Beetroot juice increases energy, performance, and endurance. Studies have shown that supplementation with beetroot juice may have ergogenic effects on athletes, particularly with the athlete's cardiorespiratory endurance.
Improved cardiorespiratory endurance
A study performed on trained cyclists found that beetroot juice supplementation improved performance by 0.8% in a 50-mile test, with significant increases in efficiency seen in the last ten miles.
The effect of supplementation with beetroot juice was also tested on experienced athletes and measured their time-to-exhaustion at intensities of 60%, 70%, 80%, and 100% power. The results showed that athletes could maintain an intensity of 60–70% peak power significantly longer during exercise with beetroot juice supplementation, and there was a trend toward increased endurance at 100% peak power.
These results suggest that a lower VO2 response at submaximal intensities delays the time when an athlete reaches VO2 max and becomes fatigued. The VO2 max is the maximum rate of oxygen your body can use during exercise. When this happens, athletes can sustain their workouts with increased effort.
Maximizing the benefits of beetroot juice
Studies have shown that the timing of when beetroot juice is consumed does impact how well it works. Peak nitric oxide concentration in the blood can be achieved within two to three hours of supplementation, and the ergogenic effects of beetroot juice can be reached within 150 minutes of consumption.
Beetroot juice has many health benefits. The benefits that it provides can also help improve athletic performance. Multiple studies have shown improved performance with beetroot juice supplementation prior to training. Some of the studies did note that additional research is needed, and others showed that the timing of when beetroot juice supplementation is taken prior to training does appear to make a difference. Due to the benefits beetroot juice can provide overall, it is a low-risk supplementation that could impact not only your health but also your athletic performance.
- Nutrients. Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review.
- Food Science & Nutrition. Beetroot is a functional food with huge health benefits: Antioxidant, antitumor, physical function, and chronic metabolic activity.
- Nutrients. The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease.