Everything these days is about going green, living green, eating green and getting in your green juice…. But there is also a lot to be said for going red with beetroot.
Endurance athletes are always looking for that little bit extra to keep them going at a steady pace. Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk around the use of beetroot juice to improve endurance during moderate and high intensity running. Although the test research is still limited it is worth giving it a try.
Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates. During endurance exercise, Nitrates play a beneficial role in that they cause physiological responses which increase blood flow to muscles, lower blood pressure and most importantly reduce the amount of oxygen needed to provided energy to working muscles. Simply put, it is like getting a high octane top up on your fuel tank so that you take longer to get tired while maintaining the same pace.
Research studies have shown that high doses of beetroot juice consumed 2-3 hours before running, decreased oxygen consumption by about 3% or put another way an increased time to exhaustion at high intensity of about 15 percent. A welcome extra edge, especially ultra-distance events.
In addition beetroot is a great source of iron and folic acid (especially the leaves) which we know is essential for endurance athletes and one of the richest sources of glutamine – an amino acid which plays a very big role in recovery and immune support for endurance athletes.
Sound worth a try? So how much should you take and when?
The current studies show the optimum to be around 500-600ml of juice ingested 2-3 hours before training or racing. Some people report beetroot loading 2-3 leading up to competition but there is little research showing any advantage of doing this.
I have given it a go, it was great! Maybe it was my mind, maybe the juice…who knows? But hey, every little bit of help is worth a shot, so give it a try and let me know your experiences.
(Just try it in training before a race!!)