For weekend warriors and top-tier athletes alike, there’s a new drink on the market that’s said to enhance athletic performance, partly by reducing the body’s demand for oxygen during exercise. That would mean people could do more, physically, with the same amount of oxygen.
What’s this magic elixir? It’s unglamorous, completely safe, totally legal beetroot juice.
Several studies on the earthy, deep ruby-colored liquid has revealed that a dietary nitrate naturally occurring in beet juice helps people up their game, even in high-performance, high-intensity athletic feats.
A report in the journal Nitric Oxide details some of the research into beet juice benefits. Results seem to consistently show that athletes including kayakers, runners and cyclists consuming the stuff all have improved their performances either with faster times or greater endurance.
After a plethora of research in the past 10 years, scientists now believe beet juice’s dietary nitrate works to increase the efficiency of our mitochondria, our cells’ energy centers. It also can improve blood flow and strengthen muscle contractions.
Some studies found the results were different for elite athletes than for recreational sports players. Perhaps the differences in efficiency and endurance reflects the person’s level of training.
The International Olympic Committee has jumped on the beet juice bandwagon. Its latest statement on dietary supplements cites beets as a research-backed option for supplementation to improve performance. Many elite athletes have already embraced beet juice.
Maybe 2020 will be the year we see gold medalists featured on bottles of beet juice, instead of on boxes of Wheaties.