Athletes and active adults are leaning more towards nutrient-dense foods to improve athletic performance. Diets rich in vegetables like beets are shown to have a significant impact on body functions during exercise. In fact, beetroot juice has become one of the most popular ergogenic supplements for athletes. What makes the beet such an athletic nutritional powerhouse?
The beetroot (beta vulgaris) is enjoyed as a food source, is used medicinally, and may be used as an ergogenic supplement.1 Although there are several varieties of the heart-shaped vegetable, the most common among health-conscious people are the red beetroot.
Beets are a rich source of potent antioxidants, such as vitamin C, carotenoids, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, along with nitrate. Nitrate is a chemical naturally occurring in certain foods and is converted into nitric oxide when consumed.
Beetroot juice supplementation appears to enhance aerobic performance in both trained male and female athletes. The volume of oxygen utilized at varying intensities was greatly improved after beet juice consumption.
Trained swimmers exhibited greater exercise capacity and improved endurance after beet juice consumption while energy expenditure decreased.
Competitive cyclists who supplemented with beetroot juice improved their performance by 0.8 percent in a 50-mile test. Significant improvements were observed during the last 10 miles. Both oxygen efficiency and time to exhaustion were greatly improved after beet juice consumption.
All athletes were able to maintain exercise intensities from 60 to 80 percent significantly longer during exercise with beet juice supplementation.
Trained runners ran 5% faster in the later part of a 5000-meter race supplementing with beetroot juice 90 minutes prior to their event.
Athletes seem to benefit most from beet juice supplementation 150 minutes prior to their events.
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