Beet up on your competition?

Written by amy on June 26th, 2012

 At the Tour de France in 2011, beetroot juice made its large scale debut as a potential legal performance enhancing supplement.  Initial studies
do suggest that beetroot, also know as the garden beet, may improve performance by delaying the time it takes to fatigue. Should you be
drinking it?

In 2010, researchers at Peninsula Medical School in the United Kingdom found that cycling performance improved by 16% when cyclist consumed a
glass of beet juice a day.  Similar results have been found in other studies, such as one at St. Louis University in which researchers found
that eating a little less than a cup of baked beets an hour before running improved speed slightly.

The mechanism behind this potential benefit may lie in the high nitrate content of the beet.  Nitrate widens blood vessels in the body, allowing
blood to flow more easily.  It is suggested that eating nitrate before exercising may reduce the VO2 max (amount of oxygen needed) and
increase muscle efficiency.  Further studies are now being conducted to see if beetroot juice could be useful beyond athletics, such as in the
treatment of high blood pressure.

At this time, it is best to use caution pending more studies.  All of the studies conducted thus far have included only a small number of
subjects.  Furthermore, doses used in these studies provided almost twice as much nitrate as deemed the acceptable daily level of nitrate by
the World Health Organization.

 

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