Today I’ll share a little secret that elite athletes use to get a jumpstart on the competition. And it has nothing to do with steroids. In fact, you’ll find beet juice benefits very interesting and surprising.
The Sochi Winter Olympics are gearing up, and like millions of others, I’m always awestruck by the speed, power, and endurance of the athletes. At times they seem superhuman.
It’s true these athletes have talents and physical traits the rest of us lack. But there’s more to their performance than their natural gifts and relentless training.
You can use this same simple trick to boost your own workout results at the gym, or help you run longer, or even walk up the stairs with less fatigue. The secret is beet juice.
Beet Juice Boosts Athletic Performance In Just 3 Days
Researchers from the University of Exeter conducted a small double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study of eight young men aged 19 to 38 years. Every day the men drank either 500 ml of beetroot juice (a little over 2 cups) or blackcurrant cordial.
After 3 days the men completed a series of moderate to severe intensity exercise tests. On days 4 through 6 the blood pressure of beet juice drinkers dropped significantly. But here’s the really interesting part.
They also increased the uptake of oxygen in their lungs by 19%. That means they needed less oxygen to get the same results on the test. They were also less winded. As a result, those drinking beet juice didn’t get as tired. In fact, they could exercise 15% longer before becoming exhausted.
In a similar study researchers followed 9 healthy young men doing low intensity exercise. After drinking beet juice for 3 days the men used less oxygen while walking, reducing their efforts by 12%.
Here’s how beet juice works its magic. The researchers found that natural nitrates in beets combine with bacteria on the tongue to convert to nitrites. Those nitrites then enter the blood stream forming nitric oxide.
I’ve talked about nitric oxide before. It widens blood vessels, reduces blood pressure and allows more blood flow. But it does something else. It also reduces the amount of oxygen your muscles need to perform an activity.
In other words, beet juice gets more oxygen flowing and at the same time reduces your need for oxygen. That’s a real boost whether you’re an Olympic athlete or just gardening in the back yard.
And researchers are hopeful that beet juice can help older people with cardiovascular issues do things that give them difficulty like walking or climbing stairs.
Boost Your Energy and Endurance With Beet Juice
The active ingredient in beet juice is nitrates.
But don’t confuse that with “sodium nitrate” found in processed meats like bacon, ham and hot dogs. Sodium nitrate is a chemical salt used to preserve meat and keep its pink color. Sodium nitrate converts to sodium nitrite during the preserving process. Some studies suggest sodium nitrite can form cancer-causing substances called nitrosamines when cooked at high heat.
Natural nitrates in vegetables are a different matter. They’re found in beets, spinach, celery, lettuce and other leafy greens.
You can juice your own beets or buy beet juice at your local health food store or on the internet. Beets are sweet but the juice doesn’t taste sugary. If you don’t like the taste, try adding a few ounces to smoothies.
And don’t forget to insist on organic beet juice. Beets in the United States are one of the biggest genetically modified crops. Since producers don’t have to label GMOs in this country, the only way to be sure to avoid them is to buy organic beets.
You can even find beet juice supplements, although they are not as common and you may need to order them online.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Stephen J Bailey et al, Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009 Oct;107(4):1144-55. PMID: 19661447
Katherine E. Lansley et al, Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Mar;110(3):591-600 Pubmed 21071588
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