In 2009, researchers from Exeter University published the first human trial to investigate the exercise benefits of dietary nitrate (from beetroot juice), reporting a 5% reduction in oxygen cost of exercise and 16 per cent improvement in endurance (time to exhaustion). The main physical performance benefit of nitrate ingestion is the reduction in the O2 cost during exercise, this suggests that the working muscle is simply more efficient.
But how does it work?
Dietary nitrate is converted to nitrite by bacteria on the tongue, before converting to nitric oxide (NO) in the blood system. NO has multiple roles in physiology, so there are several explanations for the beneficial effects of nitrate supplementation. For benefits to endurance performance, it is likely caused by the vasodilatory effects of nitric oxide, which allows greater blood flow and oxygen to the working muscles and simultaneously, the mitochondria that produce energy in the muscles may become more efficient.
Supplemented, Cooked or juiced?
- The problem with eating beetroot like any food type is quality and the unpredictability of the nitrate content varies enormously – this can mean a 400mg dose could be in anything between 250g and 750g of beetroots.
- The problem with supplement is it’s quite expensive when it can get got from a food source
- Those of you who boil it first or buy it ready cooed and eat cold on your salad, well it’s important to know not to boil beetroot as nitrates are very soluble and will be lost in the water, so this is a No, No
What do we recommend at FX Supplements?
Well on the days that you travel or a busy use a shot such as beetIT available from most stores. If you’re at home use some lovely organic beetroot and juice it for an amazing drink that WILL benefit performance
Is there a benefit to beetroot outside of sport
Away from sport, the best-known and well-researched health benefit is a reduction in resting blood pressure following beetroot juice supplementation – this is especially significant for those with high blood pressure.
The current consensus among researchers is that at least 400mg of nitrate must be taken for several days (up to six days) prior to competition and training. Crucially, the final dose needs to be consumed one to three hours before competition to allow enough time for nitrate conversion to nitric oxide. Dietary Nitrates are in foods such as green leafy veg, celery and beets, among some other veg. You can also get shots of beets, or beet powder. It is now becoming popular in endurance sports.
Take beetroot juice shots or homemade juice about 2-3 hours before exercise. It can be taken acutely but I recommend start taking it about 4-6 days at a minimum before the important sessions or competitions to allow it to build up in the body. More often I recommend it from circa eight weeks out. Before adding in Beta Alanine from 4 weeks out
Final point Do not use Mouthwash during this time, it will negate the enzymes and bacteria in mouths role in the conversion process from nitrates to nitric oxide as highlighted above