You may have recently heard about the new running sensation that is Beetroot juice. Well, beets have been around for a long time, but why all of a sudden are top athletes turning their insides pink before big events??? Well here’s why...
The Power of the Beet
First and foremost, Beets are a rich source of inorganic nitrate which in simplistic terms allows the body to carry more oxygenation blood to the muscles in addition to reducing the oxygen consumption needed within the working muscles during aerobic exercise. Understandably, therefore, the muscles are working more efficiently and require less oxygen whilst at the same time receiving slightly more oxygen, Win – Win? Obviously everybody is different and these results would severely depend on the level of the athlete, but studies suggest that the utilisation of Beetroot juice for a race can result in a 1-2% reduction in finishing time. This might not seem like a lot.. but for a 90 minute half marathon runner this could mean running 88 minutes!!!
Well without going into extensive scientific jibber jabber into the details of studies that have been done, there is really only one way to find out the impact for yourself. In fact, in the time it would take to get to the bottom of this extensive research which is splattered all over the internet, you probably could have done an extra hours work and used the overtime money to go to the shop and buy some Beetroot. So, if you feel like giving it a go, just follow our simple when and how guidelines below and let us know how you get on – Good luck!
When & how much to take?
There are a number of brands that provide Beetroot juice, but the ones that I found most easily accessible in most good health shops was Beet-It, who offer Beetroot in shots if you struggle with the taste (it’s not as bad as vodka). Beet-It uses 90% Beetroot juice so there is nothing particularly special about the different brands, you can even mix it yourself in a blender!
The nitrate levels in the blood peak after 2-3 hours following ingestion, so you should be aiming to get the last of the Beetroot into you system at this point before the race. It can take up to 12 hours before the nitrate levels reduce to the normal level so to utilise the impact of the juice, the loading should begin the night before, assuming a 10am rough start.
- Take your first shot of Beetroot (or 300ml) of Beetroot Juice before you go to bed the night before
- Welcome the morning with a second shot of juice, assuming you are up 3-4 hours before the race
- The third and final ingestion should then be 2 hours before the even