Can Beetroot Improve Your Speed?

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We absolutely love beets, not only for their amazing colour and taste but because they provide a direct nutritional boost. Beyond standard recipes and cooking, nowadays you often see beetroot mentioned as a key ingredient in a shot or two before training. But why? And can beetroot really improve your performance?

Why beetroot?

Beetroots, in a concentrated form, are sometimes consumed before training to enhance the
performance for endurance and high-intensity training (1). This is because beetroots among other foods naturally contain a compound called nitrate. Nitrate is found in most vegetables but especially in beetroots and green leafy vegetables, like spinach and arugula (2).

The process of nitrate in the body:

That is not the whole truth. It is actually not nitrate itself that increases performance, but nitric oxide, which nitrate is transformed into in the body (2). Nitric oxide has a vasodilating effect, supporting the elasticity of blood vessels so that oxygen supply to the muscles increases. Our oxygen uptake capacity is often the limiting factor for how long we can work at high-intensity. Nitrate-rich foods help increase oxygen uptake and thus our capacity to maintain a higher intensity for longer (3).

How much is needed?

For the best performance-enhancing effects of nitrate, about half a litre (500ml) of beetroot juice or an equivalent amount of concentrate is needed (3). Remember, there are always individual responses and no effects are guaranteed. Like with all things, you should not overconsume it. 

Moderation combined with regularity and a varied, colorful diet is the key.

Does it really work?

You would need to consume quite large amounts of beets to see the effects described above, but a regular intake will do your body very well in many ways since foods like beetroot are very nutritious. In addition to the health benefits mentioned, beets are rich in minerals, vitamin C and antioxidants. Beetroot is also rich in fibre – vital for a well-functioning stomach.
So what now? Try our delicious beetroot recipe created by our in house chef before your next training session! We hope it will be a regular favourite with you!

Beetroot Juice/Smoothie recipe:

1 Serving

Ingredients
½ green apple (60g)
1 red beet (90g)
250ml orange juice
5g fresh ginger
50g light coconut cream

Instructions
1 – Peel the red beet and the ginger.
2 – Cut the apple and beets into smaller pieces and put all the ingredients, except the coconut milk, in a blender and mix smooth.
3 – Drizzle the coconut milk around the glass and pour the smoothie into the glass.  

References

  1. Burke, L., Deakin, V. Clinical Sports Nutrition. 5th ed. New York: Mc Graw Hill Education, 2015, 567-582.
  2. Livsmedelsverket. Nitrat, nitrit och nitrosaminer. 2019. https://www.livsmedelsverket.se/livsmedel-och-innehall/oonskade-amnen/nitrat-nitrit-och-nitrosaminer/ (Hämtad 2019-09-13).
  3. Sveriges Olympiska Kommitté. Prestera med tillskott? 2017. https://sok.se/arkiv-for-artiklar/2017-06-28-prestera-med-tillskott.html (Hämtad 2019-09-13).



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