If you enjoy taking supplements to maximize the benefits of your fitness program, you’ll likely be intrigued by this news. A new study suggests that you may be able to get similar performance-enhancing effects from sipping a specific type of juice: beet juice.
This juice often goes unnoticed, but some experts consider beets to be a super food. Below, we identify a few key points from the study so you know exactly why having this particular drink in your fridge might come in handy before your next grueling workout.
Health and kinesiology researchers from two Canadian universities published the study in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Applied physiology, nutrition and metabolism.
Their sample for the study consisted of 14 female athletes from the Canadian University Ringette League. For the context, ringette is a rigorous ice sport it’s comparable to hockey.
Research has shown that beet juice can have beneficial effects on physical performance. In this study, the researchers asked each participant to drink about five ounces of beet juice. Then the participants were asked to cycle at two different speeds which could be described as “moderate” and “intense”.
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Previous research, like this UK study 2014, have suggested that eating foods high in nitrates (like beets) can help improve endurance even when the amount of readily available oxygen in the muscles is low. This is because nitrates can be converted into nitric oxide, which can help improve vascular function during exercise by regulating blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
In other words, the body can work more efficiently during exercise when foods rich in nitrates are consumed. However, in this study, researchers found that beet juice had no effect on VO2 max or heart rate.
Instead, they found that 4 in 14 athletes had experienced a reduction of at least 3% in their VO2 max (that is, the maximum amount of oxygen used during periods of physical activity) after cycling at an intense speed.
Yet the researchers noted a “significant” effect among the participants …
The researchers found that athletes reported significantly reduced scores in perceived exertion while cycling at both intensities. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “perceived effort“is exactly what it sounds like: the degree to which the individual feels they make an effort.
Don’t miss eating habits to avoid before a workout, tell dietitians for advice!
As the study points out, beet juice contains nitrates. In five-ounce increments, a nitrate dietary supplement like beet juice can act as a vasodilator, an agent that works to widen blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow throughout the body. (It can also help decrease blood pressure levels.)
In short? You might agree: if this all-natural juice could make a difficult cardio workout a little easier, it might definitely be worth a try.
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