Could eating beets or beet juice before daily training help athlete strain harder and thereby enjoy better competitive outcomes?
Speaking at a international sports nutrition conference organized by PINES (Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport), AndyJones PhD of Exeter University in the UK reported that consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice boosts blood levels of the nitric oxide precursor, nitrite, and this helps reduce the amount of oxygen needed during constant-work-rate exercise.
Hence, for the same oxygen uptake, athletes who consume beetroot “shots” (concentrated beetroot juice) might be able to exercise at a higher intensity; for example, a runner might improve by 5 seconds per mile. In general,athletes see about a 1.5% improvement in performance.
However, some athletes respond better to beetroot juice (and other nitrate-rich foods) than do others. Perhaps the initially “strong responders” tend to have a low intake of all nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables and as a result have a lower nitrite baseline?
To boost your nitrate intake, consume not only beets, but also strawberries, rhubarb, arugula, and spinach.
Note: Athletes who take beetroot juice should avoid using mouthwash. Mouthwash kills the bacteria in the mouth initiate the converion of nitrate into nitrite and then nitric oxide.