Does Beet Juice Really Work?

Photo by William Ismael

Does Beet Juice really boost athletic permormance?

A lot of top athletes in obstacle racing use beet juice to boost performance by drinking it straight or through concentrated forms like Beet Elite.  You’ve probably even seen a lot of Beet Elite athletes on the podium of Spartan Races and other local OCRs.  Why are they using it?  The benefits touted by these athletes and the companies that sponsor them, come from the high levels of nitrate found in beets (also in spinach, celery, and chard).  According to a recent article written by Mark McClusky on the blog of my favorite entrepreneur/performance-enhancing-bio-hacker Tim Ferris, nitrate converts to nitrite in the body.  Nitrite is then converted to nitric oxide which can dilate blood vessels and improve mitochondrial function (mitochondria are the tiny energy producing engines in our cells).

You should read the full article here: Is Beet Juice Really a Performance Enhancing “Drug”? Digging In…

I’m a huge Tim Ferris fan and his site has tons of other great information on athletics, efficiency, life, and work, but the article contains a lot of scientific talk about statistics and biology, so I’ll break it down for you in a few points below:

  1. Beet juice is for real, but some athletes respond more than others.
    • Some athletes don’t respond at all, but there’s no harm (other than funny looking pee and poo), so give it a try.
    • Elite athletes will have less of a benefit than Age-Groupers, but every second counts, so give it a try.
  2. The research that supports positive effects has only been done for events lasting up to 30 minutes.
    • Longer events have not been studied very much yet.
    • The effects of re-dosing during exercise have not been studied very much yet either.
  3. The researchers used 500 – 600 mL (or equivalent) of beet juice taken 2 to 2 1/2 hours before exercise, so that is the recommended dose and timing for best effects.

Have you used beet juice or concentrated beet juice products to gain an edge in OCR?  Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Courtesy of William Ismael used under Creative Commons License