Nitrate Rich Beetroot Juice May Improve Athletic Performance
A number of recent studies have linked high nitrate beetroot juice to improved athletic performance. Now a recent study suggests that drinking high nitrate beetroot juice may improve sprint performance and decision-making during prolonged intermittent exercise, such as football or rugby games.
Participants in the study included 16 male team sport players who played rugby, hockey, or football. They were given either a 140 ml shot of high nitrate beetroot juice containing 400 mg of nitrate or a nitrate depleted beetroot juice placebo daily for seven days.
On the seventh day of the study, they were all given an intermittent sprint test, which consisted of two 40-minute sessions of repeated two-minute blocks. It included a six second all-out sprint, 100 seconds active recovery, and 20 seconds of rest, all performed on an exercise bike. They were also given cognitive tests during the workout in order to measure how accurately and quickly they made decisions under those conditions.
The researchers found that the participants who consumed the nitrate-rich beetroot juice had a 3.5% improvement in sprint performance and a 3% improvement in their decision making speed without affecting their decision accuracy. The nitrate-depleted group did not show the same improvements.
Researchers from the University of Exeter conducted the study. It was published in the September 2015 issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology.
Previous studies have linked nitrate with improved regulation of blood flow, better blood pressure, cellular signaling, glucose homeostasis, and improved tissue responses to low oxygen levels as well as improve cardiovascular health.
In addition to nitrate, beetroot juice is packed with nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, amino acids and calcium. It has been associated in previous studies with lowering blood pressure, improving digestive health, boosting stamina and combating liver problems. While beetroots are perhaps the most popular nitrate rich food, if their taste does not appeal to you, they can also find nitrates in spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cucumber, garlic, pumpkin, radishes, and string beans.