What Lance Armstrong wishes he knew: in research conducted by the University of Exeter, competition level cyclists finished almost 3% faster after drinking half a liter of beet juice before racing, versus when they didn’t.
When seconds separate the top two riders after a 90 hour race, a 3% boost is significant.
Not a performance athlete?
Me neither. But I’m always interested in ways to make improvements at the gym. And if you are too, it could be well worth your time.
In exercise to exhaustion (endurance) tests, participants were able to perform at the same rate for longer.
- The reduction in the cost of oxygen during ‘exercise to exhaustion’ (high-intensity exercise) was 15-20%.
- The reduction in the cost of oxygen during low-intensity work was 5-10%.
That means more lifting or running before failure, helping you become bigger, stronger, or fitter.
And for everyday life?
The cyclists who drank the beetroot juice had a higher power output (measured in watts) for the same level of effort.
This means their muscles and cardio-vascular system were performing more efficiently.
So even if you’re not looking for any sporting benefits, the energy demand at any given work rate is lower – which means that whatever you’re doing in life, you’ll feel less exhausted and can do more. Work, sex, play… anything which involves moving.
In tests, blood nitrogen levels would reach baseline levels 12 hours after consumption, so you can drink some in the morning and it should see you through your working day.
What causes this effect?
It’s due to how the nitrates found in beets interact with your blood vessels and muscles.
They widen blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow while simultaneously reducing the amount of oxygen needed by muscles.
Drink 2-3 hours before you need the most significant performance benefits, otherwise take it in the morning for everyday performance enhancements.
If you don’t have a juicer, our guide will help you find the right one for you.
Because you’ll be juicing it, it’s not recommended to drink just beet juice alone.[a] So here’s a high nitrate recipe:
- 1 beet with stems and leaves
- 3 sticks celery
- 2 handfuls of Spinach
- 4 carrots
Do you juice lots of spinach and other leafy greens? The best juicers for leafy greens will save you from throwing money away everyday as wet pulp – they’ll wring twice as much juice out of your leaves.
Read Next: Juicing For Energy
[a] Pure beet juice is very potent, and can come with some adverse side effects.