Beet Root for Exercise Performance
Introduction to Beet Root
The beet root phenomenon sweeping the world can be attributed to the 2012 Olympics; which saw thousands of endurance athletes of almost all types adopt this blood-red "sweet dirt" as a natural performance booster. A 2012 article published in the Huffington Post, noted that beetroot is an unlikely performance-enhancing 'drug'. A research organization based in Britain opted to give its volunteers concentrated beetroot juice, which is rich in nitrates, instead of supplements. What they found was that it was just as effective as most of the drugs that were on the banned list for the 2012 London Olympics.
In Chris Cooper's, the author, own words: "It amuses me that, whilst other Olympics might be called the steroid games, London 2012 might instead gain the moniker of the beet root games."
In recent years, major collegiate athletic programs and professional sports team have incorporated beet root into their nutrition programs. What was previously seen as just another underground vegetable has now become a super-supplement for everyone from weekend warriors to professional athletes.
The Basics of Beet Root
For most athletes and even non-athletes the undeniable benefits of beet root far outweigh its very minimal negative side effects. You no longer have any excuse to not try it out. So how exactly does this natural performance enhancer work?
Nitrate is the Key
Beets contain many health-promoting antioxidants such as resveratrol, betalain, and quercetin; however, what really makes it special for performance enhancement is its abundance of nitrates. The root of the beet transforms nitrogen gas in the soil to nitrate which when consumed, attaches to our plasma and is transported to our salivary glands. Upon reaching the salivary glands, the bacteria present convert it (the nitrate) into nitrite which is now ready for delivery into the digestive system for absorption. While it is in the bloodstream, the nitrite (or plasma nitrite) is transformed into nitric oxide, also known as supplemental oxygen, to be used for various body and brain functions.
Nitrates Decrease Blood Pressure, Increase Blood Flow and Metabolic Threshold
When you increase your exercise intensity, aerobic processes in the body become anaerobic. This causes a lot of waste molecules to be produced; which in turn causes fatigue because you have reached your metabolic threshold. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels thereby allowing more blood to flow in order to supply muscle tissues with more oxygen at a faster rate. This means that it will take longer for aerobic exercises to be converted to anaerobic exercises hence increasing your metabolic threshold while at the same time reducing dependency on inhaled oxygen for energy production.
Nitrate Increase Reaction Time
Reaction time is very important to athletes and in competitive sports. An increase in exercise intensity creates a shortage of oxygenated blood in the body which negatively impacts reaction times. However, when plasma nitrite is present in the blood, muscle tissues and the brain are supplied with more oxygen which means mental sharpness and reaction times can be maintained while you increase your exercise intensity.
The Science of Beet Root
Often times you hear, "beet root allows your muscles to perform the same amount of work while using less oxygen thereby making your energy production more efficient". This is not just a blanket statement thrown around aimlessly; there are good reasons and scientific evidence to back it up. So let 's examine some of these studies.
A 2009 research study carried out by members of the School of Sport and Health Sciences and Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom looked at the ability of nitrates to increase the time to exhaustion while exercising. The study titled: "Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Reduces the 02 Cost of Low-Intensity Exercise and Enhances Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise in Humans" was administered to cyclists of between ages 19 and 33.
The results were as follows:
Cyclists who drank beet juice could ride 16% longer than without beet juice in their diet. The beet juice also allowed them to increase intensity with less oxygen cost.
A separate study carried out by the same institution in 2010 that is published in the Journal of Applied Physiology was administered to runners and walkers of the same age group. Beet juice was found to reduce the oxygen cost of walking as well as that of moderate to intense running. It was also found to significantly increase the time to exhaustion.
Many distinguishable experts and professionals in the fields of medicine and sports science have only wonderful things to say about beet juice. Linda R. Peterson who is a professor of Medicine and Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has this to say:
“I have compared the beet juice effect to Popeye eating his spinach. The magnitude of this improvement is comparable to that seen in heart failure patients who have done two to three months of resistance training”.
The importance of beet root in sports cannot be stressed enough. It can separate great from average. Many athletes continue to reap the benefits of using products by Nutrology such as Beet Natural to improve their workouts and excel in various sports.
Not All Caffeine is Equal
There exist two types of caffeine; natural or plant sourced caffeine and synthetic caffeine. As the former's name suggests, natural caffeine is derived from plants. There are around 60 different plants from which you can get caffeine, one of the most popular being Yerba mate which is an ingredient in Beet Natural.
Naturally sourced caffeine never exists in isolation, and often occurs together with a range of amino acids, glucose-regulating compounds, and vitamins. They work together to give the body that burst in energy while keeping the delivery into your system steady and sustainable for long periods of time. Long-term consumption of moderate amounts of naturally sourced caffeine has been linked to reduced risk of colon cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Anhydrous caffeine is a synthetic form of caffeine and is often used in pharmaceutical products, weight loss supplements, and pre-workout energy drinks. It is synthesized through a number of processes that often expose it to harsh chemicals that you definitely don't want to be consuming. It is the most prominent form of supplemental caffeine out there and the cheapest. When consumed it does make a person feel energized, but without the necessary co-factors and glucose-regulating compounds in them the result is often a feeling of intense fatigue or crashing after a workout. Long-term use of synthetic forms of caffeine has also been linked with increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. With this information in mind it is easy to see that these two forms of caffeine differ drastically in performance and long-term health. While natural caffeine gives a longer lasting feeling of invigoration during a workout, synthetic caffeine burns out faster and leaves an individual feeling very tired and stressed. It is recommended that you always go for natural caffeine whenever you can for its numerous health benefits and your overall workout experience.
Clean Up Your Pre-Workout
Annual worldwide consumption of artificial sweeteners has reached 7.5 million metric tons, and production of artificial sweeteners creates over 20 million tons of hazardous waste per year. Artificial sweeteners are potentially toxic chemicals that may pose health risks to your body and contribute to carbohydrate cravings, which can lead to overeating. More research is consistently showing the potential negative consequences of artificial sweetener consumption. Nutrology's Beet Natural Pre-Workout Drink has no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.
This modified version of the amino acid alanine has been found to significantly improve muscle endurance.This is because when ingested, it breaks down into the molecule carnosine, which acts as an acid buffer in the body, protecting muscles from the lactic acid production that is often induced by exercise. Numerous studies have cited the benefits of beta-alanine during exercise. A recent article from the US National Library of Medicine sites a 2.85% increase in the outcome of an exercise session with the inclusion of beta-alanine and many more point to the same. As a supplement, its only side effect is paraesthesia which is a tingling feeling in the body that is entirely harmless and generally occurs from ingestion of large doses.
Creatinol-O-Phosphate (COP)is often mistaken for the supplement creatine. While similar in chemical structure to creatine, COP works very differently in the body as a cardioprotective compound and a phosphate donor. During high-intensity exercise, your body creates cellular energy by using a molecule called Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Think of ATP as a fully charged battery to power your workouts. To create energy your body removes a phosphate from ATP, converting ATP to Adenosine diphosphate (ADP) thus creating lactic acid as a waste byproduct. COP works as a phosphate donor (donating a phosphate to ADP) allowing ADP to upconvert back to ATP and you have a fully functioning ATP molecule again! Your ATP battery is now fully recharged! Supplementation with COP can extend the ATP energy cycle, buffer the buildup of lactic acid and protect your heart during high-intensity exercise when oxygen is limited.
Sheila Kealey, XCOttawa (2012): “Sheila’s Nutrition Digest 21: Will Beet Juice Improve Endurance Performance?” Retrieved from http://www.xcottawa.ca/articles.php?id=2456
Adrian Chen, Gawker (2012): “All the Olympic Athletes Are Guzzling Beet Juice”. Retrieved from http://gawker.com/5929716/all-the-olympic-athletes-are-guzzling-beet-juice
Katie Rhodes, USA Triathlon (2016): “How Beetroot Juice Can Improve Your Performance”. Retrieved from https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Triathlon/News/Blogs/Fuel-Station/2016/January/12/How-Beetroot-Juice-Can-Improve-Your-Performance
Rachel Schultz, Shape (2015): “Why Endurance Athletes All Swear By Beet Juice”. Retrieved from https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/why-endurance-athletes-all-swear-beet-juice
Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, Dimenna FJ, Exeter University, Sport and Health Sciences (2009): “Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Reduces the O2 Cost of Low Intensity Exercise and Enhances Tolerance to High Intensity Exercise In Humans”. Retrieved from http://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00722.2009
Katherine E. Lansley, Paul G. Winyard, Jonathan Fulford, Anni Vanhatalo, Exeter University, Sport and Health Sciences (2009): “Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Reduces the O2 Cost of Walking and Running: A Placebo-Controlled Study”. Retrieved from http://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.01070.2010
Engan HK1, Jones AM, Ehrenberg F, Schagatay E., Department of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden (2012): “Acute Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Improves Dry Static Apnea Performance”. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22588047