Sunday, May 5, 2013
Beet Juice-Does it work?
As a 50 year old triathlete I'm always for ways I can increase my performance and endurance. I initially stumbled on the benefits of beet juice when I was trying to reduce my blood pressure but in the course of reading the literature it became clear that there is a growing body of research that supports the benefits of beet juice for endurance athletes.
How does it work? Beet juice contains high levels of dietary nitrates. The body converts the nitrates in beet juice into nitric oxide which enhances blood flow and helps blood pressure. So, adding beet juice to your diet turns out to be a natural way to boost nitric oxide levels in the blood stream which in turn increases oxygen usage effficincy and enhances stamina. I could link numerous articles that support the proposition that beet juice enhances performance but I suspect most people that are considering adding beet juice to their diet are going to do their own research. Interesting that beet juice has been popular the last few years with Tour de France riders and with athletes at the London Olympics. The world's top athletes think there is something worth using.
I bought several bottles from the grocery store but it was expensive at about $6.50 for a 16.9 ounce bottle. To get the benefit the recommended daily intake ranges from 8 ounces up to 32 ounces. I went with 8-12 ounces a day and must admit that within a few days I felt a noticeable increase in stamina. I measured this primarily through my bike workouts where I could compare watts with heart rate and rate of percieved exertion (RPE). I was in the final build heading into IMTX 70.3 and was able to hit my intervals in all of the long key workouts over the last few weeks.
The problem was the cost and inconvenience of buying bottled beet juice. The solution was Beet It Sport Shots! http://beetit.com/
The Beet It Sport Shot contains 0.4 grams of dietary nitrates in each 2 ounce shot. Based on what I have found online this would be about the level of dietary nitrates you would get out of drinking 16 ounces of beet juices. After switching to the Beet It Shots I continued to feel that little bump in my endurance levels. Of course, it is hard to say with 100% certainty that the beet juice/nitrates are responsible as there are so many variables with training and racing. All I can say is that I think it helps and I'm waiting on another order of Beet It Shots to arrive. You can order directly from the website. Its not cheap but is convenient and something I will use heading into my priority races.
I look at it this way. My stretch goal this year is to qualify for 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. If Beet It Shots can improve my performance by only 1% that turns a 4:45 HIM/70.3 finishing time into a 4:42:09. That is likely several spots in the finish order for my 50-54 age group and possibly the difference between qualifying and not.
Warning: Beet juice can cause your urine to be a pink or reddish color and can change the color of your stool as well. Sorry, felt it was important to let folks know. I have not really noticed this with the Beet It Shots but definitely with regular beet juice.
Disclaimer-I am not sponsored by Beet It Shots or any beet juice company. These are just my views based on my experience. Decide for yourself.