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Does Beet Juice Improve Performance?

Did you know that beet juice is part of the magic potion recipe from which Asterix draws his superhuman strength? Believe it or not, several recent studies have demonstrated that this juice does indeed improve physical performance!

Beet’s magic ingredient

Every organ of your body requires oxygen in order to function. When you practice a sport, your muscles become active and produce more energy. Therefore, they need a greater quantity of oxygen. That’s where nitrates, one of the elements contained in beet juice, come into play.

Nitrates are naturally occurring substances found in food, water, and air. The greatest food sources for nitrates are vegetables, particularly beet, celery, lettuce, radishes, and spinach.

Nitrates found in beet juice reduce the oxygen needs of muscles. Each breath is therefore more efficient, and since the body doesn’t get as tired it can tolerate intense effort for a longer period of time. In addition, nitrates promote blood vessels dilation, which increases blood and oxygen supply towards muscles.

Beet juice, a realistic strategy?

Although we have proven the effectiveness of drinking beet juice to improve sport performances, the long-term consequences of this practice are still unknown. On the other hand, studies have demonstrated that beet juice might protect us against some forms of cancer, such as prostate, breast, liver, and lung cancer. This protective effect is attributed to its high betaine content, an antioxidant.

Moreover, the World Health Organization recommends that you consume 200 to 400 mg of nitrates a day, which corresponds to 2 or 3 beets. A nutrition rich in vegetables can also provide you with the nitrates required for you to be at your peak performance!

By Vanessa Martin

References
1. Lidder S, Webb AJ. Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. B J Clin Pharmacol 75:3;677-696. 2012.
2. Santé Canada. Le nitrate et le nitrite. En ligne. < http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/water-eau/nitrate_nitrite/index-fra.php >. Consulté le 15 février 2013.
3. Ferreira LF et Bennke BJ. A toast to health and performance ! Beetroot juice lowers blood pressure and the O2 cost of exercise. J Appl Physiol 110:585-586. 2011.
4. Bond H., Morton L. & Braakhuis A. J. Dietary nitrate supplementation improves rowing performance in well-trained rowers, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2012;22:251-256

Author
Vanessa Martin

A newcomer to Nautilus Plus, Vanessa Martin holds a degree in nutrition from the Université de Montréal and is a member in good standing of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec. She also works in the hospital setting and loves to blog in her spare time. Passionate and versatile, Vanessa plans on enhancing her knowledge in the field of psychology with an eye to better guiding and motivating the habit-changing endeavors of her clients. Member of a running club, she enjoys taking part in the competitions organized in her area. Vanessa is currently training for a 21 km race and would like to run her first marathon!


Does Beet Juice Improve Performance? is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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