Natural key to beeting your opponents

A study from the University of Exeter in the UK has drawn a link between beetroot juice and sporting performance. Researchers found that consuming high nitrate beetroot juice improved both sprint performance and decision making during prolonged intermittent exercise such as football and soccer.

The study involved 16 male athletes who consumed 140ml of a high nitrate beetroot juice called Beet It Sport, for seven days. On the seventh day of the trial the participants completed an intermittent sprint test that involved two 40-minute sessions consisting of six second sprints, 100 seconds of active recovery, and 20 seconds of rest. The test was carried out on an exercise bike and at the same time participants underwent cognitive tasks designed to test the accuracy and efficiency of their decision making.

The participants carried out the tests again after drinking a placebo juice that did not contain the nitrate. According to the results, the men who had consumed the nitrate-rich beetroot juice displayed a 3.5 per cent improvement in sprint performance, and a 3 per cent advance in the speed of their decision making.

The research concluded that the naturally high nitrate content in the beetroot juice interacts with enzymes in saliva to generate nitric oxide in the blood system. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, hence enhancing strength and endurance.

Chris Thompson, from the University of Exeter, explained that natural dietary nitrate supplementation can provide a significant advantage to athletes; ‘It could mean that team sport players are able to make those important decisions faster and cover more ground than their opponents.’

Source: European Journal of Applied Physiology