I posted up a picture last week of my beetroot juice before training and I have had a few people ask me about it so thought I would explain on here :-)
Beetroots, juiced or not juiced, contain a high amount of many nutrients and have been used traditionally to help heal or support health conditions such as anaemia, heart disease, tiredness, skin problems, and even cancer. This post is focusing on beetroot for training and performance, I may write another one explaining all of these benefits in more detail some other time!
I use beetroot just before a workout because of their high amount of nitrates. These compounds are the precursor to a very important signalling molecule that our body needs to function called nitric oxide. This is made naturally within our body but we can dramatically increase it’s availability by eating nitrate rich foods (not just beetroot! Spinach, rocket and lettuce are also high in nitrates!). Nitric oxide has many roles, but the reason we want to increase it before activity is because it acts as a vasodilator in skeletal muscle, increasing the size of blood vessels to allow more oxygen flow. This will mean less lactic acid burn, therefore improved endurance and strength.
If you want to start consuming beetroot before a training session, make sure it’s raw beetroot. Research suggests that cooking significantly reduces the available nitrates. This is why juicing raw beetroot, or using a beetroot concentrate are best.
One thing to be aware of is that nitrates in beetroots are converted into nitrites by friendly bacteria in our saliva. This is important, as the use of mouthwash or toothpaste soon after drinking beetroot juice may wash the nitrates out of your saliva. Because of this, drinking beetroot juice slowly will increase the time nitrates are in contact with this bacteria, therefore may increase the conversion to nitrites. Make sure you drink it an hour before you train, so it has chance to get converted to nitric oxide.
I mix between making my own beetroot juice and using a concentrate. I like making my own, but I have found the concentrate gives better results (obviously, as it’s a concentrate, it contains more nitrates). There are many on the market now and I have tried a few, one being BeetActive which works well.
Like all foods and supplements, everyone responds differently to the performance enhancing benefits of beetroot juice. However, I notice that I train so much better when I have it, and quite often get a personal best, so I make sure I drink it before an important session or competition!
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