A natural way to enhance an athletes endurance may be the result of two studies done at Exeter University. The 15 men in the study showed increases in their endurance after drinking beetroot juice. Stephen Bailey and colleagues found that by drinking about a half a quart of beetroot juice before starting, cyclists had up to a 20% increase in stamina compared to those who drank a blackcurrant juice placebo.
Bailey and colleagues found that cyclists to used less oxygen than would normally be required when they drank beetroot juice. The team calculated how much energy a muscle needed to contract when they studied the participants under a scanner.
Bailey said, “The beetroot juice was effective even without any additional training. It reduces the energy requirements on your muscles so you can last longer.”
Because beetroot juice has high levels of nitrates, Bailey thinks that this is the cause of the athletes increased performance.
Scientists are not exactly sure how nitrates affect endurance, but increases in nitric oxide, a byproduct of nitrates, are suspected to allow the muscles to work with less oxygen. Some scientists also think that foods like spinach and other nitrate rich foods may have the same results.
Don’t rush out and start drinking beetroot juice thinking you will become an elite athlete. Only highly trained athletes are likely to notice any real increases in performance, but if you are looking for a 1 -2 % edge, beetroot juice may be the answer. Several experts do think that drinking beetroot juice could allow the average athlete to train more by allowing the body to tolerate more exercise.
Like everything in life, there can be too much of a good thing. Side effects of drinking too much beetroot juice include, purple urine, diarrhea or abdominal cramps. Don’t let that stop you from drinking beetroot juice in moderation since, beetroot juice has been when to lower blood pressure in several studies done in the US and Britain.