It is amazing to think that so many sports separate winner’s from loser by seconds or even a handful of seconds. Sciencedaily.com, a fabulous resource for the latest in scientific studies relevant to the athletic fields, has recently reported that Beetroot Juice is being taken by Tour De France cyclists to make their competitive edge sharper.
A study conducted by the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that this beet based juice shaved seconds off the times of the participating cyclists. After drinking a half-liter of the beetroot juice the power output was higher. This lead to an average of 11 seconds in improved times for participating cyclists.
Beetroot juice is a legal beverage. It is high in inorganic nitrates, which widens blood vessels, lowers blood pressure so more blood flow is possible. But it is also valuable for high performance athletes because it reduces the amount of oxygen required by the muscle. This particular fact is what fascinates me. Cyclists, like those who compete in the Tour De France are at the top of the food chain when it comes to peak aerobic athletes. Aerobic activity by its definition requires oxygen, unlike a sprinter whose fast twitch response off the gate, lasts 10- 20 seconds and is called anaerobic or without oxygen. Having substantial and healthy oxygen flow to the muscles is critical when trying to improve cardiovascular output.
But the secret behind this high nitrate veggie are known by most endurance athletic communities. Livestrong.com is also suggesting this drink. In fact, they reference another study done by the Journal of Applied Physiology, from August of 2009, that showed 6 days in a row of beetroot juice improved performance in healthy men. Additionally a January 2009, issue of Phytotherapy Research is pronouncing how beetroot juice reduces oxidative stress (which is essentially a compromised balance between production and use of oxygen).
So naturally, I am thinking about try it, I am. Next week I will give it a whirl. Here are some recipes for various drinks based in beetroot. Beet Root Juice Recipes