Friday, February 3, 2017

On-the-juice: Beetroot

The beetroot has been subject to many investigations and claims as a performance enhancing vegetable. I've been digging a bit and found the following:

The beetroot: (copied from this source)
  • Vitamins: Beet juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and folic acid. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 in small amounts. It also contains vitamin A (beta-carotene).
  • Minerals: Beet juice is rich in magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also contains small amounts of zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and manganese.
  • Amino acids: Small amounts of amino acids are also found in raw beet juice.
  • Calories: A 5 cm piece of beetroot contains about 35 calories.
  • Antioxidants: The flavonoids and carotenoids in beet juice help slow down LDL cholesterol’s oxidation.
  • Anti-carcinogenic color: Beet has a deep red color that comes from the betacyanin in it, which is a powerful anti-carcinogenic agent.
  • Silica: Beet is rich in silica. This silica makes perfect use of the calcium in the body and is also needed for healthy hair, skin, nails and bones.
The beetroot clearly contains many good things our body needs as listed above (as do most other vegetables). On the performance-enhancing perspective, this recent scientific paper by Domínguez et al. (published Jan. 2017) conclude the following:

  • "Acute supplementation with beetroot juice may have an ergogenic effect on reducing VO2 at less than or equal to VO2max intensity, while improving the relationship between watts required and VO2 level, mechanisms that make it possible to enable increase time-to-exhaustion at less than or equal to VO2max intensity."
  • "In addition to improving efficiency and performance in various time trials or increasing time-to-exhaustion at sub-maximal intensities, chronic supplementation with beetroot juice may improve cardio-respiratory performance at the anaerobic threshold and VO2max intensities."
  • "Apparently, the effects of supplementation with beetroot juice might not have a positive interaction with caffeine supplementation, mitigating the effects of beetroot juice intake on cardiorespiratory performance, however, more work is needed to confirm the results of these investigations because the number of studies analyzing the effects of the combination of beetroot juice with other supplements, such as caffeine, is limited."
  • "Intake of beetroot juice should be initiated within 90 min before athletic effort, since the peak value of NO3− occurs within 2–3 h after ingestion. At least 6–8 mmol of NO3− intake is required, which can be increased in athletes with a high level of training."

So what to make of this? Beetroot does have some great qualities, and is a great of source of various good stuff for our bodies regardless if we are athletes or not. Also, according to the summary of the study by Domínguez et also has some performance improving characteristics as claimed by many over the past years.

However, this is still no miracle-potion giving you wings or solving all your problems as a runner (or athlete) - You still need to put in some effort if you want to get a fast time! 

A quick question: So, say we drink e.g. beetroot juice/shot to become faster, then what do we do when we want to beat that time from while we were "on-the-juice"? Do we drink some more? Drink twice the amount? Or triple it? 

Instead one could be focusing on a genuine healthy diet, the amount and way of training, plus getting some proper rest/sleep, as partly suggested in this article where they state: "We tend to look at easy fixes, and there are a lot of other things that will be more beneficial for amateur athletes than just beet juice". 

Aiming for a healthy nutritious diet (beetroot could add to this) and getting your rest/sleep, is probably a better way to supercharge your run, unless you are a professional runner living off your running and need that extra speed to win a race (and already have ticked off the obvious boxes: a very healthy and controlled nutritious diet; getting all the sleep you need; and getting the right kind of training at the right time).

I'm not a professional athlete but I do have beetroot as a part of my everyday breakfast. I don't consume it because I want a performance boost as described above, and as I often run before I consume it, hence it doesn't have much effect - plus I'm not sure the quantities I consume are large enough to actually have an effect. Instead I drink it as part of a smoothie because it taste good in that way. I started consuming it regularly, because it is healthy in many ways and it is a source of iron as I'm 99% vegetarian (Source). 😃

Morten's beetroot smoothie: makes approx 3 glasses
(This probably does not have the beetroot quantities required for the boosting describe above)
  • 100g of beetroot
  • 1 banana (great if frozen in bits)
  • 1 apple
  • 0.5 cm slice of lemon - organic, without stones
  • 5-10g fresh ginger (to taste - or can be left out)
  • 3-5g fresh turmeric (to taste - or can be left out)
    WARNING! This will colour your whole kitchen orange if you are not careful!!
  • 100g of mixed frozen berries (to taste)
    These give a great taste so that you cannot taste the "funny" taste of beetroot
  • 2 teaspoons of linseed  
  • Add water till it almost covers the rest
  • Blend all till smooth
Try it 😋

Enough said about beetroot - See ya all out there ;-)


Best M. 

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