Beet juice has garnered a lot of attention as a superfood that could be a strategic pre workout. If you’re looking for food to boost your workout and recovery time, beets have the nitric oxide known to produce these kinds of results. Nitric oxide spells better workouts, better pumps, performance, and better circulation. However, understanding how and why beets are recommended food for a better workout and pre-workout is what inquiring my minds want to know.
Beets…the Super Food
Beets are rich in organic compound nitrate, in addition to Vitamin C, folate, and carbohydrates. This is important because nitrate becomes nitrite which is later turned into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide gives the body the ability to enhance both oxygen and blood flow to weary muscles, as well as boost endurance. The frequent use of beets as a pre-workout supplement increases the response of fast-twitch muscles and improves short-term performance in high-intensity workouts.
Nitric Oxide and Athletic Performance
Most of the research done on the effects of nitric oxide has been conducted on rodents. However, there have been conclusive studies done on its effects on human athletic performance. Research supports that nitric oxide boosts performance in prolonged aerobic exercise when it comes to endurance as well as other areas. Performance is noticeably increased in high-intensity interval training. Nitric oxide is also known to increase blood flow resulting in a better pump and larger muscles during workouts. Other benefits include a reduction in oxygen consumption needed during a workout as well as a decrease in perceived exertion. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why bodybuilders consume this superfood in abundance.
Nitric Oxide…the Power House Ingredient…
Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule composed of both nitrogen and oxygen. It has the ability to relax blood vessels which is beneficial in terms of lowering blood pressure. Studies have also supported the reduction in resting blood pressure and reduced oxygen consumption. Nitric oxide has also been known to help with erectile dysfunction as well as athletic performance and endurance. A considerable amount of research supports the enhanced effect that nitric oxide has on interval and prolonged aerobic training. The use of nitric oxide also supports reduced oxygen needed for athletic exertion. Athletes also experienced increased blood flow which is responsible for a better pump and larger muscles while working out. The cited studies were inclusive of athletes who ate beets and received these results during their workouts.
The Beet-Nitrate Connection
Beets are rich in Vitamin C, folate, carbohydrates, and nitrate. The organic compound nitrate is converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is responsible for improving the effectiveness of workouts/exercises by boosting the physiological response in fast-twitch muscles. Consuming beets allows the nitric oxide present in this superfood to enhance/increase short-term endurance and performance in high-intensity workouts. The increase in mitochondrial efficiency is also responsible for oxygen economy which also aids in enhancing athletic performance. These effects can also be seen in running performance.
How Much Nitrate is Needed to Boost Performance Results?
Because beets can be consumed in different forms, figuring out how much to consume can be tricky. A study tracked the results of athletes who were consuming beets in the form of a concentrated or whole juice, while some athletes ate beets in their raw form. Nevertheless, studies confirmed that 500-milligrams of nitrate seemed to be an effective dosage when it came to noticeable results in athletic performance. A double-blind placebo study of athletes on a 5-kilometer fun found that athletes who munched on raw beets had a perceived diminished rate of exertion.
Although nitrate isn’t a drug and may not produce the feelings that a stimulant or supplement might produce, there are noticeable benefits that often show up in the form of an extra boost of strength and endurance that allows you to get another rep in or run a little longer. Over time, these results add up and have a significant effect on overall athletic training.
I thought Nitrates were Bad…
The nitrate found in beets and in cured meats is bioequivalent. However, although both meats and beets contain nitrate which leads to a rise in the nitrate in blood levels, there are differences. Perhaps the pairing of nitrates found in cured meats as well as the high levels of sodium (sodium nitrate) present, aren’t the most healthy combination. Of course, this pairing also suggests a decrease in antioxidant intake because the nitrate is coming from salts (inorganic) and not plants. Conversely, beets, although high in nitrates, don’t carry the same negative press that cured meats carry. Beets aren’t salt-rich and don’t produce a reduction in antioxidant intake. Plus, there’s been no substantial link between nitrate consumption and cancer.
At one time, there was a lot of rumination and chatter about cancer and cured meat but the same connection was made between red meat without nitrate. However, there has been a link between consuming a diet rich in cured meats and an unhealthy lifestyle. Conversely, high vegetable consumption (beets) and exercise contribute to better health and lowered disease risk. However, despite all the chatter, there’s no strong evidence-based link between cancer and nitrate consumption.
Beets are a Great Pre-workout Food…
The heart health benefits of beets have been well known for a long time. However, in addition to heart health, beets have the ability to enhance your athletic performance. If you’re someone who isn’t into pre-workout powders and supplements, consuming beets may be a great choice. The nitrate present in beets is known to enhance peripheral musculature, endurance, short duration high intensity performance, and much more. This superfood has been linked to many supercharged benefits that can take your athletic performance to the next level. These benefits include;
- Boosting the physiological response in fast-twitch muscles
- Boost in strength and endurance
- Diminished rate of exertion
- enhance/increase short-term endurance
- Increase in mitochondrial efficiency
- Oxygen economy
Although beets aren’t the only effective pre-workout, they definitely hold their own as an effective choice. If you’re someone that doesn’t want to supplement or consume powders, beets may be just what your workout could benefit from. Best yet is the fact that beets can be consumed in different forms, from raw and whole juices to their natural raw form. As long as you’re consuming at least 500 milligrams of this superfood you should see an increase in your athletic performance in a wide variety of different areas. From increased blood flow to lower oxygen consumption, your workouts will help you gain results both overall and in time. Not only are beets a heart-healthy choice, but they are also a natural way to increase your athletic performance in both high-intensity short-duration workouts and during running and other forms of exercises that are of a longer duration.