Loving the BITE: More Muscle Oxygen with One Key Ingredient

Beetroot Juice.  Have you heard?  It’s said to be the newest, greatest, most effective fueling ingredient to hit cycling in recent times.  Yes, there’s currently a lot of hype.  Some of the claims are definitely legit, and some are a bit of a stretch.  In research (which has actually been conducted on beetroot juice for years), the results are pretty convincing: slightly faster, better times, easier cycling with less effort, more oxygen distribution by the bloodstream and more oxygen uptake by the muscles, and more stamina.  But, miracle in a bottle? While nothing replaces training and good overall fueling (the research participants are mostly pros and well-trained cyclists), sometimes, every little bit helps.

Beetroot Juice Recipes

Recipe of the Week #1:

Easy, Pre-Training Drink

Ingredients:

  • 8-12 oz. Beetroot juice OR 4-6 tsp beetroot freeze-dried powder in 8-12 oz. water
  • 1 Tbsp organic honey
  • 1/8 tsp salt (optional – helpful in high humidity/heat, or for those who sweat A LOT – you know who you are)

Instructions:

Mix well and drink ~2 hours before training.

(Approximately 115 calories, 27 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, up to 300 mg sodium, and 0 grams protein)

Recipe of the Week #2:

Pre-Training Smoothie Revisited, with Beetroot (for Training >3 hours)

Ingredients:

  • 8-12 oz. Beetroot juice OR 4-6 tsp beetroot freeze-dried powder in 8-12 oz. water
  • 1 Tbsp organic honey
  • 1 small banana (4”)
  •  1 cup frozen or fresh berries
  • 1/4 cup cooked oatmeal OR 2 Tbsp Chiaseeds
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop whey
  •  1/2 Tbsp organic coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt (optional – helpful in high humidity/heat, or for those who sweat A LOT – you know who you are)
  • water/ice as needed for consistency

Amino acids: Add ~5 gm l-glutamine and ~5 gm Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) before intense or long workouts

Instructions:

1.Mix well and drink 2 hours before training.

(Approximately: 470 calories,  60 grams carbs, 10 grams fiber, up to 400 mg sodium, 35 gm protein)

Comments:

Beetroot Juice SmoothieOf course, I love it when a whole food, or something close to a whole food, offers wonderful benefits that directly improve performance, health, and recovery.  The list of whole foods we’ve discussed goes on and on, including organic honey, organic coconut oil, Chia seeds, Greek yogurt, and more.  This week, let’s discuss beets, beetroot juice, and beetroot powder.

The Research:

The research on beetroot juice and performance began after it was shown that nitrates could increase nitric oxide in the body, which in turn dilates vessels and improves the delivery and use of oxygen (as wider vessels allow for better bloodflow).  From there, researchers began to hypothesize that foods rich in nitrates, not just the isolated chemical, could do the same.

Beets are very rich in nitrates, and beetroot juice is a concentrated form.  Preliminary studies showed a reduction in oxygen cost during moderate and intense training, increased time to exhaustion, and improved performance.  However, these early studies used a 6-day regimen of beetroot juice supplementation, and used other juice (like black currant) as placebo.  The issue here is that both juices have high amounts of antioxidants and many different nutritive components that may be contributing to the performance improvements.

Most recently, a method was derived to remove the nitrates from beetroot juice so that the researchers could compare nitrate-beetroot juice to non-nitrate-beetroot juice.  Also, both a 6-day (16 oz./day) and pre-ride method were used…and both sets of results were convincing.  The improvements in each were shown for the nitrate-beetroot juice group only.

Benefits of Nitrates:

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