You’re looking for that pre workout supplement that will help you take your gym workouts to the next level. You’ve got PRs to annihilate and muscles to stimulate. All you need now is a game-changing pre workout to help you get there.
Could the nitrate-rich red beet be the answer?
Could this deep and dark vegetable really ramp up your workouts and help you discover a whole new world of results?
Let’s take a look…
- What is red beet?
- The health benefits
- Nitrates and exercise performance
What is Red Beet?
Beetroot is a root vegetable famous for its dark purple-red color and earthy, sweet taste. It comes from the Chenopodiaceae family alongside Swiss chard.
Otherwise known as beta vulgaris, beet and red beet, this vegetable is popular in both western and eastern cooking. It can be cooked or eaten raw and is used in everything from curries and hummus to chocolate cake and even cookies (so we’ve been told).
Beets are one of the healthiest foods on the planet
Red beet is the multivitamin of the natural world.
It is low in calories and contains zero fat. It provides you with a great source of dietary carbs and fiber too, helping to keep your gut functioning well and increase digestive transit time and nutrient absorption.
Beet contains a number of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Not only is it a great source of vitamin C, B6 and the mineral magnesium, it contains a number of phytonutrients too.
For example, betanin and vulgaxanthin have been found to have a potent antioxidant value. These, alongside other bioactive compound found in beet, have been seen to possess both antihypertensive and antiglycemic properties.
It decreases inflammation as well and may even have an important role in the management of liver disease, arthritis and cancer too .
The sports supplement link
Red beet is also very high in inorganic nitrates – a precursor to nitric oxide (NO).
Whilst the health benefits of red beet have been known for many years, the food has more recently become a popular sports supplement too.
Many researchers are now basing their whole academic careers teaching athletes and coaches the many performance-enhancing benefits of the vegetable.
And this means that there’s now some reliable and interesting evidence to suggest that red beet could be a great pre workout supplement.
- Key Point: Red beet is a nutritious vegetable that has been shown to help improve health and reduce the risk of many long-term disorders.
Red Beet as a Pre Workout – What Are the Benefits?
Within the last few years, more and more research has shown that red beet works well as a pre workout supplement. This is because it has a direct effect on a number of markers of athletic performance.
Nitrates convert to nitric oxide
Nitric oxide is made naturally in your body. It plays an important role in regulating the size of your blood vessels to allow more efficient oxygen and nutrient delivery to your muscles.
When you exercise you require more blood flow to the target muscles. For that reason, when you hit the gym your blood nitrate levels increase to meet the demands of your workout. They increase as a reaction to exercise.
But when you eat nitrate rich foods can considerably increase the availability of NO in the blood before exercise starts – and that can lead to both health and performance benefits.
Nitric oxide transmits signals throughout your entire body and is an important regulator of blood flow.
Nitrates enhance performance
In 2007 the first paper was released showing that nitrate supplementation improved exercise ability . In the study, 9 trained athletes were given either nitrates or a placebo over a 3-day period and then asked to take part in a cycling test.
Exercise performance in the nitrate group improved significantly. The maximal amount of oxygen they used during the intense testing went down by 5%, and an improvement in overall efficiency and work output were also seen.
The supplement group became much more tolerant to hard training.
Red beet improves aerobic power and training economy
In a study from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise , a small group of elite-level cyclists were given a glass of red beet juice before a maximal-intensity 4 kilometer time trial.
The supplement significantly increased power output throughout the test, showing that the athletes became more economical with their energy. It helped to improve their time at all checkpoints throughout the race compared to the non-supplement group.
Beetroot lengthens time up exhaustion
Using red beet prior to running tests on a treadmill was found to improve time to exhaustion in both moderate and severe-intensity running in a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology .
In the study, researchers asked fit and healthy volunteers to chug some beetroot juice and then take part in various treadmill tests. And while the supplement improved most test measurements, it was the most intense exercise test that saw the biggest difference – a massive 15% improvement in time to exhaustion. At moderate intensity the improvement was 7%.
The red beet supplement also led to reduced oxygen cost too.
Key Point: The nitrate content of red beet has been show to boost exercise performance by improving power output and time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise.
Red Beet Juice or Powder?
The problem with red beet juice is that it tastes far too earthy for many people. It is also quite a thick juice and not very palatable. This can be off-putting for even the most hardcore of gym goers.
Not only that but juicing your own beets is time consuming and buying bottled juice from the local supermarket is expensive (especially now that manufacturers are realizing that beet is the next big athlete supplement).
Powdered red beet on the other hand contains all of the nutrients needed to gain all the necessary benefits – but can be added to other performance-enhancing nutrients too. It can be added to other potent pre workout ingredients too which makes it more palatable.
Beetroot is a nutritious root vegetable high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemical nutrients.
As a pre workout, red beet helps to boost exercise capacity be improving oxygen economy and time to exhaustion at both moderate and high intensities. Many of these benefits are down to the nitrate compounds found in high quantities in the food.
Because of its strong, earthy taste and smell, many people don’t like red beet as a juice drink. A powdered supplement is therefore a great alternative, providing all of the nutrients without missing out on the amazing benefits that it provides.
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- Clifford, T et al. The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2015; 7(4): 2801-2822
- Larsen, FJ et al. Effects of dietary nitrate on oxygen cost during exercise. Acta Physiol. 2007;191:59–66
- Lansley, KE et al. Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011; 43(6): 1125-31