In recent years, beet juice has become increasingly popular among athletes seeking to improve their performance. This drink is rich in nitrates, which, when ingested, are converted into nitrites and then into nitric oxide—a compound that widens the blood vessels. This widening of the blood vessels is thought to be behind some of beet juice’s benefits to sporting performance. Various studies have researched the subject. Below is a summary of their observations.
- Beet juice supplementation appears to have a positive effect on endurance, most likely due to changes in the type of muscle fibres.
- Beet juice also seems to boost sports performance, promoting oxygen transfer to muscles and aiding muscle efficiency, tolerance and endurance. More specifically, it impacts oxygen uptake during exercise. Beet juice also contributes to more efficient production and reduced consumption of ATP, a molecule that provides energy to muscles. The extent of beet juice’s benefits seems dependent on the amount of juice consumed and when.
- The improvement in sports performance observed in healthy people may depend on their fitness level. Beet juice has been found to benefit people with a low level of fitness more than those who are fitter.
- Beet juice supplementation seems to have positive effects in some patients with peripheral arterial disease, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Some experts are concerned about the concentration of nitrates that are converted into carcinogenic compounds once ingested.
Drinking beet juice appears to have positive effects on sporting performance. However, studies often involve a small number of participants and data on the subject remains limited, particularly regarding endurance and potential negative effects. Additional research is needed to determine the benefits of this drink as a supplement. In conclusion, beet juice is not the sure-fire solution to improving sports performance. It is therefore better to focus on a holistic approach that includes healthy eating and appropriate training.