Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just Beet It: How Beet Juice Can Help Endurance

I have always loved beets (especially pickled beets) and even as a child I would request beets with dinner. This love of beets carries on and now even Lola loves 'em too!

This winter at the Rev3 Team Summit in Colorado, we had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Biotta Naturals and learn more about their line. We got to sample the beet juice and it was just like biting into a very fresh beet.



I now have a little joke how I bleed Rev3 Blue and pee Biotta Beet pink now...yes, if you do drink a lot of beet juice like I do, it will turn colors. FUN STUFF!!

A little about Biotta:

In 1951, Biotta committed itself to organic farming — harvesting its fruits and vegetables from healthy, living soil and organic production, both according to European Organic Standards — many years before the enthusiasm for organic food really took hold. At Biotta, top quality means organic products grown and left as nature intended. First-class raw products and painstakingly careful processing are the key to the natural flavor of Biotta juices, which are all rich with natural minerals and vitamins, to promote good health. We guarantee that no artificial additives are used. Biotta juices are 100% pure, natural original juices that are not made from concentrate or diluted with water.

Why Beet Juice?
Drinking just two cups of beet juice a day may reduce blood pressure (WebMD, Feb. 8, 2008)
Drinking beet juice can increase your stamina by 16% (Jrnl of Applied Physiology, Aug. 2009)
Drinking beet juice could fight the progression of Dementia (WebMD Health News, Nov. 3, 2010)

My totally awesome team mate, Laura (that is DOCTOR Laura...not THAT Dr. Laura) at wrote up this article about beet juice and how it's been helping her training and I really wanted to share it with all of you 

The hottest trend right now in running and triathlon isn’t some piece of sexy new gear, an innovative electronics gadget, or an unconventional training paradigm.  It’s been in use since 2000 B.C.1, is typically covered in dirt, and has been spurned by many a 5 year old. Yes folks, we’re talking about the common beet. But despite its humble origins, this ruby root is really shaking things up in the endurance world and has incredible abilities to increase your athletic performance.

One of the biggest limitations to us as athletes is our bodies’ ability to utilize oxygen during exercise. This is typically measured in VO2 max, which is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can harness during exercise2. Generally, the better your oxygen uptake, the better you will be at endurance exercise. Conversely, if you can reduce the oxygen cost of exercise, or lower the rate at which your body uses oxygen during exercise, you can perform better.
Recent studies have indicated that beets may have the ability to reduce the cost of oxygen during exercise. Beets are loaded with nitrates, which have been shown to be associated with increases in endurance activity performance3-5. Although the exact mechanism behind this increase is unknown, it is thought nitrates might work in two ways to help during exercise. First, your body takes in nitrate in the form of NO3− from the beets and quickly converts it to nitrite (NO2)due to bacteria on your tongue6. From there it travels to your stomach where it is converted again to nitric oxide (NO)7. NO is a vasodilator, and it is thought that it might help evenly distribute oxygen to muscles during exercise3. The second way that nitrates (technically nitrite and nitric oxide) might help is within metabolic pathways in the mitochondria, specifically in increasing the efficiency of oxidative phosphorylation, which would help replace the role of oxygen in this process, thereby requiring less oxygen8,9.

So, how does this translate to an increase in performance? Let’s look to three example studies. The first study4 investigated the impact of whole beetroot consumption on running performance. Five men and six women between the ages of 18 and 55 at moderate activity level (5 days of an hour of vigorous exercise) consumed either a beetroot relish or a placebo (cranberry relish) an hour before a 5k treadmill test.   After a one week “washout” period, they returned to repeat the test taking the alternative to what they ingested in the previous trial. Average 5k times ranged from 19 to 35 minutes among group members for the placebo, but running speeds increased 3% after ingesting beetroot (this translates to roughly 41s improvement in speed). More importantly, the perceived exertion level was lower for the beetroot trial.

The second study3 investigated the impact of beetroot juice on cycling performance. Eight men who were “recreationally active” performed a cycling test, then consumed 500 ml/day of either beetroot juice or placebo for six days, then returned for another cycling test. The beetroot juice group had a significantly slower oxygen uptake rate than the placebo group and a significantly longer time to exhaustion than the placebo group (16% longer for beet root group than placebo group).

The third study10 was another cycling study, but unlike the previous study investigated the effects of drinking beet root juice one time only a few hours before a time trial. These participants were 9 competitive male cyclists who consumed either 500ml of beetroot juice or 500 ml placebo 2 ½ hours before performing a 4 and 16k time trial (all participants performed time trials of both the beet and placebo treatment). The beet time trials had significantly higher power output levels for the same VO2 levels (5% higher power output for the 4km TT, 6% higher output for 16km TT), which resulted in faster finish times and increased performance.

So the general consensus is that beetroot juice supplementation is good. Taking one dose 1-3 hours before an event will give you a 3-6% improvement in performance, but “loading” a week before your event will give you even greater performance benefits.

biottaSince Biotta Naturals, a beetroot juice company, teamed up with the Rev3 Age Group team this year, I have been experimenting with beet juice before races. Before both Rev3 Knoxville and Rev3 Quassy I “loaded” by consuming 500 ml/day starting one week out from the race. The results? Running this season has felt effortless. Yes, I’ve been putting a lot of effort into my run training, but I keep commenting how it feels easier and easier to run at higher heart rates. The run portion is the leg I have always struggled with in triathlon, but this season it’s been feeling easier than ever. I’ve talked to several other athletes who have experimented with beet juice, and they all echo my same words: running just feels easier.

Yes, beetroot juice can be a bit pricey (around $6-8 a bottle) but if you’re drinking one bottle a day a week out from your race that only totals $50– a small price to pay for a potential big payoff on race day. Besides, the joy you get from a fuchsia experience in the bathroom is well worth it! So what are you waiting for? It’s time for you to jump on the beetwagon! (You can get Biotta online here or search forstores in your area)

  1. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension (n.d.) First Beets Yielded Only Greens. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from publications/ vegetabletravelers/beets.html.
  2. McArdle W.D., Katch F.I. and Katch V.L. (2000). Essentials of Exercise Physiology: 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  3. Bailey S.J., Winyard P., Vanhatalo A., Blackwell J.R., DiMenna F.J., Wilkerson D.P., Tarr J., Benjamin N., and Jones A.M. (2009). Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107: 1144-1155.
  4. Murphy M., Eliot K., Heuertz R.M., and Weiss, E. (2012). Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112: 548-552.
  5. Lomangino K. (2012). Moving with the beet: can it enhance athletic performance? Clinical Nutrition Insight, 38: 6-7.
  6. Duncan C., Dougall H., Johnston P., Green S., Brogan R., Leifert C., Smith L., Golden M., and Benajmin N. (1995). Chemical generation of nitric oxide in the mouth from the enterosalivary circulation of dietary nitrate. National Medicine, 1: 546-551.
  7. Benjamin N., O’Driscoll F., Dougall H., Duncan C., Smith L., Golden M., and McKenzie H. (1994). Stomach NO synthesis. Nature, 368: 502-503.
  8. Clerc P., Rigoulet M., Leverve X., Fontaine E. (2007). Nitric oxide increases oxidative phosphorylation efficiency. Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, 39: 158-166.
  9. Basu S., Azarova N.A., Font M.D., King S.B., Hogg N., Gladwin M.T., Shiva S., and Kim-Shapiro D.B. (2008). Nitrite reductase activity of cytochrome c. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283: 32590-32597.
  10. Lansley K.E., Winyard P.G., Bailey S.J., Vanhatalo A., Wilkerson D.P., Blackwell J.R., Gilchrist M., Benjamin N., and Jones, A.M. (2011). Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43: 1125-1131.

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