Beetroot Juice, red in colour and tastes like a burger. Does it really have effects on your athletic performance?
Normal nitrates when swallowed, are converted to nitrites that can react with haemoglobin in the blood, oxidizing its divalent iron to the trivalent form and creating methemoglobin.
This methemoglobin cannot bind oxygen, which decreases the capacity of the blood to transport oxygen so less oxygen is transported from the lungs to the body tissues, thus causing a condition known as methemoglobinemia.
Beetroots however have a significant amount of Nitrates in them, which you would think would cause an opposite effect for what a cyclist is looking for?
Instead the body converts the nitrates in beet juice into nitric oxide, a compound that enhances blood flow throughout the body and helps lower blood pressure.
According to Exeter University, Professor Andy Jones said: “Our original research indicated that the amount of dietary nitrate makes a difference to its impact. This new paper provides a much clearer picture of when and how much is optimum. In particular, it underlines that there is no advantage to be gained from taking very large doses”.
This latest study suggests that effect on performance is at its peak 2-3 hours after ingestion, and that the effects gradually decline, with little improvement being seen after about 12 hours.
So Happy Beetroot Juicing, but don’t drink too much!