We see nitrates and beetroot talked about to improve performance and it really does – even the pros take it when having the edge can be the difference between winning and losing. But how can you use it to help you when your sportive comes around
What are nitrates though and how does it help us?
Nitrate consumption helps to reduce the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise so in turn makes a given work load easier to perform. But what this all really comes down to is fatigue resistance, exercise efficiency and performance.
How much do you need?
You can get it naturally through your diet and just increasing your daily consumption of around 2-4 beets a day to get your required amount of nitrates.
If you wanted to drink it you would need 800ml of standard beetroot juice to get those sought-after performance enhancing effects which is quite a considerable amount of beetroot to neck!
Luckily Beetroot concentrate is now available and sold in 70ml shots by “Beet it” so you don’t need to be downing pints of beets.
When and how much to take it?
The best way to get these effects would be to increase your dietary intake of beetroot over a period of 2-6 days prior. Acute (<1day) consumption of beetroot sees an increased improvement in the more untrained individual so the longer you’ve been riding or the better rider you are I would suggest taking it for longer.
If you’re not the biggest fan of having beetroot everyday for 6 days then supplementing with 2 x 140ml a day (4 shots total) will help you achieve your target amount.
On the day of the event you want to take 140ml (2 shots) 2.5 hrs pre-event should suffice.
Beetroot Crisps – This won’t provide you with all the nitrates you need but will definitely help toward a loading phase
- 2-4 Large Beetroots
- Sprigs of Thyme
- 1-2tbsp olive oil
HEAT the oven to 200ºC
PEEL and thinly slice the beetroot,
TOSS sliced beetroot in a bowl with thyme leaves, olive oil and salt
SPACE out on a lined baking tray
ROAST for 15 minutes, or until crisp