You might have heard talk that beetroot enhances performance but maybe what isn’t talked about as much is exactly how much you need to eat and how often you ought to eat it to make a difference. Is it “a beet a day helps the pedals fly?”
Not exactly… to really get the most out of beetroot you would find it hard to get the required amount of nitrate needed to get those boosts you’re searching for just by eating normal portions even on a regular basis.
What is nitrate though and how does it help us?
Nitrate consumption helps to reduce the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise so in turn helps to increase time to trial speed and time to exhaustion. Nitrate consumption has seen around a 2.8% improvement in time to completion which can be the difference between first and second.
How much do you need?
800ml of standard beetroot juice would be needed to get the performance enhancing effects which is quite a considerable amount to neck!
Luckily Beetroot concentrate is now available and sold in 70ml shots. You only need to take 140ml to achieve the desired outcome, though this does depend on other factors.
When to take it?
This ultimately depends how well trained an individual you are. If you’re highly trained and compete a lot then I would recommend doing a loading phase of 4 days with 2 x 140ml a day (4 shots total)
Or if you’re not as highly trained taking on board 140ml (2 shots) 2.5 hrs pre event should suffice. This is mainly because there seems to be a suggestion that trained individuals require more nitrate to see a benefit.
Some new studies also suggest that having beetroot post can help recovery too.
Emma Stevenson PhD says “We have conducted a series of recent studies looking at the role of beetroot juice in facilitating recovery following intense exercise. The studies have shown that consuming beetroot juice for three days after a hard bout of exercise can enhance recovery. Participants have reported reduced muscle soreness and in many cases, a faster recovery in muscle power”
Really useful to know if you’re doing a race/event lasting several days and when recovery is key!