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A Halloween Drink Athletes Love

For a blood red thirst quencher with a bonus boost of antioxidants and stamina inducing nitrates, try this Beet and Berry Smoothie.

Did you Know?

A regular shot of beetroot improves stamina allowing us to exercise for longer before tiring. While the earthy tang of the juice might not be to everyone’s taste, it could have a big impact on on your energy.

Researchers, from the University of Exeter and the Peninsula Medical School, recruited eight healthy young men to complete a series of cycling tests.

Results were taken after drinking beetroot juice once a day for six days and then again after the group had been drinking blackcurrant cordial. The results were published in the Journal of Applied Physiology and indicated that when cycling at an easy pace, the men used less oxygen after drinking the beetroot juice.

The beetroot juice had a beneficial effect on the muscles allowing the men to do the same amount of work while spending less energy. This was evident when the test group were asked to cycle for as long as they could before stopping, the beetroot juice allowed them to pedal an extra minute-and-a-half before running out of energy.

Equating to a 16 per cent increase in endurance this means that someone who normally runs out of steam after jogging for hour would be able to keep going for an extra ten minutes. Alternatively, they could cover the same distance in a shorter period of time.

Researcher Andy Jones said: “We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training. Obviously you get fitter with training but your oxygen uptake stays fixed. You could take a Tour de France cyclist and a man in the street and their oxygen uptake at the same work rate would be exactly the same.”

The benefits are likely due to the high levels of nitrate in beetroot juice, the chemical is also found in green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach but is especially concentrated in juices.

It is thought that it undergoes a series of changes in the body which lead to the blood vessels widening, improving oxygen supply to the muscles. Although the study used shop-bought beetroot juice, the researchers said that homemade versions should also be beneficial.

Source: “Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans.” Stephen J. Bailey, Paul Winyard, Anni Vanhatalo, Jamie R. Blackwell, Fred J. DiMenna, Daryl P. Wilkerson, Joanna Tarr, Nigel Benjamin, and Andrew M. Jones. Journal of Applied Physiology (August 6, 2009) DOI:10.1152/japplphysiol.00722.2009