Over the past few years I have heard many superstitions, crazy fueling concoctions and snake oil cures regarding running. We can discuss the merits of powerless potions, such as coconut water or pickle juice, another day. Today the “supplement” or “pre-race fuel” I speak of may sound like it falls into one of those categories but, fear not. Your cocky correspondent has done his research and this little root could be the real deal.
Let’s start with a study by the University of Exeter and published in the “Journal of Applied Physiology. It showed that beet juice may have the most benefits of any pre-workout fuel when it comes to improving athletic performance. Specifically, it pointed to the benefits of nitrates which are abundant in beets. Nitrates bring oxygen to muscles quicker and dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, which allows an athlete to exert less effort for the same reward. Unfortunately, this study was performed on cyclists so we have no way of knowing how it will effect real athletes, like runners. The good news is that it did boost their endurance by a full 16%.
This subterranean sensation also improves hydration. Being high in potassium, it can stabilize fluid levels and help balance electrolytes. Beet juice is also an effective anti-inflammatory due to its high betaine content. I am not ready to throw away my Gatorade just yet, but I am willing to give this a try. Did I mention that beets are also high in vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and A? My only concern is that if beets are high in potassium AND nitrates, one could throw in a certain organosulfide and receive a visit from homeland security. (The one chemist reading this just chuckled)
Those of you brave enough to try this, be warned! There could be an unwanted side effect. Eating beets leaves some people producing purple urine. If this little vegetable powerhouse lives up to the claims, I am willing to put up with a little case of beeturia. I’ll gladly be the guinea pig for this test and drink some beet juice before my 10K/5K challenge this Saturday and let you all know the results.
Run for fun and race to place everyone
© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running