Sunday, November 16, 2014

Beat down on beet juice

Many in the OCR community may be familiar with Beet Elite.  Many of the elite obstacle course race athletes are plastering fake "Beet Elite" tattoo's on their bodies as part of their sponsorship, and swear that drinking the juice helps improve their performance during races and training.  Is this actually true, and should you be taking it before or after your workouts/races?

 Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

Beet juice is made from the root vegetable, Beets.  If you're are not familiar with this veggie, it comes in several distinct colors, red (most common), golden orange, pink and white.  They are full of many essential nutrients including vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and B6.

Research shows that drinking beet juice can help lower blood pressure, boost stamina, and reduce inflammation (a risk factor for Type-2 Diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease).  The reason for this is that Beets are full of natural chemicals known as nitrates, a nutrient usually found in green, leafy vegetables as well as beets.  During exercise, our bodies convert those nitrates into nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to dilate and hence increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure.  As a results of the increased blood flow, more oxygen can travel to the working muscles, allowing them to work at higher intensities.

Photo Credit tashka2000/iStock/Getty Images

How much beet juice is safe to drink?  It appears that drinking 2 cups daily is sufficient for the health benefits listed below.

So, what are the benefits to athletes?
     1. Increase in stamina and endurance - according to the University of Exeter, drinking 2 cups (500ml) improved stamina up to 6 days and allowed athletes to exercise up to 16% longer.

     2.  Regulation and balance of electrolyte levels - because beet juice contains lots of potassium, it can help prevent cramping during periods of heavy sweating.

     3.  Improves blood flow - this can help prevent blood clotting, lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol) for better overall heart health, critical for heavy exercisers.

     4.  Reduces inflammation - prevents muscle tissue damage leading to sore muscles from strenuous exercise.

I'm going to give beet juice a try for the next 3 months and see if I can notice these benefits myself.  Mothers Juice Cafe in Bend, OR is now selling bottled beet juice for $7 per bottle.  I am also going to try using beets in my Nutri Bullet to make some healthy smoothies along with other veggies.

Beet Elite, a supplement made with natural sweeteners, is a faster and more powerful way to deliver nitric oxide to working muscles.  A shot of Beet Elite is equivalent to 6 whole beets, making for a more concentrated solution so you don't need to consume as much before an event.  Some of the OCR athletes that swear by it include, Hunter McIntyre, Matt Novakovich, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, and Isaiah Vidal.

If you have a favorite smoothie recipe that includes beets, I would love to hear what it is.  Please send me an email or leave a comment below.  Who knows, if I get hooked on it, maybe you'll see me running around with some beet tattoos as well

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