In recent years, beetroot has emerged as a promising exercise performance supplement ingredient. Beetroot contains many health-enhancing compounds, such as betaines, resveratrol, and quercetin. In addition, it is rich in nitrates, which have been the primary compound the studies in the review focused on.
One of the studies reviewed, which was published in 2017, aimed to determine the effects of nitrate supplementation on physiological functioning and exercise performance in trained runners and triathletes during short- and long-distance time trials. Participants in this study consumed either nitrate-rich beetroot juice or nitrate-depleted beetroot juice after completing four exercise performance tests.
The study, conducted by researchers from Leeds Beckett University and the University of Newcastle in the U.K., revealed that supplementation with nitrate-rich beetroot juice may be ergogenic, which means that it can enhance athletic performance. However, it was only effective during shorter-distance time trials at a high work rate and not during longer-distance time trials at a lower rate.
Another study, which was conducted by researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, examined at the effect of beetroot on high-intensity or intermittent-type exercise. The study examined whether a six-day nitrate-rich beetroot juice supplementation would improve exercise performance in trained soccer players.
The results showed that consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice for six days effectively improves high-intensity intermittent type exercise performance in trained soccer players. This suggests that supplementation with nitrate-rich beetroot juice could be an effective way to boost exercise performance.
When it comes to cognitive performance, beetroot juice also has beneficial effects. A study published in 2016 investigated whether beetroot juice consumption might have a synergistic effect with exercise on neuroplasticity in older men.
Results of the study showed that older men who drank beetroot juice for six weeks with exercise had brain networks closely similar to those of younger adults, suggesting that beetroot juice combined with exercise potentially enhanced neuroplasticity. In addition, they had lower mean heart rates compared to the placebo group. (Related: Beetroot juice found to decrease blood pressure and could be a great alternative treatment for people with cardiovascular disease.)
The findings of these studies support the use of beetroot supplementation as a natural way to boost athletic performance and endurance and cognition.
This popular root vegetable offers many health benefits. Beetroots have a great nutritional profile; they are low in calories, but rich in vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, fiber, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C. The greens are also nutritious. They are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beetroots can also do the following:
While beetroots are widely consumed as a juice, you can add them to your diet in other ways. You can eat them as a side dish, add to your salad or soup, pickle them, or use as a pizza topping.