Beetroots are rich in nitrate and anthocyanins (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock) Beetroot is gaining popularity as a performance-enhancer for athletes and those wanting to gain a competitive advantage in running and cycling.
Some people juice beetroot , some eat it, others mix up a drink from the powdered form. But will it make a noticeable difference on how quickly we run a race or cycle up a hill?
Small benefits for some
A large systematic review in 2020 included 80 clinical trials, in which the included studies had participants randomly assigned to consume beetroot juice or not. It found consuming beetroot juice provided performance benefits for athletes.
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In sports where every second or centimetre counts, this can be a significant improvement. In a 16.1 kilometre cycling time trial the gains linked to beetroot consumption were equivalent to 48 seconds.But when the authors analysed subgroups within these studies they found beetroot juice wasn’t effective for women or elite athletes – though this could be because there were too few study participants in these groups to draw conclusions.Another large systematic review in 2021 of 73 studies that looked at endurance athletes (who run, swim or cycle long distances) found similar results. Supplementation with beetroot (and other vegetables rich in nitrate) improved their time to exhaustion by an average of 25.3 seconds and the distance travelled by 163 metres.This improvement was seen in recreational athletes, but not in elite athletes or sedentary people. This analysis didn’t look specifically at women. […]
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