You may have been seeing more and more talk about using beets, or more specifically, beet juice, as part of your nutritional protocol to support your training regime.
Granted, it makes sense that fresh vegetables would play a role in any healthy eating plan, but what is it about beets that stand out more than other veggies?
Health benefits of beets include:
Lowering Blood Pressure
Cancer- Fighting Properties
Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
Anti inflammatory properties
Sounds good so far, but how does this food pertain to fueling an athlete in particular?
It’s all down to the nitric oxide content…
The high concentrations of nitrates found in beet juice enhance vasodilatation, (the capacity of blood vessels to dilate, thus increased blood flow).
A few years ago, researchers from Exeter University performed a study in which they recruited nine subjects and gave them either regular beetroot juice or nitrate-depleted beetroot juice to drink every day for six days.
They found that consuming regular beetroot juice increased blood nitrate levels and reduced resting blood pressure, reduced oxygen consumption during moderate- and high-intensity exercise and increased time to exhaustion at high intensity by 15 percent (which is a lot).
But how many servings of beets are needed to achieve this?
Can we throw one or two in the Vitamix or Blendtec juicer and meet our high-demand for these valuable nutrients?
Juicing fresh beets on a daily basis is one way, but what to do if you’re traveling for a race and in a hotel? Or if you’re about to do an evening session straight after you leave the office? What if you simply don’t like the earthy beet taste?
Enter Beet Nitrates from AMRAP Nutrition…
With a natural ingredient label (Non-GMO Beet Juice Concentrate, Electrolyte Blend (Potassium Citrate, Sea Salt, Magnesium Oxide), Stevia, Natural Flavor), a very palatable sweet, non-earthy taste, I tested it for the first time just over a month ago and was pleasantly surprised.
As a long time Paleo endurance athlete, I want my diet to consist of as much real food (as opposed to the plethora of junk that we are inundated with in the forms of sports drinks made with corn syrup, energy bars made with gluten and soy powder and recovery drinks made with whey and sucralose), and as little manufactured product as possible.
To that end, my own training and fueling has changed considerably over the years. Back when I first began racing triathlon (and I’m dating myself now by sharing that I’m embarking on my 18th season!), I tried pretty much every product out there, from drinks to energy chews to powders to brightly colored gels.
As I learned more about why these ‘foods’ were not only not helping me dial in my training and nutrition, but preventing me from reaching the lean body weight I’d been coveting and making me sick at the same time, it became more and more evident that a change was in order, which led me to adapt to the principles of a True Paleo Regime, back in 2005.
Even since then, my fueling protocol has changed considerably and I continue to test certain products that pique my interest as they arise.
Along with becoming more efficient at using fat as my fuel comes fiddling around with macro nutrient ratios, fasted training and what foods I rely on for recovery.
The bottom line for me, as well as many athlete clients with whom I work to developer their nutritional game plan, is to keep it as real as possible, as often as possible.
And, just as with my love for AMRAP’s paleo nutrition bar, similarly, there is a time and place where their Beet Nitrate formula comes in handy.
My final thought to those wanting to achieve their health, fitness or wellness goals.
The message is not to eat as many bars and powders as you can, but rather to keep your eyes open for which products are introduced that are:
Actually made of real food. Please read your labels. ALL OF THEM!
Have legitimate research behind them. Athletes, chocolate milk! Really??
Make common sense. The ‘shake’ diet, elimination diets; do those make sense? No!
Does it make sense that a plant would have significant properties to help us train, perform and recover better? I’d say so.
Try your own set of experiments and find your own best balance.