How beetroot boosts your performance
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We all know that getting your nutrition and hydration optimized specifically around training and matches is massively important. You will be surprised about benefits you can get from a food that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with high performance…beetroot!
There have been reports that beetroot can boost your level of stamina by 15%! When looking for an edge on the pitch, that is huge (especially considering how easy it is to implement).
If you are just interested in product recommendations, check out our Beetroot Supplement Product Recommendations article.
How it effects your body
Beetroot is particularly rich in nitrates (compounds found naturally in vegetables), which are then converted into nitric oxide inside the body.
Nitric oxide has several different metabolic and vascular effects, that produce improvements in exercise performance. It’s important to regulate your blood flow, muscle glucose uptake and muscle contraction. Your nitric oxide levels in your blood drop during exercise, so increasing your supply via beetroot can really help to boost your performance.
THe performance effect
Beetroot has shown to be effective at improving blood flow by triggering the widening of blood vessels, but it can also lower your oxygen consumption for any given workload and improve your exercise capacity during short-duration high-intensity running.
Although there is evidence supporting beetroot's role in improving general sporting performance, it has not yet been widely studied specifically for football. However; many of the studies can be easily applied to football to give you a clear advantage on the pitch.
Backed by scientific studies
Researchers found that athletes using an aggressive loading dose of concentrated beetroot juice produced improvements in the distance run on the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, when compared with a group using only a placebo supplement.
The athletes using the beetroot juice ingested:
- 2 × 70 ml in the morning
- 2 × 70 ml in the evening
On each day of the experiment before performing the test, the athletes consumed a further:
- 2 × 70 ml two and a half hours before the start of the exercise test
- 1 × 70 ml one and a half hours before the start of the exercise test
Results showed that performance in the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test was 4.2% greater with the beetroot juice athletes compared to placebo group.
Interestingly, the researchers also observed reduced plasma glucose during exercise in the beetroot athletes, suggesting that muscle glucose uptake efficiency had improved.
Delivering glucose to the muscles is important, because glucose provides the dominant fuel required for repeated high intensity exercise performance. This effect alone could be the reason for the level of improved exercise performance in the beetroot athletes.
In a different study, participants were given either 70ml of beetroot juice or a placebo for 5 days. On day 5, participants completed a series of maximal 20-m sprints followed by the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test.
- Sustained attention (the ability to focus for extended periods)
- Selective attention capacity (the ability to focus on one thing whilst ignoring distractions)
- Cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts and to think about multiple concepts at the same time)
These cognitive tests were also completed before and after the main test. The study resulted in the beetroot athletes covering 3.9% more distance in the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test compared to placebo group. The reaction time in the cognitive tasks was also 4.7% shorter in the beetroot juice group than in the placebo group at rest.
Beetroot has also proven to improve time-to-exhaustion. 250ml of beetroot juice taken twice a day, improved time-to-exhaustion at intensities of 60%, 70%, 80% and 100% peak power compared to a placebo.
Researchers believe that beetroot created a lower VO2 response at submaximal intensities, delaying the time to which participants reached VO2 max allowing for a longer sustained effort! VO2 max is a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen that you utilize during intense or maximal exercise.
Beetroot has also been found to enhance the rate of ATP production (great for repeated sprint performance) but only when beetroot is taken over a sustained period rather than as a one-off.
What's the downside?
Research indicates that beetroot supplementation is less effective at improving performance in elite athletes since highly trained athletes are less sensitive to the additional nitric oxide availability provided by consuming beetroot.
However, you can overcome this by simply increasing the amount being consumed before a match (please try doing this before training first because of the risk of stomach upset).
*We don't recommend consuming over 500 ml of pure beetroot juice. If you are supplementing, refer to your nutrition label for dose amount*
How to consume beetroot
The exact number of nitrates in beetroot can vary depending on the soil conditions and time of year. Therefore it's best to take beetroot in juice or supplement form to ensure you are taking in enough nitrates.
Again, if you want our product recommendation, check out our Beetroot Supplement Recommendations article.
Due to limited research, it’s a good idea to experiment to see what works best for you (if you do opt to try it before a match, make sure it’s not within about 90 minutes of kick off).
Beetroot is a great choice to get an edge over your opponents. Of course this is only part of the equation, for best results you must also ensure the rest of your diet is proper and follow an effective training program.
For more nutrition information, check out the Matchfit Conditioning Nutrition Guide. Matchfit Conditioning is a leader in football fitness specializing in all aspects of fitness such as fat burn, nutrition, injury prevention, stamina, and speed. They have helped thousands of footballers across the world from amateur to pro become match fit.
They offer a truly amazing, extremely in-depth guide to help you become match fit. It contains priceless information and is risk risk-free 60-day money back guarantee.