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You could keep going 16% longer...

Drink beetroot juice to go faster and further. That's the finding of a group of researchers at Exeter University who have been studying the effects of organic nitrate compounds in beetroot on oxygen in the blood. In tests they found that oxygen uptake was reduced, making exercise less tiring and delaying exhaustion.

The article, which was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, consisted of a study of eight men aged between 19 and 38. For six days some of the participants were given beetroot juice and others blackcurrant cordial, then they were put through their paces on static bikes. After testing the two groups switched drinks and were tested again.

The researchers found that on average the beetroot juice enabled the cyclists to cycle for longer at moderate to severe intensity. The results would translate into a 2% reduction in time over a set distance. That's a pretty significant finding that'll no doubt prick the ears of professional cyclists; ove a 40km time trial, for example, it equates to the best part of a minute. It's especially noteworthy as the researchers seem to indicate that the stamina improvement isn't something you could train your body to achieve but an effect that's directly linked to the nitrate consumption.

The researchers say that they're not sure exactly by what mechanism the nitrates are helping. Other studies have linked the use of phramacological Sodium Nitrate with the reduction of oxygen use in exercise, but this is the first time a dietary supplement has shown the same effect. The team suspect that the stamina increase may be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing the oxygen cost of the exercise

Professor Andy Jones of the University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences, said: “Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance. We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training. I am sure professional and amateur athletes will be interested in the results of this research. I am also keen to explore the relevance of the findings to those people who suffer from poor fitness and may be able to use dietary supplements to help them go about their daily lives.”

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

16 comments

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woody [13 posts] 7 years ago
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read that in the paper this morning, too- might have to nip down to see my old man at his allotment!

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jobysp [143 posts] 7 years ago
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Just read this on the BBC.

If I say Beetroot Juice three times will some magically appear?

Anythings worth a pop for me though, I never have enough energy to get home.

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Blackhound [441 posts] 7 years ago
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A mate rang me about this earlier. Makes your wee pink and reduces blood pressure. To quote Homer "isn't there anything it can't do?"

Look whats in Mrs B's garden:

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jobysp [143 posts] 7 years ago
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Mmmm. They look apetising... You'll have to let me know how you go about "juicing" them!

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dave atkinson [6224 posts] 7 years ago
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there's some in daisy's vegetable patch but she's lined them up for a vegetable party with some other 4 year olds. she's even made the invitations, so i don't think i'd be world's best daddy if i dug them all up to make a 'health shake'

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TRs Blurb n Blog [199 posts] 7 years ago
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I think my slugs are bionic.

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Fringe [1047 posts] 7 years ago
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if you dont fancy beetroot juice would just eating the stuff have the same effect?...or would the inclusion of fibre (which gets extracted when juiced) have some adverse effect on the nitrates..

BTW grated carrot and beetroot with some fresh orange juice makes a good salad.  1

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 7 years ago
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Im a fan of cheese and beetroot sarnies...would they be useful?

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Fringe [1047 posts] 7 years ago
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Jon Burrage wrote:

Im a fan of cheese and beetroot sarnies...

i initially read that as 'cheese and beetroot sardines'..!?!

BTW in that other post about 2010 goals you mentioned something about group rides/runs etc.. i always go out on a tuesday night with half a dozen or so others..your welcome to come along, 6.00pm outside 'strada' bike shop, North St.BS3. sometimes its a pottle, other times a bit faster..always about 2-2.5 hours.

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 7 years ago
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sounds good to me, my new job might put the brakes on that a bit though. Working in cycle provision/training for children at south gloucestershire council...wont be finishing work until 5 in yate. I will try and hone my commute from 45mins down to nearer 30 so I can ditch my bags at home and get out to meet you guys.

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 7 years ago
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Congrats on the job Jon!

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 7 years ago
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Cheers tony, its a start and certainly in the direction that I want to go.

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OldRidgeback [2623 posts] 7 years ago
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Beetroot - love it and haven't had any for a while. It's good to bake with pasta.

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Fringe [1047 posts] 7 years ago
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once had beetroot curry, strange taste cumin, chilli and beetroot, but not bad..but maybe not again.

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 7 years ago
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Hmm… yeah sounds interesting, if not that appetising

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Fringe [1047 posts] 7 years ago
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certainly more appetising than the cheese curry i had once, from a friends book of 100 recipies with cheese, basically cheddar fondue with curry powder...yuk!