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Red Beet Vinitrox, from Swiss manufacturer Sponser, is a liquid energy product designed to improve muscle performance and make you go faster or further.
Sponser claim that if you drink 60ml of Red Beet Vinitrox – the equivalent of half a litre of fresh beetroot juice - a few hours before your race, it'll help you go faster or further, or both. It may be a step too far for some cyclists. But if you're the type of rider that's always searching for an extra edge, then it's worth trying.
As the name implies, the key ingredient of Red Beet Vinitrox is beetroots (that's just 'beets' to our American friends). According to the manufacturer, this vegetable contains a lot of nitrates, which inside the body is converted to nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to open, which in turn improves blood flow, which then means better oxygen supply gets to the muscles.
That's the theory, and Sponser's website contains some scientific evidence that, not surprisingly, backs it up. However, independent evidence – notably a study conducted in Exeter University in 2011 - is also available which indicates that the nitrates in beetroots are indeed beneficial to athletes, including cyclists.
So does it work in practice? I have to admit my trials were not quite so scientific. Last week I rode my usual training session without using Sponser Red Beet Vinitrox. This week I did the same session (similar conditions, same bike, just water in my bottle) and I have to say I felt I was going a bit better. Of course, it could have been loads of other things that helped me that day, but an interesting result nonetheless.
On that basis, if you're a keen racer looking to shave a few seconds - or maybe more - off your PB, then this product is worth a try. If it works for you, stick with it. If it doesn't make any difference, then no harm done.
As with all energy products, however, try it first at home or during a non-important training session, to make sure it agrees with you, before necking a bottle before a big race or sportive.
Even if you find that Red Beet Vinitrox works for you, you might find you get the same effect from drinking normal beetroot juice, available from your local supermarket or healthfood store. To differentiate itself from this kind of drink, Red Beet Vinitrox also contains various fruit enzymes which further help the formation of nitric oxide.
The taste of Red Beet Vinitrox is not exactly pleasant but it's OK. You can either drink the 60mL as it comes (a thick liquid) in a couple of gulps, or dilute it in water.
A pack of 4 bottles of Vinitrox retails at £12. Three quid a shot might be too much to pay for an improvement which may be just a few extra seconds. But as we all know, that can be the difference between winning and losing, so if you're a rider seeking that kind of gain, then Sponser Red Beet Vinitrox might be worth trying, and if you find it works for you then add it to your ammo box.
Muscle-enhancing energy product. Not required by the everyday cyclist, but with possible benefits for racers seeking extra advantage.
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Make and model: Sponser Red Beet Vinitrox
Size tested: N/A
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Sponser Red Beet Vinitrox is a muscle-enhancing energy product. The manufacturer's website says: "Red Beet Vinitrox is a high performance supplement, designed to increase endurance and reduce the amount of oxygen needed during intense exercise."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The manufacturer's website goes on to say: "Recent studies have found that taking red beet juice caused significant performance improvements in both endurance and sprint events. In one trial, after 6 days of taking red beet juice the time to task failure on a time-to-exhaustion trial at a maximal work rate was extended on average by a massive 16% from 9 min 43 sec to 11 min 15 sec!
The reason for these gains is the high concentration of nitrate found in beets. Inside the body, this nitrate is converted to Nitric Oxide (NO). Nitric Oxide has a vasodilating effect, which means it causes the blood vessels to open, which in turn lowers blood pressure and increases blood flow to all parts of the body. During exercise, oxygen and nutrients get to the working muscles, and to more cells within the muscles, much faster. This makes the body much more efficient, so you don't need as much oxygen to maintain the same pace and can maintain a hard pace for longer. After exercise, the increased blood flow speeds up recovery as waste products are removed and essential nutrients delivered quickly."
Independent scientific studies indicate that beetroot juice helps performance. My own non-scintifc experience seems to show a small improvement in performance, but it may have been other factors.
Three quid for 60mL of beet juice seems a lot. However, the nitrates contained here are equivalant of half a litre of normal beet juice which would cost between £2 and £3. Having said that, you can get similar sized shots of concentrated beet juice for around £2, so on that level Vinitrox is not especially good value. However, normal beet juice may not have the additional fruit enzymes contained in Vinitrox which may further help performance and be reflected in the extra cost.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Used as directed (ie, drink 60mL a couple of hours before race), my own non-scintifc experience seemed to show a small improvement in performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Personally, no - the cost:benefit ratio isn't worth it.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were a racer or high-level cyclist seeking every advantage.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
This is a hard product to score, as the above review is based on personal experience, and not on scientific study. On that basis, however, it's very good, so scores 8. But it's not cheap, which knocks a point off, giving an overall score of 7.
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,