Tried beetroot juice yet? The crimson juice is just the magic potion that you need for a pre-workout burst of energy. And this is not a random claim- endurance athletes swear by the goodness of beetroot juice, and there is scientific evidence that shows that beetroot extracts help in improving their performance.
The popularity of beetroot juice should not come as a surprise, given the fact that beetroot (Beta vulgaris) extracts are rich in powerful antioxidants and dietary nitrate, a chemical that naturally occurs in some foods like spinach, arugula, radishes, carrots, lettuce and celery. The bacteria in your mouth convert nitrate you consume into nitrite, which then gets converted into NO or nitric oxide in your gut. Nitric oxide supplements are widely used by weight-lifters. Most of the pre-workout supplements on the shelves also contain nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is a gas that plays a role in blood vessel dilation and muscle contraction as well nerve-signal transmission in your body. Nitric oxide increases the oxygen flow to muscles, helping them get ready for upcoming stress. When your body is able to make more of it, there is increased blood flow to muscles owing to the vasodilation (opening up of blood vessels), which in turn decreases the amount of oxygen your body needs to do what it is already doing (reducing the oxygen cost of exercise). And that means it boosts your heart and breathing endurance or cardiorespiratory fitness, which is essential for athletes. Nitric oxide also works on calcium handling and glucose uptake.
Nitric oxide can be obtained either from nitrate in food or via the catalytic action of nitric oxide synthase enzyme on L-arginine amino acid. The bioavailability of Arginine is rather poor, so the nitrate way is better to ensure adequate nitric oxide in the body, and beetroot shots are just right to give you the much needed nitrate. Popular as an ergogenic supplement, beetroot is packed with vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, betalains (a type of phytonutrient) and phenolic acids, and is excellent for active adults seeking a pre workout power punch.
Nitric oxide happens to be extremely reactive, and breaks down almost immediately as it is created. The antioxidants in beetroots help in absorbing all the free radicals, thereby protecting nitric oxide from breaking down so that it continues to boost the performance of your body longer. Downing some beetroot juice an hour or two before you indulge in an intense workout session will ensure better stamina for sure.
You may not like the taste of beetroots much, but you can try adding some interesting twists to the insipid beetroot juice. Plain beetroot juice might have oxalic acid, so blending a fruit like orange or pineapple or a vegetable is anyway necessary, and will add some flavour as well as extra nutrition to the juice. Adding some water to fresh juice to get your desired consistency is a good idea too.
So the next time you want to enhance the efficiency of your workouts, get that ruby red drink!