The humble beet, a vegetable better known for topping salads than for generating national headlines, has seemingly done the impossible. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, it has grabbed the attention of several major football programs across the country as a go-to nutrient source. Most notably, Auburn’s football team has attributed its sharp rise in the college rankings to pre-game swigs of beet juice concentrate. The University of Texas football team has also jumped onto the beet juice bandwagon, along with the NFL’s Houston Texans. So how much scientific evidence is there to back football’s new obsession with beet juice? Here’s what you need to know:
There is at least one study showing that beet juice provides performance boosts for intense, intermittent exercise (similar to what one might experience in some team sports).
There is some evidence that beet juice may increase endurance due to its nitrate content; it’s been shown to increase oxygen uptake during exercise, and has been shown to aid the performance of swimmers and cyclists.
Nevertheless, the research on beet juice is still in its early stages; questions still remain, for example, as to the overall value of nitrate supplementation for sports teams, and the precise exercise parameters that beet juice can positively impact the most.
In the meantime, sports enthusiasts who are eager to try beet juice can take it in several forms: as a fresh juice, as a powder mixed with water, and, in Europe, as a concentrate loaded into an oatmeal bar.
Source: The Wall Street Journal