Beet the Competition: Juicing for performance

beet-juiceBeetroot juice has become a secret-weapon-of-choice among athletes seeking natural performance enhancement. In one University of Exeter study, nine club-level cyclists finished three percent faster in 2.5- and 10-mile trials when they imbibed a half-liter (about four eight-ounce glasses) of beetroot juice pre-race compared to when they rode beetless. The juice contained about three to five beets and was taken three hours before the trial, said study author Professor Andrew Jones, PhD, Head of Sport and Health Science at University of Exeter. Drinking the beetroot juice led to higher power output for the same level of effort exerted, found researchers, suggesting the juice led to more efficient muscle and cardio performance. Regular consumption is believed to be more beneficial than chugging on race day, say researchers, and the purple stuff seems to improve short, rigorous spurts of exercise better than it dose longer, lower-intensity workouts. The nitrate in beets widens blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure and ushering more oxygen-rich blood to the muscles.

Make It: Juice 3 carrots; 2 kale leaves; 1 beet with green leaves; 1-inch-chunk ginger root; 1 organic lemon with skin; and 1 clove garlic.

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