I have a confession to make…
I’ve been taking a performance enhancer…
Yep, I admit it. This performance enhancer has led to recent PRs (personal records) in many different cardiorespiratory areas of my fitness, increased the amount of time I can work before I get tired and makes me feel great!
The performance enhancer?? It’s not testosterone, EPO or steroids. Nope, it’s something new (or old). Beet Juice, or what I now like to call a beetroot juice concoction; The Better Human Shot.
First, let’s talk about the power of the beet then we will talk about “The Better Human Shot” and how exactly I make it.
Alright, the beet.
First, I have to say I think Dwight Schrute was right and Michael Scott was wrong (The Office reference, watch here, if you didn’t get it). Everyone will soon love beets!
So what is so special about the beet?
Well, it is not necessarily the magic of the beet, it is the nitrate in the beet.
Research says, that consuming beets will:
- Give you energy for longer.
- Reduce the amount of oxygen cost of your exercise.
- And more!
Beets can increase the amount of energy extracted from the oxygen in your blood; A.K.A it increases your performance. Being able to do more work with less oxygen is a very desirable trait for those who are looking to move faster or do more (a better-human quality, if you ask me).
And not only does the research say you can put out more work, but you will also last longer while working because you burn less energy due to the nitrate in beetroot juice. If you have any questions about any of this, or want more in-depth research, I have linked to numerous studies at the end of this article.
Bring on the beets!
How does it work??
Well, I am sure you have been to a supplement shack that carries the latest “nitric oxide” formula, right? You know, the one with an ingredient list longer than your arm with chemical compounds that could put down a small animal. Yea, that one! Well, they work because nitric oxide is a real thing, with real benefits.
Dietary nitrate (from beets) hits the saliva in your mouth and introduces itself to the bacteria on your tongue; this brings the compound from NO3 to NO2 (active nitrite). Next, this new couple heads into the stomach and meets another new friend – stomach acid. BOOM! NO2 is now reduced to NO, or nitric oxide. This nitric oxide increases blood flow to your muscles and increases your ability to produce energy.
So far the studies on consuming beet juice before exercise have shown increased performance in running and cycling as well as a decrease in the rate of perceived exertion.
- Dietary supplementation with beetroot juice speeds VO2 kinetics and enhances exercise tolerance during severe-intensity exercise when initiated from an elevated metabolic rate.
- Beetroot juice treatments increase plasma NO concentration and decrease cardiac afterload and myocardial oxygen demand at rest and during 3 submaximal levels of aerobic exercise.
- Beetroot juice positively affects performance of swimmers as it reduces the aerobic energy cost and increases the workload at anaerobic threshold.
- A single dose of beetroot juice lowered V˙O2 during submaximal exercise and enhanced time trial performance of trained cyclists in normobaric hypoxia.
- Has been show to improve 2,000m rowing performance in highly trained athletes.
- Interested in more? Read 60+ studies on dietary nitrates and beetroot juice HERE.
Convinced? Let’s consume some beets!
The Better Human Shot
The fact of the matter is you can consume beets however you want; beet juice, whole beets, beet pie…
The goal is to consume your beetroot anywhere from 30 minutes to 75 minutes before you exercise. If you are going with beetroot juice, digestion will be a little bit quicker and easier. If you just want to chop up some beets and eat it before you workout, that works too (and I tip my hat to you). But I, personally, do not find beets alone that appetizing.
That’s where the better human shot comes in.
What you’ll need:
- 5 carrots
- 2 oranges
- 2 apples
- 3-5 whole beets
- Once juicer
How many beets you use depends on the size, but the more the better. I have made it with 3 really large beets and 5 smaller beets, just get the beets in there! Now, there is a lot of sugar in this shot, and that is why I call it a shot. If you want to experiment with a lot of beet consumption, maybe before a race or competition, I would stick to just beets and consume a lot of it before your event.
I certainly do not recommend having all this in one sitting. I typically make a large batch like this; it makes about 30+ ounces with my juicer, and I have a few shots before I workout. I have a juicer and that’s how I roll when I make this drink. Like I said, if you don’t have a juicer you can just eat the beets and get the same benefits.
I chop all of the fruits and vegetables up into pieces my juicer can handle, and let it do its thing…it’s that simple. I like to add oranges and apples to offset the earthy taste of the beet and add sweetness. The carrots are really just a way to get extra vegetables in my diet and I like the taste in this drink.
I wish I could say the carrots, apples and oranges all had secret powers like the beet, but they don’t in the performance enhancing world. However, the vitamins and antioxidants in carrots, apples and oranges packs a very powerful punch that will go a long way in overall health and recovery.
There are actually some pretty good debates as to whether antioxidants hurt or help performance, but this debate is all centered around supplementation. You will be hard-pressed to find someone who will argue against the consumption of straight up fruits and vegetables, or their juices.
Sugar alone is straight up evil. Fruit sugar, in moderation, is a good thing due to the micronutrients. Don’t be that person who is trying to avoid sugar so badly you won’t eat a fruit. We can talk more about sugar in a different post.
Today, go make a better human shot, or consume some beets! This isn’t one of those things you have to do for a prolonged period to see results. Studies show results as quick as the first drink of beetroot juice!
Here’s to becoming a better human (you can’t see me as I write this, but I am holding up a shot of beetroot juice)!
Beets will do some funky stuff to your digestion. Umm, you’ll see, no need to talk about it. You’ve been warned.
Studies, studies and more studies:
Beets and Running Performance, Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans, WebMD: Truth of Beetroot juice, Beetroot Juice and 2,000m row in trained athletes, Cycling performance, Beets and Swimming Performance, Cardiorespiratory function and Beets, Beetroot juice speed O2 uptake and improves exercise tolerance.