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Can beetroots increase fitness?


The bloody beetroots

With the 2012 CrossFit games looming, I thought it was the perfect time to review a natural energy source that has been known to enhance athletic performance.

Today, we turn to beetroots; the vegetable offered to Apollo in antiquity because it was seen to be worth its own weight in silver. While in contemporary times beetroots are just seen as that vibrant, bulby vegetable that can take credit for adding a little excitement to your salad or an unwanted stain to your clothes. Whichever side of the timeline you’re partial to there is no denying beetroots are worthy of a place in your kitchen.

Beetroots offer a range of holistic health benefits that work to boost immunity because of the natural vitamins and minerals they contain. But let’s face it, most vegetables promise to positively impact health in some way and that doesn’t necessarily mean we are eager to indulge in them.

So if that’s not enough of a reason to add beetroots to your grocery list then we need to look to their affect on exercise, which I’m sure all CrossFit enthusiasts will appreciate.

In 2009, the Journal of Applied Physiology published an article detailing the effect beetroots had on exercise. The article drew its evidence from a study where eight active males were required to consume 500mL of beetroot juice for six days before a high intensity workout.

The article concluded that beetroots could increase stamina by up to 16% in individuals who workout. The nitrates found within beetroots were said to help the body use less oxygen, ultimately allowing the body to expel energy longer without feeling as tired.

These results are pretty promising, because after all who doesn’t want a little helping hand in the endurance department? With that said, the scientists involved in the study did call for larger studies to be conducted to confirm the findings as well as investigate any long-term effects of dietary nitrate supplementation.

Ok, so I think it’s pretty obvious beetroots alone are not going to transform you into ironman, superwoman or the fittest on earth (sadly; as I sit here drowning in a pool of my own tears).

As with any study there are of course countless variables that come into play, particularly when measuring individual fitness. But it doesn’t hurt testing the elements in question especially when they fall into the Paleo category.

If you are keen to increase your physical fortitude and you’re thinking about where you can get some Paleo approved beetroot juice unfortunately my answer only extends as far as wander the aisles of your local organic store.

If the liquid form doesn’t sound too appetizing you’ll be pleased to hear that eating 200 grams of cooked beetroot is said to provide the same benefit to fitness as drinking 500mL of the juice each day.

So if you are looking to enhance your athletic performance (the legal way) my advice would be to pick up a beetroot or two today and start training for the 2013 CrossFit games.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.