Beet juice boosts endurance


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


Today’s “exercise in a bottle” study: beet juice can help you exercise for up to 16 percent longer, according to researchers at the University of Exeter.

After drinking beetroot juice the group was able to cycle for an average of 11.25 minutes, which is 92 seconds longer than when they were given the placebo…

The researchers are not yet sure of the exact mechanism that causes the nitrate in the beetroot juice to boost stamina. However, they suspect it could be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.

For the record, the study consisted of eight men, who took 500 mL of beet juice for six straight days. The presence of nitrate isn’t something I’d ever heard of before, so maybe there’s some new science here. Certainly, the researchers seem to be pretty excited about it.

“We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training. I am sure professional and amateur athletes will be interested in the results of this research,” [said Professor Andy Jones].

My personal prediction: don’t look for Tour de France riders or Olympic runners to be downing beet juice anytime soon. I’d stick with training.