Scientists say beetroot juice ‘significantly increases muscle strength during exercise’

Forget protein shakes and pre-workout: scientists say BEET juice ‘significantly increases muscle strength during exercise’

  • Scientists in the UK and US tracked muscle strength while participants exercised
  • Half had received a nitrate-filled drink before the training took place.
  • The results showed seven percent more muscle strength in those who drank the drink.







If protein shakes or pre-workout drinks don’t do your stomach any good, you’re in luck.

Researchers have found that beetroot juice significantly increases muscle strength, allowing you to lift heavier weights and perform more repetitions.

Vegetables like beets are high in nitrates, chemicals that increase oxygen and blood throughout the body and have been linked to increased stamina.

Coffee is another powerful stimulant that can aid workouts by stimulating the central nervous system and giving you more energy.

Scientists have suggested that drinking beetroot juice before exercise could improve muscle performance (file image)

Scientists have suggested that drinking beetroot juice before exercise could improve muscle performance (file image)

In the latest study, experts from the University of Exeter in the UK recruited 10 healthy men in their early 20s.

They were asked to follow a low-nitrate diet for three days before beginning the experiment, such as avoiding leafy vegetables.

They were then divided into two groups, with half receiving a 4.7 fluid ounce (fl.oz.) nitrate-rich pre-workout drink that the researchers found to be equivalent to beetroot juice.

The rest received a placebo drink containing a dummy powder. Both groups did not know if they had been given anything real.

The drinks were indistinguishable in appearance, smell and taste, the researchers said.

The participants then completed a single exercise three hours after a warm-up.

The move saw participants contract their quadriceps muscles, the large muscle at the front of their upper leg, 60 times while their dominant leg was attached to a machine lever. They had to contract the muscle without moving their leg during the experiment.

Using electrical pulses, the researchers measured muscle force, or the force applied by the muscles when they contracted.

They found that the torque generated by the participants was seven percent higher in the group that drank the real drink before training.

Leg muscle biopsies were also collected after consuming the beverage, and before and after exercise to check tissue nitrate levels.

The scientists found higher levels of nitrate in the muscles of people who had received the nitrate drink compared to those who had not.

In the body, nitrates can help dilate blood vessels by increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the muscles.

Dr Barbara Piknova, a staff scientist at the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said: “This study provides the first direct evidence that muscle nitrate levels are important for exercise performance. , presumably by acting as a source of nitric oxide.

“These results have significant implications not only for the field of exercise, but also possibly for other medical areas, such as those that focus on neuromuscular and metabolic diseases related to nitric oxide deficiency.”

Dr Andy Jones, a physiologist at the University of Exeter, said: “Our research has already provided a wealth of evidence for the performance-enhancing properties of dietary nitrate, which is commonly found in beetroot juice.”

“Excitingly, this latest study provides the best evidence to date on the mechanisms behind why dietary nitrate enhances human muscle performance.”

Their study was published in the journal physiological record.

What foods are high in nitrates?

Our muscles need nitrates when we exercise to help them breathe or release energy.

This helps fuel the mitochondria, the energy factories in cells, increasing the energy available for contractions.

Scientists suggest that the more nitrates we have available, the better our exercise.

Foods high in nitrates include:

  • Spinach;
  • Chinese cabbage;
  • Lettuce;
  • carrots;
  • Beet juice;
  • Jamon;
  • Bacon.

Font: WebMD