So for my first “Work With It Wednesday” I’m trying the Next Big Thing in endurance sports, Beet Juice. All the Kool Kids do it, at least according to Allen Lim. Lim says that at bike races, the late risers get bent out of shape when everybody else bogarts the breakfast beet juice. That’s right, beet juice for breakfast.
That’s why it belongs on “Work With It Wednesday.” I’m not a huge fan of beets. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t really know what to do with them. I don’t know how many times I’ve bought a bunch of beets at the farmer’s market, then threw them out a week later. I’ve also never been that into juicing, which just seems like a pain in the
@$$. I have a juicer I bought a while ago that until now sat unused. I had another juicer years ago that was such a pain to clean I gave up. When I decided to follow the nutrition program of Dr. McDougall and Jeff Novick, the juicer cowered its way to the furthest back corner of the closet. McDougall and Novick both recommend against blending and juicing, emphasizing the importance of chewing food.
So why juice now? And why beets of all things?
Because they make you go faster.
That’s right, beets improve endurance performance in clinical trials. So in addition to all the nutritional bennies people already knew were in beets…
high in antioxidant activity
aid liver detoxification
Now you can add increased endurance. What researchers discovered is that beet juice reduced the amount of oxygen needed to perform a certain amount of work. That was in the lab. When they tested it in the real world, cycling time trial performance improved significantly. The mechanism appears to be the nitrates that are particularly high in beets. So it would be safe to assume that other high nitrate vegetables would have a similar effect. This may explain why many vegan athletes describe improved performance once they made the dietary switch. Even without consciously targeting the nitrates, someone who has a high vegetable intake might be getting a similar effect.
Attempt #1: (this follows Allen Lim’s recipe, plus optional celery)
2 small carrots
1 stalk celery
Juice ‘em and drink ‘em. It made one full 8 oz. serving. Tasted fantastic, much sweeter than I would have thought.
Results: I went for a run, and it seemed that my heart rate was lower for my RPE. (rate of perceived exertion) Placebo? Maybe, further testing is needed.
1 huge carrot
handful of parsley
I don’t think the parsley added much. Not worth the effort. Maybe I’ll try adding some kale next time. Another workout under the influence of Beet Doping, and I do believe my heart rate was lower for the work I was doing. I really think there is something to this!