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Beetroot Juice And Athletic Performance

23 January 2019

Whether you’re an athlete looking for that extra edge over the competition or just a regular fitness lover that is striving for self-improvement we commonly see people try to search for avenues of improvement.  With so many supplements on the market and even more Instagram “professionals” preaching their personal opinions it can sometimes be hard to know what you should or could be doing.

With many supplements on the market claiming to have magical properties to have you on your way to the best athletic you, you would be surprised to know that not all of these proclaimed magical powders have “magical” properties. Sporting institutions such as the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) recognise the following supplements as the most research supported legal sports performance ergogenic aids. The following are all considered Class A supplements: caffeine, creatine, nitrate (beetroot juice), beta alanine and sodium bicarbonate. Let’s take a look at beetroot juice. A surprisingly under the radar option that you may not know about.

Bear with me here. I am going to spit this out in a way that I hope is not too confusing for the novice scientists. You are sitting at the table with your glass of beetroot juice… Inorganic Nitrate (NO3-) in the form of beetroot juice enters the mouth where it is broken down by salivary enzymes to break down NO3- into NO2-. As the NO2- travels through the body, it eventually reaches the stomach where it is further partially broken down by the gastric juices into NO. The NO that is broken down gets absorbed into the gut and part of the NO2- that wasn’t broken down enters the blood stream where it is later broken down to NO when the body detects lower oxygen levels (exercise!). So quickly in summary from one, to two, to three: Nitrates (NO3-)>Nitrites (NO2-)>NO.

(Domínguez et al, 2018)




→Beetroot juice (nitrate supplementation) can be used as a sports performance ergogenic aid.

→Nitrate supplementation can have the following effects of athletic performance:

-Decrease in submaximal oxygen cost.

-Increased time to fatigue/ exhaustion.

-Increases in performance during 12-40min bout high intensity exercise, team sports or intermittent exercise.

-Increased exercise tolerance.

-Increased blood flow to smooth muscle.

-Increased mitochondrial efficiency (energy usage).

-Potential for increased capacity to generate type II muscle fibre force (increased strength of fast twitch muscle fibres).

→The greatest athletic benefits are seen with the following dosage parameters:

  1. Beetroot juice used as the source of NO3– over other options such as celery and spinach.
  2. 310-560ml of beetroot juice 2.5-3 hours prior to physical activity.
  3. Chronic loading (>3days) appears to have the greatest benefits.

→Seasoned athletes may require a higher dosage to attain the same benefits are regular trainers or the general population.

→Limited evidence for exercise benefits over 40mins in duration due to the decreased exercise intensity associated with duration events. Therefore, the reduced need for NO production via the nitrate pathways.



Pre packaged beetroot juice isn’t the most available in stores unlike your mainstream apple and orange ha! Here are some online options I have found. I have come across some products in local health shops. Try your local health or juice shop otherwise here are some online options for you. Enjoy x








Bailey, S.J., Fulford, J., Vanhatalo, A., Winyard, P.G., Blackwell, J.R., DiMenna, F.J., . . . Jones, A.M. (2010). Dietary nitrate supplementa- tion enhances muscle contractile efficiency during knee-extensor exercise in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology (1985), 109(1), 135–148. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00046.2010


Bailey, S.J., Varnham, R.L., DiMenna, F.J., Breese, B.C., Wylie, L.J., & Jones, A.M. (2015). Inorganic nitrate supplementation improves muscle oxygenation, O(2) uptake kinetics, and exercise tolerance at high but not low pedal rates. Journal of Applied Physiology (1985), 118(11), 1396–1405. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01141.2014


Bailey, S. J., Winyard, P., Vanhatalo, A., Blackwell, J. R., DiMenna, F. J., Wilkerson, D. P., … & Jones, A. M. (2009). Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. Journal of applied physiology107(4), 1144-1155.


Domínguez, R., Maté-Muñoz, J. L., Cuenca, E., García-Fernández, P., Mata-Ordoñez, F., Lozano-Estevan, M. C., … Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2018). Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high-intensity exercise efforts. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 1–N.PAG. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.acu.edu.au.ezproxy2.acu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=127162128&site=ehost-live&scope=site


Hoon, M.W., Jones, A.M., Johnson, N.A., Blackwell, J.R., Broad, E.M., Lundy, B., . . . Burke, L.M. (2014). The effect of variable doses of inorganic nitrate-rich beetroot juice on simulated 2, 000-m rowing performance in trained athletes. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 9(4), 615–620. PubMed doi:10. 1123/ijspp.2013-0207


Jones, A.M. (2014a). Dietary nitrate supplementation and exercise performance. Sports Medicine, 44(Suppl. 1), S35–S45.


Jones, A.M. (2014b). Influence of dietary nitrate on the physiological determinants of exercise performance: A critical review. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 39(9), 1019–1028.


McMahon, N.F., Leveritt, M.D., & Pavey, T.G. (2016). The effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on endurance exercise performance in healthy adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 47(4), 735–756. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0617-7


Peeling, P., Binnie, M., Goods, P.S.R., Sim, M., & Burke, L.M. (2018). Evidence-based supplements for the enhancement of athletic perfor- mance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metab- olism, 28(2). doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0343


Porcelli, S., Ramaglia, M., Bellistri, G., Pavei, G., Pugliese, L., Montorsi, M., Marzorati, M. (2015). Aerobic Fitness Affects the Exercise Performance Responses to Nitrate Supplementation. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 47(8), 1643–1651. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.acu.edu.au.ezproxy2.acu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=108501352&site=ehost-live&scope=site


Reynolds, C., Halpenny, C., Hughes, C., Jordan, S., Quinn, A., & Egan, B. (2016). Acute ingestion of beetroot juice does not improve repeated sprint performance in male team sport athletes. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 75(OCE3), E97. doi:10.1017/S0029665116001129


Thompson, C., Vanhatalo, A., Jell, H., Fulford, J., Carter, J., Nyman, L., . . . Jones, A.M. (2016). Dietary nitrate supplementation improves sprint and high-intensity intermittent running performance. Nitric Oxide, 61, 55–61. PubMed doi:10.1016/j.niox.2016.10.006


Thompson, C., Wylie, L.J., Fulford, J., Kelly, J., Black, M.I., McDonagh, S.T., . . . Jones, A.M. (2015). Dietary nitrate improves sprint per- formance and cognitive function during prolonged intermittent exer- cise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(9), 1825–1834. doi:10.1007/s00421-015-3166-0


Van De Walle, G. P., & Vukovich, M. D. (2018). The Effect of Nitrate Supplementation on Exercise Tolerance and Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins), 32(6), 1796–1808. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.acu.edu.au.ezproxy2.acu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=129886132&site=ehost-live&scope=site


Vanhatalo, A., Bailey, S.J., Blackwell, J.R., DiMenna, F.J., Pavey, T.G., Wilkerson, D.P., : : : Jones, A.M. (2010). Acute and chronic effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure and the physio- logical responses to moderate-intensity and incremental exercise. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Com- parative Physiology, 299(4), R1121–R1131. PubMed doi:10.1152/ ajpregu.00206.2010

Wylie, L.J., Bailey, S.J., Kelly, J., Blackwell, J.R., Vanhatalo, A., & Jones, A.M. (2016). Influence of beetroot juice supplementation on inter- mittent exercise performance. European Journal of Applied Physiol- ogy, 116(2), 415–425. doi:10.1007/s00421-015-3296-4



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Beetroot Juice And Athletic Performance

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