Researchers at the University of Exeter have carried out a small study which shows that the nitrate in beetroot juice leads to a reduction of oxygen uptake, slowing the rate at which a person becomes exhausted.
Subjects could exercise up to 16% longer after drinking the juice, and the reduction in oxygen uptake was greater than that achieved by any other known means – including training. The 8 men, aged between 18 and 38, were given 500 mls of beetroot juice for 6 consecutive days before completing a series of tests, including cycling tests. The group had an average 2% reduction in the time taken to cover a set distance. They also had a lower resting blood pressure which was evident within an hour of consumption.
Professor Andy Jones, lead researcher from the University of Exeter, noted that the work showed eating nitrate rich foods could increase endurance, and said “I’m sure professional and amateur athletes will be interested in the results.”
Experts welcomed the research findings, but cautioned that the study had been small and called for further studies on a larger scale.