Researchers from the University of Exeter suggest that drinking beetroot juice increases the performance of athletes since it contains nitrate which plays an important role in physical performance.
The researchers conducted the experiment on nine club level cyclists, asking them to take part in time trials over 4km and 16.1km. The cyclists were made to take part in the trials twice, each time drinking half a litre of beetroot juice. Unknown to the participants, the researchers had removed the presence of nitrate on one occasion.
The researchers also measured the VO2 levels of the athletes in order to make sure that they put in maximum efforts each time. The researchers found that drinking beetroot juice with nitrate meant that the cyclists were 11 seconds quicker over the 4km distance and 45 seconds faster over the 16.1km distance.
Writing in the report published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, lead author Professor Andrew Jones said, "This is the first time we've studied the effects of beetroot juice, and the high nitrate levels found in it, on simulated competition. The findings show an improvement in performance that, at competition level, could make a real difference."