Forget Protein Shakes and Pre-Workouts: Scientists Say Beetroot Juice ‘Significantly Increases Muscle Strength During Exercise’
- UK and US scientists tracked participants’ strength as they exercised
- Half drank a nitrate drink before training
- They found that those who drank the drink had 7% more muscle strength.
If protein shakes and pre-workout drinks don’t suit your stomach, you’re in luck.
Researchers have found that beetroot juice significantly increases muscle strength, allowing you to lift heavier weights and perform more reps.
Vegetables such as beets are rich in nitrates, which increase oxygen and blood in the body and are associated with improved endurance.
Coffee is another powerful stimulant that can aid your workout by stimulating your central nervous system and giving you more energy.
Scientists suggest drinking beet juice before exercise may improve muscle performance (stock image)
In the latest study, experts from the University of Exeter in the UK recruited 10 healthy men in their early twenties.
They were asked to eat a diet low in nitrates for three days before starting the experiment, including avoiding leafy green vegetables.
They were then divided into two groups, with half receiving a 4.7 fl.oz. nitrate-rich pre-workout drink that the researchers said was equivalent to beetroot juice. .
The rest were given a placebo drink containing dummy powder.
Researchers said the drinks were indistinguishable in appearance, smell and taste.
Participants completed one exercise after 3 hours of warm-up.
In this exercise, participants contracted their quadriceps (the large muscle at the front of their upper limbs) 60 times and attached their dominant leg to a machine lever. They had to contract their muscles without moving their legs during the experiment.
Using electrical pulses, researchers measured muscle strength, the force that a muscle exerts when it contracts.
They found that torque generated by participants was 7% higher in the group that drank the actual pre-workout drink.
Muscle biopsies were also taken from the legs before and after exercise, after having a drink, to check for nitrate levels in the tissue.
Scientists found that people who drank nitrate drinks had higher levels of nitrate in their muscles than those who didn’t.
In the body, nitrates help dilate blood vessels, increasing the amount of oxygen reaching your muscles.
Dr. Barbara Pycnova, a staff scientist at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said, “This study is the first to demonstrate that muscle nitrate levels are important for exercise performance, possibly by acting as a source of nitrate.” provides direct evidence for oxides.
“These results may have significant implications not only for the exercise field, but also for other medical fields, such as those targeting neuromuscular and metabolic diseases associated with nitric oxide deficiency.”
Dr Andy Jones, a physiologist at the University of Exeter, said:
“Excitingly, this latest study provides the best evidence to date for the mechanisms behind why dietary nitrates improve muscle performance in humans.”
Their research was published in Acta Physiologica.
What foods are high in nitrates?
Our muscles need nitrates when exercising to help them breathe and release energy.
This helps power the mitochondria, the energy factories within the cell, increasing the energy available for contraction.
Scientists suggest that the more nitrates we have available, the better our workouts will be.
Foods high in nitrates include:
- beet juice;
sauce: Web MD