Beets and their derivatives will improve performance inhigh-intensity, endurance, and power activities Abstract Objective: The objective of thisnarrative review is to examine the effects of beet consumption and athletes toenhance exercise performance.

Background: The research and compilationof this narrative review was to achieve a required assignment in SportsNutrition and Exercise Metabolism class for the online Human Nutrition andFunctional Medicine program at the University of Western States in Portland,Oregon.Methods: An extensive search of The W.A.Budden Library Database, Pubmed, and Google Scholar was performed to collectprecise reviews relating to the title and hypothesis. The following terms relatedto the title and hypothesis that were used include: “Beet consumption enhancesperformance in athletes”, and “Beet juice effects on CrossFit athletes.” Researchfindings comprised over 400 articles that matched the search criteria, using full-textarticles published between 2012 and 2017.Discussion: This narrative review examinesthe effects of beets and their derivatives and the enhancement exercise performancein runners, cyclists, and CrossFit athletes.

Conclusion: The narrative review confirmedconsuming beets or beet derivatives as a part of regular dietary intake, priorto a workout or race, or as use of an ergogenic aid enhances exerciseperformance in athletes.Key words: Beets, beetroot juice, beetroot,nitrite, nitrate, athlete, performance enhancement, nitric oxide, ergogenic aid,running, cycling, CrossFit, endurance, high-intensity, and power activities.   Introduction In the mind of anathlete, performance enhancement is one of the most important facets ofmeasuring improvement when it comes to training and competition. Therefore,athletes are constantly striving to research all aspects that may affect theirathletic abilities and capabilities. This includes trying new diets, trainingmethods, training times, training programs, styles of shoes, types of traininggear, and most commonly nutritional supplements or ergogenic aids to helpimprove their performance. An example of an ergogenic aid may be utilizing asimple branched chain amino acid to increase endurance, a pre- or intra-workout supplement containing compounds to buffer muscle fatigue or improve circulation,producing more energy, and improving performance (Dunford & Doyle, 2015).

Other forms of ergogenicaids are available in a variety of forms including synthetic drugs such asprohormones or steroids, natural forms of dietary supplements includingvitamins, minerals, amino acids, and due to cost efficiency, many choose wholefoods or their food products. Whole food sources highest in nitrates consumed consistentlyin one’s diet have become increasingly prevalent more recently due to aresulting increase of nitric oxide (NO) that is produced and its effects on thebody when a nitrate containing food is consumed (Vaughan, Gannon, & Carriker, 2016). Although nitratesmay be found as preservative in many foods, the most common form consumed thatis beneficial to health is naturally occurring in most vegetables. Theeffectiveness however, depends on how many foods are being consistentlyconsumed with a high content of nitrates (Williams, 2012). Overall, more studies and researchhave verified consumption of nitrate-rich foods, particularly beets, have beenproven to increase performance in various types of athletic events (Vaughan, Gannon, & Carriker, 2016). One of the most well-likedfoods used for athletic performance enhancement coming from a natural source isbeetroot or beetroot juice (BRJ). Due to their exceptional source of micronutrients,BRJ contains a natural form of nitrate (NO3) promoting increased levels of NOleading to vasodilation, increased blood flow, and increased energy.

BRJ alsocontains, a multitude of antioxidants, vitamin c, betaine, electrolytes (magnesium,potassium, sodium), and other natural detoxifying properties that are beneficialto health (Ormsbee, Lox, & Arciero, 2013). Among all of theseexcellent health benefits, and compared to other nitrate containing foods andvegetables, beets are among the highest of NO and NO3 content. NO acts as avasodilator on smooth muscle tissue by stimulating a relaxation response. Asthe muscle, arteries, and veins relax, the body responds with an increase inblood flow and circulation of nutrients throughout the body, and to the muscletissue.  This can happen in bothinstances of exercise as well as when the body is at rest.

If the amount ofoxygen in the body becomes low, the body’s natural response is to convert the aminoacid L-Arginine and nitrite found from dietary consumption to NO. As nitrate issupplemented in the diet, in turn, the body’s plasma nitrite concentrationincreases, resulting in many additional health benefits. These include areduction in blood pressure, the amount of oxygen needed for exercise, as wellas a heightened tolerance for exercise and performance intensity (Jones, 2014).

This enhancedtolerance of performance occurs as calcium interacts with a few enzymes insidethe cell, stimulating a chain of reactions, increasing the myocyte mitochondrialcells, and the amount of oxygen utilized for metabolic function (Vaughan, Gannon, & Carriker, 2016). Consuming BRJcontaining nitrates may also have an additional effect promoting an advantageousphenotype in skeletal muscle cells of certain athletes, resulting in a hereditarilyincreased myocyte mitochondrial efficiency, and complete mitochondrial content (Vaughan, Gannon, & Carriker, 2016). The purpose ofthis narrative review is to integrate the information currently available onthe effects of BRJ and the enhancement of exercise performance in athletes. Afterreviewing all collected information, there is sufficient evidence across runners,cyclists, and CrossFit athletes that support consumption of beets, BRJ, andtheir derivatives, to enhance exercise performance in athletes even though manystudies were found to have small population sizes. BRJ have been correlated toimprovements in muscle efficiency by permitting a vaster output of work withthe same utilization of energy (Jones, 2014).These results would translate into improved exercise performance. Finally, the currentevidence evaluated and utilized in this review concludes using BRJ consumptionas an ergogenic aid is useful for athletes aiming to enhance their exerciseperformance in areas of high-intensity, endurance, and power. In this review,athletes of running, cycling, and CrossFit have been analyzed with theconsumption of BRJ to discuss the effectiveness of enhancing exerciseperformance.

However, research demonstrates that regular consumption or alarger dose pre-exercise of BRJ is important for athletes trying to utilizethis supplement as an effective ergogenic aid. Methods Extensive researchof The W.A. Budden Library Database, Pubmed, and Google Scholar were performedto collect precise reviews relating to the title and hypothesis. Thesedatabases were selected utilizing filters for quality and were based upon thefollowing: most current information, relevancy of topics, including beets/beetroot juice and the impact on performance in athletes. The following termsrelated to the title and hypothesis that were used to search include: “Beetconsumption enhances performance in athletes”, and “Beet juice effects on CrossFitathletes.” Research findings concluded in over 400 articles meeting the searchcriteria. Due to the volume of articles resulting from the search, theinclusion criteria of articles were restricted to: those published between 2012and 2017, discussed beet nitrate supplementation on exercise performance,nitrates used as supplements in CrossFit athletes, nitrate use inhigh-intensity exercise and cycling, and beetroot consumption in runners.

Additionally, criteria included were articles that precisely measured athletesof high-intensity, endurance, and power such as cycling, running, and CrossFitto encompass well-rounded results of BRJ, and its nitrates as a beneficialsupplement for enhancing exercise performance. Articles excluded were thosethat discussed non-athletes, other forms of nitrate not related to beets, or thathad no effects on exercise performance. Discussion/Results The history of nitrateconsumption has been associated with many beneficial effects on healthincluding inhibiting cancer and cardiovascular risks, reducing blood pressure,improved function of blood cells, lymph cells, and exercise endurance (Murphy, Eliot, Heuertz, & Weiss, 2012). Due to nitratesources functioning as vasodilatory agents, beets and their derivatives such asbeet root juice or beet root powder may be important nutrients for Runners,Cyclists, and CrossFit Athletes to consume daily in order to increase exerciseperformance in areas of high-intensity, endurance, and power. Study 1 – RunnersIn thisdouble-blind, crossover study, whole beetroot was tested to link nitrate intaketo enhanced exercise performance, and endurance.

The study sample size was comprisedof 11 male and female adults who were instructed to consume 200g whole baked beetrootBR (500mg nitrate), then were tested one hour later in a timed 5km treadmill trial.Measurements recorded include heart rate, perceived exertion, and velocity. Participantscompleted a 5min warmup prior to the test, set their own pace for the 5km run, wereall instructed to finish in as short of time as possible. Results of BRconsumption concluded an enhanced running performance by measuring elevatedmarkers of velocity, exercise time to exhaustion, and an accompanied decreasedperceived exertion (Murphy, Eliot, Heuertz, & Weiss, 2012). Although indicationfrom this study suggests 200g BR or similar nitrate dose from other vegetables needto be ingested 60min before exercise in order to derive ergogenic effects.Other studies have obtained similar results from nitrate supplementation dosesranging from 347mg to 476mg/day, as well as utilizing other forms of nitratesupplements (Murphy, Eliot, Heuertz, & Weiss, 2012).  Study 2 – Cyclists Velocity of muscle contraction has been knownto increase in the presence of NO (Rimer, Peterson, Coggan, & Martin, 2016). Ingestion of BRJnitrates, NO availability increases allowing muscle power to increases incyclists.

In a double-blind, crossover study, a population sample size of 13trained cyclists were tested to a max load cycling trial utilizing the ANOVAscale, consuming nitrate rich BRJ. Participants were instructed to ingest 2-70mL doses BRJ within 30min of the trial to ensure post drink cycling sprintsoccurred during elevation of plasma nitrate for the greatest effects to takeplace (Rimer, Peterson, Coggan, & Martin, 2016). Result findingsconcluded that dietary BRJ nitrate enhances exercise performance in terms ofexplosiveness, increase muscle power, muscle-force production, and totalcumulative work of multiple cycling sprints if short in duration.

Elevatedplasma nitrate induces the delivery of increase levels of oxygen to musclesleading to increased neuromuscular signaling, blood flow, and contraction of fastand slow-twitch muscle fibers (Rimer, Peterson, Coggan, & Martin, 2016). Study 3 – CrossFitAthletes: While CrossFit isa heavily dependent on power as a sport, it also includes high-intensity,strength, and endurance activities. Test groups were instructed to avoid allnitrate containing foods, strenuous exercise, alcohol, and caffeine, loggingtheir dietary intake. Prior to performance testing, biometric measurements takenincluded height, weight, body composition, body fat, various forms of strengthtesting, peak VO2, 2K rowing time trial, maximal power on a cycle ergometer,and the “Grace” workout was performed all as benchmarks.  This was a randomized, double-blind crossoverstudy, in which nitrates were ingested for 6 days each consisting of 8 mmolsplit between morning and evening doses. Results of this testing found NOsupplementation lead to increased plasma nitrite values, increased power, a reductionin the metabolic cost of exercise, however strength and endurance showed nosignificant measurement of improvement (Kramer, Baur, Spicer, Vukovich, & Ormsbee, 2016).  LimitationsThere wereseveral limitations to the information examined in this review among allathletes including a small population size of the patient studies (n<15), variationbetween studies of the duration of nitrate supplementation, dose of BRJ, andnormal diet consisted throughout the duration of supplementation (Jones, 2014). This could beproblematic as there could be consumption of other nitrate-rich foods orsupplements altering the effect of the studied dosage and its effects onexercise performance.

Another limitation during the testing of cyclists was maximumpower or Pmax tested between trials were of 2 different levels adding to the confoundingvariables affecting testing results between groups.  Also, among the sport of CrossFit, “Grace” isa common benchmark workout used as a measurement of performance, however, dueto small population sizes and for small measurements recorded not significantenough to publicize, a better test may have been chosen. Also, due to participantsonly completing each exercise one time, there may be a learning effectsaffecting results to newer subjects (Kramer, Baur, Spicer, Vukovich, & Ormsbee, 2016).  Conclusion The objective ofthis review was to analyze the nutritional implementation of beets and beetroot juice as an ergogenic aid to enhance exercise performance in athletes. Majorityof young adults consume at least one nutritional supplement, most of which areat least to boost energy for daily need and more commonly performance needs (Martinez, Campbell, Franek, Buchanan, & Colquhoun, 2016).

Consumption of pre-workout dietary supplements is becoming even more popularamong all levels of athletes, since the studies proving beneficial effects onexercise performance are becoming increasingly more evident.  BRJ supplementationhas been proven through many research and studies to have positive effects onenhancing exercise performance through speed, delayed fatigue, steady oxygenconsumption, elevated power output, and endurance (Ormsbee, Lox, & Arciero, 2013). However, since NOsupplementation can be obtained directly, the body needs ample supplementationthrough the diet in order to converts nitrites to nitrate for availability (Ormsbee, Lox, & Arciero, 2013). More research needsto be conducted on the optimal nutritional doses, and which form of nitratesare to be the most effective for each type of sport. However, studies haveconfirmed BRJ nitrate supplementation results in a positive outcome uponmeasuring endurance exercise capacity, power, and high-intensity time-trialperformance of shorter durations (McMahon, Leveritt, & Pavey, 2017).

 Although there isa great need for more research, there is ample information to provide safe andproven supplemental guidance for implementing BRJ supplementation nutritionistscan recommend to their patients and athletes wishing to enhance exerciseperformance. Safe recommendations of Beet juice or beet nitrate for performancein athletes includes doses of 300-600mg at a single serving or consumedregularly for up to 2 weeks. Upon this consumption for exercise effectivenessof increased performance, other health benefits may follow influences bloodflow, and reduces the amount of oxygen needed for exercise (Dunford & Doyle, 2015).     

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