Forget protein shakes and pre-workout: scientists say BEETROOT juice ‘significantly increases muscle strength during exercise’
- Scientists in the UK and US monitored muscle strength as participants exercised
- Half had been given a nitrate-filled drink before training
- The results showed a seven percent increase in muscle strength in those given the drink
If protein shakes or pre-workout drinks don’t agree with 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 beetroot are rich in nitrates, chemicals that boost oxygen and blood in the body and are associated with increased stamina.
Coffee is another powerful stimulant that can help with workouts by stimulating the central nervous system and giving you more energy.
Scientists have suggested that drinking beetroot juice before exercise could improve muscle performance (stock image)
In the latest study, experts from Exeter University in the UK recruited ten healthy men in their early twenties.
They were asked to follow a low-nitrate diet, such as avoiding leafy greens, for three days before starting the experiment.
They were then divided into two groups, half of which received a nitrate-rich pre-workout drink containing 4.7 fluid ounces (fl.oz.), which researchers said was equivalent to beetroot juice.
The rest received a placebo drink containing a fake powder. Both groups didn’t know if they had gotten the real thing.
The drinks were indistinguishable in appearance, smell and taste, the researchers said.
Three hours later, participants completed a single exercise after a warm-up.
The move caused the participants to contract their quadricep muscles — the large muscle at the front of the upper leg — 60 times while their dominant leg was attached to the handle of a machine. During the experiment, they had to contract the muscle without moving the leg.
Using electrical pulses, researchers measured muscle strength, or the force the muscles exerted when they contracted.
They found that the torque generated by the participants was seven percent higher in the group that had the actual pre-workout drink.
Muscle biopsies were also taken from the leg after consuming the drink and before and after exercise to monitor tissue nitrate levels.
Scientists found higher nitrate levels in the muscles of people who had been given the nitrate drink compared to those who hadn’t.
In the body, nitrates can help dilate blood vessels, increasing the amount of oxygen reaching the muscles.
Dr. Barbara Piknova, a staff scientist at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in the US, said: ‘This study provides the first direct evidence that muscle nitrate levels are important for exercise performance, presumably by acting as a source of nitrogen. oxide.
“These results have important implications not only for the practice field, but potentially for other medical fields as well, such as those targeting neuromuscular and metabolic diseases associated with nitric oxide deficiency.”
Dr. Andy Jones, a physiologist at the University of Exeter, said: ‘Our research has already produced a large body of evidence on the performance-enhancing properties of dietary nitrate, which is abundant in beetroot juice.
“It is exciting that this latest study provides the best evidence to date on the mechanisms behind why dietary nitrate improves human muscle performance.”
Their study was published in the journal Acta Physiologica.
Which foods are high in nitrates?
Our muscles need nitrates when we exercise to help them breathe or release energy.
This helps power the mitochondria — the energy factories in cells — boosting the energy available for contractions.
Scientists suggest that the more nitrates we have available, the better our exercise will be.
Foods high in nitrates include:
- Bok Choy;
- beetroot juice;