There are a lot of drinks on the market that promise to help with exercise performance and recovery. From chocolate milk to aloe vera juice to coconut water and cherry juice, it seems that every few months there's a new exercise "super" drink out. But have you heard of beetroot juice? According to a study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, drinking beetroot juice helps competitive-level cyclists cut down the time it takes to ride a given distance. Just in time for the Tour de France, too...
Researchers studied nine club-level competitive male cyclists as they competed in two time trials. Before each trial, the cyclists drank half a liter of beetroot juice. For one trial the men all had normal beetroot juice. For the other trial—unbeknownst to the cyclists—the beetroot juice had a key ingredient, nitrate, removed. And the results? When the cyclists drank the normal beetroot juice they had a higher power output for the same level of effort than they did when drinking the modified beetroot juice.
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In fact, the riders were an average of 11 seconds quicker over four kilometers and 45 seconds faster over 16.1 kilometers when drinking the regular beetroot juice. That may not seem that much faster, but keep in mind that in last year's Tour de France just 39 seconds separated the top two riders after more than 90 hours of pedaling.
With the Tour de France in full swing—and beetroot juice being a completely natural and legal substance, we wonder if it will be the new hot super exercise drink!