In the summer of 1980 my friend Arnold Desena, famously responsible for finding tunes far left from center, introduced to me Joe Jackson’s third album Beat Crazy. We listened and learned all the lyrics singing them loud and often with total disregard for those oblivious to the albums existence.
In 2011 I picked up a copy of The Feed Zone by Allen Lim. Hidden in the pages was a reference to beet juice hinting to its benefits as a pre-ride drink for boosting performance and a post ride recovery elixir. So I added it to my pre-ride rituals on those big days.
I liked the way it made me feel.
The credit it seems goes to the nitrates in the beets. The nitrates are converted into nitrites through digestion and further reduced to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator which means it helps widen your arteries. A wider artery means more blood gets to where it needs to go. Logic would dictate that more blood means more oxygen where you need it which is my take on it. Anyone riding in the front of a peloton at 30+ mph already in a state of oxygen debt and preparing for that final sprint knows what more oxygen could mean.
So the claims are huge:
Increased time to exhaustion
Reduced oxygen consumption for a given level of exercise
Much of the blog and article claims I have read seem to be inferred from one study and dosages range from 60ml per week to 500ml 2.5 hrs before exercise. The going rule of thumb seems to be more is better but if you have ever tried to drink the stuff you have experienced some “cleansing” that may not be best served 40 miles into a metric century.
Besides the benefit to athletic performance this blood red elixir claims to reduce blood pressure, inorganic calcium deposits, and inflammation. The list goes on but as I am neither a medical doctor nor medical researcher I will refrain from detailing further claims and urge you to do your own research and come to your own conclusions. As a cyclist, I am always looking for a nutritional advantage and this just might be it.
Besides, this stuff just makes me feel good and so I will continue to go a little…