The USC basketball team think so…
According to this article published recently in the LA Times, beetroot juice has been their secret weapon to their very successful season. After finishing last in the Pac-12 Conference last season and prior to drinking beet juice before games, they made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. And it’s not just the USC basketball team that are utilizing the amazing performance benefits of beet juice either, with many elite endurance athletes and other sports teams joining the beet juice fan club.
So how does beetroot juice enhance sports performance?
Most of you will know that beets are a healthy root vegetable that contain powerful antioxidants that support liver function but did you also know that they are also packed full of naturally occurring nitrates (1). Recent studies have shown that these nitrates when converted into nitric oxide in the body are able to widen blood vessels and improve cell function allowing the body to utilize energy more efficiently without exerting any more effort (2). What this means in terms of sports performance is increased output without increasing your effort which may lead to enhanced exercise tolerance, quicker recovery times and improved performance (3,4). And if you've ever thought dietary nitrates were harmful, you need not fear as naturally occurring nitrates derived from vegetables such as beetroot show only positive benefits for health and are an exciting area of research for enhanced sports performance (5).