Think outside the sports-drink bottle when you're looking for a workout beverage. New research puts the "gives you an edge" spotlight on this vegetable drink: beet juice.
In a small study, people who drank the red juice daily for 6 days needed much less oxygen during a treadmill exercise test. Translation: Exercise actually felt easier to them.
A Fitness Elixir?
Beet juice's exercise-enhancing power likely comes from the nitrates in beets. This bears out in the study, where the participants were split into two groups -- one drinking regular beet juice each day and the other drinking beet juice stripped of its nitrate content. And exercise became easier only for the juice-with-nitrates group. Compared with the no-nitrates group, the nitrates group needed about 12 percent less oxygen during the treadmill exercise test. The nitrate group was also able to run longer at fast speeds before reaching exhaustion. (Try this little mental game to help workouts feel like less work.)
Big Beet Benefits
Our bodies convert the nitrates in beet juice to nitrites -- helpful little compounds that help dilate blood vessels, increase blood flow, and help reduce the amount of oxygen muscles need to do work. So it's not surprising that the nitrates group in the study also experienced a dip in their blood pressure after drinking the juice regularly. Beets also contain quercetin and resveratrol -- two powerful antioxidants that may help protect against oxidative stress caused by exercise. (Learn more about how quercetin can boost energy.)
Here are a few more strategies for making your workouts feel easier:
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