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Beetroot juice extends breath-holding ability
More and more athletes are seen to be using Beetroot juice, especially in endurance events. Research released this month from Mid Sweden University, in collaboration with University of Exeter, has shown that drinking beetroot juice shots allowed trained divers to hold their breath for 11 per cent longer.
Divers drinking 70ml BEET-IT concentrated beetroot juice shots were able to hold their breath for 4 min 38 sec, compared to when using a beetroot placebo (4 min 10 sec) – an additional 28 seconds (over 11%).
The key ingredient within beetroot juice shots that causes this effect is nitrate, which is broken down into nitric oxide (NO) within the body. It is this compound that allows muscles to ‘demand’ less oxygen from the lungs, by operating more efficiently. The mechanisms behind this effect have yet to be clarified but the results were statistically significant.
Not only will this application benefit divers, but it could possibly help professional swimmers to tire less quickly or even be useful for opera singers and woodwind and brass instrument players, who often need to go without breath for long periods.
Harald Engan, from Mid Sweden University who headed up the experiment, said: “Apparently by enabling the body to reduce oxygen consumption, drinking concentrated beetroot juice has delivered significant extension of breath holding time. “We are currently experimenting on if this may also be able to help climbers at high altitude and hope to report on the results soon.”
More general benefits in athletes of the high levels of nitrate within beetroot juice have been well documented over the past 12 months. The University of Exeter and University of Maastricht have both shown significant improvements to exercise performance among cyclists and a recent report from the University of St. Louis suggested that runners saw benefits too.
As a result, hundreds of top-level athletes have taken up the use of concentrated beetroot juice shots in order to give them an edge in competitive events, including England Rugby Star Ben Foden and GB marathon runner Helen Decker and British Butterfly swimming champion Ian Hulme.
Hulme commented: "Taking Beet-It shots has allowed me to train at a higher intensity and has given me the edge that I have been looking for. I know that with this product, each day I train I will be performing at my best"
BEET-IT concentrated shots were also used by scientist Jem Stansfield when he was training to propel a man-powered plane into the air on the BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory.Follow @londonathletics
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