• Science Fueling Fitness

Beetroot Shots - Why the big deal?

How does beetroot juice enhance performance?

Elevations in plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations following dietary nitrate supplementation (through Beetroot Juice) have been associated with improvements in exercise performance. The mechanism by which nitrate acts to enhance exercise performance, is a topic of debate. One suggested mechanism is that enhanced nitric oxide levels (through ingestion of nitrates) may attenuate the ATP/PCr cost associated with skeletal muscle force production. Some findings have demonstrated a reduction in depletion of PCr stores following supplementation with Beetroot Juice and suggest a reduction in total ATP cost or turnover, for the same work rate. Another suggested mechanism is that nitrate directly alters mitochondrial efficiency, through attenuation of the P:O ratio. It has been hypothesized that a reduction in the gross oxygen cost of exercise is obtained via a reduced proton leakage about the mitochondrial membrane. Whichever the mechanism, it has been shown in numerous studies that nitrate supplementation (in the form of Beetroot Juice) can improve both endurance performance (seen in running, rowing and cycling) and high-intensity intermittent performance. Most studies report an increase of 3%-5% in endurance/intermittent running performance, (measured via Yo-Yo Intermittent Running Test amongst other tests) when supplementing with Beetroot Juice.


Practical Implications:

For athletes involved in sports involving high-intensity intermittent running such as GAA, soccer, rugby, hockey, etc. and athletes involved in endurance events such as cycling, running and rowing, supplementing with Beetroot Juice (nitrates) is recommended and has been shown to enhance performance. Improvements of as little as 3% in running performance will likely transfer to improvements in various aspects of your sport!


Recommended Dosing Strategy:

  • We suggest you take 1-2 ‘Beet It’ shots - 2.5 - 3 hours before your game or race.

  • ‘Beet It’ shots are sold in 70ml shots, which is the equivalent of 300ml of regular strength Beetroot Juice in terms of nitrate content. The reason we suggest taking the shots instead of regular beetroot juice is that drinking 300ml – 600ml of juice in the lead up to a game may cause gastric discomfort and is not ideal! The shots are so much easier!

  • Be careful not to use antibacterial mouthwash once you have taken the shot, as this may inhibit the response to nitrate supplementation.


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