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The juice bar fave may not deliver on its promises.
If the idea of chugging a neon-coloured sports drinks after a long workout or run is less than appealing, the list of alternatives – from coconut water to chocolate milk – is growing.
Beet juice has ditched its hippie juice bar reputation and is now one of the trendiest things to chug at the gym. Manufacturers have found ways to package it and promote it heavily as the next big thing.
And, like its predecessors, the deep red beverage is now undergoing scientific scrutiny.
So, could beet juice be the ultimate sports drink? A recent study suggests while beet juice may taste great, it may not deliver all the benefits it is rumoured to have.
The good kind of nitrate
How did beet juice get its reputation for being a powerhouse drink? Fitness buffs believe its nitrate content (the healthy stuff in many leafy greens, not the processed meat version), gets converted by the body into nitric oxide, thought to help lower blood pressure among other benefits.
In the new research out of Pennsylvania State University, researchers put popular claims -- that beet juice improves blood and oxygen flow to athletes’ muscles during training and competition and wards off muscle fatigue -- to the test on athletes in a lab.
Lead researcher David Proctor, a professor of kinesiology and physiology, and his colleagues gave subjects either a placebo drink containing beetroot juice minus the nitrate or a relatively high dose of nitrate-rich beetroot juice, according to the statement.
No evidence of effects
After carefully measuring the blood flow to muscles while they contracted, the researchers found no evidence the beet juice helped blood and oxygen flow. They do admit different, more intense exercises on subjects who are not in excellent shape may produce different outcomes in the future.
One silver lining: beet juice did seem to "de-stiffen" blood vessels while the athlete rested - “potentially easing the workload of the heart,” according to the statement.
Still, beet juice, like coconut water and chocolate milk before it, does taste great.
Are you thirsty for more? Here is a guide to healthy juicing. And more on workout hydration.