I’ll be the first to admit that a glass or bottle of fresh juice is a delicious treat. I’ve been known to order a green juice after yoga class or a beetroot juice before bootcamp. In fact I’ve even followed 1-day juice fasts with both Blueprint Cleanse and Cooler Cleanse.
But I’ve long wondered just how healthy the juicing cleanse trend was. After all, once you strain away the healthy fiber of fruits and veggies you’re left with a lot of nutrients (pro) and also a lot of sugars (con). People claim to feel lighter and “detoxed” after drinking these fresh blends, but regular juicing never sat right with me. After all, nutritionists regularly steer clients away from juice because of its high concentration of sugars and calories, recommending whole foods like salads and pieces of fruit instead. Why would a diet of just juice be good when a glass of juice is often considered bad?
When I read a recent Opinion piece in the New York Times, about how Jennifer Berman’s health habits—including juicing—were having the opposite affect, I wasn’t all that surprised.
Athletes may be caught juicing with a new performance enhancing product soon. But this product is legal and it really is juice. Recent studies have been conducted with competitive cyclists and a somewhat foreign ingredient called beetroot juice.
Athletes in these tests were given the beetroot juice before a time trial. Multiple distances were timed and the cyclists who drank the complete beetroot formula were found to be over 2.5% faster than they were without the juice.
Beetroot juice is a natural source of nitrate. The nitrate ingredient is what is believed to be causing the enhanced performance. Nitrate widens blood vessels which lowers blood pressure and allows for more blood flow. Nitrate also reduces the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity. These two effects combined are the source for the improved performance of the cyclists in the research.
The cycling tests have surely sparked the interest of other athletes as well. If this natural and legal product can improve performance in one physical area, it seems plausible that it can help improve the performance of other activities as well. When dealing with sports, where seconds can mean the difference between second place or champion, beetroot juice may soon needs its own sports agent.