Beetroot juice improves players’ sprint performance

London: Drinking high nitrate beetroot juice improves both sprint performance and decision-making ability of players during team sports such as rugby and football, according to a new study.

“This research is a really exciting landmark in the work conducted on nitrate supplementation so far,” said lead researcher Chris Thompson from University of Exeter in England.

“These new results suggest that beetroot juice could improve both physical performance and decision-making during team sports,” said Andrew Jones, professor at University of Exeter.

In an earlier study, the researchers found that regular beetroot juice drinks can help people to exercise for 16 percent longer.

In the latest study, 16 male team sport players consumed 140 ml of high nitrate beetroot juice for seven days.

The participants carried out the same exercise tests after drinking nitrate-rich beetroot juice and again after drinking a placebo version with the nitrate stripped out.

Researchers found consuming the nitrate-rich version resulted in an improvement in both sprint performance (3.5 percent) and speed of making decisions (three percent) without hindering decision accuracy.

“The improvement we found may seem small, but it is likely to provide a meaningful advantage to the athlete on the sports field,” Thompson said.

“It could mean that team sport players are able to make those important decisions faster and cover more ground than their opponents in the seconds when it matters most,” Thompson said.

The research has identified that high dietary nitrate content in beetroot juice interacts with enzymes in saliva to generate nitric oxide in the blood system.

Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, thereby boosting strength and endurance.

The study was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.