Beetroot Juice and Its Impact on Women's Intense Workout Responses

Greg Howard
29th March, 2024

Beetroot Juice and Its Impact on Women's Intense Workout Responses

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Hong Kong, beetroot juice lowered heart rate and effort feeling in women during intense exercise
  • Both single and double doses of beetroot juice had similar beneficial effects
  • No extra benefits were found from doubling the beetroot juice dose
Nitric oxide (NO), a molecule once associated primarily with atmospheric chemistry, has been increasingly recognized for its vital roles in human physiology, particularly in cardiovascular health and exercise performance. A recent study by researchers at The Chinese University of Hong Kong has shed light on the potential benefits of nitrate-rich beetroot juice in enhancing the exercise capacity of women during high-intensity interval training (HIIT)[1]. HIIT, a popular fitness trend, involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or low-intensity activity. This form of training is known for its efficiency in improving cardiovascular and metabolic health. However, the strenuous nature of HIIT can often lead to high levels of exertion and fatigue, making strategies to improve exercise tolerance highly desirable. The study in question explored the acute effects of different doses of beetroot juice, known for its high nitrate content, on various physiological and perceptual responses during HIIT in young, recreationally active women. The randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial provided participants with either a placebo, a single dose (6.45 mmol), or a double dose (12.9 mmol) of nitrate, 2.5 hours before undertaking a series of cycling intervals. The results were significant. Those who consumed either dose of nitrate reported lower heart rates and perceived exertion during the exercise compared to the placebo group. This suggests that nitrate ingestion can make high-intensity exercise feel less demanding and may potentially enhance exercise performance. Interestingly, there was no observed benefit in doubling the nitrate dose; both the single and double doses had similar effects. These findings align with previous research indicating that dietary nitrate can reduce the oxygen cost of exercise. A study on men consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice showed that it could lead to a more efficient muscle force production, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen needed for exercise and allowing for longer periods of high-intensity effort[2]. This is particularly relevant to HIIT, where the ability to sustain high power outputs is crucial. The role of NO in skeletal muscle function is well-established. It is involved in force production, blood flow regulation, and glucose homeostasis, among other things[3]. The presence of various nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms in skeletal muscles, which contribute to NO production, underscores the importance of NO in muscle physiology and exercise performance[3]. Intriguingly, the body's natural mechanisms for producing NO may also be influenced by dietary intake. The high levels of NO found in the stomach, for instance, are generated in an acidic environment and are thought to be important for maintaining gastric mucosal integrity[4]. This endogenous production of NO, alongside dietary sources, might play a role in the health benefits observed with nitrate supplementation. Moreover, while some concerns have been raised about the potential negative health effects of nitrates and nitrites, such as an increased risk of gastrointestinal cancers or methemoglobinemia in infants[5], a significant body of evidence suggests that these compounds, when derived from dietary sources like vegetables and fruits, can have beneficial effects on vascular and immune function. Indeed, the blood pressure-lowering effects of the DASH diet may, in part, be attributed to the nitrates and nitrites obtained from plant foods[5]. The current study builds upon this body of work, suggesting that acute nitrate supplementation could be a practical intervention for improving exercise responses during HIIT. The findings may have important implications for sports performance and could be particularly beneficial for athletes or individuals looking to maximize their workout efficiency. In conclusion, the research from The Chinese University of Hong Kong adds to the growing evidence that dietary nitrate, such as that found in beetroot juice, can modulate physiological and perceptual responses to exercise. While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and long-term effects of nitrate supplementation, this study offers promising insights into how we might harness the power of diet to enhance physical performance and endurance.



Main Study

1) Acute effects of various doses of nitrate-rich beetroot juice on high-intensity interval exercise responses in women: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.

Published 27th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances muscle contractile efficiency during knee-extensor exercise in humans.

3) Physiology of nitric oxide in skeletal muscle.

Journal: Physiological reviews, Issue: Vol 81, Issue 1, Jan 2001

4) Intragastric nitric oxide production in humans: measurements in expelled air.

Journal: Gut, Issue: Vol 35, Issue 11, Nov 1994

5) Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙