Doping with beetroot juice
Are you ready for a wild ride? One of the basic pillars of sports physiology is upside down. Every physiology textbook related to movement we can throw it out the window, all thanks to beetroot juice! When athletes train, their performance improves due to the increased supply of oxygen to the muscles. For example, changes in the lungs allow for deeper breathing.
Strengthening the heart increases cardiac output and blood flow. Our body can even start making more red blood cells, thereby increasing their oxygen transport capacity. But the energy coming from this oxygen remains the same. The amount of oxygen corresponds to the same amount of work, no matter who it is. I will use an analogy: even if the same petrol is used, Lamborghini will be faster than another car, but not due to different combustion, which is in this sports car.
Lamborghini only has a more powerful engine. In the same way, we can have bigger muscles. And we can deliver oxygen to these muscles faster. But the basic energy that can be obtained from oxygen, stays the same. So at least we thought so … As part of the study, the researchers sat eight men on a bicycle and measured their oxygen consumption before and after consuming beet juice for several days.
Before this series of experiments no drug, chemical, steroid molecule, intervention … nothing to increase the use of energy from oxygen. And now we’ll see what the scientists found. White shows a group receiving a placebo, black a group consuming beet juice. A few glasses of beet juice and you can give the same performance while consuming less oxygen.
Same performance, but 19% lower oxygen consumption. When the men rode their bicycles, with great dedication, the time to complete exhaustion increased from 9:43 to 11:15. In the group consuming beets, people showed higher endurance and lower oxygen consumption; 16% time improvement with 4/5 oxygen consumption! In short, beetroot juice significantly streamlined the production of bodily energy.