What’s with Beetroot Juice?

What’s with Beetroot Juice?

What’s with Beetroot Juice?

Why do athletes guzzle up beetroot juice before workout ??

All about Nitrogen delivery

Nitric oxide (NO) is a potent signaling molecule that helps cells communicate in the body. In terms of exercise physiology:

  • It is involved in increasing blood flow to the muscles, which makes it possible for mitochondria (power generator) to produce energy. When the heart pumps harder to supply the working muscles, the lining of the arteries releases NO to relax and widen the vessel wall.
  • Maintains blood pressure and controls muscle contraction.
  • Nitric oxide (NO) is a powerful vasodilator which imparts the “pumps” and helps with endurance. Since its vasodilator effects are brief, NO is quickly destroyed in the body.

Nitric Oxide production via supplementation

There are essentially 2 ways of supplementation to enhance NO production:

  1. L-Arginine-NO-Synthase (NOS)

Until recently, the production of nitric oxide was thought to occur only via synthesis from L- Arginine and L-Citrulline. However, this is a complex metabolism cycle which requires a five electron oxidation of L-arginine and is contingent on the presence of numerous essential substrates (including O2-) and co-factors.

  1. The Nitrate-Nitrite-Nitric Oxide pathway:


Dietary Nitrates represent a less complex pathway for NO synthesis which is a stepwise oxidation process:  

  • The breakdown of Nitrate (NO3-) begins in the mouth where symbiotic bacteria reduce to Nitrite (NO2-)
  • Nitrite is then swallowed and converted to Nitric Oxide (NO) in the acidic environment of the stomach.
  • NO is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract and then re-enters circulation as Nitrite. In the plasma, other physiological fluids or buffers – NO is oxidized almost completely to nitrite, where it remains stable for several hours.

Research in Exercise Physiology

  1. A study done with 12 professional cyclists in a 10 km timed trial showed that dietary nitrate supplementation was reported to reduce pulmonary oxygen uptake during submaximal exercise. Participants were also reported to have increased tolerance to high-intensity work rates.
  2. There is evidence that the muscle ATP turnover at a fixed work rate is reduced and the mitochondrial P/O ratio is increased following NO3- supplementation, which offers important insights into the physiological bases for the reduced VO2during exercise.
  3. Nitric oxide has also been shown to be important for cellular activities like memory and It helps in an effective transmission of information between nerve cells in the brain, assisting the immune system, regulating blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep quality.

What’s with Beetroot Juice !!

Ever wondered why athletes guzzle beetroot juice before training !! – Simple, It loads them up on Nitrates. Here are the findings of 2 different studies that were conducted on athletes with totally diffreft

Research with Weight Trainers:

A study evaluated the effect of 0.5L of beetroot juice ( with consistent nitrate dose of 5.5 mmol), consumed for 6 days where the subjects completed a series of low- and high-intensity knee extension exercises in the prone position on the last 3 days.

  • Beetroot juice more than doubled plasma nitrite concentration and reduced the oxygen cost and rate of phospho-creatine breakdown during low- and high-intensity exercise.
  • Compared with placebo, beetroot juice significantly lowered systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2 mm Hg.
  • Beetroot juice reduced the oxygen cost of moderate-intensity knee extensor exercise by 25% and increased the time to exhaustion during high-intensity knee extensor exercise by 25.5%

Research in Team Sport:

Another study evaluated team-sport players on high-intensity intermittent exercise performance. 14 male players were assigned in a double-blind, randomized, crossover design to consume ~500 mL of concentrated, nitrate-rich beetroot juice (AB) and nitrate-depleted placebo juice (XY) over ~30 hours preceding the completion of a training schedule (SH1).

  • Resting plasma nitrite concentration (NO2-) was ~400 % greater in AB compared to XY.
  • Plasma (NO2-) declined by 20 % in XY and by 54 % in AB from pre-exercise to end-exercise. This implies that NO2- to NO conversion was higher in the AB group
  • Performance in SH1 was 4.2 % greater with AB (1,704 ± 304 m) compared to XY (1,636 ± 288 m).
  • Mean blood [glucose] levels: AB = 3.8 ± 0.8 compared to XY = 4.2 ± 1.1 mM
  • Overall, NO3- supplementation seemed to provide an ergogenic aid for team sports players thus improving performance levels during intense intermittent exercise

Supply Sources:

  • Beetroot juice contains substantial amount of dietary nitrate. Overdose might cause red urine and stools.
    • 1 KG whole beetroot = ~800 ml Juice = ~1200 – 1500 mg Nitrate


  • Leafy green vegetables tend to be the top sources.
    • 100 gms of raw spinach contains approximately 250 mg of nitrate;
    • 1/2 cup cooked collard greens, approximately 200 mg;
    • 1 cup raw leaf lettuce, approximately 100 mg;
    • 1/2 cup vegetable juice, approximately 40 mg.

 With DAAKI, we make sure YOU are LOADED too !!!



  • Kelm, M. (1999). “Nitric oxide metabolism and breakdown.” Biochim Biophys Acta 1411: 273-289.
  • Kelm, M., M. Feelisch, et al. (1992). The Biology of nitric oxide.  Physiological and Clinical Aspects. S. Moncada, M. A. Marletta, J. B. Hibbs and E. A. Higgs. London, Portland Press. 1: 319-322.
  • Yoshida, K., K. Kasama, et al. (1983). “Biotransformation of nitric oxide, nitrite and nitrate.” Int Arch Occup Environ Health 52: 103-115.
  • Lundberg JO1, Weitzberg EGladwin MT et al. (2008). The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway in physiology and therapeutics; 7(2):156-67. DOI: 10.1038 /NRD 2466.
  • Stephen J. Bailey, Anni Vanhatalo, Paul G. Winyard, Andrew M. Jonesa (2011). “ The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway: Its role in human exercise physiology”; 10.1080/17461391.2011.635705
  • Magni Mohr, et. al. (2013). “Dietary nitrate supplementation improves team sport-specific intense intermittent exercise performance” DOI: 10.1007/s00421-013-2589-8
  • Murphy, M., Eliot, K., Heuertz, R., Weiss, E. (2012). “Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance”;112(4):548-552.

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