* Prices may differ from that shown
Beetroot juice contains a high proportion of dietary nitrate. This is combined with enzymes in saliva to produce Nitrites and then Nitric Oxide, which is essentially what makes our bodies absorb oxygen, and the more Nitric Oxide you have, the better your body utilises the oxygen. This leads to increased blood flow and improved stamina. These claims are backed up by scientific research papers, which can be read via links on the Beet It website. Be warned, scientific journals are very, very boring to read!
Beet It Sport Shots are a concentrated version of normal beetroot juice, cut with lemon juice to improve the flavour. The dietary nitrate contained within them is all-natural, nothing artificial is added, so competitive athletes can rest assured that the product is safe to take.
As a championships level marathon runner I am always looking for that little extra (LEGAL!!!) something to give me an edge and help me shave a few seconds from by best time so I decided to give these a try.
The recommendation on the bottle is to take 1 shot daily 1 - 12 hours before exercise, however you'd have to be quite rich to do this every day since they come in at £1.80 to £2.20 per shot. Besides, the research was based on nitrate loading, that is to say, taking it just in the few days running up to an important race. Their website suggests 1 - 2 shots per day for a week leading up to a major event.
It comes in a little bottle with silver wrapping and a screw cap, making it very portable for races away from home. I bought a box from Amazon but you can buy them individually from Holland & Barrett.
I have used Beet It Sport before my last three marathons. I took one each day on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and on the Sunday morning before the race. I prefer to drink it straight from the fridge, as the taste is slightly less offensive when cold, and I can sip it. When forced to drink it warm for any reason I have to down it in one. At least it's small enough to do that. It's certainly an acquired taste, and I personally haven't acquired it yet!
The bottle warns that Beet It Shots may turn urine pink, but this was not something that I experienced myself. Thank goodness, as that would probably have panicked me! There is quite enough stress in the few days before a target marathon, and every little ache and pain turns into a major disaster. I'm sure many runners would convince themselves that they had a terrible disease if they were peeing pink and didn't realise it was down to the beetroot juice. Taper madness is a funny thing, it does terrible things to your brain!
Now, I should point out that before each marathon I had trained well, with a specific marathon-training phase of 16 or more weeks each time. I tapered (reduced) training during the final couple of weeks in order to arrive at the start line with fresh legs. I had been carbohydrate loading to ensure that my muscles were well fuelled. Also I drastically reduced my caffeine intake over the last week in order to gain more benefit from my race morning caffeine boost and caffeinated energy gels during the race. Before my latest marathon I also experimented with carb depletion for a few days before the loading phase. Given all of this it isn't really possible to say definitively if the Beet It Shots worked for me or not.
The results - the first marathon I used these for went really well. I ran a fast time and felt comfortable all the way round and even managed to finish the second half slightly quicker than the first. The second however, was not such a great result. I had been ill in the run-up though, and I suspect something was still lingering in my system. I struggled round 30 seconds slower than my previous marathon and felt awful
for most of it. My most recent marathon was a real success. Once again I'd been ill in the run-up, but this time I'd been able to rest completely, withdraw from the marathon I had initially entered and run a different one six weeks later. I was fully recovered and my expectations were lower. I improved my best
time by 7 minutes, which is a huge chunk at my standard.
Who can say how much of a part the Beet It played, but I'm not prepared to risk losing any advantage it may have given me, and I'll certainly be buying some more for my next marathon.
Concentrated beetroot juice (98%), concentrated lemon juice (2%)
Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories - 72
Protein - 2.5g
Carbohydrates - 16g
(of which sugars - 16g)
Fat - <0.1g
Fibre - <0.5g
Sodium - <0.5g
Dietary Nitrate - 0.4g
Cholesterol - 0g
Vitamin A - 0% of your recommended daily allowance
Vitamin C - 7.2%
Calcium - 1.2%
Iron - 2.8%
* Review also appears on Ciao *