You asked us if beet juice really is an effective endurance-booster and, spoiler alert, science showed it can help you exercise up to 16 percent longer, but researchers from the University of Exeter say that’s not all. According to their new research, drinking beet juice improves sprint performance and decision-making during prolonged intermittent exercise like football, hockey, and rugby.
And it’s not just for the pros. The nitrate-rich drink has benefits for amateur sports players, too. In the study, 16 male team sport players drank 140 mL, or half a cup, of “Beet It Sport”—a high-nitrate beet juice—for seven days. At the end of the week, the players, which were all members of football, hockey, or rugby teams, completed an “intermittent sprint test.” They were simultaneously given cognitive tasks to test how accurately and quickly they make decisions while completing the two 40-minute sessions of two-minute block repeats that broke down like this:
-6 seconds of all-out sprint
-100 seconds active recovery
-20 seconds of rest on an exercise bike
All of the men drank the nitrate-rich beet juice for one session and a placebo version with the nitrate stripped out for the second. Those who drank the nitrate-rich beet juice saw a 3.5 percent improvement in sprint performance and a 3 percent improvement in decision-making without hurting accuracy. Though small, every little bit helps when it comes to out-moving and out-thinking your opponent—especially if your opponent is your younger thinks-he’s-a-hot-shot brother and you’re playing cut-throat flag football at the local park.