Can This Juice Supercharge Your Run?

Illustrated by Gabriela Alford.
Beet juice has long been rumored to be a sort of magical elixir for athletes. Past studies have shown the vegetable juice can cut minutes off your run time, improve your tolerance against high-intensity exercise, and boost blood and oxygen flow to your muscles. 

However, Shape reports that new research from Pennsylvania State University might change all that. The study had participants drink beetroot juice and then perform a series of forearm exercises. Surprisingly, researchers did not see a rise in blood flow to the muscles or a widening of the vessels.

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Before you write off beet juice forever, it's important to note that the study was done on younger males and only involved a small range of forearm exercises. And, the younger you are, the healthier your vascular function is, so it's not a surprise that there was little change in blood flow. Also, the forearm exercises the participants performed are the not cardio exercises athletes typically drink beet juice for.

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Beetroot juice has been shown to shave seconds off a runner’s time, and while this might not matter to an amateur athlete, it "can mean the difference between a silver or gold medal for an Olympian," Barbara Lewin, R.D., told Shape.

If you're really looking to supercharge your run, you should focus on the rest of your diet, Lewin suggests. "We tend to look at easy fixes...there are a lot of other things that will be more beneficial for amateur athletes than just beet juice."

For more information about this study, click through to Shape.

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