Olympians Look for Boost From Beet Juice

Endurance athletes enhance performance with juice
Wikimedia/Freshtopia.net

Pomegranate juice is so 2008. All the cool kids — by which we mean all the Olympic athletes — have traded it in for the latest magical red juice du jour: beet juice.

Gawker noted that U.S. marathon runner Ryan Hall is drinking the stuff as a training aid. So is practically the entire Canadian team, according to cross-country skier Sheila Kealey, even though it apparently tastes like "sweet dirt."

According to The Telegraph, beet juice has even been shown to help clarinet and trumpet players play longer without running out of breath. A recent study suggests a shot of concentrated beet juice can help divers and swimmers hold their breath for up to 11 percent longer than normal.

The seemingly magical properties come from nitrates, which help muscles to perform while using less oxygen. It’s a boon for endurance athletes, because each breath can keep them going longer.

Outside magazine covered the nascent beverage trend and reported that "cyclists who drank half a liter of beet juice for six days were 11 seconds faster over a 2.5-mile course and 45 seconds faster over a 10-mile course." While they were at it, the magazine also snagged the "Never Miss a Beet" headline, which is surely just a taste of the puns to come.

To get in on the action while beet juice is still on the upswing, check out some of our best beet recipes.