Beets and their health benefits have gotten a lot of attention lately. Especially when it comes to sports performance. Beets are rich in nitrates, which increases aerobic performance. Converted to nitrous oxide in the body, these nitrates improve vascular dilation, which in turn increases the blood flow to working muscles. These nitrates work particularly well in boosting performance for those new to running.
Researchers have documented these beneficial results in a number of studies over recent years. A December 2016 study showed that nitrate supplementation enhances high-intensity exercise and running performance during sprints.
Nitrate-containing foods such as beets and spinach, as well as supplements, are a safe and logical choice for increasing blood circulation and optimizing recovery for runners.
1. Beet Concentrates
SuperBeets ® are a perfectly legal and safe choice for increasing nitrous oxide. It promotes vascular dilation, improving blood flow to hard-working muscles. This concentrated formula is rich in potassium, as well as nitrates, which provides excellent prevention against post-exercise muscle cramps. It also comes in black cherry flavor for those who don’t like the tastes of beets.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) reduce muscle breakdown after endurance sports, such as long-distance running. Compared to other amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine are superior for muscle repair. They can also serve as a source of energy for long distance runs. Tests results published in 2011 showed performance improvement for runners taking a supplemental combination of BCAAs, carbohydrates, and caffeine.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If post-run muscle soreness affects your ability to train, Omega-3 fatty acids can help. Marine source fatty acids, such as fish oil, in daily doses of 500 mgs to 1.5 g reduces inflammation and joint pain in runners.
Good old caffeine. It keeps us going on tough mornings. It can also keep you going on a long-distance run. Many athletes add a boost of coffee or green tea before a workout. A November 2017 study confirmed the enhancement. Many of the top rated fat burner supplements use these as their active ingredients for this reason. And researchers found the boost lasted 60 minutes after ingestion. It’s safest to take caffeine in a beverage, and green tea adds anti-oxidants for an overall health boost. Note that mega doses of caffeine are banned by the Olympic Committee and don’t improve performance over recommended doses, anyway.
5. Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Also known as ubiquinone, this essential coenzyme present in cellular mitochondria generates ATP. ATP is the energy source for over 95 percent of the human body. This safe and legal supplement helps you convert food to running energy. An October 2012 study showed that supplementation with CoQ10 reduced post-exercise oxidative stress and the resulting inflammation. In addition, an April 2015 study showed that a two-week daily supplementation plan was far superior to dosing only before exercise.
The amino acid L-Arginine works similar to beet root. It enhances the production of nitrous oxide in the body. A March 2015 study lauded a combination of arginine and branched-chain amino acids for reducing fatigue in handball players. Additionally, a study tested using the amino acid l-citrulline (a precursor for l-arginine) increased blood flow and vascular dilation in older men by 11 percent.
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid known to reduce muscle fatigue. An August 2012 study showed reduced levels of lactic acid after intense exercise with the use of beta-alanine supplements. This can improve long-distance running performance and reduce post-workout muscle soreness. A December 2013 study tested the use of beta alanine on 800-meter runners showed increased speeds with the supplement.
Runners looking to increase their endurance or speed can find a number of supplements like SuperBeets or beta-alanine to enhance their performance legally. You may be a beginning runner looking to reduce soreness and increase fitness levels. Many sports and fitness companies have already done the research and created products for athletes of every level. Composed of many of these same nutritional components, these products can be taken before running to increase energy or afterward to aid in recovery.