As an athlete, nutrition is a crucial key in optimizing fitness levels. It’s well known that fruits and veggies are a great source of nutrients in your diet, but it can be hard to consume a large volume of them due to their high fiber content. Juicing is an excellent (and delicious) way to add the nutrients of fruits and vegetables to your diet without loading up your system with excess fiber, and recent studies have linked certain vegetable juices (those rich in nitrates) to improved athletic performance.
In a number of double blind studies on healthy adult men, it was determined that supplementing your diet with nitrate rich vegetable juice – in this case beetroot or spinach juice – resulted in significant improvements in how the body utilizes oxygen during moderate to strenuous exercise. Increased nitrate intake also lengthened the time it took for the body to reach exhaustion. During the studies, individuals were given dietary supplements for 6 or more days, and during the last three days performed a number of moderate to strenuous exercise tests to determine the effects of the nitrate rich supplements compared to the placebo. By measuring the oxygen uptake in the lungs, scientists were able to determine how the body is consuming oxygen during exercise; decreased oxygen consumption would effectively mean that the muscles needed less oxygen to perform – in essence the muscles were being more efficient with the oxygen they did have. During the exercise tests in the studies, the overall oxygen consumption by the muscles was lower in the men who were given nitrate rich supplements than in those men who did not have increased nitrate consumption. Furthermore, it took longer for the men with increased nitrate intake to reach muscle exhaustion than those without. Increasing nitrate intake, even just drinking one cup of nitrate-rich vegetable juice per day, can have significant effects for racing and power endurance athletes. (J Appl Physiol 107;1144-1155, 2009/and /www.mendeley.com/research/dietary-nitrate-reduces-maximal-oxygen-consumption)
I’m experimenting with a number of different juice blends, and will post future updates of my juicing endeavors. I use a Norwalk industrial juicer – produces delicious juice, squeezes every last ounce of micronutrients from the veggies and fruits I process and is well worth the money. More on the benefits of juicing soon!