1

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Juicing with Beetroot: is a 5k PB worth the increased cancer risk?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 21, 2012 at 8:35 PM

So I've been hearing a lot about the benefits of drinking beetroot juice on athletic performance. Apparently beetroot juice can:

  1. 15% increase in time to exhaustion during severe-intensity running
  2. increased tolerance to high-intensity exercise
  3. reduced resting blood pressure

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661447

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20466802

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071588

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911616

All of which sounds rather magical, especially since I finished my first Half Marathon last week and, having rested my legs for a week, I'm super motivated to go out and attack my 5k PB at a race next weekend.

If I didn't spend so much time hanging out with you guys, I'd have juiced my running performance with liquid beetroot without a second thought. However, the magical beetroot power is ascribed to its high nitrate content. From Paleo Hacks I know that the nitrates in bacon are bad, so I'm kinda guessing that concentrated beetroot nitrates are also bad.

See for example: http://jap.physiology.org/content/107/5/1677

So what do you think boys and girls? How bad can a shot of concentrated beetroot a day for a week be?

Do you think that it will have any influence on my athletic performance? Will it increase my chances of getting cancer? Is it very unPaleo?


UPDATE:

So I did juice with the old Beetroot (I was always going to) and hit two big PBs in my 42nd and 43rd 5k races of the year - knocking my time down by almost 2 minutes.

How much of it is down to the beetroot and how much is placebo (and how much was down to a patch of good form) I don't know. I'm going to try juicing before my half marathon in a couple of weeks to see if can get the placebo magic to work again.

Tastes pretty nasty though...

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 04, 2013
at 05:09 PM

I use it for resistance training because it increases blood flow and pump. You might want it for that!

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on January 04, 2013
at 05:01 PM

Thanks FY. Not usually into supplements (unless they are performance enhancing) but the beetroot experiment was a great success, so I'll give these a try when I get running (if I haven't dumped it for resistance training by then ;) )

7eba3d743671649c1e06cacce0ba4e77

(1423)

on October 12, 2012
at 07:50 AM

Use a juicer to juice your own beets or, if you don't have a juicer, use a blender and blend it up, use an old but washed tshirt or cheese cloth or strainer of somesort and strain the liquid. Oh make sure when you blend, add water.

5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on October 10, 2012
at 04:02 PM

I agree. But, to quote you mentioned your "42nd and 43rd 5K of the year" so we're not just talking about a 5K here and there. Most people I know who run that many 5Ks in a year run A LOT more than just the actual races and definitely fall into the "chronic cardio" crowd. If I'm wrong about you, I heartily apologize. Friends?

59fa7cd87fb9d669adf21e5cf3e7ada5

on October 10, 2012
at 03:53 PM

Imo running 3.1 miles is being reasonably fit

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 10, 2012
at 03:50 PM

And that's a slow 5k for many.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 10, 2012
at 03:50 PM

A 5K is what? 25 minutes or so? I can't see that as qualifying as chronic cardio.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on October 10, 2012
at 03:39 PM

Is running a 5k race and a couple of half marathons a year really chronic cardio? It kinda helps me with the old diabetes, so I'll take the risk.

59fa7cd87fb9d669adf21e5cf3e7ada5

on October 10, 2012
at 02:21 PM

I would be all over the beetroot juice but when I can find it at the grocery store it is pretty expensive.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on September 22, 2012
at 01:27 AM

Specific is good and all, but some folks don't know how to take it down a notch to make it generally accessible... IUPAC nomenclature is not accessible to the layperson. ;)

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:55 AM

Yes he does. Part of it is just being an arrogant chemist (I'm one, so I know), the other part is that when you're talking about molecules and reactions, the specific terms mean specific things, so it is the most correct way to say it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:07 AM

Mat loves to use excess jargon to sound science-y.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:22 PM

The brand I'm thinking of taking is 98% beetroot, 2% lemon juice.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:21 PM

Thanks CD. 11g of carbs per shot, which is good enough for me and I'm a <25g man. I have put the work in though: 6 weeks of half-marathon training (with another 6 weeks to come). This just happens to be a one week break between my halves, where the the training volume will be low enough to let me give 100% in a 5k race. I took 40s off a couple of weeks ago - I'm looking for a PB that will look good over those cold winter months.

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7 Answers

3
B9ae572069c0b93de0e8edada50a299b

on September 21, 2012
at 09:09 PM

I wouldn't be worried about beet juice and nitrates. The health concerns comes when nitrates are heated with some of the processed stuff in hot dogs. This article also lays it out pretty well: http://bare5.com/2012/04/02/2221-hot-dogs-a-day-and-still-ok/

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:22 PM

The brand I'm thinking of taking is 98% beetroot, 2% lemon juice.

2
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:09 AM

I posted the question a while back if there's any support that nitrosamines formed in food actually cause cancer, didn't get any hits on that. The best support I've seen for that has been feeding cured fish to cows, but then that's not exactly a natural system there!

I'm not convinced at all that nitrates/ites are going to cause any disease.

2
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on September 21, 2012
at 08:48 PM

Check the last paragraph here from Mat Lalonde. Nitrates aren't bad. It's just a scary thing that people latched on to, but has no real problems in a person when you actually look at it:

http://balancedbites.com/2011/05/bacon-health-food-or-devil-in-delicious-disguise.html

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:55 AM

Yes he does. Part of it is just being an arrogant chemist (I'm one, so I know), the other part is that when you're talking about molecules and reactions, the specific terms mean specific things, so it is the most correct way to say it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on September 22, 2012
at 01:27 AM

Specific is good and all, but some folks don't know how to take it down a notch to make it generally accessible... IUPAC nomenclature is not accessible to the layperson. ;)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on September 22, 2012
at 12:07 AM

Mat loves to use excess jargon to sound science-y.

1
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on October 10, 2012
at 02:24 PM

Article here by Chris Kresser,

http://chriskresser.com/the-nitrate-and-nitrite-myth-another-reason-not-to-fear-bacon

I read it and felt much happier about my bacon - and celery, and beetroot and and and...

(Makes snogging someone much more dangerous than eating a pound or two of bacon...!)

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 21, 2012
at 08:58 PM

First, I think nitrates CAN be bad, but not in the quantities that we eat. I'd be far more concerned with the sugar content of the beet juice.

Second, break your PR with hard core work. Not with some supplement. Put in the time and effort and knock it out 00 it is more rewarding that way. It's not like you are competing in the Olympics, this is a personal goal, so take pride in doing it the right way, while maintaining your health.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 21, 2012
at 09:21 PM

Thanks CD. 11g of carbs per shot, which is good enough for me and I'm a <25g man. I have put the work in though: 6 weeks of half-marathon training (with another 6 weeks to come). This just happens to be a one week break between my halves, where the the training volume will be low enough to let me give 100% in a 5k race. I took 40s off a couple of weeks ago - I'm looking for a PB that will look good over those cold winter months.

59fa7cd87fb9d669adf21e5cf3e7ada5

on October 10, 2012
at 02:21 PM

I would be all over the beetroot juice but when I can find it at the grocery store it is pretty expensive.

7eba3d743671649c1e06cacce0ba4e77

(1423)

on October 12, 2012
at 07:50 AM

Use a juicer to juice your own beets or, if you don't have a juicer, use a blender and blend it up, use an old but washed tshirt or cheese cloth or strainer of somesort and strain the liquid. Oh make sure when you blend, add water.

0
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on January 04, 2013
at 04:10 PM

Hey, Borofergie. I know you're not currently running 5ks, but here's a supplement I'm currently taking called Astravar 2.0. It's a pre-workout nitric oxide enhancer and the first active ingredient is beetroot extract standardized for a high nitrate content. Just thought I'd pass the information along.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/top-secret-nutrition/astravar-2.html

Oh and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that nitrates are not bad.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2164457/So-thats-makes-Popeye-strong-Nitrates-spinach-boost-muscles.html

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on January 04, 2013
at 05:01 PM

Thanks FY. Not usually into supplements (unless they are performance enhancing) but the beetroot experiment was a great success, so I'll give these a try when I get running (if I haven't dumped it for resistance training by then ;) )

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 04, 2013
at 05:09 PM

I use it for resistance training because it increases blood flow and pump. You might want it for that!

0
5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on October 10, 2012
at 03:33 PM

I'd be more worried about the chronic cardio than the nitrates, but that's just me...

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on October 10, 2012
at 03:39 PM

Is running a 5k race and a couple of half marathons a year really chronic cardio? It kinda helps me with the old diabetes, so I'll take the risk.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 10, 2012
at 03:50 PM

A 5K is what? 25 minutes or so? I can't see that as qualifying as chronic cardio.

59fa7cd87fb9d669adf21e5cf3e7ada5

on October 10, 2012
at 03:53 PM

Imo running 3.1 miles is being reasonably fit

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 10, 2012
at 03:50 PM

And that's a slow 5k for many.

5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on October 10, 2012
at 04:02 PM

I agree. But, to quote you mentioned your "42nd and 43rd 5K of the year" so we're not just talking about a 5K here and there. Most people I know who run that many 5Ks in a year run A LOT more than just the actual races and definitely fall into the "chronic cardio" crowd. If I'm wrong about you, I heartily apologize. Friends?

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