University sports-team players who participated in the study consumed either beetroot juice (BTJ) or a placebo after completing a sprint test. Researchers recorded the results of tests including countermovement jumps and reactive strength, along with blood tests.
The participants who consumed beetroot juice had 7.6 percent higher countermovement jumps than the placebo group 72 hours after the sprint test. Reactive strength index was also higher than the placebo group during all points.
The findings found that “the beneficial effects of BTJ were shown to be unrelated to systemic changes in oxidative stress or other biochemical markers of muscle damage.”
The unexpected findings run counter to the initial prediction that antioxidant elements of beetroot juice would be beneficial to post-exercise recovery — particularly the betalain pigments which give beetroot its distinctive colour.
The researchers called for further investigations, as “there are a number of possible candidates” that could explain the performance boost, but “it was beyond the scope of this study to examine the role of other mechanisms by which BTJ could attenuate muscle damage.”
A previous study by conducted by Saint Louis University found that subjects who ran after consuming whole beetroot had a performance increase over those who consumed a placebo. Other studies on betalain found potential anti-inflammatory aspects and other health benefits.
Beetroot is a popular fruit among consumers due to its purported health effects, and is commonly consumed as juice.