The Drink That's Better Than Protein
Nitrates may be the next protein powder, in the sense that athletes are taking them down in hopes of boosting their workout results. And for good reason: The natural compound has been shown to increase endurance and lower blood pressure-and help you exercise longer.
How? According to a recent study in The FASEB Journal, it thins out your blood so it can flow more easily to hard working muscles. Athletes who drank beet juice experienced a 38 percent increase in blood flow to muscles, particularly "fast twitch" muscles that affect bursts of speed and strength, according to a study conducted at Kansas State University. Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that runners who ate baked beets before a 5k race ran five percent faster.
But you don't have to take another pill to get the effect. In fact, beets are super-rich in nitrates, and concentrated beet juice shots could be the simplest way to get your dose. The Kansas State University study found that tossing back a 2.4 oz shot two hours before a sweat session can reap the benefits.
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