FoodFacts.com has heard an awful lot about athletes gorging on unhealthy fast foods after their meets end throughout the 30th Olympiad. Hey, we all need a “treat” after the hard work is done. And when an athlete needs 7,000 calories a day, or thereabouts, to maintain their body weight … that treat might be different than it would be for the rest of us! But we were really enthused and curious about some other information we found about our athletes’ diets.

It turns out that many of our athletes are finding energy benefits from beetroot juice … and it’s really not just a fad (although the benefits need to be explored quite a bit more). And it raises questions for the rest of us non-olympic (and maybe non-athletic) folks.

Studies conducted in the last two years have shown that, in fact, beetroot juice can increase athletic performance in certain sport situations. The knotty part of the beet is where the juice can be extracted. Studies are suggesting that there can be up to a 3 percent improvement in performance … well, at least in the world of elite sports. Probably doesn’t apply to most of us, but for them that is absolutely huge. So maybe the rest of us could benefit as well.

While no one can actually put their finger on it right now, beetroot juice seems to increase bloods and oxygen flow to muscles. In addition, it also somehow allows muscles to use the increase in oxygen more efficiently. It appears that when someone drinks beetroot juice regularly they expend less oxygen during exercise. This was evident in the study when participants who drank the juice for a week before hand were able to run significantly longer on a treadmill than those that drank a placebo juice.

It’s important to note that the juice seems to have an effect on short term exercise or athletic activity. In the studies undertaken, it appears that longer term activity is not affected in the same manner as short-term activity (i.e. marathon vs. sprint). Strenuous and short athletic activity is where beetroot juice appears to exercise its benefits. In addition, don’t expect to drink a glass of beetroot juice and experience increased energy. It needs to be consumed regularly to make any kind of a difference. So if you want to give this a try, you’ll need to drink the juice on a regular basis to see if it makes any kind of impact in your activity. It also may not be palatable initially and you may need to get used to the taste. It has been noted, however, that tart cherry juice may have a similar (if not exact) affect. And it probably tastes better.

FoodFacts.com is enthused by the idea that juicing might actually provide our athletes with the energy they need to excel, and by this discovery, might provide the rest of us a healthy way to boost our own energy levels and help all of us get moving more and more often! Read more here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/looking-for-fitness-in-a-glass-of-juice/?src=me&ref=health