Betalains are indole-derived pigments found in beet root, and recent studies suggest that they may exert ergogenic effects. Herein, we examined if supplementation for 7 days with betalain-rich beetroot concentrate (BLN) improved cycling performance or altered hemodynamic and serum analytes prior to, during and following a cycling time trial (TT).
Twenty-eight trained male cyclists (29 ± 10 years, 77.3 ± 13.3 kg, and 3.03 ± 0.62 W/kg) performed a counterbalanced crossover study whereby BLN (100 mg/day) or placebo (PLA) supplementation occurred over 7 days with a 1-week washout between conditions. On the morning of day seven of each supplementation condition, participants consumed one final serving of BLN or PLA and performed a 30-min cycling TT with concurrent assessment of several physiological variables and blood markers.
BLN supplementation improved average absolute power compared to PLA (231.6 ± 36.2 vs. 225.3 ± 35.8 W, p = 0.050, d = 0.02). Average relative power, distance traveled, blood parameters (e.g., pH, lactate, glucose, NOx) and inflammatory markers (e.g., IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNFα) were not significantly different between conditions. BLN supplementation significantly improved exercise efficiency (W/ml/kg/min) in the last 5 min of the TT compared to PLA (p = 0.029, d = 0.45). Brachial artery blood flow in the BLN condition, immediately post-exercise, tended to be greater compared to PLA (p = 0.065, d = 0.32).
We report that 7 days of BLN supplementation modestly improves 30-min TT power output, exercise efficiency as well as post-exercise blood flow without increasing plasma NOx levels or altering blood markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and/or hematopoiesis.
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Analysis of variance
Betalain-rich beetroot concentrate
Respiratory exchange ratio
Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances
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This study was funded by a contract awarded to Auburn University (MDR) and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine—Auburn Campus (KCY and JSM) from FutureCeuticals (Momence, IL USA). Contract monies were used for participant compensation and assay-related costs.
Conflict of interest
None of the authors have conflicts of interest to declare regarding the publication of these data.
Communicated by Anni Vanhatalo.
Jeffrey S. Martin, Michael D. Roberts and Kaelin C. Young are co-principal investigators.
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Mumford, P.W., Kephart, W.C., Romero, M.A. et al. Effect of 1-week betalain-rich beetroot concentrate supplementation on cycling performance and select physiological parameters. Eur J Appl Physiol 118, 2465–2476 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-018-3973-1