Review: Beet It Sport Nitrate 400, Pre-Race “Energy Gel”

 

Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 is not an energy gel officially. Still, I’ve used it as one because of its compact size, carbohydrate content, natural ingredients and texture. The company market it as a pre-race supplement, but based on past experiences, it can be a mid-race fuel for events that last five hours or more.

A few years ago, I began blending actual beets into my green smoothies after reading several articles about the vegetable’s benefits for endurance performance. A conveniently packaged beet-based supplement naturally piqued my interest. Today, please let me share what I like and dislike about Beet it Sport Nitrate 400.

 

Why beets?

Beets or beetroots? They’re the same exact thing. The vegetable is jokingly called “nature’s performance-enhancing drug” due to its high nitrate content. Nitrate, once absorbed into the human body, is converted to nitrite and then nitric oxide, which helps two systems:

  1. It widens blood vessels, so it’s easier to pump oxygen-filled blood to different parts of our body.
  2. It improves the efficiency of mitochondria, which converts oxygen and carbohydrates into energy for your muscle cells.

Here’s a 2011 study showing that consuming beets may provide a 3% performance improvement for efforts lasting 5-30 minutes.

 

Marketing claim

“Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 shot has been scientifically shown to be the only concentrated beetroot juice product on the market to consistently contain an adequate dose of dietary nitrate per serving (400mg per 70ml),” says the company.

In fact, Beet It Sport is so confident with its products that it publicly called out other beet supplements for failing to deliver sufficient and stable nitrate.

The brand markets the Nitrate 400 as a pre-race supplement. Drink one or two shots one to three hours before training and up to six days before a competition, according to the product page.

It uses dietary nitrate derived solely from beet juice with no artificial additives. The primary benefit is reducing oxygen demand during exercise, meaning “muscles need less oxygen to maintain a given work rate, thereby improving exercise efficiency, fatigue resistance, and exercise performance.”

Ingredients

  • 98% concentrated beet juice
  • 2% lemon juice (made with concentrates)

I love the simplicity of the ingredient list.

 

Nutritional facts

Each Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 is 70 ml and provides the following:

  • 72 calories
  • 2.5g proteins
  • 0g fat
  • 15.4g carbohydrates (14g of sugar)
  • 84 mg sodium
  • 400 mg nitrate

At 102g per bottle, it’s a bit short on sugar and calories compared to popular energy gels like GU and Hammer.

 

Taste and consistency

It’s an acquired taste. A strange mix of sour, savory, earthy and sweet, so heads up to the first-timers reading this. I wouldn’t say it tastes bad, just “unique”. As for consistency, it’s much lighter than the typical energy gel, a plus for palatability.

 

Packaging

Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 comes in at 102g, about 10cm in height. Although relatively heavy, it’s still compact enough to fit most fuel-carry gears. I like that it has a twist cap. I can take a sip or two and then close it back up for later. Although some call it a shot, I find it difficult to pound the whole bottle in one go.

 

Performance – 5 x 1000m intervals with 200m slow jog recovery

I tested Beet it sport Nitrate 400 for a speed workout. I drank one per day two days before the workout and one more two hours before the session.

Some takeaways:

  • The taste, as stated above, is truly an acquired taste. But once acquired, it’s not so bad.
  • The session was my first proper speed workout of the current training block (aiming for a mid-December marathon). I noticed that this particular workout felt slightly easier at about the same pace compared with how I was a year ago when I kicked off marathon training. (But there are many contributing factors – temperature, more strength work over the summer, lighter body weight, etc.)
  • I have used Beet It Sport in ultramarathons. There were no notable differences besides the usual surge through ingesting sugar. But I do like the bottle design, which is suited for small sips without getting sticky hands.
  • I believe in beet’s scientific claims, and Beet It Sport is a convenient way to get nitrate. Chopping up and blending an actual beet can be a hassle.
  • Last but not least, you might pee reddish pick. So don’t freak out.

 

Conclusion

I believe in the benefits of beets and nitrate. However, attaining a notable physical difference requires incorporating the vegetable into your regular regimen, not just a shot or two before a race.

Unfortunately, the price of Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 is too high as an everyday drink. I recommend eating actual beets and other nitrate-rich foods regularly (cabbage, spinach, celery, lettuce, onion, etc.). Then start drinking Beet It Sport a few days before a race for more concentrated dosages.

For races and workouts that are longer than 5 hours, it’s a decent fuel to have on hand because of its convenient packaging and nutritional profile. As for blood vessel dilation and mitochondria boost during a long race, the effects are probably too subtle to make a difference. BUT I’m not discounting the psychological benefits.

Using Beet It Sport as a mid-run fuel is a personal habit, not what the brand officially recommends.

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