NN Running Team partner Beet It Sport, through their concentrated beetroot juice product, are providing a crucial edge for the Team. Here we found out more about the innovative product, which is helping fuel our athletes to road running glory, by chatting to Beet It Sport specialist Jonathan Cartwright.

Why and how did you develop Beet It Sport?

In 2008 medical scientists contacted us who were using beetroot juice as a natural source of dietary nitrate for research into blood pressure reduction. In 2009 researchers at the University of Exeter (in the UK) published the first human trial to investigate the exercise benefits of dietary nitrate from beetroot juice supplementation, reporting a five per cent reduction in oxygen cost of exercise and 16 per cent improvement in endurance (time to exhaustion). This generated a lot of press interest and we rebranded our beetroot juice as Beet It.

Research teams found the nitrate levels fluctuated by as much as three times and on average, around 500ml beetroot juice was required for exercise performance benefits. The England rugby team tested Beet It in training and felt a performance benefit, yet the 500ml was too much volume of liquid to consume before training and match day.

Company founder Lawrence Mallinson had a Eureka moment to develop a standardised dose of dietary nitrate in a small concentrated beetroot juice shot. Every 70ml contains a reliable and consistent dose of dietary nitrate (400mg) from concentrated beetroot juice, equivalent to 500ml beetroot juice – perfect for the research world and palatable for the sports world. The Beet It Sport brand was born.

What are the main physiological benefits of drinking Beet It Sport shots?

Beet It Sport shot supplementation has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the oxygen cost of exercise, which suggests the working muscle has become more efficient. Research has shown that Beet It Sport supplementation enables you to exercise harder for longer, as we require less oxygen, or energy to maintain a given intensity of exercise. This ultimately increases the time taken to feel fatigued or to reach exhaustion.

What are the physiological mechanisms behind these performance gains?

Researchers are still investigating the exact mechanisms, but the understanding is growing at a rapid rate due to continued worldwide research. We know that nitrate is converted to nitrite by bacteria in the mouth, before ultimately converting to nitric oxide in blood stream. Nitric oxide has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and increase blood and oxygen supply to the working muscles and brain, thereby boosting exercise performance.

Is there a desired frequency and timing for consuming the juice from an athlete’s point of view?

The current consensus among researchers is that at least 400mg of nitrate (one Beet It Sport Shot) must be consumed for several days (up to six days) prior to competition and training. Crucially, the final dose needs to be consumed one to three hours before competition to allow enough time for nitrate conversion to nitric oxide.

Do you know which NN Running athletes have been receptive to the juice?

We met Eliud Kipchoge at the London Marathon Show before his impressive third win. Eliud is a fan of our Beet It Sport flapjacks and used them in his preparation for his Nike Breaking2 project. Geoffrey Kamworor used our Beet It Sport shots in preparation for his 2017 New York City Marathon win and Ghirmay Ghebreslassie likes the Beet It Sport range.

Why did you decide to enter in a close affiliation with the NN Running Team? What was the incentive?

Eliud Kipchoge was introduced to Beet It Sport through Professor Andy Jones, who acted as the scientist and external advisor during the Nike Breaking2 Project. The marathon great directly messaged us to see if a partnership could be created between Beet It Sport and Global Sports Communication to support the NN Running Team. We were delighted to be asked to supply Beet It Sport to such a prodigious team of athletes and having an official partnership has helped spread the Beet It Sport word.

What has been your personal highlight of your time working with the NN Running Team?

We were delighted to meet Eliud Kipchoge at the 2018 London Marathon. Another highlight was watching Geoffrey Kamworor win the 2017 New York City Marathon by three seconds ahead of Wilson Kipsang. The close finish really emphasises the importance of marginal gains in sport and how even a small percentage improvement to exercise performance can be the difference between first and second place. It was satisfying to see Beet It Sport contributing to the marginal gains that made the difference in helping the NN Running Team perform to the best of their ability.