The last few years have seen some great research being put in to functional foods that can deliver health and performance benefits. One such group of foods are those defined as nitrate rich. The majority of well proven benefits have focused on beetroot, particularly beetroot juice, and its use for vascular enhancements, reduction in blood pressure and improvements in endurance exercise performance. Other nitrate rich foods include cabbage, rocket, lettuce, celery and spinach. While the benefits of ingestion are acute and fairly immediate an accepted protocol in “nitrate loading” leading up to a race or event is to increase your intake for 5-6 days prior.
The amount of nitrate shown to enhance exercise performance is around 300 mg. Beetroot juice is an easy option and widely available but I have made a point in trying to find a few ways of getting a variety of nitrate rich foods into my 5 day pre-event meal plans for athletes. This is one such recipe, super easy, quick and delicious. You can play around with the ingredients to adjust to your taste or individual needs too. If you have a look at the nutritional info down the bottom of the page you will see that this could make a decent pre or post workout drink too thanks to a fair amount of good quality protein and the carbohydrate content.
- 200 ml chilled beetroot juice
- 100 ml chilled apple juice
- 250 ml plain yoghurt (with live cultures)
- 2 cups (80 g) shredded spinach
Pop all the ingredients in a mixing jug and blitz, or use your food processor/smoothie maker. You can add ice for something a little colder and you can play around with herbs and other flavours too.
Carbohydrate – 50 g
Protein – 15 g
Fat – 5 g (depending on your choice of yoghurt)
Nitrates (estimated) – 350 mg
Super Smoothie High In: