• Sam

    Can’t wait…coz them beet root taste real bad :p

  • Sam

    Can’t wait…coz them beet root taste real bad :p

  • jules

    alan – i’m no expert, but I suspect that it’s not as simple as concluding that a supplement “works” or not. take vitamins – they will boost your performance, if you are deficient in a given type of vitamin. but the obvious alternative is to manage your diet better, so that your intake through other foodtypes is sufficient. I wonder how much this phenomenon accounts for supplement benefits, and if it’s addressed in studies?

  • jules

    alan – i’m no expert, but I suspect that it’s not as simple as concluding that a supplement “works” or not. take vitamins – they will boost your performance, if you are deficient in a given type of vitamin. but the obvious alternative is to manage your diet better, so that your intake through other foodtypes is sufficient. I wonder how much this phenomenon accounts for supplement benefits, and if it’s addressed in studies?

    • slhaydon

      If, like me, you have trouble absorbing nutrients from normal food intake then supplements are essential. My Iron has been historically low which would have left me fatigued quicker. Now its up I seem to have better performance results though not scientifically analysed or proven.

      Dont even get me started on my Zinc, Vit D, Fish Oils, CoQ10 etc etc etc.

    • HI Jules, I should clarify that the types of supplements I’m referring to here are what we call “ergogenic aids” – that is supplements that provide nutrients in far greater doses than you would normally get in the diet. Ergogenic aids don’t address a nutritional deficiency but deliberately elevate the amount of something in the body above normal levels. In some cases this can still be gained from foods but in higher-than-normal quanitites (eg. drinking 300-500mL of beetroot juice or taking concentrated “shots” of it, or drinking energy drinks or mulitple coffees for the caffeine) but in some cases they can only be consumed in pill/powder form because it would not be practical to consume it from food alone (eg. you’d have to eat multiple kg’s of chicken in one sitting to get a typical ergogenic dose of creatine from food).

      Most studies do find “responders” and “non-responders” to most of these supplements, but not all studies report this and it certainly doesn’t appear in marketing materials for various products – the average or mean is used. It’s really up to the individual to evaluate it using whatever tools they have at their disposal to accurately and repeatedly measure performance.

      For beetroot juice there appears to be responders and non-responders and this probably relates to the prior training status of the athlete and this was picked up in the research – this is covered in the beetroot juice article that will follow shortly.

    • HI Jules, I should clarify that the types of supplements I’m referring to here are what we call “ergogenic aids” – that is supplements that provide nutrients in far greater doses than you would normally get in the diet. Ergogenic aids don’t address a nutritional deficiency but deliberately elevate the amount of something in the body above normal levels. In some cases this can still be gained from foods but in higher-than-normal quanitites (eg. drinking 300-500mL of beetroot juice or taking concentrated “shots” of it, or drinking energy drinks or mulitple coffees for the caffeine) but in some cases they can only be consumed in pill/powder form because it would not be practical to consume it from food alone (eg. you’d have to eat multiple kg’s of chicken in one sitting to get a typical ergogenic dose of creatine from food).

      Most studies do find “responders” and “non-responders” to most of these supplements, but not all studies report this and it certainly doesn’t appear in marketing materials for various products – the average or mean is used. It’s really up to the individual to evaluate it using whatever tools they have at their disposal to accurately and repeatedly measure performance.

      For beetroot juice there appears to be responders and non-responders and this probably relates to the prior training status of the athlete and this was picked up in the research – this is covered in the beetroot juice article that will follow shortly.

      • Sean Doyle

        I’d be interested to see what it is about the beetroot juice concentrate that drive the rumours of it being banned. Unless there are health implications, as you pointed out it would be just an ergogenic aid.
        I’ve found giving up added sugar or high sugar foods, eating better quality protein and ergo food and getting sleep has had more affect on my performance than anything else I’ve done/taken, other than training right. And that’s all free. Thankfully.

  • Jason de Puit

    I’m looking forward to your article on Beetroot juice having been a lab-rat for an honours student who was measuring the effects of beetroot juice on exercise performance last year…

    The tests weren’t as controlled as they could have been but my v02 max was remarkably higher on the full beetroot dose….(it was a blind test, I didn’t know I was on the full dosage).

    • Simon Jones

      Hi Jason. We found that VO2 didnt change, but performance did. Interested in your resposes, any chance you can share your data? Simon (upbeat)

      • Jason de Puit

        Ah unfortunately it is not really my data to share.

  • Notso Swift

    Alan, from a personal perspective I love your cynicism as it generally matches my own :)

  • Of course, there’s another issue here – if a supplement does actually make you go faster, is it a PED and either a) already illegal, or b) going to be banned in fairly short order?

    For instance, the only reason caffeine is legal is that it’s so widely used in a non-sporting context. If somebody discovered it now, it’d be banned as a PED.

    • Definitely true. Out of the whole journey I’ve been through with cycling and nutritional supplements, the only thing i’ve ever come across that legitimately increases performance is caffeine.

      • max

        better add “and maybe beetroot” to that list acording your post today!

    • Hi Robert, all the supplements I’m referring to here are not banned by WADA. Some of the older cyclists who used to race professionally may recall that caffeine used to be a restricted substance prior to 2004, and could produce a doping positive if the urine level exceeded a set limit.

      That really cuts to the central argument about why supplements are declared legal or not. Substances for the most part are not judged on an ethical basis of “unfair advantage”, they’re banned if their use is a threat to the health and wellbeing of athletes who use them. I’m sure everyone has an opinion on whether or not this is the right approach to take, but for now that’s how the system works.

      • Had no intention of implying that you’d personally recommend anything illegal, and sorry if it read that way.

        However, I’d be a bit surprised if there were many supplements that can give a significant performance increase through some biological process radically different to those already discovered and banned (and the bans on steroids and EPO-like drugs are pretty broad) – and even if there was, that the supplement was safe, even when athletes desperate for an advantage will take as much of it as they can – probably one of the reasons why caffeine isn’t banned, because as I understand it the effects level off after ingesting a certain amount.

        Could be wrong, but any supplement is going to have to climb a pretty high bar to be both legal and useful I’d have thought.

        • Hi Robert, no offense taken, I certainly didn’t interpret it that way.

          The performance benefits of nutrition supplements are certainly much smaller than what’s been measured and observed with EPO, steroids, etc. The average for nutrition supplements is typically measured at ~1-5% in TT efforts in the lab (when an effect has been found), the effect may even be less on the road.

          But remember, when people’s careers hang potentially on the width of a tyre, even the tiniest benefit is worthwhile chasing (if legal and safe). It’s generally considered that current laboratory measures of performance are not precise enough to detect changes of performance of less than 1%, but the winning margins in most elite sports are far smaller than that.

          That’s why elite teams and sports institutes pursue this area so aggressively, but it does become a bit of an arms race – no-one can take the risk of dismissing a not-yet-proven supplement because of a lack of evidence, because if it turns out that it does work then your competitors have potentially taken advantage already.

      • Notso Swift

        Some of us will remember the Pentathlete, Alex something getting dome at the 88 Olympics. He was eventually cleared because they proved that he had taken it naturally, from there the rules started to change on the limits (increasing quite significantly)

  • inopinatus

    I was in Evelyn Faye last week and the staff told me that ASADA were adding beetroot juice to the banned list. Cannot verify. Sounded like BS at the time.

    • echidna_sg

      1st of April last week perhaps? ;-)

      • inopinatus

        wrong day.

  • The Russian

    Here is some research on pine needle extract, sold here as ‘Bioeffective I’ or Siberian Red

    http://wwsibexzavod.hosting.tomsk.net/ru/79/?PHPSESSID=74377176fa4f464ea74a65276732dc27
    Anesthetic effect
    The report on the study of pain action of water fraction carbon dioxide extract of Siberian fir. Implemented: Institute of Pharmacology TSC SB RAMS,
    Laboratory fitofarmakologii, Tomsk (2007).
    The results are: Under the influence of extract of fir latent period of pain reaction in mice models of «hot plate» increased by 41 – 131% compared with the control, the time spent in the «hot plate» increased more than
    twofold. When injected intraperitoneally to animals 0, 75% solution of acetic acid extract of fir reduces painful convulsions in 2,8 times, as well as increases in the double-time before the first seizures.

    Conclusions: The water fraction of carbon dioxide extract of Siberian fir has a pronounced effect of pain.

    http://wwsibexzavod.hosting.tomsk.net/ru/67/?PHPSESSID=74377176fa4f464ea74a65276732dc27

    Research
    EXTRACT SibEX. Siberian fir for internal use (concentrate for soft drinks «extract of Siberian fir« SIBEX », CO2-fir water-extract fraction)

    Report on a study of pharmacological properties and acetates polyprenols isolated from fir fraction of carbon dioxide and water extract of spruce: an assessment of the impact on physical performance.
    Implemented: Institute of Cardiology TSC SB RAMS, Laboratory of Experimental Cardiology, Tomsk (2002).
    The results are: The experiment on the forced swimming test in mice with the load on the tail. Extract of fir has expressed stimulating effect, increasing the efficiency of animals and preventing fatigue.
    This resulted in increased swimming time again by 34% compared with control animals that received water instead of extract.

    Conclusions: The water fraction of carbon dioxide extract of fir, with single introduction has expressed a stimulating effect, increasing the efficiency of the animal at 34%, prevents the development of fatigue.

  • Simon Jones

    I think this is a really good peice. We have to be careful about what supplements to take. I only ventured into the beetroot market and produce this drink becasue of unpublished performance data with elite athletes. This can be a hard sell, as the evidence is not peer reviewed. I wouldn’t put my reputation on then line with something that I didnt believe had an evidence basis. Simon (upbeat)

  • Jason Keck

    Hey interesting article! I am an altitude training researcher at Alpine Performance Labs in Denver, CO. My company just invented the next big endurance supplement that is attracting a lot of skepticism but also a ton of satisfied customers. The supplement is called Mountain Might, and it provides the benefits of high altitude training by adapting the body to high altitude while you are at sea-level. Right now it is in the about to be widely excepted category is the research is piling up in our favor on elite athletes with significant performance improvements. Clinical studies show that it will improve rbc and hemoglobin by 9%, time to exhaustion by 24%, and v02 max by 7% in as quickly as 4 days. Modern live high, train low altitude training usually produces 4-8% hemoglobin/rbc improvements, 11-15% time to exhaustion improvements, and 4-6% v02 max.

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