Tag Archives: endurance

Beets for Speed and Power. Walnuts for Endurance.

Cracked Earth Eye Pood Shirt on Beet Eater
All Seeing Eye Pood Kettlebell Shirt for men. Beets and walnuts make you harder to kill.  The shirt will too.  Our model is Olympic Lifting Coach Dutch Lowy.  Dutch trains Masters Crossfit Athletes for the Games Beets Nitrate and Physical Performance

Nitrate has been shown to improve exercise performance in healthy adults. Nitrate is metabolized to Nitrite and then Nitric Oxide.  Nitric Oxide dilates blood vessels.  Nitrate has been shown to reduce blood pressure, inhibit platelet aggregation (clumping) and improving irregularities in constriction and relaxation of blood vessel tissue.  Nitrate may also reduce inflammation, make arteries less stiff and stiff.  Healthy blood vessels and arteries allow more blood to be delivered to muscles during exercise.   There have been a number of new articles on beets as performance enhancers.  Beets are rich in anti-oxidants, but they are also high in nitrate.  Nitrate can be metabolized to NO, which is a vaso-dilator (relaxes and widens blood vessels.)  Nitrate from the diet, or nitrate supplementation may increase the response of type II muscle fibers to exercise.

Does Beetroot juice enhance exercise performance?

Given evidence that nitrate can increase muscle fiber activation, an experiment was undertaken to determine if beetroot juice would have similar effects.  The research team compared normal nitrate-rich beet root juice against a beet-root juice that had had its nitrate removed. VO2 kinetics and exercise tolerance were recorded. VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use.   The exercise session was a double-step protocol.  The beet root juice supplement resulted in a 22% increase in exercise tolerance and faster VO2 kinetics.  This indicates that it is most likely the nitrate that is providing the effect rather than something else in the beet juice.  Anti-oxidants for example.

VO2 maxis a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen a person can take in.

Until recently nitrate was thought to be primarily a problem.  Nitrate interferes with iodine uptake, so it could contribute to iodine deficiency. There are also associations between high nitrate consumption and cancer.  Associations among nitrate and cancers are strongest with nitrate from meat products.  It is possible that something else in meat increases cancer rates.  Many vegetables, besides beets, contain nitrate too.  High vegetable intake is strongly associated with lower risk of cancers, heart disease and early death. If you are thinking of using beets as a performance enhancing vegetable it would be important to know how long it takes

  • How long it takes for beets to be digested
  • How long it takes for nitrate to be metabolized to NO (nitric oxide)
  • When optimal levels are reached in the blood
  • What optimal levels are.

There has not been enough research to know how much is enough or how much is too much.  We do know that nitrate levels are highest 2-3 hours after a drinking beet juice. Conversion to nitrite and nitric oxide probably happens very quickly.  The test subjects in the Breese study took the beet root juice supplement for three days before starting the exercise protocols.

The Power of Walnuts

WODMasters Our Lady of the Kettlebells
Our lady of the Kettlebells shirt for women.

This is a tougher subject than beets.  Walnuts seem to lower inflammation.  Less inflammation may mean less pain during endurance exercise.  The effects of walnuts on endurance performance has been studied in mice (Kim & Kim 2013).   In this study a group of mice was dosed with walnut extract.  Mice were given Walnut Extract at 600 and 900 mg/kg.  This is probably awful lot of walnuts.  Another group was dosed with water and served as controls.  All the mice were given a forced swim test.  (Not a polite thing to do)  Time to exhaustion was recorded.  Walnut-dosed mice:

  • Got the equivalent of a human eating 42 grams of walnuts once a day for 4 weeks.  (About 1/3 of a cup)
  • Swam longer
  • Had lower lactate levels
  • Had lower ammonia levels
  • More glutamine
  • More liver glycogen.

The conclusion was that walnuts increase endurance

Take Away:

Walnuts and beets may give you a competitive advantage.  They may also make you healthier overall.

About the Author:

Andrea Kirk, MSc. PhD is a toxicologist affiliated with the University of Texas at Arlington’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center‘s School of Public Health.  Dr. Kirk does research on human exposures to environmental contaminants and micro-nutrient intake and excretion.

 

Vanhatalo A, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, DiMenna FJ, Pavey TG, Wilkerson DP, Benjamin N, Winyard PG, & Jones AM (2010). Acute and chronic effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure and the physiological responses to moderate-intensity and incremental exercise. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology, 299 (4) PMID: 20702806

 

Lidder, S., & Webb, A. (2012). Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables & beetroot) via the Nitrate-Nitrite-Nitric Oxide pathway British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04420.x Kim DI, & Kim KS (2013). Walnut extract exhibits anti-fatigue action via improvement of exercise tolerance in mice. Laboratory animal research, 29 (4), 190-5 PMID: 24396383

 

Breese BC, McNarry MA, Marwood S, Blackwell JR, Bailey SJ, & Jones AM (2013). Beetroot juice supplementation speeds O2 uptake kinetics and improves exercise tolerance during severe-intensity exercise initiated from an elevated metabolic rate. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology, 305 (12) PMID: 24089377

Palm Cooling in the Heat Helps Resistance and Endurance Performance

Palm cooling is an effective way to keep cool during workouts.

It may also be a good way to keep cool in hot places in general. Core temperature is a key factor limiting ability to exercise in heat. Once your temperature hits a certain point your brain will tell you to slow down or stop. We have probably all heard the phrases:

  • “Pain is just weakness leaving the body”
  • “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (know where you are on this equation)
  • And etc.

But there is a time to slow down. And a time to stop. Overheating can be dangerous. And even deadly. Still, there are always some people (present company included) who hate it when logic doesn’t go our way. We have a plan and a program. And we made a commitment to ourselves or others.  You are not a loser. And you are not having a bad day. But you may be overheated. Stay hydrated (but not over-hydrated), workout in the early morning and don’t expect to be at your best in hot weather.
There is one more thing:

Palm cooling and training in the heat

Humans cool themselves by sweating. They also cool themselves by shunting blood away from the core and towards highly vascularized areas (lots of veins and capillaries). This is why your face gets red and your hands sweat. Your body is hoping that the outside temperature is not as hot as your core. Your body is also taking advantage of the cooling effect of evaporating sweat by passing blood close to the skin. Your palms are a great place to lose extra heat. As is your face. And probably your whole head. And some other more personal areas.

Palm cooling may be the easiest to do and attract the least attention in public. Researchers at Stanford University have shown that palm cooling before a workout lets endurance athletes train longer. They have also recently published a paper showing that palm cooling between weight lifting sets improves lifting performance. Three minutes of palm cooling between sets also allowed test subjects to make greater gains in strength and numbers of reps.  Its not that cold palms make you stronger.  Well.  Probably not.  Its probably that a cooler person can train better than an overheated one.

How to do Palm Cooling.

The system at Stanford used a fairly complicated device. The device is not available for commercial use anyway. But there are other ways to cool your palms. They haven’t been tested. Or validated. But you can try taking along a frozen hand towel. Or a frozen water bottle.

Grahn DA, Cao VH, Nguyen CM, Liu MT, & Heller HC (2012). Work volume and strength training responses to resistive exercise improve with periodic heat extraction from the palm. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 26 (9), 2558-69 PMID: 22076097

CrossFit Masters Training: Strength vs. Endurance and the Master Athlete.

CrossFit Masters Training

Coconut oil and CrossFit Masters
CrossFit Masters Athletes sometimes eat coconut oil

Masters Crossfit athletes face a problem of having to work harder to build speed and strength, and maintain it, than do more junior athletes.  There is unfortunately not a lot of research on Masters’ performance and most of what there is focused on endurance athletes like swimmers, runners and cyclists.  And little to go by when training as a Crossfit Master.  As Crossfit athletes we need everything: speed, endurance and strength.  As a general rule, all masters athletes can keep a competitive edge over peers by combining high-intensity aerobic and resistance training.  This is exactly what we are getting in varied strength and endurance programming.

Endurance athletes score high on cardiovascular markers with greater arterial flexibility, less thickening of arterial walls and better vascular endothelial performance (performance of the inner layers of blood vessels) than others.   Unfortunately they show little preservation of muscle mass over time. Those who are primarily into resistance training maintain muscle mass and function better than others, but do not do as well on cardiovascular tests as those who focus on endurance. The best strategy appears to be to keep up with both and both will be important for Crossfit performance.  That goes for juniors too.

Shibata, S., & Levine, B. (2012). Effect of exercise training on biologic vascular age in healthy seniors AJP: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 302 (6) DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00511.2011

Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008). Anaerobic performance in masters athletes European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 6 (1), 39-53 DOI: 10.1007/s11556-008-0041-6