Pre-Race Beet Juice Ritual
This recipe was passed down from my Grandma, who passed it down to my Dad, who is now passing it down to me. My dad and I try to have this drink 90 minutes prior to race start time, but anytime within a couple hours is generally fine (as long as it's not right before). I drink a small amount and then give the rest (majority) to my Dad, who needs all the help he can get in keeping up with me. Please note that the recipe requires a juicer to make.
Beet (1 small or ½ of a medium/large)
Carrots (2-3 med)
Celery (1 med)
Cucumber (1 med)
Please note this recipe requires a juicer. Otherwise, juice all ingredients, swirl with a straw and enjoy!
Jason Barbieri, Chris's dad, who has a background in Exercise Physiology and Clinical Nutrition explains what is happening nutritionally and physiologically.
In summary, beets cause a "vasodilation" effect (widening of your blood vessels), which allow the blood vessels to become more open. This leads to greater blood flood and oxygen delivery to the muscles. Below is the rationale for each ingredient.
Beets cleanse the liver and are great sources of vitamin B6, calcium, vitamin A and iron, as well as nitrate, which, when converted by the body to nitric oxide, dilates blood vessels to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Many of these compounds also help protect the liver from inflammation and oxidative stress while enhancing its removal toxins from the body.
Carrots contain a significant amount of vitamin A from beta-carotene.
Celery contains a bevy of electrolytes including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Celery is high in vitamin A plus B1, B2 and B6, as well as iron and phosphorus. Consuming celery helps balance the body’s pH levels.
Cucumber provides a high yield of juice and is mild in flavor. It is extremely alkalizing and provides a multitude of B vitamins.
Parsley contains vitamins A and C, potassium and folic acid.
Apple (in the case for juicing before a race) serves a similar purpose to cucumber in that it helps with the taste (aka "the dirt taste"). Some studies show that the plant chemicals (flavonoids) and fiber (pectin) of the apple peel protect against blood vessel and heart damage (promoting a healthy cardiovascular system). Keep in mind that much of the fiber is extracted from the juicer, but again Christopher is only looking to offset some of the beet flavor.
Spinach is chock-full of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, manganese and selenium. It also contains an abundance of vitamin K, which helps maintain a healthy nervous system, which allows your muscles to function properly.