If you’ve been a Momentum Nutrition fan from the beginning, you probably remember when Catalyst contained 600mg of Beet Root extract. When we removed it, we got a lot of customers asking us why we did it and if we were planning on bringing it back. If you were one of those people who asked us why we got rid of Beet Root extract, the answer you got went something like this…
The Beet Extract “Pitch”
When supplements contain Beet Root extract, it’s because Beets themselves contain naturally occuring Nitrate, a direct precursor to Nitric Oxide. Supplementation with Nitrates in the form of Beets, Beet Juice, and Nitrate salts (like Sodium Nitrate) have been shown to enhance endurance exercise performance. This makes sense when you consider that increasing Nitric Oxide increases oxygenation and nutrient delivery to the muscles during exercise, allowing them to work harder for longer.
Several studies have been conducted, all unanimously indicating that Nitrate supplementation, at 300-600mg per day, is an effective means of enhancing exercise performance, especially when it comes to endurance exercise.
The Problem With Beet Extract
The problem with Beet Extract is that it does not contain anywhere near the level of Nitrate you need to obtain any sort of additional performance advantage. Nitrates have typically been studied in the following forms:
No study has EVER used Beet Extract. Why? Because Beet extract doesn’t contain enough Nitrate to do anything.
In fact, the highest quality Beet extracts contain 1-2% Nitrates, and many contain less than 1%. This means you would need roughly 30-60g of Beet extract each day to derive the exercise benefits. This is simply not feasible in the form of a pre-workout supplement.
How Do We Know?
We actaully came to this realization the hard way. We sent our first batch of Catalyst to a Third Party Testing lab, as we do with every new batch of every product. When we got the results, we were glad to see that everything was in order…except the test showed only 7mg of Nitrate. At first we thought it may have been a mistake, but after an emergency call to the lab to confirm, we were forced to face the facts.
In fact, the adminstrator of the lab we used even connected us to one of the chemical analysts on staff who explained that she had actually encountered this situation before when testing supplements for other companies. She went on to explain that the extraction techniques used to create Beet extracts just can’t efficiently preserve Nitrate content.
She went on to say that, not only are the extraction techniques ineffective, but the producers of most Beet extracts are most likely using cheap, poorly grown/harvested beets which don’t contain much Nitrate in the first place.
So, to make a long story short, we dropped Beet extract from the Catalyst formula and made it even better…but Nitrate is still an effective and often under-utilized way of enhancing exercise performance.
Everyone can benefit from consuming more Nitrate and research indicates that 300-600mg daily is all it takes.
You can’t get this amount of naturally occurring Nitrate from any pre-workout supplement, but you can get them quite easily through your diet! In fact, there are a few vegetables that contain so much Nitrate that you can easily hit that 300-600mg range in one or two meals by just tossing in some extra veggies.
Arugula is a leafy green vegetable which actually doesn’t contain as diverse arrange of micronutrients as you might think a leafy green vegetable would contain.
After all, Spinach and Kale are considered Super Foods, but Arugula is typically left out of that conversation. Perhaps that’s because Mother Nature had something special in store for Arugula. It contains more Nitrate than any other vegetable, making it Nature’s performance enhancer.
On average, Arugula contains about 450mg of Nitrate per 100g, making it by far the best vegetable to include in your diet if Nitrate content is what you’re after. You can simply toss a couple handfuls of Arugula in your salad or blend some into a smoothie for a super-dose of naturally occurring Nitrate.
Rhubarb is a strange-looking vegetable with a long fleshy stalk that can be prepared and eaten in many ways. Often times it’s baked into deserts like Rhubarb Crisp, but it’s always best to eat vegetables raw if you can deal with it, as exposure to heat can degrade certain micronutrients.
It’s relatively rich in Vitamin C and is a solid source of Fiber as well, but what makes Rhubarb even more awesome is that it contains a ton of Nitrate!
On average, Rhubarb contains around 250mg of Nitrate per 100g. This may not be as much as Arugula but it’s up there. A couple stalks of Rhubarb a day keeps the PRs on the way!
Yes, I know we just talked a bunch of trash about Beet extract, but Beet Juice is a whole different story. In fact, the studies which have shown the most profound impact of Nitrate consumption on exercise performance have used Beet Juice.
Whole Beets vary in terms of Nitrate content, but range from 100-200mg of Nitrate per 100g, so you need to eat a whole lot of them to get a performance-enhancing amount of Nitrates. Beet Juice, however, is concentrated enough to provide a hefty 300-600mg dose in just 500ml (2 cups).
Throw a cup or two back before you workout and you’ll perform better, guaranteed. Since we dropped Beet extract from Catalyst, and have been extremely open and honest about why we did it, we’ve had several customers tell us they started mixing Catalyst with Beet Juice as a pre-workout drink. Mmm…apparently Beet/Strawberry/Pinapple isn’t a bad combo after all!
The Truth About Nitrate Supplementation
Supplement companies usually don’t admit this, but you really should work on your diet before turning to supplements. If you can get it through your diet, do that. The only supplements you should be taking are those that can’t be obtained through your diet.
No supplement is going to provide you with an effective, clinical dose of Nitrate from a natural source. If you take the time to go through the research, you’ll find nothing about any form of Beet Extract providing any sort of performance benefits. Whole Beets aren’t even that great of a source of Nitrate in the first place. It’s really concentration Beet Juice that you should be drinking if you insist upon Beets.
Just keep in mind, there are other vegetables that provide way more Nitrate for your buck!
I'm Matt, Founder of Momentum Nutrition and SuppWithThat.com. I've spent the better part of the last decade researching and experimenting in the areas of fitness, nutrition, and supplementation, and this is where I write it all down.