Mar 17, 2016
Beet Root Juice Boosts USC Athletes

Although a first-round loss to Providence has ended the University of Southern California men’s basketball team’s season, the youthful squad is hoping to build on their success next year. One thing they will most certainly continue is a ritual introduced by their sports dietitian: drinking beet juice before workouts, vigorous practices, and games.

According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, the players don’t particularly enjoy the earthy taste, but most of them go ahead and plug their noses or chug the four-ounce serving in one swig to get it down. 

“You ever have some spicy food, and it kind of comes back up?” forward Malik Martin said. “That’s what it tastes like.”

Beet roots have high level of nitrates, which are reported to improve cell functioning and widen blood vessels, allowing athletes to use less energy for more work. Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine found that collegiate athletes sprinting on a stationary bike had about a six percent increase in power, as published in Circulation: Heart Failure.  

USC’s Director of Sports Nutrition, Becci Twombley, introduced beet juice to the offensive linemen on the football team four years ago. The rest of the football team started drinking it last season and its use spread from there. 

This is the first season the basketball team has made beet juice a part of its nutrition program, and by season’s end it had become a ritual. And although it may not be the players’ favorite drink, its benefits have been hard to argue—this year is the first time USC made it to the touranment since 2011.

“It’s effective,” guard Julian Jacobs said. “It’s just terrible.”

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