A shot of concentrated beetroot juice can significantly benefit athletic performance at high altitude, according to new research by the University of West Scotland (UWS).

The study, published in journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, used trials on an exercise bike in an altitude chamber set to a simulated altitude of 2,500 metres.

Results found that drinking a single dose of concentrated beetroot juice lowered the amount of oxygen used by the body during exercise and enhanced performance.

Dr Chris Easton, of the University’s Institute for Clinical Exercise and Health Science, said: “Our research has identified that a single dose of beetroot juice three hours prior to activity substantially improves athletic performance by reducing the amount of oxygen consumed by the body.

“We think this is due to the nitrate in the beetroot juice which, when converted to nitric oxide, can lead to an increase in blood flow to muscle and a reduction in the amount of energy needed to perform exercise.”

The research has been used in promotional activity ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, due to begin on 7 February in Russia.