Move over beetroot and make way for the new kid on the block. The currant kid.
CurraNZ to be more precise. That’s blackcurrant concentrate in a tablet format from New Zealand.
Summary: They probably work. So you might just want to read on.
I have heard positive anecdotal evidence from other athletes and the marketing claims for this product are bold indeed. Broadly, the University-supported research from healthcurrancy.co.uk is thus:
Based on a 10mile TT
- >8% time improvement
- Delayed OBLA (very similar to delayed LTHR)
- 85% of participants increased power at OBLA
- Longer tolerance of activity at OBLA
- 89% of participants cleared lactate quicker.
Based on High Intensity Running Intervals
- Distance covered before reaching exhaustion increased by >10%
- SPRINTING covered before reaching exhaustion increased by >10%
- Higher absolute lactate tolerance levels
- The high lactate tolerance levels were able to be sustained longer
- 30 minutes after exercise higher lactate clearance
What it does
Beetroot operates via nitrate (NO) which is a vasilodilator – it makes your arteries/veins bigger (dilation) and/or more flexible – so more blood/oxygen can get through. Beetroot does not affect lactate. Beetroot does not affect substrate (fat) oxidation
Blackcurrant operates via anthocyanin which affects bloodflow via nitrate oxide (sic)synthesis. Blackcurrant positively affects lactate tolerance and substrate oxidation.
Wylie et al: Beetroot 4.2% improvement, Blackcurrant 10.8% improvement.
Come on! Neither of us are stupid. *IF* those claims are true then even with a basic grasp of what you need to do in pretty much any athletic endeavour, let alone endurance events, it’s plainly obvious that you will be faster and faster for longer and recover quicker. As I said earlier, bold claims indeed.
So What Should I do?
That’s a bit more tricky to answer. A month’s supply of 30 daily tablets is £29. They don’t need to be taken daily (I’ll come back to that later). It’s not a trivial sum of money, quite a lot for some people in fact.
I assume that you have neither the time nor inclination nor equipment to perform your own randomised double-blind performance studies. So you have to take a leap of faith.
How should you take that leap of faith?
- Just take it every day a month leading up to a race. That way you can monitor any performance side effect during training.
- With two weeks to an important race I decided instead to simulate race-day nutrition in a few PB attempts in my peak-come-early-taper period.
So before an important race I established an 800m swimming PB (by ‘only’ a few seconds whilst fairly fatigued and also with a mild illness possibly encroaching). On the same day I did a 1km TT/Sprint and was easily 2% faster. Of course these could be as a result of me being stronger/fitter after a period of extended training. But at least this proved to me that I would be able to take CURRANZ in a race and probably experience no adverse reaction or detrimental effect on race performance.
I was unable to test the affect of taking BLACKCURRANT following a week of phosphate loading (phosphate loading periods need to be well separated throughout the year eg 4 times a year supplementation only)
I’m writing this 3 days before my race. I will complete this article after the race and you are reading the completed race version.
Week before the race
3x 2-teaspoons daily consumption of Sodium Tribasic Phosphate dissolved in warm water. Not taking it on race day.
1x per day CURRANZ, mid afternoon
Maintain hydration. Eat normally. Modify slightly calorie intake due to reduced levels of activity.
Day before the race
1x Beetroot shot some time in the evening. Close to bedtime.
1x CURRANZ tablet in the evening but at a different time. Say one hour before or after the Beet-it.
Night before the race.
1x Cherryactive capsule when in bed (presumed to aid sleep)…oops forgot to do that…bad night’s sleep.
Race Day 8AM Start (Sprint Distance Duathlon/Triathlon-effort).
6AM CURRANZ and hydrate and eat something
7AM 3x Caffeine Tabs (Proplus type)
7.30 AM 2:1 Glucose:Fructose Sports Drink 500ml
8:30 AM 2:1 Glucose:Fructose Sports Drink (on bike) 500ml
9:30 AM Before this time consume some form of whey protein, carbs and hydrate (1000ml).
I paced it well and finished strong. I finished as I had hoped to in terms of the time. However I was left feeling that there was quite a bit more in the tank and I could have tried harder. I also did not experience lactate onset. of course you could say that I wasn’t trying hard enough!!
Very little muscle pain. Some started to come in the late afternoon which a recovery run sorted out and I felt fine the next day despite my Garmin telling me that my recovery status was ‘FAIR’.
Upset digestion 12 hours after taking the tablet. Nothing too bad.
Not 100% sure of the time required to start working. I have felt ‘something’ happening after 1hour and 20 minutes but the official recommendation is 2 hours to start working. Thereafter they are supposed to work for 6 hours. So if you are doing a HIM or IM or ULTRA then you will have to consider some sort of loading strategy (take one 4 hours into the race!!).
I have quantified for my own benefit that BEET-IT works. I am certain of that to my own (unscientific) satisfaction.
I am NOT certain yet, to the same level, that CURRANZ works. **BUT** I think it probably does (for me). And by ‘works’ I mean ‘makes me faster’. I’m pretty sure it helps reduce various muscle and lactate pains during and after exercise.
The introduction to this piece was wrong. You should not forsake BEET-IT in favour of CURRANZ. IMvHO you should use both. I’m hoping to get readers a discount code to use from the supplier (EDIT: Promotional Discount Code is RUNCURRANZ on the curranz website, this should give you 15% off until October 2015 then 10% afterwards)