The Red Rush Blog

AIM Sports and Fitness

Mark O’Donovan: Fire on the Water


Red Rush athlete and AIM Member Mark O’Donovan is one of Ireland’s top rowers. He’s a former National Champion and snagged a silver medal from the World Championships. When he’s not rowing, he’s working on a Master’s Degree in Sports Performance and recently became a strength and conditioning coach for the Paralympic rowing team.

Mark narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, but lately, he’s been on fire. He, along with his rowing partner and fellow Skibbereen native Shane O’Driscoll, set a new Irish Course Record for the men’s lightweight double, winning the Cork Regatta earlier this year.

“Although it was just a national regatta in Ireland, we were still very happy with the result. We set a course record. It was fine to show everyone what we can do, and it was good preparation for racing in the World Cup,” Mark said.

A few weeks later, Mark, again rowing with O’Driscoll in the lightweight men’s double, took sixth place in the World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland, the only Irish crew to qualify for the A Finals this year.

“We had a good race on the semi-final. We led most of the way toward the end, but decided to take a back seat in order to keep some reserve in the tank. Things were serious in the finals. We didn’t have the most favorable lane and there was wind. We raced as hard as we could and we wanted to do better, but that was just the reality of it. We still managed a pretty good result.”

The general strategy behind racing is to go as fast and as hard as you can, but Mark takes each race step by step, making sure everything is nailed down with no slip-ups. When he races, he mentally breaks the course into sections, rowing hard enough to keep his boat—if not in the lead then—within touching distance of the pack, so that they’re still in good condition for the last leg of the race. During the final 250 meters, they give it all they got.

Mark’s goal is to row for Ireland in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And like his racing strategy, he’s making gains step by step. Each of these races and his experience and strict training regimen have pushed him to the forefront of the Irish rowing scene. If this hot streak continues, we’ll likely see him in the Olympics as part of a four-man crew. Red Rush is helping him achieve his goals.

“Red Rush stops the fatigue of such strenuous racing,” O’Donovan said. “With rowing, it’s all about the power to get us down the course. The nitric oxide helps delay the fatigue of a major lactic acid hit. It feels like easy speed. You can keep working without your limbs feeling slow and heavy. It’s a vital part of my preparation at any stage.”

Update: Mark O’Donovan and O’Driscoll placed seventh in the World Championships in France this year! 

Read more on Mark O’Donovan

Why Premium Protein Is Worth Its Weight in Muscle


Anyone can go to their local Everything-Mart and pick up a gigantic tub of whey protein powder for about fifty bucks. It seems like a good deal because, good gosh, that tub is huge and there is just so much protein in it.

However, a series of lawsuits have revealed that a lot of the name-brand protein makers may not have been making as much protein as they have advertised.  Recently, an article published in Forbes looked at the string of lawsuits brought against some of the top protein supplement makers, alleging they have been “protein spiking,” using fillers like nitrogen and free-form amino acids (the building-blocks of protein) instead of actual protein in order to save money.

According to these allegations, some companies are producing protein powders with less than half the protein that’s advertised. Others have been accused of adding (non-harmful) ingredients without putting them on the label, a practice that’s illegal.

The problems seem to have started when the price of the material needed for whey protein supplements increased, so instead of raising their prices in a very competitive retail market, the companies allegedly used cheaper filler or increased the nitrogen in the product. (Protein is often measured indirectly by examining nitrogen content).  The lawsuits are still pending, so we will have to see what becomes of this scandal.

The AIM Companies has been selling premium pea protein in the form of ProPeas for several years now, and we are consistent in our commitment to quality, honesty and integrity. Our tubs are a little smaller than those retail monstrosities you’ll find at the drug or department store, but you can always count on us to provide exactly what’s on the label.  That’s kind of our thing. We’ve been selling all-natural whole-food supplements for over thirty years.

You don’t spend all those hours in the gym, sweating, running and throwing up weights just to waste your time with cut-rate protein powders that compete to undercut the competition by decreasing quality.  If you’re willing to put that extra time and effort building up your body in a manner that most people won’t, isn’t it also worth switching to a premium protein like ProPeas?

ProPeas by The AIM Companies: 12 grams of clean, vegan, non-GMO pea protein in every serving. It’s worth its weight in muscle.

Beet Juice Study Shows 13% Increase in Muscle Power


If you’re looking for a natural way to increase the power of your muscles, simple, unassuming beet juice may be the beverage of your dreams. For years, mankind has told legends of people with superhuman strength: the Incredible Hulk, RoboCop, Hercules and Count Dracula. In these cases, their strength comes at the cost of their humanity, or, like Hercules, they lose their gift due to foolishness and arrogance. (He died from a poisoned shirt).

Beet juice, however, has no humanity-sapping side effects or any side effects. It also increases blood flow to the brain which can, theoretically, reduce the likelihood of coming to a foolhardy end. And now, a there’s new study that shows that beet juice may improve muscle power by 13%.

Published in Circulation: Heart Failure, the small study followed nine patients who had suffered from heart failure. Acting as their own control group, the subjects tested their muscles both after taking beet juice and during periods of beet-juice-less-ness. When drinking beet juice, the subjects saw a 13% increase in power in those muscles that extend the knee. The greatest benefit was seen when the subjects increased their speed. This increase in power was attributed to the dietary nitrate in beets and leafy green vegetables.

From Medical News Today

“The magnitude of this improvement is comparable to that seen in heart failure patients who have done 2-3 months of resistance training.”

“One problem in aging is the muscles get weaker, slower and less powerful. Beyond a certain age, people lose about 1% per year of their muscle function,” says Coggan. “If we can boost muscle power like we did in this study, that could provide a significant benefit to older individuals.”

–Andrew R Coggan, PhD

This isn’t the first study that shows that beet juice improves muscle performance. Last year, dietary nitrate was shown to increase contractile muscle force.

So drink your Red Rush. It has 500 mg of muscle-bursting dietary nitrate in ever bottle. It can benefit Olympic athletes, moms-on-the-go, grandpa and grandma, foodie dads and everyday Joes named Tim or Monica.  Also, the vein-widening byproduct of dietary nitrate, nitric oxide, will make those 13%-more-powerful muscles look bigger as well.

If You’re an Athlete, You May Be Low on These 5 B Vitamins


If you’ve been a sluggard at the gym lately, it may be due to your diet.  We’re not talking about a singular chocolate chip cookie eaten greedily behind a copse of trees near the gym. We’re talking about B vitamins. If you’ve been doing high-intensity training, there’s a good chance your body could do with a dash of B vitamins. The reason is simple. B vitamins convert carbs to fuel for running, lifting, pouncing, throwing, jumping and dashing, and exercise can deplete them.  Low levels of vitamin B can hurt your performance.

If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe science!

From the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

For example, van der Beek et al, who depleted 24 healthy men of thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin B-6 over an 11-wk metabolic feeding period found that vitamin depletion significantly decreased maximal work capacity (O2max) by 12%, onset of blood lactate accumulation by 7%, oxygen consumption at onset of blood lactate accumulation by 12%, peak power by 9%, and mean power by 7%.

In that same paper, it was postulated that athletes may need more B vitamins than less active folk, and after a study, their findings indicated that athletes did, in fact, need slightly more riboflavin, B 6 and thiamine.  However, it should also be noted that anyone on a diet or people who don’t eat as healthy as they should, could run the risk of being B vitamin insufficient, especially if they combine those behaviors with rigorous exercise. Additionally, it is important to have adequate stocks of B 12 and folate for reasons listed below.


Make no mistake. High-intensity exercise can be good for your health, but it can also increase inflammation and homocysteine levels. Both are risk factors of cardiovascular disease. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that folate/folic acid supplementation reduced homocysteine levels during high-intensity exercise.  Folate cannot be stored in the body.


Like all B vitamins, thiamine–old B1—plays a role in metabolism and is a necessary part of the ATP cycle.  Thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B 6 levels can diminish due to strenuous physical exertion.


Riboflavin–B 2–metabolizes carbs, lipids and proteins and has antioxidant properties as well.

Vitamin B 6

Vitamin B 6 or pyridoxine as it is uncommonly known cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through the diet. It has been linked to lower homocysteine levels and plays an important role in metabolism.

Vitamin B 12

Cobalamin is especially important for older and vegan athletes. It maintains and produces DNA, nerves and red blood cells.  Elderly people often lack B 12 because they produce less stomach acid, and since B 12 is mostly found in animal products, vegans and vegetarians can wind up deficient if they aren’t monitoring their diets.

You’ll find a more than adequate supply of folate in beets like those found in Red Rush and RediBeets.

For B Vitamins, The AIM Companies provides Peak Endurance. Every serving provides 50% of your daily RDA of six B vitamins (1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 12), 125 mg of Peak ATP and a smattering of all those electrolytes lost through sweat. It’s a great companion drink and tastes great mixed with Red Rush.

Dietary Nitrate: The Unrecognized Nutrient


Many years ago, people were afraid of the nitrates in food. This was due to several studies on the nitrates often used to keep hot dogs from spoiling.  These artificial nitrates did a good job of upping the profit margins on heated-frozen-reheated-refrozen-ad-naseum movie theater hot dogs, but they were also linked to cancer. The evidence was pretty overwhelming, and naturally everyone became nitrate adverse.

Ironically, vegetables were sitting over in the corner being like “Yo, we have so many natural nitrates. Always have.”  So then scientists were all like “What the hey?” And they tested vegetables to see if they were safe for consumption.  Both Europe and Australia headed inquiries into the subject, and both continents found that veggies were not dangerous but awesome and healthy. And the other continents were like “We believe you. It’s like no duh, but thanks for checking,” except for Antarctica who was like “Nobody lives here.”

Meanwhile, late last century some scientists were like “Hey, remember that simple gas called nitric oxide that everyone thinks is just a pollutant. It seems like it helps our veins dilate. This could be great for blood pressure and whatnot”  After studying the gas in the human body, they wrote up their findings and won a Nobel Prize. Twenty years or so later, it is now believed that nitric oxide is as fundamental to respiration as oxygen and carbon dioxide.  Although there are several ways to generate nitric oxide, one of the best is with vegetable nitrate.

Presently, A new paper published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition ESPEN is calling for the scientific community to classify dietary nitrate as a nutrient. First off it states:

Recent research has demonstrated the important role of exogenous synthesis, via consumption of dietary nitrate (NO3), which may subsequently be converted to nitrite (NO2) and NO in hypoxic conditions1. Dietary nitrate supplements reduce blood pressure2, improve exercise tolerance in peripheral arterial disease3, improve cerebral perfusion in older adults4 and reduce oxidative stress markers5.

and concludes with:

In conclusion, supplementation with high nitrate vegetables increased plasma [nitrate] and [nitrite], which correlated significantly with changes in BP. These findings challenge existing dogma and support the need for research to establish dietary nitrate as a future nutrient in clinical nutrition, both in therapeutics and prevention of disease.

This isn’t the first paper to question whether or not dietary nitrate should be considered a nutrient. A paper aptly titled   “Dietary Nitrate–An Unrecognized Nutrient” was published two years ago in the European Journal of Nutrition and Food Safety.

In the study, researchers had test subjects supplement their normal diets with either high-nitrate vegetables or low-nitrate vegetables.  People who ate high-nitrate vegetables like beets, spinach and kale saw reductions in their blood pressure.

The present findings support the hypothesis that increasing dietary nitrate intake in the form of nitrate-rich vegetables reduces BP, with major public health implications for dietary interventions to reduce hypertension. A population wide promotion of normal BP could substantially reduce the risk of stroke (Seshadri et al. [4].

It has taken decades for dietary nitrate and nitric oxide to get the respect they so widely deserve. And although dietary nitrate hasn’t been classified as a nutrient yet, the beneficial effects are being widely studied and applied to everything from high-intensity sport to senior health.

So crack open a great-tasting Red Rush and enjoy 500 mg of dietary nitrate from all-natural food sources: beets, lemons and cherries.

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