There’s been a lot of buzz that’s been going on for some time about the immense benefits of beets for athletic performance — in both endurance and strength athletes alike — but I want to share some of the incredible ways your entire body can profit from these colorful root vegetables. By the end of this blog, I’ll have you running to the market to grab some fresh beets -or- adding organic beetroot powder to your Amazon cart…(Don’t worry, we’ve already got you covered on that one: click here to get the beetroot powder we use).
Let’s take a quick n’ easy look at just a few of the outstanding benefits beets have to offer. Then we’ll get into the specifics of the process in which these beauties work, and a more in-depth view of how one simple vegetable can radically transform your life.
Benefits, at a glance:
- Detoxifies the body by protecting and supporting liver health
- Spectacular for muscle recovery
- Physical endurance is enhanced
- Massively improves blood flow
- Actually lowers blood pressure
- Increases exercise tolerance — workout longer, with less effort
- Reduces fatigue in daily living
- Rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate, vitamin A, manganese, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, copper, zinc, and potassium
- Stellar source of soluble fiber, which helps to naturally balance blood sugar levels
- Fights free radicals with potent antioxidants
- Regulates digestion; aids in constipation
- Relieves inflammation
Oh, and there’s so much more. Go on YouTube or any search engine to see testimonial after testimonial with RAVING reviews on what even a small amount of beet (juiced, blended, eaten raw, or consumed in high quality powdered form) has done for SO many people.
Without going too far onto the scientific side, let’s check out the mechanics behind the benefits, shall we?
Beets are packed full of naturally wonderful, plant-powered dietary nitrates, which are the main source of nitrogen needed for growth. But wait, aren’t nitrates/nitrites bad for you? Sometimes. Food manufacturers often add nitrites to meat and other processed foods to prevent harmful bacteria from growing, to add a salty flavor, and/or to enhance the appearance of the food. Best to stay away from ingredients like sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, potassium nitrate, and potassium nitrite. When nitrates and nitrites are organically found in plants though, they’re hella valuable for our overall health… Let’s get into it now.
Here’s the breakdown, literally:
Nitrates (from beets, for the purpose of this blog), are broken down into nitrites after interacting with the saliva and bacteria in our mouths, which are then reduced to nitric oxide, the hidden treasure for performance athletes and health-nuts alike.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, which means it opens up the blood vessels, which in turns lowers blood pressure and allows more oxygen to be delivered to the muscles. As you might have guessed, having more oxygen in your muscles will inherently improve your physical endurance. Additionally, having better blood flow will naturally boost your energy levels, not to mention enhance your overall cardiovascular health.
If you’re someone that struggles with hypertension (or just trying to manage your blood pressure levels), this already could be enough to sway you to add these red root veggies to your grocery cart… but wait, there’s more!
Whether you are an athlete, a fitness fiend, or just someone looking for anything to make your workouts more bearable (and with a greater payoff), there’s another huge bonus that these beets want to hand you: They lower oxygen costs. What does that mean?
When you lower the oxygen cost of adenosine triphosphate (a.k.a ATP, a molecule that carries energy within the cells; the main energetic currency of a cell), it means we need less oxygen to create the same amount of energy. Put simply, we can work just as hard and use less energy, or we can work even harder and not feel like we’re dying at the end of that run, swim, or set as we might have without the beet juice (or powder).
A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine (found here) gave us some supersonic evidence to further stoke our love for beets. They found that consuming beet juice reduced the overall energetic cost (oxygen cost) of a chosen exercise by 19%. Read that again. That means the subjects’ workouts were 19% easier… YOUR WORKOUTS COULD BE 19% EASIER! Not only that, but they also found that they could push their time to exhaustion back 17%, meaning they could exercise for 17% longer than they could have without any beet consumption.
I really want to drive this home for you….
If you consume beetroot (whether juiced, blended, or in powdered form), then it has been proven that you are able to have an easier workout, and a longer one, with nothing but the help from a little red veggie.
How much should I consume?
Well, it depends on you, your body, and your desired results. Athletes looking to really amp up their performance sometimes consume 2-4 cups of beet juice ninety minutes pre-workout. This can be a looooooot of beets, even for someone who loves ’em. I’m no health professional, but I’d say have an amount that feels good to your body (starting small, easy, and slow, and probably not exceeding 3-4 cups of only beet juice). Since beets can sometimes be a little difficult to stomach, seeing as they are more on the heavier side when it comes to veggies, I suggest doing maybe 1 cup (8 oz) at a time to start, and maybe even adding other fruits + vegs to your juice, or some H2o to dilute it a bit and help it go down easier. If juicing isn’t accessible, throw it in the blender with some water! You can either strain the pulp or keep it in. If blending isn’t appealing or accessible either, try a beetroot powder — just make sure it’s good quality. We really like this one.
When should I consume it?
Again, this depends on your desired results. If you’re looking to use beets to enhance your exercise performance, then drink 8-10oz ninety minutes (give or take) before your movement occurs. Just remember, if you have a sensitive stomach and you aren’t used to consuming beets straight-up, give yourself some time to digest. *PRO TIP: Beetroot powders mixed in water are often much easier to put down.
If you’re just looking to start incorporating beets in your daily life for their substantial advantages for your health, then just do it when it feels good to you. Throw a chopped up beet in your smoothie. Add a scoop of powder in your homemade dressings/dipping sauces. Sneak it into your kids’ meals with a colorful bonus that’ll make them smile 🙂 When it’s not a strategic plan of attack for your #gainz, then just have ’em whenever you’ll actually have ’em, and enjoy it!
If beets aren’t really your jam and you’re still looking to use Mother Nature’s kitchen to supplement your blood pressure and cardiovascular health, not to worry! Arugula, cilantro, rhubarb, spring greens, celery, and butter leaf lettuce are all nitrate-rich veggies you can choose from.
- Beets are awesome
- Beets are pretty to look at, and can add a nice hue to ordinary meals
- Beets open up blood vessels and let in more oxygen to your muscles
- Beets will give you more sustainable energy
- Beets have nitric oxide: a gold mine for folks with high blood pressure
- Beets will help you get healthy muscle gainz
- Beets will assist you on your journey to a balanced life
- Go get some beets