Let’s face it, beets aren’t everyone’s favorite vegetable. Honestly, I thought beets tasted like dirt for the longest time and I didn’t think twice about them until I learned about what they can do for athletic performance.
Beets for Athletic Performance
Beets contain sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate. According to this study, dietary nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency and reduces oxygen cost during physical exercise. (Mitochondria are responsible for producing energy in your cells.)
According to another study, dietary supplementation with inorganic nitrate in the form of beetroot juice reduces the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise and enhances the tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
But would nitrate consumption from non-food based supplementation be as beneficial? Nope! This study found that consumption of nitrates from other sources may have detrimental health effects while whole beetroot improves running performance in healthy adults.
Because of this, in order to gain the performance benefits of dietary nitrates, you have to get them from whole, real foods like beets!
When to Eat Beets
This study found that the best time to consume beets for their athletic performing benefits is approximately 3 hours before competition or a hard training session because this is when nitrate peaks. The same study determined that nitrate levels remain elevated for 6-9 hours after consumption before remaining to baseline.
How to Eat Beets
- 1 beet, rinsed, peeled, and roughly chopped
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
- 1-2 inches fresh ginger, peeled, and roughly chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the juice into the bowl through the strainer.
- Press the pulp down and squeeze all of the juice out with a rubber spatula or spoon. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to make sure that most of the juice gets through the strainer.
- Discard pulp. Pour your juice into a glass with ice and enjoy!
Alternatively, freeze into ice cubes and pop them into the freezer for future smoothies!