Around the gym water cooler these days, you may have heard more talk about using beets (or more specifically, beet juice) as part of your nutritional protocol to support your training regime.
It makes sense that fresh vegetables would play a role in any healthy eating plan, but what is it about beets that makes them an athlete’s ideal veggie?
The performance benefits are pretty awesome.
The red stuff has been shown to provide these perks for athletes:
- Lower blood pressure 
- Improved endurance 
- Increased VO2 max 
- Higher nitric oxide levels 
- Less inflammation 
How can beets do all that? Let’s break it down.
It’s all about the nitrates.
Beets are rich in natural chemicals called nitrates, which your body converts naturally to nitric oxide—a molecule that relaxes and widens blood vessels and helps cells use oxygen more efficiently. In other words, nitrates get the blood flowing. Studies have shown this natural boost to the blood enhances athletic performance.
In one 2008 study, researchers from Exeter University recruited nine subjects and gave them either regular beetroot juice or nitrate-depleted beetroot juice to drink every day for six days. Consuming regular beetroot juice increased blood nitrate levels and reduced resting blood pressure, reduced oxygen consumption during moderate- and high-intensity exercise and increased time to exhaustion at high intensity by 15 percent. Not bad for an easy drink of vegetable juice.
When should you take beet juice?
As with any supplement, timing is everything. The performance benefits of beet juice start to show up as quickly as 30 minutes after drinking it. As you can see from the chart below, maximum performance benefits come between 2-3 hours post consumption. After 12 hours, the body returns to its NO2 baseline.
How much do you need to drink?
Athletes who have seen success with beet juice report drinking about 500mL before an event. If you can manage to down a half a liter of earthy-flavored beet juice, we salute you—but most of us would prefer an easier way (especially with the liquid’s reputation for sending athletes to the port-o-potty). Not to mention what a pain it is to lug a juicer around if you’re training right after work or while traveling.
The alternative is a supplement like AMRAP Nutrition Concentrated Beet Juice Powder, which packs all the benefits of beet juice into one small, easy-to-drink dose. Just mix it into a small glass of water and voilà. Your performance-boosting cup of nitrates is served. Every athlete will have a different sweet spot in terms of how much they should take to get the best results, so do a little experimenting to figure out yours.
What to look for in a beet juice supplement?
If you’re like most endurance athletes, you run on real food, no junk. So you’ll want to read the label of any supplement before buying to make sure it’s free of any artificial colors, flavors, or fillers. Beetroot supplements are frequent offenders, often adding artificial sweeteners and flavors to hide the earthy taste of the vegetable.
As endurance athletes ourselves, at AMRAP Nutrition we strive to make all our products natural and paleo friendly. Back in the day when artificial supplements were the norm, our training suffered and to be frank, we felt like crap. So we make our Concentrated Beet Juice Powder with a pure and simple ingredient list consisting only of flash-dried beetroot juice powder, electrolytes (potassium citrate, sea salt, and magnesium oxide) and natural stevia to give it a more palatable taste. No fillers or artificial anything.
The bottom line on beet juice:
- Beet juice has been shown to provide a number of performance benefits for athletes, from improved endurance to increased VO2 max.
- It’s all thanks to the nitrates in beets, natural chemicals that your body converts to nitric oxide, resulting in increased blood flow.
- The peak performance benefits come 2-3 hours after taking beet juice and then gradually drop off over the next 9-10 hours.
- Everyone will have a different “sweet spot” dose, but 500mL is a general guideline. An easy and equally effective alternative to drinking all that beet juice is to opt for a concentrated supplement like AMRAP Nutrition Concentrated Beet Juice Powder.
- All athletes should make sure any supplement they take is free of any fillers or artificial stuff that will interfere with their performance.