How Beets Can Help You Perform Better During Workouts

This underrated vegetable can help boost your performance and endurance.

Giselle Castro-Sloboda Fitness and Nutrition Writer
I'm a Fitness & Nutrition writer for CNET who enjoys reviewing the latest fitness gadgets, testing out activewear and sneakers, as well as debunking wellness myths. On my spare time I enjoy cooking new recipes, going for a scenic run, hitting the weight room, or binge-watching many TV shows at once. I am a former personal trainer and still enjoy learning and brushing up on my training knowledge from time to time. I've had my wellness and lifestyle content published in various online publications such as: Women's Health, Shape, Healthline, Popsugar and more.
Expertise Fitness and Wellness
Giselle Castro-Sloboda
3 min read
beet juice in glass surrounded by beets

Beets have been found to offer many health benefits, including boosting your athletic performance. 

Pada Smith/Getty Images

You are what you eat, including when it comes to fitness. Foods like whole grains, meats and eggs are popular choices to help fuel your workouts, but other surprising foods can come in handy, like beets.

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Beets have become the secret ingredient of endurance athletes looking to improve their athletic performance. In addition to providing essential vitamins and minerals, research has shown that vegetables like beets with nitrates may increase blood flow and improve cardiorespiratory endurance efficiency. The nitrates break down into nitric oxide, increasing the function of the mitochondria -- which is known to power the energy of the cells. Endurance athletes seek these benefits so they can use oxygen more efficiently during their sport. This helps them become faster without getting exhausted as quickly

If you participate in triathlons, marathons or other long-distance activities, beets may improve your ability to run, bike or swim for longer and can even earn you a new personal record. Beets can also benefit fitness enthusiasts who enjoy activities like HIIT training that require them to be in their best aerobic shape. 

I added beets regularly to my diet when training for a few long-distance races and found that they helped me perform better. I felt more energized throughout the majority of my training and on the day of the races, I didn't get fatigued as quickly as I have in the past. 

If you're ready to give beets a shot, below are some of the best ways to include them in your diet. 

Beet juice

Drinking beet juice before physical activity is recommended for athletes to reap the benefits. It's best to drink at least two cups of juice between two to three hours before exercising since blood nitrate levels are most optimal then. You can make beet juice at home with a juicer or you can purchase a bottle of beet juice at your local supermarket or supplement store. If you decide to purchase a bottle from the store, make sure to measure out about 16 ounces (or two cups) before activity. Be sure to look at the list of ingredients to ensure that it has no added sugar.

Beet smoothie

If you're not a fan of beets' earthy taste, you can try one of my favorite ways to have them -- in a smoothie. Because beets are a root vegetable, normally you'd have to boil them to soften them up, but an easy shortcut is to buy them precooked or frozen. While training for the NYC Half Marathon last year, my go-to beet smoothie was inspired by the Can't Beet Me Smoothie by marathon runner and Olympian Shalane Flanagan. Not only is it a nourishing way to have beets, it's also full of flavor from other fruits and almond butter. If this recipe isn't your cup of tea, you can get creative with your smoothie fusions as long as you have a serving of beets blended in.

Beetroot powder

Another way to get your serving of beets without having to buy the actual vegetable is by consuming it in powder form. Beetroot powder is dehydrated beetroot juice, so you'll receive the same benefits. Beetroot powder can be found at your local supplement store and usually comes in a container, similar to protein powder. You can mix it in water, smoothies, soups or use other methods that easily dissolve the powder. Since beetroot powder is a supplement, it's helpful to seek a brand that is third-party tested to make sure you're getting the actual product and not an item full of additives.  

Roasted beets

If you're a fan of beets and want to make sure you're getting enough fiber, you can also roast them. Roasted beets are an easy way to get a serving either as a side to a meal or part of a salad. One study even found that runners who ate a serving of 200 grams or 7 ounces of beets leading up to a 5K had a faster run time, especially during the last mile. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.