The Benefits of Beets with Runners
. Those deep crimson, dark purple, bleeding root vegetables are an unlikely hero in the world of running. Runners have long touted the benefits of beets, citing anecdotal evidence of their miraculous race times and fresh legs after chugging beet juice. But these stories aren’t placebo: science has concretely shown some incredible outcomes of beet
compounds on running.
Long distance running shows noticeable improvement with beet
supplementation. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that runners ran 1.5% faster on average after slamming a beet juice shot before a 5k race. Perhaps equally impressive, the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that drinking beet juice consistently for seven days prior to a sprint race resulted in faster times. And it isn’t just running-- researchers at the University of Exeter found that after drinking 16 ounces of beet
juice prior to cycling, subjects on average rode 16 percent longer than they had before.
What in this crimson root veggie seems to give athletes superpowers? The main factors are nitrates, found in many dark, leafy greens. When ingested, we convert nitrates into nitric oxide, which supercharges out muscle cells and blood vessels. More nitric oxide means higher muscle efficiency, higher muscle efficiency means more efficient blood flow, and all of that together means faster times. In essence, the nitrates in beets
directly improves cardiorespiratory endurance-- breathing and heart rate-- by decreasing the amount of oxygen we need to perform a task.
Runners aren’t alone in tapping into beet power. The University of Southern California’s basketball team has credited the veggie juice with their success, as has the Auburn University’s football team. Both are high level athletic programs.
, and the nitrates they contain, have noticeable and provable effects on performance. Athletes across the board should be utilizing the powerful root vegetable.