Champions of drinking beetroot juice before a workout claim it can improve blood and oxygen flow in your muscles, enhancing your performance and increasing your endurance. An all-natural, stimulant-free pre-workout supplement that helps you crush your exercise goals? Yes, please! But does it really work? Should you “beet” all in? Or tell the beets to beat it? And how many beet puns can I fit into one article?
I’ve been seeing these claims about beetroot juice floating around the internet for a while now. Personally, as long as it doesn’t sound dangerous or isn’t made of toxic chemicals, I love anything that promises to make my workout a little bit more bonkers. If I heard that eating chalk would make me a better athlete, you’d probably see me at the gym gnawing on a couple of sticks in between sets on the stair machine. But the beet juice thing actually sounded pretty solid. First off, it’s just beets. I’m always into anything that comes from whole foods, especially a veggie. Secondly, the benefit claims make sense.
Big Beet Benefits
Beets are rich in nitrates. Dietary nitrates (found in veggies like celery, spinach, arugula, lettuces, and beets) convert in the body to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, which is said to increase blood flow to working muscles. Increased blood flow means less fatigue, more endurance, and enhanced performance, whether you’re trying out that new twerking class or hanging out in the squat rack trying to pad out the seat of your Lululemons. Beet juice may even been lower blood pressure as some preliminary research suggests.
But a new study published recently in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism says that beetroot juice doesn’t really increase blood flow in working muscles, despite raising nitrate levels and relaxing the blood vessels.
So, are beets the bomb or more of a dud?
Obviously, I’m not going to let you risk pink poop for no reason! So, I hit up my local natural foods store to check out the beets, pound some juice, sweat my mascara up into my eyebrows, and report back to you.
I wanted to try making my own beetroot juice and a pre-made juice. If you have a juicer, go nuts; but here’s how I made the homemade version with my blender.
I much preferred my own beet juice to the store bought one. My gorgeous deep red juice was lightly sweet/salty and earthy, tempered by a refreshing tang from the lemon juice and bite from the ginger. The manufactured juice was aggressively salty and triple the price. I would highly recommend making your own juice if you have a juicer or blender that can handle all that veggie grinding.
I drank my beetroot juice about an hour before my workout and absolutely loved having a hydrating and tasty snack before I ramped up to tear down some muscle fibers. Right away I felt refreshed and energized by all that whole food fruit and veggie goodness.
While exercising, I had quite a bit of extra get-up-and-go during the more punishing points of my hour long workout. I did a familiar routine so I would have a good point of reference for fatigue and muscle failure. I was able to squeeze out bonus reps and complete my cardio at a slightly faster rate than usual. I didn’t feel as exhausted as I normally do after I completed the routine, so I used my extra energy to tack on 10 minutes of ab work. Total win!
Was it in my mind or my muscles? I can’t say for sure if my supplementary energy was due solely to the beet juice. Some days you just knock your workout out of the park, and some days you limp over the finish line. But whether it’s my brains or my brawn, the extra oomph and the deliciousness of the juice are enough to make me a convert. And more veggies in our diets can never be a bad thing.
Next time you’re at the farmers market or in your produce aisle, pick up the ingredients for my yummy beetroot juice and see what you think! I’d love to hear if it made you go all Eye of the Tiger style, like me! Take a pretty pic of your juice and tag me on Instagram: @this_fit_mom.
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Images: Sarah Olive Bergeson