I’ve started a new habit: every day, before my bleary-eyed 7am workout, I’ve been drinking an invigorating fresh juice. The juice is always different, depending on what cache of produce I find in my fridge. But yesterday on my early morning trail run I felt especially fit, light, and at ease, and I am pretty sure it was because of the good stuff in my morning juice. What was in this magical elixir, you ask? Beets. Specifically, a tasty pre-workout glass of Sproutman’s Sweet Beet juice (with a little ginger and spinach added). Astounded by my unusual lack of struggle on the uphill slog, I refreshed myself on the science behind beets and fitness—and the research holds up.
Most people know that beet juice is rich in iron and tastes pretty sweet, but what else makes it so great? For starters, the red-yellow pigment in beets comes from betalain, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative properties. But, even more exciting, beets are widely regarded as the serious athlete’s performance-enhancing root veggie. Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the science…
1. BLOOD PRESSURE
Certain compounds in beets may help lower blood pressure. When the body is at rest, the nitric oxide created by consuming beet juices appears to de-stiffen blood vessels and reduces the heart’s workload—perfect for high intensity cardio activity.
2. BRAIN HEALTH
Since it encourages oxygen delivery to areas that are hypoxic, consuming beet juice before exercising has actually been shown to help our brains appear more youthful and function more efficiently during workouts.
Beet juice has been shown to improve fitness endurance in both the young and old. Beet-fueled athletes have been shown to be able to exercise for longer bouts of time and utilize oxygen more efficiently, thanks to the nitrates in beets, which are thought to increase blood flow to muscles by dilating blood vessels. But beets might actually even improve muscular energy uptake on a cellular level. Specifically in HIIT workouts, consuming beet juice may speed up the synthesis of a specific form of cellular energy, leading to better fueled muscle cells and an improvement in overall muscular performance. Drink up, Crossfitters.
As long as you don’t struggle with kidney stones or other potential health conflicts (always talk to your trusted professional if you’re unsure), consuming beet juice in reasonable amounts is a wonderful way to aid exercise endurance, oxygenate the body, and give a boost to fitness performance. I also find the rich, digestible sugars in beets helps prepare my body for longer, tougher workouts, so it’s the perfect thing to juice on my HIIT days or before long, cardio-intensive trail runs.
Ready to start enjoying your beets? You can find the Sweet Beet along with so many other wonderful juices by investing in a copy of Sproutman’s 7 Day Just Juice Diet.
Want more beets right now? If you’re eager to try my favorite pre-workout juice ASAP, we’ve also included it for free below.