We absolutely love beets, not only for their amazing colour and taste but because they provide a direct nutritional boost. Beyond standard recipes and cooking, nowadays you often see beetroot mentioned as a key ingredient in a shot or two before training. But why? And can beetroot really improve your performance?

Why beetroot?

Beets are commonly consumed in the concentrated form before training to enhance your performance for endurance and high-intensity training. This is because foods like beetroot naturally contain a compound called nitrate. Nitrate is found in most vegetables, but the highest quantity is found in beetroot and green, leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach and arugula).

The process of nitrate in the body:

It’s actually not nitrate itself in beetroot that increases performance but nitric oxide, which nitrate is transformed into in the body. Nitric oxide has a vasodilating effect, supporting the elasticity of blood vessels so that oxygen supply to the muscles increases. Our oxygen uptake capacity is often the limiting factor for how long we can work at high-intensity. Nitrate-rich foods help increase oxygen uptake and thus our capacity to maintain a higher intensity for longer. Since nitric oxide supports vascular dilation, it not only increases performance, it can also encourage other positive effects, such as lowering blood pressure.

How much is needed?

For the best performance-enhancing effects of nitrate, about half a litre (500ml) of beetroot juice or an equivalent amount of concentrate is needed. Remember, there are always individual responses and no effects are guaranteed. Like with all things, you should not over consume it. Moderation combined with regularity and a varied, colorful diet is the key.

Does it really work?

You would need to consume quite large amounts of beets to see the effects described above, but a regular intake will do your body very well in many ways since foods like beetroot are very nutritious. In addition to the health benefits mentioned, beets are rich in minerals, vitamin C and antioxidants. Beetroot is also rich in fibre – vital for a well-functioning stomach.
So what now? Try our delicious beetroot recipe created by our in house chef before your next training session! We hope it will be a regular favourite with you!

Beetroot Juice/Smoothie recipe:

1 Serving

½ green apple (60g)
1 red beet (90g)
250ml orange juice
5g fresh ginger
50g light coconut cream

1 – Peel the red beet and the ginger.
2 – Cut the apple and beets into smaller pieces and put all the ingredients, except the coconut milk, in a blender and mix smooth.
3 – Drizzle the coconut milk around the glass and pour the smoothie into the glass.  

Kajsa holds a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from Umeå University, Sweden. Having worked as a Clinical Dietitian with a focus on dietary treatments for both individuals and groups, Kajsa now supports the Lifesum team in providing professional and evidence-based interventions to users. Kajsa is a self-confessed training nerd and admits her greatest passions are anything to do with food, science and health.

All posts by Kajsa Ernestam