This piece first appeared in the May issue of Competitor Magazine.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in November found beetroot juice increased endurance during high intensity running by 15 percent.
Beets aren’t a magical veggie—they contain inorganic nitrates, a compound known to lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. Nitrates are also found in other green, leafy vegetables, but to replicate the benefits described in the study, an athlete would have to consume an impossibly large amount of them, said Brian Shea, a New Jersey-based nutritionist who has worked with Ironman Champions Simon Lessing, Jordan Rapp and Heather Gollnick. Nine men drank half a liter of beetroot juice per day for six days to achieve the result found in the study.
“I never want athletes to use supplements like this as a crutch to cover up a lack of training, rest and proper nutrition,” said Shea. “Something like beetroot juice would be like icing on the cake, but a lot of people don’t have any cake yet. Wait until you have a nice cake, or training base, then we’ll worry about decorating it.”
About The Author
Erin Beresini is a senior editor at Competitor Magazine.