Beets are a nutrient dense vegetable being supplemented by a variety of athletes, especially those in aerobic sports to improve stamina. They’re a good source of carbohydrates, folate, and manganese. They’re found in a variety of dishes including soups, salads, and shakes.
But their true performance enhancing effect comes from their nitrate content. Their nitrates have been shown to improve endurance in athletes.  Nitrates get converted to nitric oxide in our bodies and have a vasodilating effect. This means they open up our veins, this is of benefit to athletes because it makes oxygen transport easier. The more oxygen you can get circulating to your muscles the more you stay in the aerobic state and the more efficiently you’ll perform in endurance events. When you run out of oxygen your body begins to run “anaerobically” which means without oxygen. During this time our primary fuel source is glycogen/glucose which is available in limited amounts.
What this means for athletes is that it limits the amount of time they can perform, and that’s not a good thing if you don’t have the fuel to finish your event.
From personal experience with athletes I’ve worked with I’ve found that 1-2 cups of beet root juice at least an hour before training or an event has been the most effective way to supplement.
Sample PreWorkout Shake
1 whole beet
1/2 cup coconut juice
1/3 cup spinach
Murphy, M., Eliot, K., Heuertz, R., & Weiss, E. (n.d.). Whole Beetroot Consumption Acutely Improves Running Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 548-552.
Erick Avila, owner of www.ergogenichealth.com a company that provides individualized training programs and nutritional consultations for athletic events and weight loss. Erick works as a strength & conditioning coach/nutritionist with a variety of professional boxers including two ranked in the top 50 of their respective weight divisions. He’s experienced having worked in both sport and clinical settings, with focuses ranging from general weight loss to hormonal optimization. Erick has bachelors degrees in Exercise Science & Nutritional Science.