Research Review: Can beets help you run faster? |

A new study published two weeks ago in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition states that consuming beets reduces blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which can help you run faster. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Bath, involved 53 amateur runners who completed two 6-minute runs on a treadmill, one immediately after eating the red beetroot, and the other after eating a placebo. The researchers found that the beetroot runners had a blood sugar level that was 13.5 percent lower than the placebo group. They also reported a 10.5 percent decrease in cholesterol levels in the beetroot runners. The results indicate that the beetroot may be beneficial in preventing blood sugar and cholesterol-related diseases. This study is the latest in a

Beetroot juice is a natural source of nitrates, which can help keep oxygen flowing to the muscles to get you out of the gate faster. Nitrates also help the body produce more blood which, in turn, improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. This can lead to faster running and reduced muscle fatigue and soreness.

Can beets help you run faster? This is a question many runners ask after trying a new beets-based energy drink. (Of course, everyone knows that beets are good for you.) Well, the answer is yes it can. It has been shown to increase performance in marathons and help runners keep their endurance up.

Supplementing with sodium nitrate has been proven to enhance physical performance. However, sodium nitrate in processed meals is harmful to one’s health. According to new study, these health concerns may be avoided and advantages gained by consuming beetroot before exercising.

One of the greatest strategies to decrease the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer is to eat a diet high in vegetables. Vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals while being low in calories.

What about the nitrate content, though? Is it anything on your to-do list? When it comes to exercise, there’s mounting evidence that the nitrate level of vegetables has a natural ergogenic (performance-enhancing) impact.

Nitrates are found in all plants, although green leafy vegetables and red beets have the highest levels.

But aren’t nitrates also found in hot dogs and bacon, and aren’t these items unhealthy?

That’s an excellent question!

Nitrate vs. nitrite: what’s the difference?

What a difference the vowels make!

The natural chemical sodium nitrate (notice the letter a) is present in nearly all green leafy vegetables and red beets. See the research review for a list of nitrate-rich foods. Do veggies help you to be more resilient? Sodium nitrate is used as a preservative in meat dishes, sausages, and bacon because it possesses antibacterial characteristics. It improves the color of the meat during cooking when it binds with the myoglobin in the flesh. Pesticides, pyrotechnics, and fertilizers all include sodium nitrate.

Although sodium nitrite (note I is a close cousin of sodium nitrate and is employed as a preservative, some of its by-products have been related to cancer and other severe illnesses. The US Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the World Health Organization have all established restrictions on the quantity of nitrates and nitrites that may be added to food and water as a result of this.

The problem is that dietary nitrates and nitrites seem to be hazardous unless taken in their natural plant form. (This is another another incentive to consume entire, unadulterated foods.) So, if you want to boost your nitrate intake, avoid bacon and hot dogs.

Productivity and beets

Let’s return to the topic of nitrates in the diet and physical performance. Beetroot juice increases time to fatigue during exercise (in other words, you receive more energy for a longer length of time) and lowers oxygen use during activity, according to many studies (1, 2).

According to studies, the nitrates in red beetroot juice lower oxygen consumption during endurance exercise, allowing you to consume less energy (ATP) to produce the muscular force that pushes you ahead, allowing you to continue for longer.

So, how does it function?

Many beneficial compounds, including phytochemicals like quercetin and resveratrol, are found in red beetroot. Beetroot’s beneficial impact on physical performance, on the other hand, is most likely attributable to its nitrate concentration.

Dietary nitrates are broken down and used in the body in a fascinating way. It all begins with saliva in the mouth. After interacting with microorganisms on the tongue, around a quarter of the nitrate (NO3) in meals like beets ends up in saliva. NO3 is transformed to active nitrite there (NO2). Isn’t that good? The nitrite is subsequently consumed, and when it interacts with stomach acid, it is converted to nitric oxide (NO).

Nitric oxide, in this form, has a beneficial impact during exercise. You’ve undoubtedly heard about nitric oxide, particularly if you go to your local health food store’s supplement department. Nitric oxide has a variety of purposes, but when it comes to exercise, it improves blood flow to the muscles, making it simpler for the energy producers (mitochondria) to generate energy (ATP). Blood pressure and muscular contraction are also controlled by it.

Most beet research to far have relied on gestation period procedures, which don’t necessarily transfer into actual productivity improvements. The majority of those who are interested want to know whether consuming beets or beet juice would help them run (bike, swim, walk, etc.) faster.

Drinking beetroot juice enhanced cycling performance according to one research (3), but what about plain red beetroot if you’re a runner rather than a cyclist?


Question for investigation

A new research released this week looks at whether eating 200 grams of whole beets (which contain 500 mg of nitrate) before a 5km treadmill run enhances performance.

M. Murphy, K. Eliot, R. Hoyertz, and E. Weiss found that eating entire beets increases running performance significantly. 2012 Apr;112(4):548-552 in J Acad Nutr Diet.


The research included five men and six women in their twenties who are active in sports. Before completing a 5-kilometer treadmill test, participants ate either 200 grams of cooked beetroot or a placebo (cranberry pieces) in a double-blind crossover trial. After a one-week wash interval, all individuals performed two trials in random order. The goal of attrition was to minimize the chance that the intervention’s effects (red beet or cranberry intake) would overlap and skew the findings of both trials.

Test 1: Participants had 200 grams of cooked beets (about two medium-sized beets) before running for 75 minutes on a treadmill.

Test 2: The participants consumed 200 grams of cranberry juice before running for 75 minutes on a treadmill.

The participants arrived at the lab after fasting for eight hours for each test. They were instructed not to eat any additional nitrate-rich meals (a list was given), supplements, or medications for 72 hours prior to the test. They were also prohibited from lifting weights during the same time period and from consuming alcohol, caffeine, or exercising for the preceding 24 hours. All of these restrictions have contributed to the study’s strength by ensuring that the playing field is as equal as feasible.

Despite the fact that the flavors of beetroot and cranberries are similar, the researchers maintained the amounts and calories the same and utilized the same seasonings. The researchers thought it was unlikely that the variation in taste would produce a placebo effect and alter the study’s findings since the participants had no idea what they were talking about.

Before and one hour after consuming red beet or cranberries, resting blood pressure was monitored. At one-kilometer intervals and at the conclusion of the 5-kilometer trip, researchers collected average walking pace, heart rate, and perceived effort.


Enhancement of performance

The researchers sought to see whether eating 200 grams of beets (which contain 500mg of nitrates) before exercising would result in a substantial improvement in running time. They discovered that after eating beets, the average walking speed (speed in one direction) was somewhat greater (by 3% ) than after eating the placebo: 12.3 + 2.7 km vs. 11.9 + 2.6 km.

It’s worth noting that the disparity is largest in the last kilometer (5 percent ).

Although the difference may seem small, a 3% improvement in running pace results in a 41-second increase in finishing time. 41 seconds is a big time in a small event like the 5km! If your average mile time is 8 minutes, you will complete 5 miles in 24:51 minutes. However, eating 200 grams of beets before your race may help you gain 3% of your time.

As a result, we know the individuals were walking faster. But were there any changes in heart rate or did they find it easier to run after eating beets?

Heart rate and perceived effort are measured.

Despite a small increase in speed during the beet test, there was no change in heart rate during exercise when compared to the placebo group.

What exactly does this imply?

Beetroot’s nitrate concentration lowers oxygen consumption during activity, which is the most probable reason. Unfortunately, neither oxygen intake nor respiratory exchange ratio (RER) were explicitly assessed in this research, thus the causal connection cannot be completely established. Nonetheless, it backs with the findings of previous research on the impact of dietary nitrates on performance.

A Borg scale ranging from 6 to 20 points was used to assess perceived stress. In the first kilometer of the rap test, observed effort was lower and did not vary from that in the latter parts of the race. If the participants’ perceived effort was lower in the first kilometer of the turnip test, this may have led to a faster walking pace in later stages, perhaps because they were not as fatigued.

The main limitation of this study is that serum nitrate levels were not measured, so it is not known to what extent nitrate levels increased after consumption of beets compared to placebo. The nitrate content of the beets was not measured either. Nevertheless, given what we know about the nitrite content of red beet, it is likely that red beet increased serum nitrate levels and improved performance.


Men and women who ran in their spare time increased their running performance after consuming 200 grams of cooked beets 75 minutes before training.

The conversion of nitrate from the food into nitrite and nitric oxide in the body is thought to be the cause of the improved performance. Nitric oxide lowers oxygen consumption during exercise, requiring less energy or ATP to do the same amount of work.

This implies that by eating two medium-sized beets 60 minutes before jogging, you can improve your 5km time by half a minute!

It was, after all, a pretty tiny research. Why not assist your scientific assignment by doing it yourself? It’s worth a go at least to see if there’s a difference. (If your urine appears pink for a time, don’t worry.)

Back line

  1. The findings of this research are of genuine significance and have the potential to be used in sports. Time-to-fatigue procedures were utilized in most prior investigations evaluating the effects of nitrate-rich vegetables on performance (which test physical performance, not athletic performance).
  2. Try it out for yourself! If you’re a juicer, try juicing a few beets and drinking them before going for a morning run to see how you feel. Just make sure you’re using genuine merchandise. Don’t endanger your life by consuming nitrite salts.
  3. To identify the optimum quantity of dietary nitrate required to enhance performance, further study is needed.


To view the sources of information used in this article, go here.

  1. Stephen J. Bailey, Paul Vinyard, Annie Vanhatalo, Jamie R. Blackwell, Fred J. Dimenna, Daryl P. Wilkerson, Joanna Tarr, Nigel Benjamin, and Andrew M. Jones In humans, dietary nitrate supplementation lowers O2 consumption during low-intensity activity while also increasing tolerance to high-intensity exercise. Physiology in practice. 107(4): 1144-1155 in 2009.
  2. Nutritional nitrate supplementation increases muscle contraction efficiency during knee extension exercises in humans, according to Bailey, Stephen J., Fulford, Jonathan, Vanhatalo, Annie, Vinyard, Paul, Blackwell, Jamie R., DiMenna, Fred J., Wilkerson, Daryl P., Benjamin, Nigel, and Jones, Andrew M. Physiology in practice. 109(1): 135-148 in 2010.
  3. Acute dietary nitrate supplementation enhances cycling performance in time trials, according to C. E. Lansley, Paul G. Vinyard, Stephen J. Bailey, Annie Vanhatalo, Daryl P. Wilkerson, Jamie R. Blackwell, Jamie R. Gilchrist, Nigel Benjamin, and Andrew M. Jones. 2011; 43(6): 1125-1131 in Med Sci Sports Exerc.

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Is there something out there that can help you run faster? The answer is a resounding YES! Long ago when our ancestors roamed the Earth, they ate a lot of different foods. One of these foods was beets. This type of food has been shown by research to increase blood flow to the legs while running. That means that the beets will also act as a performance boost that will help you run faster.. Read more about beet juice performance enhancer and let us know what you think.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do beets make you run faster?

No, beets do not make you run faster.

Does beet juice help you run faster?

No. Beet juice is a type of vegetable juice that contains high levels of nitrates, which are known to help with endurance in athletes.

Do beets help with running?

I am not a beets expert.

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