Beets and Athletic Performance

by | Nov 19, 2010 | Fitness, Nutrition | 0 comments

What would you think about a natural food that has been scientifically PROVEN to help you work out harder and longer? Remember when your mom used to say, “Eat your beets!” Well, there’s even more reason to now. Although this food has been around for a long time, this news is a very recent discovery with amazing results–especially if you are an athlete.

Although many people turn up their noses at beets, the fact that beets have some awesome benefits may make you take another look at them–especially if you are an athlete or are interested in getting (or staying) into shape.

Beet juice (or ‘beetroot’ as they say in the UK) can increase endurance in the muscles and help you exercise 20% longer. While 20% may not seem like a lot, it certainly can mean the difference between you winning a race or finishing in the middle of the pack!

What’s in beet juice? It is thought that the nitrates in beets are very effective in enhancing the oxygen utilization and physical endurance in the muscles (more so than just training harder will do) and it also lowers blood pressure. Natural nitrates have the effect of dilating blood vessels and allowing better blood flow to muscles that need them.

Two studies done at Exeter University on men have opened the doors to looking for foods that help the muscles in the body utilize oxygen better and stay stronger, longer. In this particular study, it was found that cyclists who drank beet juice before cycling had a 20% increase in muscle endurance than those who drank a placebo of blackcurrant juice instead. In other words, the cyclists were able to pedal a significant amount of time longer on the beet juice without tiring.

How does this happen? Scientists theorize that the naturally occurring nitrate content in the beet juice turns to nitric oxide in the body, and expands the blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen that the muscles need for exercise, so the muscles don’t tire as easily.

Besides athletes and those who are work out regularly, beet juice may be just as beneficial to those with cardiovascular, respiratory or metabolic diseases as well.

And the action of nitrates on blood vessels is also similar to a very popular prescription medication for erectile dysfunction.

Still not convinced to eat beets or start drinking beet juice?

Well, these humble little red root vegetables are also a packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, making beets a fat burning superfood.
Consider some of these reasons to add beets or beet juice to your daily diet:

Potassium–Potassium is a vital mineral that helps regulate fluids in the body. And potassium intake is extra important if you exercise. Physically active men and women require about 2,500 to 4,000 milligrams of potassium a day. If you train in a warmer climate, where you may sweat more, potassium needs are higher. A cup of beets contains over 500 milligrams of potassium, which is a good start to maintaining that balance.

Anti-inflammatory–Sports, overtraining, and working out regularly is a lot of wear and tear on your body–which can lead to chronic inflammation. Muscles and joints that are overtrained can develop inflammation and will lead to injuries, tendonitis, joint issues and even arthritis. Beets contain a substance called betaine, which helps reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation has advantages to others besides athletes because it can decrease the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type-2 diabetes, and more.

Heart Health–The dietary nitrates in beets help muscles pump longer and harder—and that also includes the heart muscle. Beets have been proven to lower blood pressure and helps to make your heart stronger and healthier too.

Iron–Beet greens are edible too and are even higher in iron than spinach greens. Iron helps to transport oxygen in the blood and gets it to the muscles where it is needed, your energy levels stay higher.

It’s time to give beets a second chance. Try this recipe and you will be amazed at how tasty beets really are–

  • Purchase fresh beets and wash them well.
  • Peel off the tough outer skin with a potato peeler or paring knife.
  • Remove the green tops and slice beets in fairly thin slices.
  • Add beets to sauce pan with about a fourth to a half cup of water and a couple Tbsp. of grass fed butter.
  • Simmer with a lid on low to medium heat until fork-tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain any excess water and add a squeeze of fresh lemon, sea salt, pepper and more butter if you would like. Enjoy!
  • If you want to juice your own fresh beet juice, try it with some other additions: a couple stalks of celery, a half an apple, and some carrots to your juicer. You can also purchase beet juice at many health food stores.

Beets and beet juice are an excellent addition to anyone’s diet–whether you are a serious athlete or just a weekend warrior–or want to improve your ability in the bedroom.

Beets contain a powerful punch of vitamins and nutrients and provide the biggest bang for your buck!

Note: It’s not a great idea to drink large amounts of fresh beet juice all by itself. A few people can have negative reactions to beet juice, such as hives, rashes, and even paralysis of the vocal cords. Beet juice is best in smaller amounts and mixed with other vegetable juices. Beets and beet greens are also high in a substance called oxalic acid and should be avoided by those who tend to get kidney stones, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis.

This recipe started out as a joke, but if you are going to have an alcoholic cocktail, this one is actually VERY good and not as bad for you as those sugary concoctions full of preservatives and artificial flavoring. You will be surprised at how good this tastes, but go easy, it’s still a potent drink–and it most likely will NOT improve your athletic performance with the addition of vodka–so probably not a great pre-race drink! 😉

The Beet Martini

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle  Chopin or other Potato Vodka
  • 3 Fresh Organic Beets
  • 2-4 cups Blood Orange or Fresh Orange Juice (I just bought fresh squeezed OJ from WF)
  • 4 Meyer Lemons, juiced
  • 2 Fresh Limes, juiced
  • Simple Syrup to taste
  • 6-8 ea. Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Lemon Twist, garnish

Directions:

  • Cut tops off beets and wash. Place in boiling water for about ten minutes. Remove from pan, rinse under cold water and scrape off tough outer skin. Slice and add to vodka in a glass pitcher or jar. Infuse for three days.
  • When ready to mix drinks, remove beets with a strainer spoon and discard. In a glass pitcher, add the vodka and chill. Meanwhile squeeze 3 Meyer lemons and three limes into a glass container. Add the orange juice. Crush the basil leaves in a small amount of simple syrup with a wooden spoon. Add to juice mixture and sweeten with simple syrup to taste. Leave it slightly tart.
  • To mix drinks, add ice to a cocktail strainer, juice and two shots of vodka. Shake and strain off ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.
  • Note: Measurements are approximate, so it may need a little tweaking to ‘taste’. Enjoy in moderation! Cheers!

Till next time,

Stay healthy and lean and FAST!

About Catherine Ebeling: I am Catherine (Cat) Ebeling. I am an RN with a Masters of Science in Nursing and Public Health. I have been studying diet, fitness and health for the past 30+ years–in addition to my clinical nursing experience, which includes anti-aging, preventative, regenerative medicine and bioidentical hormone therapy. I have had a life-long fascination with diet, fitness and nutrition, and have learned how to biohack my genetic capacity. I realized that we, as humans, have the ultimate power over our bodies and our health. Wanting to learn even more about human biology, nutrition, health and disease, I went back to school to study for a BSN in nursing. I just recently completed my MSN (at age 60). I’ve written six books on diet and health that have sold thousands–and even hundreds of thousands of copies all over the world through “The Nutrition Watchdog” publishing. I am an expert on diet and health and want to share that knowledge with you. I can be reached at caebeling@gmail.com or 314-369-6400 or on FB Instant Messenger.

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