3. Can Improve Athletic Performance
Several studies suggest that dietary nitrates may enhance athletic performance. For this reason, beets are often used by athletes. Nitrates appear to affect physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in your cells.
In two studies including seven and eight men, consuming 17 ounces (500 ml) of beet juice daily for six days extended time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise by 15–25%, which is a 1–2% improvement in overall performance.
Eating beets may also improve cycling and athletic performance and increase oxygen use by up to 20%. One small study of nine competitive cyclists looked at the effect of 17 ounces (500 ml) of beetroot juice on cycling time trial performance over 2.5 and 10 miles (4 and 16.1 km). Drinking beetroot juice improved performance by 2.8% over the 2.5-mile (4-km) time trial and 2.7% over the 10-mile (16.1-km) trial.
It’s important to note that blood nitrate levels peak within 2–3 hours. Therefore, to maximize their potential, it’s best to consume beets 2–3 hours before training or competing.
Eating beets may enhance athletic performance by improving oxygen use and time to exhaustion. To maximize their effects, beets should be consumed 2–3 hours prior to training or competing.