Everyone has a pre-workout routine. Maybe yours entails selecting the perfect playlist or performing a few dynamic stretches. Either way, new research shows that it should also include sipping on some beetroot juice. Yes, those bright purple vegetables pack a lot of nutrients and some great benefits.
Check out these four ways beets can help improve your workout:
1. They Help You Get Oxygen to Your Muscles Faster
2015 research published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology shows that beetroot juice lowers how hard your heart has to work to get blood and oxygen to your muscles during exercise. That’s because beets are an excellent source of naturally occurring nitrates, which are converted in the body to nitrate oxide, a compound that dilates the body’s blood vessels and lowers blood pressure, explains Steven Hertzler, PhD, RD, chief scientific officer for Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition. The result: you can work out harder, for longer without getting fatigued.
2. They May Give You a “Pump”
Cardio lovers aren’t the only athletes who should cozy up to beets. By increasing blood flow to and throughout worked muscles, beets’ nitrates may help bodybuilders get the muscle “pump” they desire during training, Hertzler says.
3. They Improve Your Oxygen Efficiency
“Nitrates reduce the amount of oxygen needed to perform physical activity,” Hertzler says. “This places less demand on the cardiorespiratory system to supply oxygen to muscles during physical activity.” So armed with beets, you might be able to shave 1 to 2 percent off of your 5K time, suggests one Journal of Applied Physiology study.
4. They Can Help Boost Workout Recovery
The natural pigments, called betacyanins that give beets their color, exhibit powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, according to a 2015 Nutrients review. And in a 2016 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology beets helped reduce muscle soreness and improved athletes’ recovery after a bout of intense jumping exercises.