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7 min read

Are Beets Good Before A Workout?

Beets can be messy to cook. Their deep sanguine color can seep into your fingers and clothes when you handle them. Other than the mess, there’s not much to dislike about beets, particularly if you’re a fitness enthusiast.

Beets, in the form of a powdered supplement, is a great way to naturally improve energy performance during workouts. Rich in nitrates that convert to nitric acid, beet supplements help muscles work harder and more efficiently, resulting in a better workout for endurance, power, or otherwise.

This hardy root is packed with vitamins and minerals, and it becomes even more concentrated as a supplement, making it a great pick-me-up before a workout. Wherever you're at with your fitness journey, beets should be part of your diet equation, keep reading to find out why.

Do Beets Give You A Pump?

Taking beet supplements can enhance a pump.Beets contain nitrates, which improve blood flow to the muscles when you exercise as it becomes nitric oxide. While whole-form beets could foster a pump, the higher concentration found in beet supplements is far more conducive to a pump.

A pump, in fitness terminology, refers to the feeling of fullness in your muscles that comes from doing an intense weight training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. It makes your muscles look and feel bigger.

Unfortunately, since it’s caused by a surge of blood to the muscle, this feeling is fleeting.

Nitrates And Nitric Oxide Are Your Friend

Some fitness enthusiasts want to make their pump last longer, or they want it to be stronger. If you’re looking to enhance your pump, try taking a beet supplement.

The nitrate from beets turns into nitric oxide in the body,which widens your blood vessels and allows more blood to flow in.

While eating beets will give your body more nitrates than most other foods, you’d have to eat a lot to have a noticeable impact on the muscle pump. For that reason,you should take beet root powder before a workout.

Many pre-workout powders contain nitrates, and for the most part, dietary nitrate supplementation comes in the form of beet powder.

Besides giving you a pump, nitrates can help with other areas of athletic performance. They might be able to boost your stamina, helping you get an extra rep or two during your workout or run an extra quarter mile.

4 Major Benefits of Beetroot Powder

The benefits of beetroot, which is simply another name for beets, extend beyond enhancing your pump. Sure, widening your blood vessels to increase blood flow is great, but this mighty little root can do even more than that.

The following 4 benefits of beetroot powder will show you the massive impact that beetroot can have on athletic performance, be it in the gym or competition.

1. Push Harder for Longer

HIIT workouts and endurance training will be better if you take beetroot powder. A team of researchers has proven that taking the supplementdelays the amount of time it takes for your muscles to get tired.

The study investigated how cyclists responded to taking beetroot powder. They had three segments take beetroot extract in different frequencies - some cyclists took it a few times, others took it for weeks or months, and the last group took a placebo (fake) supplement.

While the effects of beetroot weren’t staggering, they were enough to make a difference in some cases. For example, after doing a 40-minute cycle at a medium pace, the participants did an all-out sprint.

The researchers observed that taking beetroot powder before the workout made people last 16% longer in the sprint.

So what's the takeaway?For any of your endurance workouts, this means that you can push harder for longer by taking beetroot powder.

The changes in intensity in this study mimic a cycling workout in the real world where your speed changes and you have to climb hills. The same can be said for running outdoors.

2. Heighten Your HIIT Training

High-intensity interval training doesn’t last as long as endurance training, which makes it more convenient. However, it can be very uncomfortable. You’re pushing to the point of exhaustion over a short period of time, which makes your muscles and lungs burn. 

Beetroot powder can’t take away the discomfort of training hard, but it can boost your performance in HIIT workouts. A study found thatbeetroot powder improves HIIT performance by enhancing your body’s ability to produce something called phosphocreatine.

Your muscles need the energy to contract. They use something called ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the equivalent of gasoline to a car. Without ATP, your muscles wouldn’t be properly fueled.

When you start working out, your muscles have a little bit of ATP in them, butit quickly runs out. Luckily, your body has a few ways of making more ATP. The method it uses depends on how intense your workout is. If you’re doing a HIIT workout, it uses something called phosphocreatine.

Your muscles have enough phosphocreatine to get you through short bursts of activity. As you rest during your HIIT workout, your muscles are regenerating this phosphocreatine store to get you ready for the next exercise.

Taking beetroot supplements before your workout helps your body regenerate phosphocreatine faster, which means you don’t need to rest as much and you can push harder during each spring interval.

3. More Reps With Lighter Weight

It's clear that beetroot powder positively impacts cardio workouts - but how does this translate to the weight room? Well, of course, there's a study for that.

A team of researchers set out tofind if beetroot powder pre-workout supplement affects weight training workouts.

They had participants do back squats and bench press at varying intensities. They started with lighter weights, around 60% of each person’s max strength.

At 60% and 70% of their max,the people who took beetroot powder were able to do more reps than those who didn’t take the supplement.However, as the weight got heavier, it made less of a difference. Even at 80%, they were roughly the same.

Since it didn’t seem to help much with heavier weights, the researchers conclude thatbeetroot powder can help you get more reps at a lighter weight, but it won’t make you stronger. This is key.

For weight training, take into account what kind of training you want to do. If your focus is on higher reps and muscle-building, it might help. However, if you just want to lift heavy weights, this isn’t the supplement for you.

4. Beetroot Juice Helps Muscle Recovery

Beetroot juice can be helpful when taken before your workout, but what happens when you take it afterward?

Recovering from a workout is just as important as the workout itself. The day after you might feel sore and tired, which can interfere with subsequent training sessions.

A group of researchers studied how beetroot powder altered recovery using a variety of tests to see how people were recovering after intense workouts.

One method they used was to see how quickly the test subjects regained their strength.People who took beetroot powder were stronger three days after an intense workout than those who didn’t. They were also better at doing a long jump test, one day after doing their workout, which means their muscles had more power.

Another measurement the researchers used was a pain threshold. After an intense workout, your muscles might be sore and tender to the touch. The researchers measured how painful a poke to the affected muscles was two to three days after a workout. They found that people who took beetroot powder were in less pain, soit could reduce soreness after workouts.

3 Pre-Workout Beet Juice Recipes

For those of you who are ready to make beets a part of your pre-workout routine or daily nutrition, we've got some amazing ideas for you - from beet juice to snacks, we've got the beet nutrition department covered for you.

If you're looking for beetroot juice recipes, we've created three beetroot juices that are easy enough to make before a workout. All three recipes are specially catered for your pre-workout energy boost, but each has a different take and taste profile. Here's a sneak peek at all three beet root juice recipes:

  • Citrus Beet Juice:This beet juice includes apples, cucumber, and lemon juice, giving it more of a citrusy taste.
  • Berry Beet Juice:The berry beet juice recipe includes blueberries, which have a strong flavor in the mix. This recipe also calles for spinach, another superfood to turbocharge your pre-workout drink.
  • The Vegetable Stand Beet Juice: This is one of of those "everything but the kitchen sink" recipes that uses a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Apples, ginger, and lemon juice add tangy flavors, while carrots bring balance to your taste buds, in unison, it creates a hearty and delicious pre-workout beet juice.

Remember, drinking beetroot juice supplies the nitrates that become nitric acid that you need to boost blood circulation during exercise, so don't skip a beet on this one! Explore all 3 recipes onSHEFIT's recipe guide to beet juice and take your pre-workouts to the next level.

Don't Forget Whole Beets - Pre or Post-Workout

We've also created a great pre-workout snack consisting of beets and chickpeas. It's a healthy snack that won't ruin any weight loss goals, while also supporting the energy you'll need to exercise longer and enhance your exercise performance.

Regardless of how you take your beets - juice, powder, or as old-fashioned whole beets, this little root can do it all. From lower blood pressure and decreasing risk of heart disease, to improved athletic performance, it's a must-have in your life.

Eat Your Beets

Even if you’re not worried about boosting performance and cutting down on your recovery time, beets are a tasty treat with great health benefits that you should add to your meals. They’re packed with nutrients and essential minerals and have a slightly sweet flavor.

If you’re looking for a performance edge, beets are helpful in their whole and powdered form. You’ll get more benefits from taking the powder, but it never hurts to have a side of beets during a meal or as a snack.

HIIT and endurance training benefit the most from taking beetroot powder supplements, but you could get an extra rep or two if you take it before weight training. Of course, none of the effects are astounding, butthey can give your body a slight edge during your next training session or competition.