Beet juice is a serious performance booster, and we have the easiest way to make the most of its powers.
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When a PR is the goal, your fueling strategy needs to go deeper than the gels you gulp down mid-race.
That's why Erin Oprea, a celebrity trainer in Nashville who works with country music stars like Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini, and Jana Kramer, recommends downing a beet-juice shot once a day—even twice, if you're really dedicated—to help you nab that personal best. (PS: Here Are 4 Fat-Burning Tabata Moves Carrie Underwood Swears By.)
Oprea started taking a beet-juice shot herself—about 3 ounces worth—every morning and afternoon nearly a year ago, when she began reading more about how it can boost stamina during runs. "Beet juice has nitrates, which improve blood flow immediately, thus improving oxygen delivery to the muscles," she says. "That allowed my body to quickly work more efficiently."
She noticed instant benefits. "It takes 30 minutes to an hour to kick in, and I actually felt an increase [in energy] mid-run," she says. After two weeks of consistently taking the beet-juice shot, Oprea noticed her 3-mile run time dropped by two minutes. (See: Why Endurance Athletes All Swear By Beet Juice)
Researchers have praised the benefits of beet juice for decades. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, runners who took a beet-juice shot before racing a 5K shaved 1.5 percent off their times. Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that runners who had beets pre-5K not only improved their finish times, but they also increased their speed by 5 percent during the last 1.1 miles—and lowered their rate of perceived exertion—giving them one hell of a kicker to pursue that PR.
Not a fan of beets? Pair it with lemons and ginger (two crucial ingredients in Oprea's personal recipe) to both pump up the flavor and balance out the sugar.
The only catch: Don't take the beet-juice shot on an empty stomach, warns Oprea. Beets are acidic—even more so when in juice form—and can leave you feeling more nauseated than energized. Instead, she suggests downing it as a finisher to your healthy breakfast or lunch. (Here are five healthy breakfast recipes you can make in five minutes and quick lunches you can take to work.)
Make Oprea's recipe below and you'll have three days' worth (the longest you want to hang on to it for anyway) of beet juice for two people, which she says you can store in the fridge in mason jars. Oh, and don't be surprised when you see some pink-tinted pee in the toilet—it's just the beets working their magic, and yes, it's totally normal.
Beet Juice Shots
Makes: 12 servings
- 4 bundles of medium to small purple beets
- 4 lemons
- 2-inch piece of gingerroot
Place all ingredients in a juicer. If the taste is still unfavorable, add more lemon until you reach your desired flavor. (The more you add, the more purple it will look.) Drink one 3-ounce serving in the morning, and another in the afternoon. Store remainder in fridge. Keep for no more than 3 days.